“KFWE was the event not to be missed this winter!”
KFWE completes an unprecedented worldwide tour with events in seven different cities
5 Towns Jewish Times
Building on the success of previous years, Royal Wine is proud to report that this year the Annual Kosher Food & Wine Experience took place in no less than 7 different cities across the globe. A total of over 7,000 people attended the events which featured great food from some of the best kosher restaurants as well as hundreds of wines from all over the world. “KFWE was the event not to be missed this winter,” comments Gabriel Geller, of Royal Wine, “it is incredible to see how popular quality wine is now in the kosher market!”
Prior to the now traditional KFWE in New York and Los Angeles, Royal Wine presented their wines last month in Miami, London, Paris, Atlanta as well as in Tel Aviv. Each of these events were preceded by a special session for the press so that the winemakers who flew in from France, Spain, Italy, Israel and California could introduce the journalists to their new wines and vintages.
Among the wines that were available for tasting were the new Herzog Generation VIII Padis Vineyard, Château Giscours, Château Malartic-Lagravière, Shiloh Heroes Edition, the boutique wines from Jezreel Valley winery, a delicious rosé from Vitkin winery, and many others. A very exciting new dessert wine was introduced in a kosher version for the first time ever. Château de Rayne-Vigneau, a first growth from Sauternes, France. According to Mr. Geller, many of the participants said it was their favorite wine of the night.
The diversity of the food was impressive; the finest kosher restaurants such as the Reserve Cut in New York City and Tierra Sur in California offered mouth-watering dishes to the lucky guests of the VIP Room, who for sure did not leave hungry. In London, the food delicacies were crafted by the world-famous Arieh Wagner.
In New York City, where the event was held at the Chelsea Piers, the sleek Current Lounge served as the VIP room where some premium and rare vintage wines were poured such as a jeroboam of Capçanes Peraj Haabib. In Los Angeles, it is on the rooftop of the breath-taking Petersen Automotive Museum where the guests fortunate enough to have had access to VIP tickets were served the best wines with truffled veal sweetbreads and delicious sushi. In Tel Aviv, the participants could enjoy a glass of Herzog Special Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from Lake County or some refreshing Walders Vanilla Vodka poured over a couple ice cubes while enjoying delicious food at the Leonardo City Tower Hotel.
The timing of the KFWE events was perfect as with the holidays of Purim and Pesach approaching, it was a great opportunity for the attendees to try all the new vintages and wines they would like to feature at their table for the holidays.
Following the success of the KFWE this year, kosher wine lovers should stay tuned as the show might take place in additional locations in the near future. “We are expecting to release many great wines next year as well” says Mr. Geller, “showcasing them in more cities is in the plans”.
Jay Buchsbaum Talks About the Kosher Wine Industry
“The number of vineyards and distilleries exhibiting was up from 32 last year to 43”
Cocktail class? We’ll drink to that at kosher show
The JC BY SIMON ROCKER
“OH, IT’S gorgeous,” said Eva Greenspan, taking her first sip of a newly minted cocktail. So new that a name has still to be found for the concoction of Louis Royer brandy, Moses date vodka, a few notes of Carvo chocolate-infused vodka and some orange bitters, topped with ginger ale and stirred not shaken.
A demonstration of cocktail-making was one of two breakout sessions introduced this year into Kedem Europe’s annual Kosher Food and Wine Experience in Piccadilly. The other, on how to pair food and wine, was led by JC food editor Victoria Prever.
“It’s very refreshing,” said Mrs. Greenspan, a Conservative councillor in Barnet, insisting that I try the cocktail, served in a cut-glass tumbler, which we were told was all the rage in fashionable London bars. By now the drink had acquired the name “Date Night” from one of the audience.
For his creative combinations, Andy Collinson, the demonstrator from Ace Bar Events, used some of the available kosher liqueurs, like Walders’ creamy but non-dairy Banoffee, which, he said, “you can mix with fruit juices and doesn’t split”.
Impressing the need not to stint on ice, Mr Collinson counselled: “Never use weak, watery ice. Ice makes the drink. If you over-dilute it, you are going to ruin it.”
Some barmen will even buy fist-sized high-quality ice cubes at £1 a pop, he revealed. “When you make the drink, there’s no cloud in the ice.”
We learned about the vogue for different flavours of bitters — “many people are making their own” — and drink decoration. “Some people go overboard with their garnishes,” he noted. “I just came back from an exhibition where a guy had little desk lamps which lit up the drinks.”
Shaking up a Martini Espresso, his arms pumped back and forth like pistons on an old steam train. And as a rabbi might offer guidance on lulav use, he stressed: “There are many different ways of shaking.”
Security was unusually tight outside the Sheraton Grand Hotel this year, perhaps to prevent gatecrashers trying to snaffle a freshly made duck pancake, pulled beef roll or a glass of Syrah or Chardonnay.
The number of vineyards and distilleries exhibiting was up from 32 last year to 43, with a particularly strong French presence.
“When you go to a supermarket, you don’t know what to buy,” said Mrs. Greenspan. “You are hesitant about buying a wine you haven’t heard of. We are creatures of habit. But here you have the opportunity to taste and to diversify.”
Not only was Rothschild Brut Champagne back after its successful debut last year. There were other French kosher champagnes to sample.
As the light sparkled in my glass of Champagne Demoiselle, Rebecca Bokobsa of distributors Selection Bokobsa explained: “It is more elegant, more feminine. The bubbles are very fine”.
Charline Drappier, 27 — the eighth generation of her family in the business — was handing out glasses of Drappier Champagne, the favourite bubbly of South Hampstead Synagogue board member Alan Traub.
“When you’re looking to buy kosher champagne it’s useful to know you can find good quality,” he said.
