And the winner of KFWE NYC and L.A. 2019 goes to the City of Angels

If you have been keeping up with my travels around the world to visit the KFWE venues, you will know that I really was impressed with what Bokobsa did in Paris and I was split over the London KFWE, given its posh settings and solid wine selection, though it has where to grow.

Before I go further, I wanted to define to you my criteria for grading a wine tasting:

  1. The Venue, of course, its ambiance, and setup
  2. The wine selection
  3. The wine glasses
  4. The number of humans at the tasting
  5. the food served
  6. Finally, the reactions of the participants, though for me that is less important to me, as I judge the tasting based more upon the body language of the participants than what they say.

Now, some of these variables are subjective, rather than just objective. Take for example #1, the venue, it is a highly subjective though also objective variable. Pier 60 is a nice place, but in comparison, the Peterson museum of the past few years in Los Angeles was far better. Now, again, this is subjective, some people hate cars. They hated how big the Peterson was, and how spread-out the food and wine was. I loved the Petersen, loved the cars, and while the food and wine were spread out and difficult to find, the roominess and vast space to sit and enjoy art and wine at the same time, was truly impressive.

App and its data needs serious work

One more thing, as I stated in my KFWE recommendation list – the KFWE App is a disaster. It rarely worked. When it did, it was so annoying it was hopeless. Take for instance the go back button went back to the main wine list. So if you wanted to go through the list of Elvi or Capcanes wines, you had to go back and forth OVER and OVER. Worse, and I mean far worse, was the data behind the app, the data was all wrong. The wines at the event did not match the wines in front of you at the tables.

I really hope that next year, Royal Wines puts in more effort into building a proper app, with proper data. Even if the wines that are delivered are different than the wines on the app, change the data! Make sure the data matches reality instead of dreams and rainbows.

Mother Nature took kindly to KFWE in NYC and LA (well mostly)

A quick footnote here, before we dive into the highly contested and dispassionate discussion around which KFWE is the best KFWE, we need to thank the good mother! Mother nature really threw us a pair of bones this year! Yes, I know that flying from NYC to LA was a bit torturous for some, and yes, I sat/slept in my middle seat all the way to LA, but come on, it was that or we get 6 inches of snow a day EARLIER and KFWE NYC would have looked more like a Flatbush Shtiebel during the summer, AKA empty!

Sure, traveling to LA was a pain, but it all worked out, even those who flew to LA on the day. Further, while mother nature opened the skies on the day following KFWE L.A., with what the meteorologists loved to call an atmospheric river, it was the DAY AFTER KFWE L.A. On the day of KFWE L.A. there was a light smattering of rain here and there. The next day, God opened the heavens, when we were driving in our Uber to the airport the streets were almost flooded, and this is L.A. which has a massive concrete drain snaking its way through Los Angeles, with which to dump and maneuver billions of gallons of rainwater.

Further, if we had been at the Petersen this year, the VIP and Trade would have been a mess. There was not so much rain, as it was just not nice outside, this is an El-Nino year in Califonia, and that means more rain than normal here in Cali! So, all in all, God was kind to Royal and the KFWE circuit. The weather was just right, along with some intelligent decisions, turned out to be true blessings for all, especially us Californians who really need the rain!

Venue (Pier 60 versus Hollywood Palladium)

The NYC KFWE was once again housed in Pier 60, while the VIP room was in the Current, Pier 60’s newest event space located next door to Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers. The walk over there in the cold was not exactly enjoyable, but hey it worked. The Current was lovely, and it had Reserve Cut making the food. The best dish there was the Chateaubriand which is of course NOT filet mignon, at least not here in the USA, especially from the OU, but it was still exceptionally well presented and implemented.

But I skipped ahead, the trade portion of the event was full, overfull, well let us say full in regards to what I am used to with the trade portion, but it felt empty in comparison to what would be coming for the public general admission, which was later in the evening.

So, space wise, the NYC KFWE was OK to annoying for the trade portion, while GA (General Admission) was a boro-park scene, with the entire school being invited for bar mitzvah kiddush in a Shtiebel. LA’s trade was a joy, and the VIP was equally wonderful space wise and ambiance wise as well. The space in GA “looked” full, but that was because the personal space tables were spread out across the floor, and in ways did impede traffic flow. Maybe next year they will move them to areas that would not stop the flow. In L.A. I walked that GA MANY times throughout the evening, and we left at almost the end of the KFWE LA event, and I was able to meander just fine through the humanity. Sure it was a bit tighter than at the Petersen, but the Petersen also had its issues with the discoverability and signage around the food and wines. In the end, the Hollywood Palladium is hip, sure it is old, it is not dilapidated like some have said, and again it is not the super modern and chic Petersen Museum either. This venue is a better blend, IMHO, of space and ambiance, and the VIP was by far the best experience of the KFWE showings, with the NYC VIP right behind it. The fact that the L.A. VIP had its own Champagne room and its own Herzog room was SICK. The rooms were richly decorated, and rich with history, dripping with lore, and really funky and cool! Come on the Champagne room was off the charts! My opinion of it has nothing to do with the fact that I was there for more than 30 minutes drinking Champagne, yeah I like Champagne!

