KFWE NYC and LA 2018 was ruled by European Wines and American Foie Gras

Well, it was another great series of KFWE shows. Sadly, I missed the one in Israel, which many say was the best one so far! Thankfully, I made NYC and LA. What I can say, is that while not much has changed in regards to overall quality, location, and layout, the shows themselves were not overwhelmingly great this year. Each one had its issues, and in the end to me, it was a tie, with neither wines or food really shining through, other than Heritage’s Foie Gras and The European wines.

As always, the events happen in two parts, the trade and then the public. Public again, had the VIP session, which LA started in 2015, and what has been copied all over the KFWE family since then, and the General admission.

Overall Impressions

To me, while the halls were very nice, trade was really crowded in NYC, like nuts. After the first hour it calmed a bit, and in LA it was really busy throughout the entire trade session. Also, the guests were more demanding and in need of face time with the winemakers and winery representatives, which is really good as wine without context is not as poignant, but it gets in the way of the overall flow of the event. It is a point that needs fixing, but I honestly am not sure how to do it.

Next, let’s start with the positives, the public/general admissions were not moshpits. Which is a huge advance over the past years in NYC, still for many there was not much to taste that was new. THAT was the main issue in my opinion. Again, I have spoken of this many times, but shmita is starting to get really annoying.

I mean that in the manner of how it affects subsequent years. The Shmita overhang is getting in the way of at least two years, given the average release cycle of wineries, maybe even longer for the higher end wines. So, Shmita was the 2015 vintage, meaning we never saw the white and roses wines until the 2016 year. Since the USA does not want shmita wines, 2016 was covered with 2014 wines. The 2017 year was covered by what? Well leftovers of the 2014 vintage, of course. What about this year, 2018? Well, finally, we are starting to see 2016 reds, but not in Israel, they are still on 2015 wines. Royal and other importers have forced Israeli wineries to release the 2016s early, and that is why we saw some Vitkin 2016 red vintages. Still, most of the Israeli wines were old vintages that have still not moved in the USA.

So, what we have is the compounded problem of not having new vintages because of the shmita overhang, and the fact that the older vintages on shelves have not moved. Worse, than that, there were a few misses at both KFWE, like the new 2015 Capcanes Peraj Ha’abib, which was a no-show.

Overall, to me, the REAL truth, was that the wines were mostly older vintages or wines we had already tasted throughout the year, like the wonderful but not new 2016 Goose Bay Sauvignon Blanc. There is no fix to this, wine needs to be sold. Yet, pouring 2014 Roses, that needs to stop. The fact that they were pouring more than a few 2016 roses is already bad enough.

Winners of the shows

The winners were, of course, the 2015 and 2016 wines from Europe. Yes, I dislike date juice, that is not new news, and the Israeli wines were all too old or too ripe, with the exception being Flam, Castel Winery and Carmel Winery on the higher-end wines.

The real saviors of the shows were the European wines. All of the French wines showed as expected, with some ill effects to the mevushal process on 2015 Cuvee Hautes Terres, Chateau Fourcas Dupre, 2015 Chateau Le Crock, and to a lesser degree the 2015 Chateau Greysac. The rest of the French wines showed beautifully, as did the European wines of Elvi Wines, Terra de Seta, and Capcanes Winery. In NYC, it was really fun tasting the 2014 Giscours side by side the 2015 Giscours, showing the elegance and power of the 2015 vintage.

The really impressive and hard to implement fact was that the KFWE LA show – had ALL the wines! Other than Flam’s 2017 Rose, all of Covenant wines, and Hagafen wines (as they self-distribute within Califonia), all the wines were at KFWE LA. The entire French collection was there, even the entire Tabor winery line was there. Though they did not pour the Chateau Leoville Poyferre for trade or General Admission in LA.

The other real winner was Heritage’s, Foie Gras. Enjoying that Foie Gras with some of the 2014 Chateau Rayne Vigneau in NYC was heaven. They even had Foie Gras, not as good as Heritage Farms in the trade and VIP in LA.