As I contemplated whether I should risk buying a Jeroboam of Rothschild on expenses, Keith Barnett, a member of the Chief Rabbinate Trust, ushered me over to another table to try a Grand Cru Bordeaux, the Chateau Léoville Poyferre.
“Now this is a proper wine,” he said. “I think it’s the star of the show.” With one previous vintage retailing in London at nearly £150 a bottle, this was a wine to be savoured, not swigged.
Mr Barnett has a Léoville at home, which he said he would “probably get round to opening for my retirement”.
A lighter, and at £18 a bottle, cheaper option was a Rothschild rosé, Les Lauriers — perfect as “an aperitif or on the beach”, sugested sales director Helene Combabessouse.
Other exhibitors included one of America’s best known kosher wineries, Herzog from California. A chef with one kosher caterer was particularly impressed by the new Clone #6 Cabernet Sauvignon 2014.
Also from California was Distillery No 209, which uniquely manufactures a “kosher for Pesach” gin. “You can’t use grain,” explained the distillery’s president, Jeff Hodson, “so we use cane sugar. There are only four places where you can source cane sugar of the quality [required]. We source ours from South Africa.”
Observing the hundreds of food and drink lovers from across the community flitting from stand to stand, he said he was glad he had come. “It’s a great show.”
“A variety of superb wines from all over the globe”
Kosher Food and Wine Experience
The ultimate Kosher Food and Wine Experience is returning for 2017 with new wines and more. It is an evening of learning, tasting and enjoying exceptional kosher wines from all over the globe. Meet the producers, learn the story and the history behind each bottle and enjoy the fun and atmosphere of the most unique annual wine tasting in Europe.
New for this year will be new wines, tutored food and wine pairings as well as cocktail making masterclasses. With a variety of superb wines from all over the globe, KFWE also gives wines enthusiast the chance to explore magnificent Israeli wines.
As well as offering guests unlimited wine tastings, KFWE has also become famous for the excellent and traditional Jewish food on offer thanks to leading kosher caterer, Arieh Wagner. The very best salt beef sandwiches, Vienna sausage, potatoe latkes and more. A true feast that gives guests a little more insight into the fun and deliciousness of Jewish banqueting!
“It is an evening of learning, tasting and enjoying exceptional kosher wines”
The Ultimate Kosher Food and Wine Experience Returns for 2017
It is an evening of learning, tasting and enjoying exceptional kosher wines from all over the globe. Meet the producers, learn the story and the history behind each bottle and enjoy the fun and atmosphere of the most unique annual wine tasting in Europe. New for this year will be new wines, tutored food and wine parings as well as cocktail making masterclasses.
With a variety of superb wines from all over the globe, KFWE also gives wine enthusiasts the chance to explore magnificent Israeli wines. With fascinating back stories and unusual ways in which each wine is produced, KFWE provides a wonderful platform for wine lovers to talk one on one with the producers and discover Israeli wines.
As well as offering guests unlimited wine tastings, KFWE has also become famous for the excellent and traditional Jewish food on offer thanks to leading kosher caterer, Arieh Wagner. The very best salt beef sandwiches, Vienna sausage, potato latkes and more. A true feast that gives guests a little more insight into the fun and deliciousness of Jewish banqueting!
“Oh, and the chocolate station! This was my downfall”
The 12th Kosher Food and Wine Experience
The Norrice Leader Simone Halfin reports
In February year, the Herzog Family and Caterer and co-founder of the KFWE, Arieh Wagner, changed its format slightly, adding an expertly tutored wine tasting to kick off the evening in the plush surroundings of the refurbished Sheraton Park Lane Hotel in Piccadilly. Settling into a comfortable chair at an elegant table, the first of many glasses was poured – a Kosher dry champagne, released that week from Barons de Rothschild. At around £64 the price was high, but the taste was exceptional. With a blend of 60% Chardonnay, from the Cote des Blancs and 40% Pinot Noir, from the Montagne de Reims, brand Managing Director Frederic Mairresse told us that the entire Rothschild family had worked together on this one project.
This was followed by a selection of excellent wines from Italy, Spain, California, France, Argentina, New Zealand and, of course, Israel. I think the Cabernet Sauvignon from grapes grown in two single Napa Valley vineyards and Tribe Red, both under the California Covenant label, were among my favourites, closely followed by Sonoma Chardonnay, a vanilla flavoured, creamy white from the Weinstock winery, also in California. Israeli winemaker Yoram Shalom, introducing Alexander the Great Amarolo, told us that the grapes sit for six weeks in the fridge, are then dried, and crushed when the water evaporates. If organic is what you are looking for, then go no further than Clos Mesorah, the new flagship wine from Anne and Moises Cohen from their vineyard in the Montsant, Priorat. Smooth, elegant, velvety, with grapes grown in slate soil – delicious. In total 38 wineries exhibited in the main hall this year.
And then the food … over 800 people steadily poured in, a mixture of old, young, chassidim, experts, novices, all eager to explore the delights on offer. For those who, as VIP’s, paid more, a private dining room allowed a more leisurely tasting, but I just plunged into the foray. Sushi, salt beef and, new this year, duck pancakes and lamb tagine to name a few delicacies. Oh, and the chocolate station! This was my downfall – so much choice! Also new this year was a whisky tasting station. This annual event is definitely not to be missed. It has given me the taste possibly to organise a mini local wine tasting evening locally.
Why not check out when the 2017 event is taking place and pay a visit.
“It starts with making absolutely magnificent wine that’s the most important thing.”
Kosher wine isn’t just about religion, it’s about fine drinking
Ham & High
Wine complying with Jewish dietary laws was largely made for ceremonial occasions but a growing market for recreational drinking has meant a leap in quality discovers. Bridget Galton
The growing market for kosher wines is seeing more producers making bottles that comply with Jewish dietary laws – with even the Barons de Rothschild getting in on the act.
