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The star of KFWE shines brightest in LA!

Photo by David Zaitz.

Photo by David Zaitz from Wikipedia

In case anyone has read this blog for the past month, I have trumpeted the upcoming KFWE events in both NYC and LA. The NYC event went off without a hitch, a truly improved version over the past few years, and I had much hope for the LA event, as last year – it was the star of the shows.

Last year – David Whittemore, Marketing Director at Herzog Wine Cellars, and Joseph Herzog, CEO of Herzog Winery made the leap from the Hyatt Regency to the swanky Hollywood W – and by doing so they raised the stakes and added the VIP, the best overall VIP I have been to so far, food and wine wise anyway! But that was so 2015! In 2016, they had to double down – and they went with the newly rebuilt and classic/classy Los Angeles experience – the Petersen Automobile Museum!

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The Petersen, as it is known around LA, has just completed a $125 million restoration and expansion of its building, and if you look at it from outside, all I can think of is a classic chrome car with blazing red tail lights – which is all you see from the speed demon, as it leaves you in its dust! The upper deck (AKA Penthouse), is where the VIP session was this year, and where the trade session was earlier in the day. The overhead aluminum red streaks that crown this massive beauty, instill in me an idea of a red streaking roller-coaster, but beyond that – I can only stand in awe of the madness and sheer beauty that it bestows upon this chrome Hollywood stalwart.

The streaks are chrome on the outside and red on the inside, mimicking the colors of some of the chrome wheeled beauties that lie within. Read the rest of this entry

KFWE NYC 2016 – a return to the norm with a VIP expierance

20160229_182508Well in case you were tracking my posts leading up the 2016 KFWE NYC event, I was slightly critical of last year’s NYC event while I loved the LA event – which was in the W Hotel. This year, the NYC KFWE (which happened last night) was quite the event – as it returned to Pier 60, and had a VIP session to boot.

The VIP session was a nod to the epic VIP session of LA’s 2015 event and the 2016 LA KFWE event (tomorrow night), looks to be even more insane!

The doors opened for trade yesterday at Noon and closed at 4PM. Within 30 minutes the place was crowded, which is really good news. Trade is all about getting press about what kosher wine is and where it is heading. Yes, I have spoken many times about the fact that Royal Wines is the 900 pound gorilla – and it has the ability to crowd the market and push out its competitors as it flexes its muscles. Still, we need exactly what happened yesterday. The place was filled with reporters and wine buyers and critics tasting wines and being educated about the current state of affairs of the kosher wine world.

People still think kosher wine is nasty stuff (just search kosher wine on twitter), and this video and others are exactly what we need to spread the word that kosher wine has grown up, and continues improving every year! The reason for that – kosher wine consumers are growing by leaps and bounds and they want better food and better wine! Just look at the numbers; CBS2 reports that the kosher wine business is now doing $28 million a year and sales and growing.

Now personally, that number is pure bunk, it is far higher. Last year there were millions of bottles of Bartenura Blue Bottle sold, some report 5M other more like 9M. At 12 dollars a pop – the 28 million dollar number is either embarrassed or obliterated – all together. Add to that the roughly 1M bottles of wine produced by Herzog Winery at a blended average of 15 dollars a pop (the majority of their wines are less but they have many more expensive wines as well) – and that adds another 15M to the pot. Next add in the 13M dollars in Israeli exported wine sold in the USA (according to 2011 numbers which pale in comparison to 2015 numbers) – and you start to see how absurd that number of 28M really is. Where the number comes from is beyond me. Finally, we cannot ignore the amount of wine made in Europe and South America or here in the USA from the kosher California wineries (ignoring Herzog of course as that was cited earlier).

Now worldwide consumption of kosher wine is another entirely DIFFERENT number of course! Kosher wine produced in Israel (the vast majority of all the wine produced in Israel overall) – clocks in at 170M – again using a very old and conservative number (though part of that number is in the Israeli export number citied above).

IMHO, a VERY conservative number would be 250M of kosher worldwide consumption. In the USA that number is closer to 90M (again very conservative numbers)!

