New Wines for Passover 2017 Run the Gamut

The biggest news for kosher wines in 2017 is that there is really no trend and the cross section of new wines is perhaps the best testimony to the fact just how much the category has grown in recent years. Some of the new wines include Terrenal Seleccionado 2015 (a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Monastrell), Deccolio Prosecco, and Sara Bee Moscato.

The Royal Wine Corporation, which has been in the forefront of winemaking and importing wines for more than six decades from some of the best winemaking regions all over the world, prides itself in selecting some of the best international wines. Its introductions for Passover include: Herzog Special Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Lake County, Herzog Special Edition Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford, Herzog Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Spring Mountain, Vitkin Israeli Journey Pink, Vitkin Israeli Journey White, Goose Bay Two, Hemispheres, Yatir Viognier, Covenant Blue C Rosé, Covenant Blue C Viognier, Château Soutard Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, Château Malartic-Lagravière Pessac-Léognan, Château Giscours Margaux, Château de Rayne-Vigneau Sauternes, Château Hauteville Saint-Estèphe, Jezreel Valley Levanim, Jezreel Valley Carignan.

Allied Importers USA, the 2nd largest importer and distributor of kosher wines in the United States, imports from family owned wineries, where passionate winemakers, technological innovations and prime vineyard locations have resulted in wines of superior quality. Their introductions for Passover 2017 include Dalton Alma Crimson, Dalton Alma Scarlet, Dalton Cabernet Sauvignon M, Dalton Canaan Moscato, Dalton Grenache, Dalton Matatia 2013, Tenuta Monchiero Barolo, Jerusalem Vineyards Gertstein Chardonnay 2014 Special Edition, Jerusalem Vineyards Gertstein Marselan 2014 Special Edition, Cantina Giuliano Costa Toscana, Vermentino 2016, Cantina Giuliano Costa Toscana, La Gioia 2015, Gros Onyx, Gros Black Onyx and Gvaot Dances In White.

Yarden imports quality Israeli wines from the Golan Heights Winery and Galil Mountain Winery. Premium brands imported to the United States include Yarden, the internationally recognized flagship brand, Golan and Galil Mountain. The company was established in 2001 as a fully owned subsidiary of Golan Heights Winery, Israel. The 2013 Yarden Bar’on Vineyard is made from a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Syrah and 11% Petit Verdot. These percentages reflect the proportions of these varieties in this vineyard, thus giving a unique perspective into the specific site. The 2013 Yarden Rom is made up of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah grapes. All fruit is grown in their best vineyards on the central and northern Golan Heights. After aging for 18 months in French oak barrels, the wine was bottled without filtration.

The Abrabanel name has represented nobility for over a century. Don Isaac Abarbanel, known as the “Abarbanel” was the leader of the Separdic Jewry before the exile from Spain in 1492. Today the esteemed Abarbanel name continues to represent the very best. Abarbanel wines are emblazoned with the coat-of-arms awarded to Don Isaac in the 15th century and have been produced by his descendants for the past 25 years. Abarbanel introduces the following wines for 2017;  Lemminade Gewurztraminer and Lemminade  Riesling– crisp, fruity white wines. Abarbanel Chardonnay ’90 made its debut for Passover 1992 –as one of the very first quality kosher varietals and has been a leader in the unoaked Chard category ever since. Made in the White Burgundy style, their 25th Anniversary Vintage (’15) is now on the market. Crisp, clean with citrus, apples, pears and pineapple notes, this wine is a perennial favorite. Single Vineyard Designation – hand harvested, small batch production. Unfiltered is the word for Abarbanel Cabernet Sauvignon their 2015 vintage is out and is full of ripe black cherry fruit with a touch of tobacco and very moderate tannins so it’s ready to drink right now. Hand harvested and produced in small batches.

BREAKING NEWS: Report Prime Experience Cancels Passover Program

La Jolla, CA – Guests planning to spend Passover at the luxury Hilton La Jolla were jolted this week when they learned that the Prime Experience has cancelled the holiday program. According to several guests who contacted Kosher Today, they received an e-mail notifying them that the program had been cancelled less than four weeks from the first night of the Seder. It was not clear whether Prime was relocating the program to another location. One report said that the program would be relocated to a luxury hotel in New Mexico, but this could not be confirmed. Prime had announced the new 2017 location in San Diego with a great deal of fanfare even highlighting the fact that it was “Zika Free.” With prices beginning at nearly $5,000 per person, it was considered one of the most luxurious Passover programs for 2017. Kosher Today was not able to learn the reason for the cancellation in time for this edition.  The Prime Experience is part of the Prime Hospitality Group, owned by Joey Allaham, that includes The Prime Grill and Prime at the Bentley Restaurants and the Prime Butcher Shop.