Kedem, the UK’s largest importers of kosher wines, brought together 30 producers from France, Switzerland, the UK, Italy, Spain, the US, New Zealand, Israel and Finland to the recent Kosher Food and Wine Experience at the Park Lane Sheraton.
Jay Buchsbaum exec VP of marketing at the Royal Wine Corporation told gathered journalists: “It starts with making absolutely magnificent wine that’s the most important thing.”
The world’s 2,500 plus kosher wines now include Champagne Cuvee Kosher from the Barons de Rothschild – more famous for reds like Chateau Lafite. This Chardonnay and Pinot Noir blend with its notes of pear, nuts and white flowers “embodies the essence of the family’s winemaking values” said Champagne MD Frederic Mairesse.
The three winemaking branches of the family; Baron Eric, Baron Benjamin and Baroness Philippine joined forces on the project: “This is the first time in their history that all parts of the Rothschild family have come together on a project. It’s unprecedented. The target was to be very exclusive and premium quality. Rothschild expectations are so high we had to do something very special. Kosher wine is not just about making Kiddush on Fridays anymore. It’s about fine wine and fine drinking.”
To be kosher, the hands on production of wine from grape crushing to bottling must be carried out by Sabbath observant Orthodox Jews.
Ingredients must be kept from contact with grain – so no fermentation with yeasts from grains – and in a kind of religious get-out clause Mevushal Wines that are cooked can be handled by the non-observant or non Jews.
This has lead to techniques such as flash pasteurisation where the wine is heated to the required temperature then immediately cooled back down – but still under strict rabbinical supervision.
Some producers admitted going kosher was a commercial choice. For others like Domaine du Castel based 10 miles west of Jerusalem it was part of a tradition dating back to biblical times.
This spot in the Judean hills at 700 metres altitude facing the Mediterranean has seen grapes grown for centuries, but Castel’s cabernet sauvignon, merlot, petit verdot, malbec, chardonnay and cabernet franc grapes are somewhat younger. The domaine was founded in 1988 by self-confessed perfectionist Eli Ben-Zaken who makes soft reds full of black fruit spices, and oak aged Chardonnays. They use cement tanks, have minimised invasion in production and age their wines in French oak barrels.
Arriving in the 1970s he opened Italian restaurant Mamma Mia, the first in Jerusalem to serve home made pasta. He also planted vines.
“At the beginning it was completely a hobby the first vintage was 600 bottles, they soon turned the old chicken house into a winery and now its 150,000 bottles” says Eli’s daughter Ilana.
At Elvi in Spain they feel the very existence of their domaine is symbolic. In 1492 the Jews were expelled from Spain but 20 years ago, Moises and Anne Cohen bought a parcel of land.
“It feels a sentimental comeback to Spain where for years it was forbidden for Jews to buy land. We are somehow like the first Jewish family after many years,” say the Cohens. Their ancient vineyards have tiny yields of carignan, grenache and syrah but make award winning Rioja. The organic Clos Mesorah from the Priorat wine region is biodynamic, unfiltered, had its first vintage in 2009 and has won international awards for its elegance and complexity. It’s stocked in 3*Michelin establishments.
Over in California, Herzog has nine generations of winemaking under their belt making kosher wine since 1985 and investing in a state of the art winery with a kosher restaurant. Their oaked Burgundy-style creamy rich Chardonnays include the Russian River a cool terroir style with apple, tropical fruit and toasty vanilla oak is made using malolactic fermentation; kosher yeasts derived from grape skins.
Flintier are the Goose Bay Sauvignon Blancs made by Philip Jones in the cool climate of at New Zealand’s only kosher winery. Founded in 1990 and producing since 1994, he uses innovative one tonne bags and stainless steel tanks. When he arrive there in the 80s the industry was tiny, but by year three they’d won an award.
“I liked Sauvignons made in the oak aged fumee style. It gives it more depth, structure and character.”
He adds: “There’s no difference between our kosher and non kosher wines, we have observant Jews helping us make our wines some of them are mevushal we don’t see heating the wine makes any difference.”
At their Matar winery in the Golan Heights, Tal Pelter uses locally sourced shiraz grapes grown in Galilee and minimal pumping and handling methods to create their Stratus wine full of cocoa and spice. This 12 year old producer also makes CB a blend of cab sauv, shiraz petit verdot and cab franc that’s aged 14 months in oak barrels and is richly flavoured with coffee plum and violet. Not all their wines are kosher, as his brother Nir explains: “To understand why you need to meet my brother and look at his hands – he wants to be able to touch everything that’s why he wanted to be a winemaker. He can’t be a winemaker and not dig into the grapes, that was a compromise between me and him. I believe in the kosher wine industry, it’s the way to go.”
From the US Jeff Morgan at Covenant uses only wild yeast on Chardonnay grapes grown in Napa Valley vineyards. They also produce wines in Berkeley near San Francisco the only urban kosher winery in America since prohibition. Tribe is a mevushal wine using the flash detente method.
“After seven days the wine starts to ferment; it’s all kosher there’s no yeast, nothing added it just goes into barrels and ferments in there. It’s going back to what they did 3,000 years ago.”
A personal favourite was the rich Amarone style red from Alexander Winery in Beit Yitzhak, Israel where since 1996 Yoram Shalom has combined traditional and modern wine production – drying the grapes on straw mats for 70 days using low temperature supervision and ageing for 40 months to produce Amarolo a 16 percent red that has super intensity and richness.
“Leading kosher caterer Arieh Wagner will be creating a new and exciting menu for the generous buffet.”
KFWE 2016 The Ultimate Kosher Food and Wine Experience
Luxury Hospitality Magazine
Kedem Europe, organisers of the UK’s largest kosher wine and food event, has announced a combination of much-loved and new experiences at the Kosher Food & Wine Experience (KFWE) 2016.
