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2013 Kosher Food and Wine Experience (KFWE) lived up to all its billing

For years I have always sported a purple colored beaming grin when I finish my tasting at the IFWF (International Food and Wine Festival) in LA, which hid my grumbling stomach’s discontent. Like I have documented for years, I never get to eat at the events, even as the entire food court mocks me, attempting to pull me into their warm, delicious, and very present embrace, with their wafting and intoxicating aromas. Still, I stand strong and I taste through the night until my teeth are purple and my stomach is close to rioting on the lack of food. Truth be told, I am not that good at taking notes when eating – the flavors of the food cover up and belie the flavors and aromas of the glass that beckons me closer with its “come hither” look and aromas. So every year, after the event I go to dinner at Jeff’s Sausage (down the street from the new location of the IFWF). Which is sheer madness of course, here I have half the Pavilion at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza, filled with food from one of the best kosher restaurants in the world – Tierra Sur Restaurant, and I pass on that for the spicy and homely fare of Jeff’s Sausage. In no way is this a slight to the joy of Jeff Rohatiner’s cookery and food. Rather, it has been my conscious tradeoff, throughout my many year experience at IFWF to drink through as much of the world-class wine I can before my taste-buds shutdown, rather than give them to the food court, no matter how wonderful it is.

This year was a massive shift for me, gone was the purple grin and my mutinous stomach, as I visited and added the New York KFWE to my travel dates. To say the KFWE was different than the IFWF would be an extreme understatement, the IFWF has close to 1000 people at the show, while the KFWE has closer to 2000 people. Further the event hall at Pier 60 is some 2 to 3 times larger than the Pavilion tent at the Hyatt Regency. Also, there were many options for lunch and dinner from the myriad of NY restaurants that all share half the hall, all clamoring to share their wonderful fare with great fanfare. The Pier 60 overlooks the Marina and Harbor and many folks were outside braving the cold to grab a smoke, but at least they had some comfort of looking at the marina and its waterfront.

To really appreciate the event you had to come to it with a game plan, and there were many guests who had a few of their own. The event started at Noon for those in the trade, a new thing that the KFWE started last year and something that the IFWF has been doing from the start (though initially with a smaller trade time). The trade event was crowded but there could not have been more than a thousand folks there, so access to wine was not a problem in any way. The event hall can easily handle 1000 people, it is a bit more complicated when the number swells to two thousand people, but still there was no pushing or shoving going on even at the end of the public tasting, when the number of guests was at its maximum. But I digress; the trade tasting allowed me to focus solely on wine and the winemakers, which was great. Read the rest of this entry

Friday night and Saturday day…

Went to friends for dinner and lunch, so I brought some wine over.  It was fascinating to taste a bunch of these wines within a short period of time – not like the wine tasting we had a few months ago – but still very fun indeed.

Chateau Le Crock, Saint Estephe 2002 – Score: A-
This is a thick and tasty wine.  Very complex with layers, full in the mouth, and it still is quite tannic.  The color of this wine is a dark blue to purple.  The nose is full of black fruit – blackberries, plums, and coffee, with some green vegetal aromas.  The mouth on this massive full-bodied wine is velvety and complex.  The black fruit flows in the beginning, with a mid palate of chocolate and something green, and a finish of spice and oak.  This wine is a winner and at its current price now online – it is a winner.

Yarden Chardonnay 2003 – Score: A-
The nose on this dark straw colored wine has aromas of peach, citrus, butter, and TONS of oak.  This is a classic California Chardonnay.  The mouth on this full-bodied Chardonnay is full of oak, butter, and citrus.  The finish is nice and spicy – which makes the wine feel complex.  The wine is really not very complex – but the shift of the flavors makes it quite enjoyable.  The fullness of this chardonnay makes it feel ripe and a bit fat – but is balanced nicely with the acidity and spice.

Chillag Orna Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 – Score: A-
The nose on this dark and almost impenetrable black colored (unfiltered) wine is strong with earthy aromas, cranberry, blackberry, a bit of green, and a fair amount of oak.  The mouth on this wine changes often from when we opened it to when it was finished a couple of hours later.  The wine starts almost cold to the touch – like a first date; not very talkative and almost boring.  The wine wakes to a strong-minded woman very quickly and it is quite enjoyable to say the least (disclaimer – no meaning to my comparison – just the first thing that came to my mind Smile).  The mouth of this full-bodied wine is not complex – but fun nonetheless.  The flavors are fruit forward and the wine’s tannic nature comes through loud and clear.  The tannins have yet to integrate – but when they do this wine will be nicer.  My question will be whether the wine has much body behind that tannin – time will tell.  The mid palate is nice but the finish of mint and spice makes it fun.  This is the first release Carmel did with Orna (acting as a guest wine maker).  Orna has a very successful Israeli boutique winery on her own called Chillag Winery – though, unfortunately it is not kosher.

Segal’s Cabernet Sauvignon, Unfiltered 2002 – Score: A-
This was the winner of the day – hands down.  The nose on this wine explodes – like a geyser throwing aromas in every direction.  Really quite a joy.  The nose on this impenetrable black colored wine was filled with blackberry, cranberry, coffee, chocolate, oak, along with a strong sweet flavor – almost date like in nature, and some allspice thrown in as well.  When smelling this wine at the start I said this is a hot wine.  A wine, which has zero green flavors in it, and the mouth, solidified that thought.  This was a fruit and spice wine – with zero green flavors to be found.  The mouth on this nice complex wine is really fun.  It starts with a strong attack of fruit that is complex by the nature of the many fruits that come at you along with the layers of the fruits as well.  Blackberry, cranberry, raspberry hit you first, the mid palate comes with a strong attack of coffee and chocolate.  The finish is laced with what I first thought was tar along with leather and oak.  The tar flavors dissipated quickly – but I swear it was there – weird for a cab to display tar flavors – but who knows.  Totally wild ride and the true winner of all the wines tasted this past weekend.

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