The 2015 California wines overall did not show nearly as well as the 2014 vintage, at least the ones I had at KFWE. They were nice enough, and while the 2015 Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley is nice, it is not the 2014 vintage or even the 2013 vintage. It is too ripe, or round for me at this point. The 2015 Covenant Cabernet Sauvignon was nice, as it was last year and is showing well.

At the VIP in LA, Marciano Winery was there and they poured the 2015 Marciano Cabernet Sauvignon, and while it too was very lovely, it did not have the elegance or control of the 2014 vintage. Mind you, this wine is not the Terra Gratia of 2014. The 2015 vintage is as close as we get to the full-blown cult wine of Marciano Winery in kosher, at 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc.

So winners to buy from the KFWE events:

  1. Domaine Pradelle Crozes-Hermitage (QPR)
  2. 2015 Capcanes Peraj Ha’abib
  3. 2014 Capcanes La Flor del Flor Grenache and Samso (Carignan)
  4. Skip the 2016 Peraj Petita – sad but not fun
  5. 2015 Capcanes Flor de Primavera Peraj Pinot Noir (QPR)
  6. 2015 Chateau Fourcas Dupre
  7. 2015 Elvi Wines Clos Mesorah
  8. 2015 Elvi EL26
  9. 2016 Elvi Herenza Rioja (QPR)
  10. 2009/2010 Elvi Herenza Reserva
  11. 2012 Elvi Herenza Crianza (QPR)
  12. 2015 Covenant Cabernet Sauvignon
  13. 2014 Covenant Cabernet Sauvignon, Lot 70
  14. The new bottling of Drappier Carte Blanche (new label and new bottle shape)
  15. 2015 Rothschild Flechas De Los Andes Gran Malbec (QPR)
  16. 2016 Goose Bay Sauvignon Blanc (QPR) – drink within the year
  17. 2016 Carmel Riesling, Kayoumi Vineyard
  18. 2015 Herzog Chardonnay, Reserve Russian River
  19. 2014 Terra Gratia (not cheap and harder to find – but nice)
  20. 2015 Chateau Giscours Margaux
  21. 2016 Chateau Grand Puy Ducasse
  22. 2014 Chateau Soutard
  23. 2015 Chateau De Leoville Poyferre
  24. 2015 Chateau Leoville Poyferre ‘Pavillon de Poyferre’
  25. 2015 Chateau Moulin Riche, Saint Julien
  26. 2014 Chateau De Rayne Vigneau Sauternes
  27. 2015 Chateau Yon-Figeac Les Roches de Yon Figeac
  28. 2016 Chateau Les Riganes (QPR SUPERSTAR)
  29. 2015 Chateau Cantenac Brown
  30. 2015 Chevalier de Lascombes
  31. 2015 Chateau Lascombes
  32. 2015 Chateau Larcis Jaumat
  33. 2016 Les Marronniers Chablis

KFWE Events overall this year

Overall, the highlights were the European wines. The lowlights were the older wines. Some people may think that wines are like tweets, most people miss the first one, so tweet again. There is a truth to that, most people rarely get to taste all the wines at a KFWE, even two. That said, pouring wines that are not good, like 2014 roses or even the 2016 roses is a mistake and I hope that changes soon.

True, the Shmita overhang is not Royal’s fault, and I agree there is little that could be done, but I was just pointing out my observations.

Finally, while I think it was breakeven this year in regards to the true winner, I really hope LA fixes their layout. Last year’s layout was rock solid, and this year was haphazard at best. There was no signage for where the food was, and while it was great that parts of the floor were used to house the caterers and their fare, it would have been great to tell people that food existing there.

My many thanks to Royal for continuing to be a leader in regards to wine education and in keeping the events professional, entertaining, and stocked with great wines.

Posted on March 7, 2018, in Israeli Wine, Kosher Dessert Wine, Kosher Red Wine, Kosher Sparkling Wine, Kosher White Wine, Kosher Wine, Wine Industry and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

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