Pier 60 is a known commodity and this year it was stretched to its max, maybe even beyond. The Current is nice enough, but man was it too dark. The wine selection in the VIP was nice but still limited. The VIP wine selection in L.A. was incredible and did I say there was a Champagne room! Not a sparkling wine room, but honest to goodness French Champagne! OK, sorry. The Hollywood Palladium is one of those classic conundrums, it is old, not as cool at the Petersen, but it is also far more practical, without all the twists and turns that the Petersen left you confused and dazed as to where the wine and food in GA actually was. Further, it may not be Petersen chic, but it is aged cool, the walls the ceilings, if they could only talk. The history of that place is incredible, and sure people will say yeah, the walls can talk because it is so old. I get it, I get it! However, as I stated, I walked that place, back and forth, and the people at the GA and the VIP in L.A. were far happier than what I saw in NYC. NYC was a shove-fest, while L.A. was a party, and that was just the atmosphere they were going after. No, we will never have the W ever again, and really thank god, come on the Herzogs davening Mincha in the lobby with the W’s Hollywood crowd moving about, not really a combination that screams kosher.

So, for my subjective point of view, the KFWE LA wins on the venue, hands down, with the KFWE NYC firmly behind it by because of the crowds, and how crowded the VIP in NYC became later on. NYC needs to manage the numbers, one way or the other!

Wine selection

The wine selection was the best, of the three I attended, in NYC and this is common, though LA’s wine selection has been improving year over year. Still, they had the best selection, but the need to constantly ask for a bit more wine to actually smell anything in the glass was annoying, but hey it just means more work for the pourers. LA did a far better job of apportioning just the right amount of wine so that we could smell the wine and taste it.

As stated before, Herzog has far fewer of their wines at the NYC KFWE, but they had all of the top wines there, outside of the wine club wines, AKA the Eagle’s Landing wines.

In NYC, the winemakers will bring some roses or white wines from the 2018 vintage. In LA that really never happens, and I get that, it is just easier to have them in NYC. So, in NYC, I enjoyed the 2018 Tabor Sauvignon Blanc, the 2018 Or Haganuz Amika white blend, and the 2018 Capcanes Peraj Petita Rosat. Sadly, it was there that I further became concerned with the direction of Capcanes Cellars Winery. The 2016 Capcanes Peraj Ha’abib, mevushal and not-mevushal, were both fruit-forward wines, much like the 2015 vintage, IMHO. Thankfully, the 2015 Capcanes Flor del flor Samso was lovely! The 2013 Terra di Seta Riserva was off the charts good. I finally got to taste the mevushal French wines, like the 2016 Chateau Greysac and the 2016 Chateau La Crock, and I was not impressed with either, I will hopefully taste them again soon. The 2017 Chateau Les Riganes was not fun at all, but thankfully we have the 2017 Chateau Trijet, but it is not mevushal like the Riganes is. I was not a fan of the 2015 Terra Gratia Marciano or the 2014 Allaham reserve, Napa Valley, Insignia, Meritage, which is Reserve Cut’s Napa Valley house wine.

There were some nice extras at NYC, so yes, it wins the wine selection for AD KFWE 2019. Still, the VIP selection at L.A.’s selection was far better than NYC’s VIP wine selection. So, I am going to call this one a tie.

Wine Glasses

This is a tie, not subjectively, but objectively, as the glasses seemed the same anyway, between NYC and L.A. I guess it is subjective until I validate they were the very same, but they sure did look similar!

 Crowds and crowd control

I have discussed the crowds already, IMHO they were far more controlled and in space in L.A. than in NYC. Enough said. The winner goes to L.A.

Food and participants

Well, food wise, I will be honest, the two VIP were break even. The Foie Gras at the VIP L.A. and the Chateaubriand in NYC’s VIP were equally impressive. The entire plate of food that was served by Tierra Sur was incredible, with Veal Stuffed lamb Loin, Duck Confit, and Foie Gras, and smoked ribeye and short rib.