To be held in the ballroom of the newly refurbished popular Sheraton Park Lane Hotel, London, W1, on Tuesday 16th February 2016, the KFWE 2016, which starts at 6:00 pm and offers a great evening out, will continue to offer the widest range of quality kosher wines, spirits and liqueurs for tasting.
To be held in the ballroom of the newly refurbished popular Sheraton Park Lane Hotel, London, W1, on Tuesday 16th February 2016, the KFWE 2016, which starts at 6:00 pm and offers a great evening out, will continue to offer the widest range of quality kosher wines, spirits and liqueurs for tasting.
As the UK’s largest importers of kosher wines, Kedem Europe have scoured Europe, the United States and Israel for top quality additions to their portfolio, and are pleased to include two new wineries; Pelters from Israel and Hagafen from the US, in the line-up of over 200 wines, from over 30 producers, which will be showcased.
Pelters will be showing exceptional kosher wines, produced at their Matar winery, which embrace Tal Pelter’s sophisticated wine-making techniques and the diversity of grape varieties which are grown in the vineyard based in the Golan Heights. Hagafen, in california’s Napa Valley, has been supplying The White House for over 35 years, and this will be the first time the range has been available in the UK.
Winemakers and producers will be on hand to offer tastings of their recently released wines, and offering advice on wine selection, food pairing, drinking and storing suggestions to all who attend. Wines and spirits will be coming from France, Spain, United States, New Zealand, Israel and Finland.
A highlight from France will be the newly released Barons de Rothschild Champagne a rich, complex and ethereal wine made by blending wines aged at least three years.
William Grant, known for their exceptional single malts, will be new to the event, showcasing their finest whiskies including Glenfiddich, The Balvenie and Grant’s.
Leading kosher caterer Arieh Wagner will be creating a new and exciting menu for the generous buffet which has become such a feature of the KFWE and Walders will be mixing up great new cocktails with their parev liqueurs at the free cocktail bar.
And for the first time, a VIP ticket has been created by Kedem Europe, offering a number of exclusive experiences. These include an enhanced food menu served in a private dining space, served with some exceptional wines which are not included in the general wine tasting; vintage whisky expressions will be served too and there will be a cigar rolling demonstration.
“Judging by the throngs that now queue up for both, KFWE seems to be getting that reaction.”
Experience a taste of Heaven
By Victoria Prever
‘It’s a Jewish wine tasting – people come to eat,” quips kosher caterer, Arieh Wagner, one of the co-founders of the Kosher Food and Wine Experience (KFWE).
When wine writer Jancis Robinson visited 2011’s KFWE, she termed it a wine-tasting extravaganza, writing: “Unlike the usual business-like wine tasting, this was a full evening’s entertainment with music, a lavish buffet and lashings of space between each producer’s table.”
Wagner, in-house caterer at The Park Lane Sheraton Hotel, where the event takes place, recalls Robinson was pleasantly surprised by the event.
“There was so much food, she thought it was more like a wedding than a wine tasting!”
For the past five years, food tables at the annual event have groaned under the weight of kosher sushi, a beetroot-cured smoked salmon carvery, noodle bar, lamb tagine and a salt beef carvery.
“No Jewish function is kosher without salt beef,” laughs Wagner.
But whatever the jokes are about Jews and food (and wine) this event is definitely not all about the nosh. Wagner and Morris Herzog – director of wine distributor Kedem Europe – founded it 10 years ago as a vehicle to educate kosher wine drinkers.
“It started with about 50 people – most of them clients,” explains Benjamin Gestetner, manager of Kedem Europe and the man responsible for staging the event, which now attracts 700-800 hungry, kosher wine enthusiasts.
Back in 2005 they took a small conference room at the Park Lane Hotel in order to showcase their wines.
“It was just called a wine tasting,” explains Gestetner. “The idea was to show the world that kosher wines could be high-end and not just sweet.”
The intention was also to educate the kosher wine drinking public that there was fabulous wine out there, and to attempt to retrain their palates from sweet, kiddush wine.
Morris Herzog and his family – who own Kedem’s older and bigger sister company, Royal Wine Corp – are part of a wine dynasty going back eight generations.
It began in Czechoslovakia in 1848, when Baron Phillip Herzog founded a winery supplying wines to the Emperor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire – earning him his title. It was seized by the Nazis at the start of the Second World War, but the Herzog family survived by hiding, supported by smuggled profits from their winery.
In 1948 they left Communist Czechoslovakia for the United States, settling in New York City. Head of the family, Eugene Herzog, became involved in Royal Wine Corp – a business founded by an earlier immigrant – and by 1958, had – Victor Kiam-like – purchased the company.
The Herzogs continually raised the bar for the quality of kosher wines.
“Ernest Herzog – Morris’s father – was one of the first winemakers in New York,” explains Gestetner. “In 1985 they started producing wine from their own kosher winery in California – the first kosher production of proper table wines.”
Not only did they make their own, but they also managed to secure the production of kosher wine by producers worldwide – from France and Italy to Hungary, and Australia and New Zealand to Chile, Argentina and the United States.
This led, in 1986, to the first kosher production of Rothschild wine in France – the first kosher Bordeaux. A stream of similarly high quality wine labels have followed suit.
“The Herzogs went to many of the great wineries to persuade them to produce a kosher vintage and educate them that the kosher consumer would appreciate their wines,” Gestetner says.
Royal Wine Corp is now a giant in kosher wine distribution, with many of its brands crossing over to the mainstream market.
“Bartenura, our moscato, is the largest imported Italian moscato to the entire US moscato market – not just the kosher market. It’s also popular in the UK,” smiles Gestetner, who estimates that Royal is now responsible for 80 per cent of the kosher wine market – in the UK at least.
And Gestetner proudly shares that its top end wines are also crossing over into the mainstream too.
