The 2019 New York City Kosher Food and Wine Experience, hosted by Royal Wine Corporation, brought together over 400 kosher wines, many with their winemakers on hand, and some of the area’s most delicious kosher food for the trade, media and consumers to sample. While most of the same winemakers appear annually, each year brings subtle differences to existing varieties. New kosher runs of wines are also introduced, which is always exciting for kosher consumers, who increasingly seek new tastes, varietals and ever-increasing quality. Elizabeth Kratz and I both headed to Pier 60 at Chelsea Piers to attend, and shared our views with one another (and now, with you).
Burgundy is one of the top regions in France for wine, but according to Royal’s Gabe Geller, the grapes are grown by farmers who, on the whole, are not motivated to produce kosher wine. However, aware of intense market interest, this year Royal introduced the Domaine Ternynck Bourgogne Blanc Chardonnay and Bourgogne Rouge Pinot Noir. Elizabeth pointed out the exceedingly light color on the pinot noir that was indicative of its youth. I enjoyed the Domaine Pascal Bouchard Chablis Le Classique and the Domaine Bailly Pouilly Fume, a sauvignon blanc, with charming citrusy grapefruit notes.
Moving on to Israel, where most of the KFWE wines are concentrated, I visited many winemakers whose selections I have at home on Shabbos and Yom Tov to sample different varietals, and the wines in their catalogs I haven’t tried. Teperberg Impressions merlot and cabernet sauvignon are among my favorites. Elizabeth said she enjoyed the 2017 line on a recent trip to Europe but it is not yet available here. I tried the Essence series cabernet, which is a step up from Impressions.
I discovered Flam’s Classico, a Bordeaux blend, at a previous KFWE event, so this time I wanted to compare it to their Noble. I liked both; the Noble is a little bolder.
I like the lower-price-point Ohr Haganuz wines so I tried the Maron blend and the much more expensive French Blend (around $80), which The Jewish Link has reviewed. I liked the Maron, a 12-month barrel-aged blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and shiraz. The French Blend, barrel-aged for 20 months, was significantly smoother.
Shiloh Privilege is now one of our favorite wines, so I tried the Shor series and enjoyed the cabernet. Elizabeth enjoyed Shiloh’s Mosaic 2016 wines: Mosaic is a Bordeaux blend and Mosaic Exclusive Edition is a slightly more offbeat blend. Both are much smoother and more typical of big Israeli reds; at around $60 and $90 respectively, they are really an example of what Israeli winemakers are capable of.
But back to France: Two Bordeaux blends I tried at Elizabeth’s suggestion: the Chateau Rollan de By Medoc and the Chateau Malartic-Lagraviere Pessac-Leognan. Very smooth! In wine, I find you often do get what you pay for. The step-up varieties of the wines I buy are bolder and smoother.
I love sparkling wines for special occasions so I was happy to sample two Barons de Rothschild champagnes, a white and pink. I liked the rose for its touch of fruit without being too sweet.
In the spirits category, there is a newcomer named Heet that produces a line of flavored vodkas. Company head Marc Goldberg said he joined Royal three weeks ago to increase distribution. I sampled a Spicy Cinnamon. If you like that spice, this is for you! He also has recipes for cocktails. At the show, he mixed up some Mo-Heet-Os. If you want to try, here’s the recipe: 2 ounces Heet vodka, 2 lime wedges, 10 mint leaves, ½ ounce ginger or simple syrup, and soda water. Muddle the lime and mint in the bottom of a mixing glass. Add remaining ingredients. Shake well. Strain over ice into a highball glass. Top with soda water and garnish with a mint sprig. Goldberg printed several recipes on a card and all looked inviting.
The food selections were limited at the press portion of the event we attended, but the exhibitors represented had beautiful displays and tasty samples. Factory 220, from Passaic, with its Great Falls Bistro restaurant and Elements Catering division, continues to distinguish itself with culinary treats. Toast triangles with pesto and lamb bacon and small plates of risotto with brisket were outstanding. Factory 220’s Shamir Einhorn described the evening’s offerings. “We built a custom live action open air kitchen staffed with 10 chefs preparing 14 different dishes ranging from our prime center cut filet topped with Boondock’s bourbon BBQ sauce and pickled onions to our warm cinnamon buns topped with our crispy lamb bacon and vanilla icing. This was to showcase the Great Falls Bistro menu plus the capabilities of our full service catering company,” he said.
Silver Leaf Caterers offered tiny potatoes in two styles: one stuffed with shawarma and one with beef chili. An excellent easy-to-eat appetizer! West Wings had samples of barbecue chicken wings with a light flavorful sauce, requiring more than one napkin but worth it.
The timing of the KFWE is deliberate; it is always held shortly before Purim and Passover, peak times for wine-purchasing consumption. The show gets everyone ready to focus on menus, wines and guests. And this year I’d like to add a company-sized batch of Mo-Heet-Os.
By Bracha Schwartz