Beyond that, there were very few good options in NYC GA. Last year they had Heritage farm’s Foie Gras, this year we were relegated to a very good falafel from West Wing and some sushi and not much else. In L.A. Tierra Sur was serving up some nice fare in GA, along with a lovely Mole from Nes Events, Lamb Taco from another table I forget now, and some good enough Sushi as well.

In the end, the GA food was uninspiring in either place, other than Tierra Sur’s fare in L.A.’s GA., and with the VIP essentially a tie, the Food winner for KFWE 2019, is essentially a tie, with L.A. winning by a hairbreadth.

Finally, my unscientific polls of the crowds of people at both KFWE L.A. and NYC came back with a consistent thumbs up from the L.A. crowds, versus the NYC crowds. So I came away with L.A. being the winner of the people’s choice award.

So, if I add up the wins and losses, it shows that KFWE L.A. is the 2019’s KFWE of the year! Congratulations go to Royal Wines and Herzog Wine Cellars for continuing to promote and educate the kosher wine world. Still, there are things to fix, lots of things in London, with NYC really needing to control the crowds, but otherwise, NYC is now essentially a well-oiled machine that is extremely professional, well managed, and overall the standard by which all KFWE should be measured. Still, the crowd control and lack of real food in the at NYC’s GA is why it lost. That along with the fact that L.A. has a real hip and cool, yes old, building/venue with so much history and decor going for it, along with a better VIP experience, that L.A. wins again. Once again, David Whittemore and Joseph Herzog deserve props for all the work, the daring venue choice, and wine selections in VIP to make it all come together. Bravo!

Elvi wine tasting in Pier 60’s parking lot

What can I say, yeah SJ hooked us up with a van and Moises and David Cohen brought us a few wines, so yeah I had to write about it! The van was parked in the back side of the Pier 60 parking lot and it had mood lighting and a bar, which was great as the vertical of Invita were kept perfectly cold the entire morning.

After the trade tasting, we made our way to the bus and we had a three bottle blind tasting of the 2016 Elvi Rioja Semi, which was mevushal, then the 2017 Elvi Rioja Semi mevushal, and then the 2016 Rioja Semi not-mevushal. In the end, I picked up 2017 easily, but I mixed up the 2016 mevushal with the not-mevushal. We wanted to get to the Invita vertical, so I never got to taste the 2016 mevushal and not-mevushal side by side again.

The 2016 Invita has always been nice, but it has been a step behind the 2015 vintage. We enjoyed a lovely Invita vertical a few years ago in Miami, here is my post of that. Invita is one of those wines that age beautifully. Invita is a white wine that is made from a blend of 65% Pansa Blanca and 35% Sauvignon Blanc. Pansa Blanca is a grape that is rarely used in still wine and makes for a very unique flavor and wine experience. This is not your average white wine that we suffer with and not another Chardonnay. Rather, it is a rich and mouth-filling wine that is brightened by the blend of Sauvignon Blanc, but rich and tropical from the Pansa Blanca.

Thanks to Moises and David Cohen and to SJ for hosting us on the magic bus!!

The wine notes follow below – the explanation of my “scores” can be found here:

2017 Elvi Wines Vina Encina, white – Score: 89
Crazy bright and lovely with rich acidity, crazy lemongrass, fun fish sauce, and rich mineral. The mouth is a bit simple on the palate, but the wine is nice and really fun, with bitter notes and tart with lime and green Apple fun. Drink up!

2016 Capcanes Peraj Ha’abib – Score: 85 (mevushal)
The nose on this wine is ripe, with dark fruit, roasted herb, dark notes of black and red fruit with tar and nice earth. The mouth on this full bodied wine is ripe, nice in the background, but really ripe, with strawberry, blackberry, dark cherry and plum galore that gives way to juicy yet really ripe and jammy fruit, with great sweet tannin, starting with lovely acid. The finish is long and sweet, with sweet herb, concentrated fruit, tar, and juicy fruit. Drink by 2024.

2016 Capcanes Peraj Ha’abib – Score: 87 (not-mevushal)
The nose on this wine is nice, with classic notes of Peraj with rich loam, finesse, but it is ripe, with great black and blue fruit, tar galore, and rich animal roasted notes. The mouth on this full bodied wine is ripe, pushed, and sadly not what I was hoping for in a Peraj Ha’abib, with loads of jammy fruit, blueberry, blackberry, and lovely sweet spices, with great mouth coating tannin, tar, with mineral and graphite. The finish is long, dark, mineral-driven, with too much of a sweet tooth, with sweet milk chocolate, smoking tobacco, and lovely herbs. If you like wine in this style drink until 2026.