“Our champagne made by Drappier – is the house champagne at the Élysée Palace – a top champagne, that just happens to be kosher.”
In 2004 Morris was dispatched to London to head-up sister company Kedem Europe, and he has continued to develop its portfolio in the same vein as his forefathers.
It was under his management that the wine tasting shows were started and since that first one they have grown steadily.
“It is now part of the Jewish calendar in the UK. The US took the idea and have done it their way and the New York show hosts more than 2,000 guests over two days from one of Manhattan’s Chelsea piers.”
There is now a series of them attended by all their top wine-makers: Tel Aviv (a first for 2015), London, New York and California. A fifth show takes place in Miami towards the end of the year.
Co-founders Herzog and Wagner are both driven by a desire to show the public how good kosher wine and food is.
“The Herzogs and I share the view that we want to bring quality kosher wine to the market. We want to shed that dusty old image – it’s no longer about roast chicken and Palwin No 10,” says Wagner.
“I want people to say this wine is the best I’ve ever drunk or this duck is the best I’ve eaten. That’s ultimately the reason why I got involved.”
Judging by the throngs that now queue up for both, KFWE seems to be getting that reaction.
“KFWE is perfect for everyone who enjoys wine.”
A showcase for the best kosher food and drink, with a cocktail bar and wine, spirits and liqueurs
By The List
With a great reputation for presenting premium kosher wines, spirits, liqueurs and excellent food, the next Kosher Food and Wine Experience is on Wed 4 Feb 2015, and Kedem Europe is looking forward to seeing you there.
This unique wine tasting event gives you direct access to winemakers from around the world, who will share their knowledge, and their wines, with you. There is even a chance to sample samples from the barrel from top Bordeaux Chateaux.
We will also be providing our inventive cocktail bar, and Arieh Wagner and his team, leading UK kosher caterers, will create a generous and delicious buffet to complement the wines.
The KFWE will return to the Sheraton Park Lane Hotel in Piccadilly, London, W1. The banqueting suite will be turned into a wine-lovers magnet, with award winning vintages from established producers from Israel, Spain, Italy, France, New Zealand, California, Washington State, and Oregon, and some newcomers too.
Don’t miss out on this once-a-year experience. The KFWE is perfect for everyone who enjoys wine, from occasional tipplers to collectors, sommeliers and retailers.
“We want to train the public that there is great wine out there.”
Getting a flavour of our food-and-drink future at KFWE 2015
By Victoria Prever
In the past 10 years, Kedem’s Kosher Food and Wine Experience (“KFWE”) has grown from a small wine tasting for 50 or so invited guests, to an event so popular that it fills the ballroom at the Park Lane Sheraton Hotel with nearly 800 thirsty – and hungry – wine tasters. For Kedem Europe it is an opportunity to showcase Kedem’s continually increasing portfolio of high-class kosher wines, spirits and beers and educate the public in how fine kosher wine can be.
“We want to train the public that there is great wine out there,” declares Benjamin Gestetner, the Kedem manager responsible for the show.
Supervised caterer Arieh Wagner – co-founder of the event and in-house kosher caterer at the hotel – feels the same.
“We want to bring high-quality kosher food and wine to the market,” he says. “The quality of kosher has improved drastically over the years. The comparison between what was in the shops ten years ago and what you can buy now is like night and day.”
Mr. Wagner credits the Herzogs with bringing fantastic kosher wine to the market.
“They push it so hard and the wines they distribute are a match for regular non-kosher wines – they are every bit as good.”
The event brings together some of the top kosher wines in the world – many of them award-winning.
On show will be vintages from the Herzog family’s own vineyards, as well as many from other winemakers. Some, like the Rothschilds, had previously been making excellent non-kosher wine but were persuaded by the Herzog’s to produce a kosher vintage. Others, such as the Elvi family and the team behind Kerem Montefiore in Israel, were kosher from the outset.
Most of the wines at this year’s show come from Israel – a country that has gone from (pretty well) nought to more than 36 million bottle annually in about 20 years. Before then it was not even considered a wine region.
No fewer than 15 wineries from across the tiny country will be sharing their best vintages. The stories behind the vineyards are as caries as the wine they produce.
Many of them, including Alexander, Segal, Montefiore and Flam, are family businesses.
Alexander winery was founded by Yoram Shalom in 1996. His love of wine was inspired by watching his father, Alexander, making wine at home. When his father injured his hip, he asked that someone in his family keep his winemaking alive. Yoram took over in 1995 but kept his day job, working in television for a further three years until he was ready to become a full-time winemaker and winery owner.
The Flam family describe themselves as a family that have lived, breathed and produced wines for more than 50 years. Inspired by a trip around the Tuscan Chivanti vineyards in 1996, brothers Gilad and Golan decided to found a boutique winery in Israel. They achieved this aim in 1998, together with their mother Kami. Their passion for wine had been inspired by father, Israel Flam, who had been chief winemaker for many years at one of Israel’s top wineries. Their sister, Gefen, later joined them, bringing the entire family into the winemaking business.
The Montefiore family also have a long established connection with wine. Rachel and David Montefiore’s father Adam has for many years been seen as an ambassador of Israeli wine but their history stretches way back to their great-grandfather, Moses Montefiore, the Anglo-Jewish philanthropist. Moses Montefiore built the first Jewish residential settlement outside the Old City 150 years ago. He urged Israel’s Jews ro plant wines, but did not plant any himself. The winery is named Kerem Moshe Montefiore – which translates as Moses Montefiore’s vineyard.
Spanish winemaker Elvi is another family business. Owner Moises Cohen studied agricultural engineering at Haifa’s Technion. His wife and business partner, Ana, studied History of Art. After 15 years during which Moises researched agriculture in Israel and Spain, the couple moved permanently to Spain 20 years ago at about the same time the Spanish wine industry began to bloom – and they now make world-class wines which compete successfully with their non-kosher competitors. Seven of Elvi’s wines are already considered by the Spanish wine guide Penin to be in the top 180 wines in Spain and their Rioja is one of the most acclaimed in the country. This year, Clos Mesorah Red Blend Montsant scored 93 in the Ultimate Wine Challenge.