With those kinds of numbers, it is only a matter of time until companies, other than Royal start to take notice, and then it will get really interesting! Till then, we will need to keep pushing events like last night and tomorrow night (in LA)! These kinds of events shine the spotlight on this growing wine segment and one worthy of other company’s attention as well!

Personally, I was there to help my friend – Moises Cohen and Elvi Wines. Sadly, Moises was busy with family issues and as much as I was asked what wine I liked the most (most annoying part of the event – and more on that in a bit), I was asked where is Moises? Read the rest of this entry

Kosher wine events for 2016 – revised

kfwelaWell if you were tracking my earlier post, the Paris event was last night (the 15th) and the London event just finished, and from what Pierre tells me it was the best one so far! The Paris one had barrel tastings of the 2014 Giscours and a special new kosher first – a bottle (really barrel tasting) of Armagnac!!

Chateau de Gensac ArmagnaArmagnac was one of the first regions to make distilled spirits in France, in the early days it was used for therapeutic reasons. Though many now a days – think the same way – best way to close out a night of drinking! I hope to get more info on the Chateau de Gensac Armagnac – when it is released.

The image of the bottle, looks awesome and is another reason for why each of these KFWE events have their own thing. Paris’s Bokobsa event is all about the French wines that are sold in France, some of which Royal does not import into the USA. It also has different wines than the US or the Israel events. Why? Because Royal has contracts with other wineries for Europe than it does with the US! So Bravdo Winery is imported to Europe through Royal as is Dalton Winery as well (at least to London anyway). In the USA – River imports Bravdo and Allied imports Dalton.

With those two events completed – the next ones on the book are the Zur KFWE tasting in Tel Aviv on February 22nd. Then comes the epic grand daddy of them all – KFWE NYC, which will be hosting its 10th anniversary of the original bash that started in 2007! The 10th anniversary event will be returning to its earlier roots, Pier 60, after a failed attempt to move it to a different venue last year. The event will be at Pier 60 on Monday the 29th starting at 5:30PM if you bought the VIP tickets before they sold out or 6:30 for everyone else! Again general admission tickets can be bought here for the 2016 KFWE NYC and use the promo code CORKBOARD18.

Sadly, the VIP session has already been sold-out, and the older coupon code has expired. The non-VIP session is available and hopefully its return the Chelsea Piers will make for a far more enjoyable and manageable experience than last year. Also, on an aside – KUDOS to London and NYC KFWE pages for adding the links to each others events! Cross advertising that I recommended in my earlier post was finally implemented!

Next stop – warm and sunny Los Angeles! The KWFE LA last year was the hands down winner for its epic VIP session, and the VIP session is back and I would tell everyone to jump on them before they sell out! Order tickets here NOW and use my coupon code of MUSINGS to get a 15% discount off the rack rate! This year they moved the event from the W Hotel to a larger and more swanky place to capture the true LA experience! It is being held at the Petersen Automotive Museum. It is a lovely scene and one that will have space to expand the VIP session to have even more madness – see rooftop pic below!

Roof Top VIP Section

After that – you would think you should be exhausted and ready for a break and I am sure you will need it and it will be well deserved. However, soon afterwards it is time to go to The Grand Kosher Wine Tasting on March 6th from 5:30 PM to 8:30PM at The Grapevine Wines & Spirits, in Wesley Hills, New York! When you are there, say hello to Yehoshua Werth, he is the wine man at the Grapevine!

Next up is the Jewish Week event. Now I was hard on the event last year, and justifiably so. Last year the event was far too overcrowded, oversold, and the wines that were poured were not all winners. So, I will be honest, I was surprised when Rich Waloff, Associate Publisher of Jewish Week emailed me and told me they were going to fix it all this year. Kudos to the team for stepping up and trying to rectify the issues. So, this year they will be limiting the entries, raising the prices and creating their own VIP session! Long live the VIP Session.

The date is Monday March 28th at 5PM for the VIP Session and 6PM for the main session. The event closes at 9PM. The link to buy tickets is here. I hope the event does return to its earlier roots, of being a boutique cross wine distributor event where quality and price is a premium!