2015 Capcanes Flor del Flor Samso, Carignan – Score: 93
The nose on this wine is great with crazy spices, with intense black fruit, with blue fruit galore, and rich ripe blue fruit, with tar galore, and roasted animal, black olives, and lovely intense mineral. The mouth on this full bodied wine is lovely, layered, rich, earthy, and massive tannin, with smoke galore showing rich spices, with lovely juicy and tart fruit, sweet controlled boysenberry, with tar, mineral and pith galore, showing sweet fruit, followed by mineral control, and fun loam and mushroom. The finish is long, showing mushroom, juicy fruit, rich graphite, and mint galore with mineral, tobacco, and pith lingering long. Drink from 2021 until 2030.

2016 Chateau Greysac – Score: 89 to 90 (mevushal)
The wine is lovely, a step above simple, with a wonderful vintage, spring mineral galore, showing a nice elegance, with wonderful pith, rich salinity, balanced with great black and red fruit, earth galore, and tar. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is rich and layered, with wonderful concentration, great extraction, with blackberry, raspberry, rich earth, and lovely mineral and crazy graphite, with searing acid, nice tannins. The finish is short and sad the mevushal process made this wine accessible notes but it will not age and while it is almost fun now, it is not a wine I would buy or stock up on. Drink now until 2021.

2017 Chateau Les Riganes – Score: NA (mevushal)
Sadly this vintage did not work for Riganes.

2017 Chateau Trijet – Score: 90 – 91 (NOT Mevushal) (QPR)
The nose on this vintage is far better than 2016, which was a fruit bomb. The nose is dirt, dirt, and more dirt, followed by mushroom, earth, and some fruit somewhere, in other words, a great nose for a wine at this price! The mouth on this wine is balanced, not a fruit bomb, really nice, with green notes galore, followed by red fruit, currants, hints of black plum, and berry, nice tannin, that flows into more earth, graphite, and mushroom. The finish is long, green, tannic, and dry, with nice fruit, and mineral. Nice! Drink by 2020.

2018 Tabor Sauvignon blanc Adama – Score: 90 to 91 (QPR)
What a lovely nose, gooseberry and cat piss, with great passion fruit and citrus galore. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is well made, really nice, showing beautiful acidity, great fruit focus, with slate and pith galore, with lemon and white grapefruit, pith and mineral lingering long. Nice!!! Drink NOW!

2015 Covenant Cabernet Sauvignon, Solomon, Lot 70 – Score: 93
What a nose it is really rich with ripe fruit, with crazy fruit, black currant bomb, with crazy ripe rich and really lovely ripe fruit and nice blue fruit, with earth, loam, and mineral. The mouth on this full bodied wine is rich and layered, extracted and elegant, but really ripe with black currant, ripe blackberry, rich blueberry, cassis insanity, with crazy rich and draping tannin, with loads of great acid, rich mineral, scrapping graphite, and a lovely plush and rich mouthfeel, which is beautiful, and really fun. The finish is long, green with great foliage showing beautiful balance, with ripe fruit, lingering tobacco, dark chocolate, and rich minerality, with pith and lovely green notes. Really nice. Drink from 2020 until 2029.

2013 Terra di Seta, Riserva – Score: 93
The nose on this wine continues in the progress of great Chianti wines, with great smoke, earth, intense black and red fruit that give way to dark fruit, loam, charcoal, and mineral galore. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is rich, layered, and lovely, with rich saline, smoke, cherry bomb, and incredible intense tannin, with extraction galore, loaded with great acidity, followed by rich toast, currant, and lovely rich scrapping and draping tannin and rich graphite, with loam and green notes galore. The finish is long, showing graphite, toast, more acidity, tart cherry, with menthol, and mint and mushroom. Lovely!! 93 drink from 2021 until 2029

2015 Terra Gratia Marciano – Score: 88
The nose on this wine is ripe, it has nice mineral, with lovely ripe fruit, milk chocolate, and ripe black fruit and boring, it lacked the acidity and control to balance the palate. That is painful, too sweet, not for me.

2018 Or Haganuz Amuka Blanc – Score: 90 to 91 (mevushal) (QPR)
This wine is a blend of 85% Sauvignon Blanc and 15% Chardonnay. The nose on this wine is really nice, showing incredible control, with crazy saline, gooseberry, green apple, and rich mineral. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is really lovely bracing acidity, with crazy gooseberry, passion fruit, lemon/lime, showing intense mineral, saline, and lovely pith lingering long with rich and crazy grapefruit and orange blossom. Drink now.