Another kosher Spanish wine – Capcanes – which will also be represented at the show, has also competed favourably with its non-kosher competitors. In 2011, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, the most respected wine review in America, awarded the Capcanes 2007 La Flor del Flor and Peraj Ha’abib scores of 94 and 95 (out of 100) respectively. At that point, the highest scores ever for a kosher wine. Their 2012 Peraj Ha’abib appears in Penin’s 2015 guide.
These are not only kosher wines walking away with the top songs. Covenant, the label made in America by Jeff Morgan, is now considered to many to be the best kosher wine on the market. Jancis Robinson has described his wines as thrilling wines “that just happen to be kosher” and “what may be the best kosher wine I have ever tasted.”
As well as the lengthy list of Israeli wines, there will be five American labels, three Spanish and wines both from France (Rothschild) and New Zealand (Goose Bay).
Add to that a cocktail bar using creamy, sweet liqueurs from Schmerling – which produces a liquid chocolate based on its own Swiss-made chocolate – and from Walders, which do a range of advocaat-based liqueurs as well as a range of liqueur chocolates and from Heavens liqueurs – which offers nougat, dark chocolate, caramel toffee and cappuccino flavours – and it would be hard to find a reason not to visit this year’s KFWE.
“Whether it is kosher of not is irrelevant to the quality.”
A Wine Expert’s Guide to the Kosher Food and Wine Experience 2015
Adam Montefiore will be at this year’s KFWE to share his knowledge of Israeli and kosher wines from around the world.
For the past 25 years, Adam has been at the forefront of efforts to spearhead the development of Israeli wines worldwide. He has been referred to as “The Ambassador of Israeli wine” and the “English Voice of Israeli wine.” He is the wine writer for The Jerusalem Post and is co-author of The Wine Route of Israel, Wines of Israel and The Book of New Israeli Food.
“The world of kosher wine has opened up dramatically over the past few years, and now the range is enormous,” says Adam. “There are many wine-producing countries creating excellent kosher wines today, from both the new and old world.”
The selection of kosher wines available in the UK, both through kosher and specialist wine retailers and the major grocery chains, is broad, covering every wine style to suit every palate, with excellent wines coming from Israel, Italy, Spain, France, New Zealand and the USA in particular – and there are great examples of the best from each country available for tasting at the KFWE 2015.
You can taste top French wines from the barrel including the first ever kosher Chateau Grand Puy Ducasse – Pauillac and the new vintage of Chateau Moulin Riche 2013, as well as the new 2012 vintages from Chateau Giscours, Chateau Le Crock and Les Roches Yon-Figeac. Leading Bordeaux winemaker Leoville will also be revealing its prestigious 2012 Leoville Poyferre.
From Israel, top producer Castel will be presenting its 2011 Grand Vin including a rose, and Carmel will be bringing its flagship Yatir and Limited ranges. The Montefiore, Barkan and Or Haganuz wineries will also be showcasing their production, amongst others.
Jeff Morgan from Covenant winery in Napa Valley, California will showcase his finest.
Kedem Europe stages the Kosher Food and Wine Experience. The company is the largest importer and wholesale distributor of kosher wine, spirits and liqueurs in the UK and its portfolio covers every quality kosher wine-producing country in the world.
While the popularity of kosher wines is growing, there are still some misconceptions that surround their production. Kosher wine is harvested, fermented, aged and bottled in the same way as its non-kosher equivalent.
“Whether it is kosher of not is irrelevant to the quality. A badly made kosher wine is a bad wine. A quality kosher wine is a quality wine,” says Adam.
So where are the world’s best kosher wines coming from? “I believe the best quality and range of kosher wines come from Israel – but when I am biased!” he says.
And what for him makes Israeli wine special? “Israel represents the ancient world. It is a new world wine in one of the oldest wine-growing regions on earth.”
“Israeli wines also fit well into current drinking trends. Firstly there is a leaning towards Mediterranean style blends. Israeli reds are becoming more elegant and less bombastic. There has als0 been a mini revolution in the quality of white wines in recent years.”
From the nearly 200 wines that will be shown at the KFWE 2015, Adam has chosen 12 (see right) which he recommends you seek out and taste during the evening.
“I come here every year and I always find a new wine or liqueur to go and buy.”
Kosher Wine Elicits a Spirited Response
By Simon Rocker West End
At an evening of food and wine, you might well start with a glass of champagne, particularly if the bottle bears the legendary name of Rothschild.
The first kosher Barons de Rothschild champagne, released this week at £60 – plus, was one of the alcoholic highlights of the 2016 Kosher Food and Wine Experience, held at the SHeraton Park Lane Hotel in Piccadilly on Tuesday.
“It balances the freshness of Chardonnay with the toasty notes of Pinot Noir and the silkiness of the blend because of the long ageing,” explained brand managing director Frederic Mairesse. “We age it for four years.”
Those among the 900 guests who opted to delay their tasting until dessert may have been disappointed as the samples were rapidly downed.
Consumers at the Kedem Europe event ranged from sleek young businesswomen in knee-high boots to frock-coated Chasidim.
“It’s a complete cross-section of British Jewry,” observed Martin Kaye of book distributors Kuperard.
Brandishing his exhibition handbook, he added: “I mark the wines I like and try them throughout the year.” One of his favourites was Amarolo, a blended red from high-end Israeli boutique winery Alexander, for which his written comment was “Magic.”
Thirty producers from four continents exhibited their fine wines, whiskies and liqueurs, from the Finnish Moses vodka to goose Bay wines from New Zealand.