Finally, there is another event that will be happening, and NO – it is not the Kosher Wine Extravaganza (though I am holding out hope that Costas will still have one this year)! No, this is another Los Angeles wine event being held at the Majestic in Downtown LA on Sunday March 20th. There is a VIP session (of course – the VIP session is the theme this year) starting at 4PM and general admission starts at 5PM. The event is showcasing Israeli wines and acclaimed chefs to promote a non for profit organization – called Meir Panim that is fighting poverty in Israel. IWPA will be involved with their wines and many highly acclaimed chefs will be there to support the cause. COME ON Los Angeles show up and show you care about good kosher food and wine!

If I were you – I would recommend you buy the tickets of the KFWE that apply to you ASAP and then go to the events with the mind of enjoying yourself, but also with the mind of learning! These events are the best opportunity to see what wines you like, love, crave, and most importantly hate!

Kosher wine events for 2016

kfwelaAs I posted in my year in review, we all need to educate ourselves in what makes you happy in the kosher wine world. The best way to do that is to attend RCC tastings (that happen monthly), or one of the many kosher wine events that happen in and around the Passover wine buying season.

This year is no different as in the past, thankfully I have the dates for almost all the events – the only one missing, for now, is the Jewish Week wine event that happens every year at the City Winery in NYC. I hope they do something about it though, as last year was a disaster. It was so overcrowded – it made the KFWE NYC look like a playground during class hours!

Anyway, the KFWE NYC listened – thank God, and they are returning to Chelsea Piers, but we will get to that in a bit.

The first and IMHO, the best KFWE in the books is the Tzur tasting in Tel Aviv. The Miami event was actually quite nice, but it happens in December of the previous year and in this case it happened already on December 15th at the Turnberry Isle Hotel, in Aventura Fl.

Though to be 100% truthful the first event (after the Miami one), is the KFWE in Paris which will happen on February 15th. After that wake up the next morning and hop on the Eurostar and you will be whisked to London where you can still get tickets to the VIP session at the KFWE Europe, which will be taking place at the Sheraton Park Lane Hotel, Piccadilly, London, W1.

A new theme throughout the KFWE family is the classic approach of steal what works best! The KFWE system is basically a brotherly rivalry between the cities – with London/NYC/LA being the three official ones, and Miami/Israel/Paris being less so. Still, when one idea works for one of the siblings – you can be sure it will be copied with each others personal tastes. In this case I am talking about the VIP session. I exalted the idea in my post about the KFWE in LA, and while I was in awe of the VIP room, the other area in LA needed more space. So, they too will be moving, but the VIP room/experience is 100% On like Donkey Kong!

Another fascinating aspect of this year’s official KFWE tastings is that there is no love lost between the siblings. By that I mean, there is no cross promotion of any kind between the London, NYC, or LA events! I wonder why that is the case? It is not like these are zero-sum options! People who live in NYC will go there, though many go to the LA event as it has been far more hospitable in previous years than the over crowded NYC event. Still, why not cross promote? It is free advertising!

So, the London event is on the 16th and then you hop on a plane and fly to Israel for the Tzur (not so much called KFWE) tasting on Monday February 22nd in the evening. Then hop on a plane and fly to the Granddaddy of them all – the original KFWE NYC and use the promo code CORKBOARD18.

Sadly, the VIP session has already been sold-out, and the older coupon code has expired. The non-VIP session is available and hopefully its return the Chelsea Piers will make for a far more enjoyable and manageable experience than last year.

Then hop on another plane and make your way to warm Los Angeles! The KWFE LA last year was the hands down winner for its epic VIP session, and the VIP session is back and I would make advise all to jump on them before they sell out! Order tickets here NOW and use my coupon code of MUSINGS to get a 15% discount off the rack rate! This year they moved the event from the hotel to a much larger and more swanky LA experience location! It is being held at the Petersen Automotive Museum. It is a lovely location and one that will have space to expand the VIP session to have even more madness – so look for that!