Invita Vertical

2015 Elvi Wines Invita – Score: 92 (QPR)
The wine is a blend of something like 65% Pansa Blanca and 35% Sauvignon Blanc. Pansa Blanca is a grape that is rarely used in still wine and makes for a very unique flavor and wine experience.

The nose on this wine is still very young, with lovely Sauvignon blanc notes taking center stage, showing cat pee, gooseberry, with nice spice and lychee, fresh-cut grass, straw, and grapefruit. The mouth is weighty and nice, with saline, great spice, guava, pineapple, passion fruit, tropical in nature, with slate, and lovely olives, spice and cloves. The finish is long and lingering with crazy acid and lemon drop, more tropical fruit juice, grapefruit, and tart fruit galore. With pith, floral notes, bright fruit, and slate finishing in the mouth. Bravo!!! Drink by 2021.

2016 Elvi Wines Invita – Score: 88
The wine is a blend of something like 65% Pansa Blanca and 35% Sauvignon Blanc. The nose is lovely with a less tropical makeup than the previous vintage, showing orange blossom, peach, apricot, and citrus. The mouth on this medium bodied wine has enough acidity, but less than the 2015 or the 17/18. with orange, citrus, herb, and lychee. The finish is long with fruit pith and nice enough citrus fruit and slate. Drink soon.

2017 Elvi Wines Invita – Score: 91 to 92
Sadly, this wine is sold out and will not be coming to the USA. The wine is a blend of something like 65% Pansa Blanca and 35% Sauvignon Blanc.
The nose on this wine is beautiful showing great bright notes with orange blossom, nice funk but not overpowering like the 18 is, with lovely quince and nice nectarines. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is beautiful with crazy acid, rich saline, lovely grapefruit, with rich green apple, dry hay, and cut grass, with a lovely plush and rich mouthfeel. The finish is super long with sweet nectarines, mad juicy grapefruit, pink and orange pith. Bravo!! Drink until 2023.

2018 Elvi Wines Invita – Score: 92
The wine is a blend of something like 65% Pansa Blanca and 35% Sauvignon Blanc. The nose on this wine is closed, with time it opens to show beautiful tart fruit, really nice mineral, with quince galore, lovely impressive funk, with loads of hay and mineral, with citrus and mad orange blossom. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is rich and layered with crazy saline, tart pink grapefruit, with crazy rich scrapping mineral, with slate and rich acidity, followed by orange fruit, yellow plum, and beautiful orange blossom. The finish is super long, tart, and juicy, super well balanced, with fun mineral, more funk lingering long, along with flint, smoke, and pith. WOW! Drink from 2020 until 2025.

—————— End of the magic bus tour ———————–

2018 Capcanes Peraj Petita Rosat – Score: 90
The nose on this wine is nice really showing well, with good bright fruit, loads of raspberry and spiced strawberry, with tart fruit and spice. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is really tasty, with great tart fruit, with great tart gooseberry, red grapefruit, and crazy saline and mineral galore. The finish is long and tart, with great pith and slate, with lovely orange blossom. Nice! Drink up!

2014 Allaham Reserve, Meritage, Insignia, Napa Valley – Score: 85 (Mevushal)
This is wine is produced by Herzog for Reserve Cut and it is sold at the restaurant – but since reserve cut was making the food for the NYC VIP, they served this wine as well. The nose on this wine is really ripe, really pushed, loads of Oak, sweet fruit galore, and loads of blackberry and rich spice, with blue fruit, with loads of concentration. Massive oak juice and so much sweet fruit that it could kill a horse. The mouth is ripe and round and extracted with ripe fruit, blackberry, blueberry, and really missing something in the middle. The finish is long and sweet with blue and black fruit fighting for attention, but not enough acid or mineral to balance out the ripe madness.

Posted on February 24, 2019, in Kosher French Wine, Kosher Red Wine, Kosher Rose Wine, Kosher White Wine, Kosher Wine, Wine, Wine Tasting and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Excellent post, thanks!
    They were serving be 2013 tds riserva not the current 2012 vintage being sold?

  2. Thanks for the great post!

    The email from the organizers of KFWE LA promised a VIP session with “elegantly aged library wines”.
    With the exception of the Napa 06, I couldn’t find anything any. I felt slightly cheated.

  3. KFWE LA was awesome, I missed the napa 06?!?

    Kuddos to Motti and the Herzog winery team. Tierra sur rocked. Eagles landing pn rocked!

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