In between whisking their glasses round the various stalls, visitors could enjoy a buffet selection including freshly rolled duck pancakes, beetroot-coloured sushi, lamb tagine and salt beef in rye bread rolls.
Justin Kohn of Israeli vineyard Tabor recommended a German-style white, Adama Gewurztraminer, to follow the spicy tagine. “A little fruitiness takes the acidity away,” he said. “Some people in Israel enjoy that.”
First time exhibitor Matar, based in the Golan Heights, which launched a kosher range four years ago, was another illustration of Israel’s growing wine trade. Matar’s Cumulus 2013 red was commended by Londoner Belinda Marks.
“I come here every year and I always find a new wine or liqueur to go and buy,” she said.
Russian-born Katerina Bomstein’s choice was the flagship red, Clos Mesorah, from Anne and Moises Cohen, Israelis who founded a vineyard in Spain.
“I love good wines,” said Ms. Bomstein, who works for the Spanish Tourist Board in London.
“I buy kosher wine on a Friday night. This is my first time here and I love it.”
Another new exhibitor was Hafagen, one of a number of Californian producers.
“Any time an Israeli dignitary visits the White House, we supply the wine,” said its marketing director, Michael Gelven.
Samples included Hagafen’s popular Pinot Noir. “Ever since the movie Sideways, Pinot Noir sales have gone through the roof,” Mr. Gelven reported.
A selection of top malt whiskies – Glenfiddich among them – was also available at the event for the first time.
As one guest calculated, the event’s £50 entry price was decent value on the basis that “if you go into a shop and buy a £15 bottle of wine on spec and don’t like it, it’s a waste.
“But you can go round here and try a selection of wines and find out what you like.”
“Make sure you get your ticket, before their are all gone”
All the kosher fun of the fair
By Victoria Prever
Polish off your tasting glass and sharpen your elbows – this year’s Kosher Food and Wine Experience is only just around the corner, with more exhibitors than ever.
The huge food and wine tasting – conceived originally by the Herzog family, to showcase Kedem kosher wines and spirits – is now a calendar fixture for many of London’s kosher wine cognoscenti.
“This year will be a little bit different – the Park Lane Hotel has been modernised and refurbished,” explains Morris Herzog, the managing director of Kedem Europe and Royal Wine Europe, “and we will be launching several new wines.”
After several years, the formula might have started to get a little tired, so the Herzogs and co-founder, Arieh Wagner – the food part of the experience – have made a few tweaks this time around to keep customers on their toes.
“This year it will be more or less the same format – you don’t change a winning horse – but there will be a few different dishes on offer and we have rearranged the space to stop it being so crowded,” says Wagner, who has been behind the popular sushi/salt beef menu since the event’s inception.
“We had 800 guests last year, which was a lot, so we are capping the numbers this year and upping the quality of the experience by dividing the dining between two areas. The same menu will be offered in the main downstairs area, as well as in an additional upstairs area.”
On the menu this year will be a pasta station with various sauces, duck pancakes, sushi, lamb tagine with couscous or rice, the usual salt beef carvery and a panini station with salt beef and cold cuts of meat.
According to Herzog there will be 100 VIP tickets on offer, which entitle the bearers to a number of exclusive experiences: an enhanced food menu served in a private area – no need for those razor-sharp elbows in there – with a range of premium wines on offer which will not be available in the main wine-tasting room.
“In the VIP lounge, there will be private dining, as well as premium vintage wine whisky tastings, unique wines and a foie gras station,” says Herzog.
At £100 per head, the VIP ticket (which bizarrely will include a free cigar) is not cheap, but should offer a premium experience, with some very special wines available to taste including Flam Noble, BB by Pelter and some of Herzog’s vintage wines.
In the main show area, joining the familiar winemakers, will be some new faces. From America comes the best-named winery – why has noone used it before?- Hagafen Wine Cellars and from Israel there is “Matar by Pelter,” the kosher label from the Pelter winery – one of Israel’s top non-kosher producers.
Cellars is in Napa Valley – the heart of California’s premier wine grape region. Winemakers Irit and Ernie Weir founded their estate in 1979 and their first commercially released vintage was harvested in 1980.
“I’m one of the veteran producers of kosher wine,” says Ernie Weir. He previously spent 20 years as vineyard and nursery manager of Domaine Chandon, which was co-founded by French champagne house Moet and Chandon and the first French-owned sparkling wine house in the Napa Valley.
The Weir’s vineyard has grown over the years to a well-established wine company whose wines are distributed throughout North America and overseas. Since 1980, Hagafen wines have been serves on numerous occasions at the White House to visiting VIPs including a succession of Israeli presidents and at President Barack Obama’s White House Sedarim.
“We used to supply wine to Ronald Reagan when he was Governor of California. When the wine buyer there went to work at the White House, he carried on buying from us,” says Weir.
The wines that are being produced by the Weirs include Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Roussanne, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah and a White Riesling. They also produce Brut Cuvee sparkling wines, as well as several late harvest dessert wines.
Pelter is a family winery and was considered one of a select few five-star wineries by the late Daniel Rogov – Israel’s top wine critic.
Anyone who knows anything about wine in Israel will be familiar with this boutique winery, which has a near cultish following.
Tal Pelter began to make wine on his family’s farm at Moshav Zofit in the Golan Heights in 2002, after completing his oenology studies in Western Australia.
He produced 4,000 bottles in 2002 and, with his brother Nir, has expanded production and increased sales ever since. They have vineyards across Israel.
Until they launched the Matar label in 2014, having spent three years putting in place the measures to achieve kosher certification, you could not get a hechshered version of this critically acclaimed wine. Matar is a distinctly different winery from Pelter but shares a winemaker and location. Pelter decided to create Matar as an arm of his Pelter winery instead of making the original winery kosher, as he still wanted to actively make his own wines. He continues to make non-supervised wine at Pelter but at Matar, the wines are made by observant Jews with his guidance.