After that – you would think you should be exhausted and ready for a break and I am sure you will need it and it will be well deserved. However, soon afterwards it is time to go to The Grand Kosher Wine Tasting on March 6th at 5:30 PM to 8:30PM at The Grapevine Wines & Spirits, in Wesley Hills, New York! When your there say hello to Yehoshua Werth, he is the wine man at the Grapevine!

UPDATE: The Jewish Week’s Grand Wine Tasting at the City Winery is on March 28, from 5:30 to 8:30.

Well there you have it! I will post again once I have purchase links for the Jewish Week event. The event I am hoping will come back is the Gotham Kosher Wine Extravaganza! It took off a year again last year and I hope it will be back for good this year!

If I were you – I would recommend you buy the tickets of the KFWE that apply to you ASAP and then go to the events with the mind of enjoying yourself, but also with the mind of learning! These events are the best opportunity to see what wines you like, love, crave, and most importantly hate!

KFWE LA – a star is born in Hollywood

W_entranceIt was early on a beautiful winter day in LA when I made my way to the hall at the W Hotel in Hollywood, CA – where the IFWF was being held this year. OOPS! I meant KFWE LA! Yes, the IFWF changed its name to the KFWE and it turned really Hollywood hip as it made its way down the sunset strip to the W Hotel, home to stars and socialites alike, and now I hope home to the newest kosher wine event star – the KFWELA!

If it seems like I have unbridled praise for this event, you would be correct. Recently, someone told me that my style of writing did not work for them; as they state it – your combination of unbridled pull-no-punches enthusiasm, surety of mind, and lapidary form of expression can be grating to me. Though he says it is on him – who knows.

If this or other posts are grating, I totally understand and thankfully no one is forced to read my articles – as I have said in the past, I write them mostly for myself – kind of like my own wine diary.

Anyway, this post will be filled with “unbridled pull-no-punches enthusiasm and surety of mind“. By the way, if one is not sure of what they think – why write it? I write the way I speak – with assurance and knowledge, if I do not know an answer – I am happy to say I have no idea.

Anyway, this event will be engraved in my mind with lapidary precision because it was epic. Still, I am getting ahead of myself – so let us rewind here for a second.

This “year” there were 6 shows in the KFWE portfolio. It all started last year late 2014 in Miami where Royal in combination with WIZO, kicked off the KFWE season with a great warmup event! I say that because while the event went off without a hitch, and there were MANY great wines at the event, the food was a bit underwhelming to say the least. Still, it was here where we first tasted all the new French wines;

  • the new 2012 Pavillon de Léoville Poyferré, a second label for the famous winery, which uses its youngest vines to make this wine.The wine is lovely and well worth the cost, but not at the same level as the epic 11 Moulin Riche
  • the new 2012 Château Le Crock, which was OK.
  • the epic 2011 Chateau Haut Condissas Medoc, a truly lovely wine.
  • the new 2012 Chateau Giscours, the best NEW kosher wine at the tasting.
  • the new 2012 Domaine l’Or de Line Chateauneuf Du Pape, a very nice wine.
  • finally, the second best new wine of the tasting – the 2012 Les Roches De Yon-Figeac Saint-Emilion, Grand Cru. It too is a second label wine, but was quite a winner in my book.

The food not withstanding, the event was solid and the wines showed very well under the warm Miami day/evening.

Pierre and Olivier CuvelierThe next event was in Israel, and if I had to say it was probably the best run event from beginning to end, of the ones I attended. I am talking about the 2015 Zur tasting in Tel Aviv. The event was not crowded at all, the food was very good, and the wines were only the best of what they wanted to show. So, to some extent it was kind of like the all-star show – in the beginning of the season. They did have a limited supply of wines, but of the wines they poured, they were all top performers (excluding a table or two). On top of that, Mr. Olivier Cuvelier – the man that runs the family owned Chateau Léoville Poyferré, was there and talking about his wines. He is a delightful man, one who is passionate about his wines but also mindful of the man who brought him fame in the kosher wine world – Pierre Miodownick. Of course, he has received world wide acclaim for his non kosher wines, which is well deserved, but Pierre was working with him in the 90s – before Léoville Poyferré was all over the wine mags. Read the rest of this entry

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