From France there will be the newly released Barons de Rothschild Champagne, the results of a collaboration between three branches of the Rothschild family.
For whisky lovers, William Grant – known for its exceptional single malts – will be at the event for the first time, showcasing its finest whiskies, including Glenfiddich, The Balvenie and Grant’s. Another spirit new to the show if from the Bokobsa family, which has been producing kosher spirits since 1870.
Abraham Bokobsa invented Boukha, a brandy made with Mediterranean figs, in 1880 in his distillery in Tunisia, and the same natural recipe has been used ever since. The Bokobsa also produce Louis Royer Cognac and a large range of kosher wines and spirits.
If the Kosher Food and Wine Experience is not already in your calendar, make sure you get your ticket, before their are all gone.
“The simple guideline is for consumers to step up to the counter and eat as much as they want!”
Notes From the Cellar
By Mort Hochstein
When attending the Kosher Food and Wine Experience it would help to be Jewish and it would be even better if you understood the rules of kosher that govern wine and food service, particularly for observant practitioners.
Most of the crowd at the annual Kosher Food and Wine Experience fall into that group, and so they are not surprised when a server turns his back on a thirsty supplicant and pours wine from a bottle you cannot see. Those who know the law understand this is to prevent you from seeing the bottle and somehow contaminating its kosher status. And, if you want a second pour, that won’t be possible immediately; you’ll have to come back later with different or freshly rinsed stemware.
Those glasses, by the rules of the rabbis, must be individually rinsed in cold water before being put to use, even when they’re fresh from the glass factory. The people who sponsor the KFWE send a team to a local mikvah to rinse new glasses individually. A mikvah, for the uninitiated, is a humble pool offering spiritual support to observant Jews. It’s not for swimming. In fact, participants must take a cleansing bath before immersion in the mikvah.
For wine to be kosher, it has to contain only kosher ingredients, which means that from the crushing of the grapes to the bottling, the wine must be handled only by Sabbath observant Jews. In ancient times, wine was sometimes associated with pagans and idol worship, and the rabbis created rules to prevent Jews from consuming wine that might have been associated with an idolatrous offering. So they created meshuval wine, juice that had been cooked to such a high degree that it lost all character and became so off putting that even idol worshipers would shun it. They ruled that only meshuval wine could be served to a Jew by a non-Jewish server. Fortunately, modern technology has taken the sting out of meshuval wine and it is perfectly palatable these days, no matter who the server may be.
Kosher Food and Wine Experience is an annual celebration of kosher food, wine and spirits. There are KFWEs in New York and other cities; NYC’s is sponsored by Kedem, the nation’s major producer, importer and distributor of kosher wine and spirits. Vendors and buyers, restaurateurs, caterers and journalists cram a huge hall on the Hudson River in lower Manhattan in the daylight hours and the public is invited to come and fress, meaning drink and eat, possibly to excess, in the evening.
The simple guideline is for consumers to step up to the counter and eat as much as they want, or as much as the server will give them at one time. Attendants are much more generous on the food lines, and there is no prohibition against coming back for second helpings.
The choice of food is interesting. On my visits, I focus on smoked salmon and exotic seafood such as whitefish and herring in all their tasty formulations. I am not looking for hamburgers (always popular), but I am happy to find a sliced steak or skewered lamb. Oddly enough, with opportunities to try all sorts of exotic meats and other kosher delicacies, there are always crowds lined up for pizza.
And, says Kedem V.P. Jay Buchsbaum, cholent is one of the most popular dishes. Cholent is true mother’s food, aka mommaloschen. It’s a slow-cooked stew, with any kind of meat and beans, and other vegetables, placed into a low-temperature oven on Friday http://johnmariani.com/current-issue/KWF%20POURING.jpgto be served the next day, because observant Jews do not cook on Saturday (Shabbos). Again, with all sorts of rich and expensive delicacies to be had for the asking, this peasant dish attracts long lines of devotees.
Kosher Food and Wine Experience also has become a dating occasion for many young people. This season’s events will occur Feb. 17, in Paris, Jan. 31, London, Feb. 1, and Tel Aviv, Israel Feb. 6.
The advance sale for NYC has already been brisk and Kedem expects to entertain some 3,000 thirsty and hungry patrons, eager to spend about $125 for an evening of all-out eating and drinking. Gabriel Geller, Kedem executive in charge of quality control, says many of the consumers return every year. One major buyer orders 250 tickets at a shot, presumably for family and clients, and many others, Geller reports, buy several dozen at a time.
“Open to everyone, the event features wine tasting with free-flowing wine!”
Kosher Food & Wine Experience
The Kosher Food and Wine Experience (the biggest kosher food and wine event this side of the Atlantic) is returning to London for another year. Open to everyone, the event features wine tasting with free-flowing wine, cocktail masterclasses and a buffet with traditional dishes like salt beef sandwiches and potato latkes.
“Wine lover and kosher food lovers you are in for a treat!”
Kosher Food and Wine Experience
By ON in London
Wine lover and kosher food lovers you are in for a treat! On 1st February, the Sheraton Grand London Park Lane hotel will open the ballroom doors to host the Kosher Food and Wine Show Experience. There will be over 200 Kosher wines, sprits and liqueurs on offer to try and over kosher food to get your taste buds excited!
Winemakers and producers will offer tastings of their newly launched wines, there will be advice on the wine selection, food pairings as well as a cocktail making masterclass, something in there for everyone!
Time: 6.30PM – 9.30PM
Single: £50 – One ticket to main tasting and buffet
Double: £90 – Two tickets to main tasting and buffet
VIP: £100 – One ticket to VIP lounge, main tasting and buffet
Sheraton Grand London Park Lane