Kosher Independent Stores Concerned Discounter will Hinder “One-Stop” Shopping

Brooklyn – The scene of large crowds at the new Bingo Supermarket on 60th Street in Boro Park several days before the recent Purim holiday is disconcerting to many of the area’s kosher supermarkets and smaller grocery stores as they prepare for the upcoming Passover holiday. The new Costco-like kosher super store offered steep discounts for many of the foods that were used for the Mishloach Manot and for other items like costumes, toys, and special Judaica items used for the holiday. While the new store has challenged retailers in the area since it opened several months ago, the concern is that Bingo will lure their usual Passover customers with many loss leaders, including hand-made Shmura Matzohs. One distributor told Kosher Today: “What we saw on Purim was how one store can become a key holiday destination and that is particularly a problem for the locals this Pesach.” For many of the kosher supermarkets in the area, being a “one-stop” destination for Passover is extremely important for the bottom line. The distributor continued: “They work on very small mark-ups on many of the items and if they lose business to Bingo, I cannot imagine their having a good holiday season.” He said that because Bingo does not have the variety many of the independents have, customers will still have to make a stop at the traditional kosher supermarket but with a far smaller shopping cart. Meanwhile, rumors are rampant that Bingo’s next stop is Williamsburg and that it is also actively searching for a location in Monsey. Kosher Today has not been able to confirm these rumors.

Florida Barely Escapes a Poor Passover Season, Say Experts

Orlando – The Grove Kosher Market in Boca Raton is preparing to send out its trucks all over Florida come Passover. “We will be delivering on Chol Hamoed – Receive your food fresh for the second days,” reads an ad in multiple Jewish publications. This is welcome news for several thousand vacationers who will be spending Passover in Orlando despite earlier Zika scares. Many doctors have given Orlando a clean bill of health, albeit late, while still being cautious about South Florida. Travel experts say that some hotels in South Florida will not be full this year but that Orlando picked up recently, not only in organized programs like Majestic Retreats in the Rosen Plaza Hotel, the Hyatt Regency and the Waldorf Astoria but in the hundreds of houses that are rented out for the holiday. In addition to The Grove, many New York-based supermarkets like Season’s are also offering delivery services to Florida. Some vacationers will rely on shipped meals like Batya’s Kitchen. One program operator said that “it has been a tough season so far, but it looks like we will pull it out in the 11th hour.”

A Vintage 2011 Wine that is Even Better in 2017 and Awesome in 2027

Golan Heights – Some wines get better with time and are a good bet for a great wine experience, even for this coming Passover. The bottom line is that even if the label features a year that has already passed, the chances are that it is better.  The 2011 Yarden Katzrin is one such example. The wine reveals ripe red and black fruit notes intermingled with a rich array of characters including fresh herbs, roasted coffee, aniseed and earth. This deeply colored, full-bodied wine is rich and complex, and displays great length. Imagine that the company is advising that as good as the wine is today, it will be even better a decade or more from now. “While tempting to uncork now, the wine will continue to improve in the bottle in the coming years, and should remain in excellent drinking condition for some 15-20 years from harvest.” Recommended for special occasions. Yarden Katzrin goes wonderfully with rich dishes such as a standing rib roast, grilled free-range veal chops, or lamb shanks braised with Moroccan spices. 2011 was Yarden’s coolest and wettest vintage since 1997, with 130% average annual rainfall. The chilly spring prevented excess vine growth that could have resulted from the wet soils. Harvest began about two weeks late, with a cool October resulting in over 25% of our fruit still unharvested by the end of the month. After waiting out the rains of early November, we brought in the remainder of the fruit by mid-month, literally minutes before a six-day rain system hit. The season’s cool temperatures led to average yields and very nice quality wines. The 2011 Yarden Katzrin was bottled without filtration in May 2014.

Sodexo Expands Capacity of Kosher Foodservice on Campus

Allentown, PA – With more than 600 of its 2200 students being Jewish, it is no wonder that Muhlenberg College’s kosher program can serve as a model for other college campuses across the country. Not only does the kosher program provide excellent meal plans for students who wish to eat kosher, it is also a source of kosher catering for the community. Partnering with the foodservice giant Sodexo, the Muhlenberg College kosher kitchen is a state-of-the-art operation. It ranked #16 nationwide in the 2017 edition of the Princeton Review’s annual rankings for Best Campus Food. All kosher dishes are prepared in a dedicated kosher servery under the direct supervision of the Mashgichim trained by the Star-K organization in Baltimore. But what makes the Muhlenberg kosher operation so unique is its expanded kosher catering service. “Our catering team provides a kosher menu during Jewish Heritage Night at Coca-Cola Park, home of the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, the Triple-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies,” said Sodexo General Manager John Pasquarello. “Our menu includes all beef kosher hot dogs and potato knishes. We also provide kosher catering at the Jewish Day School and the Jewish Community Center in Allentown and have been providing meals for the weekly Shabbat dinner at the Muhlenberg Hillel House since 2010.” The Noshery is an integrated kosher facility within the Wood Dining Commons at Muhlenberg College. It houses a separate kosher meat kitchen under Star-K Certification and kosher dairy kitchen under Star D Certification. A Mashgiach Temidi is on premises all hours of operation. As a global player in food services, Sodexo reaches more than 75 million people around the world.

Crusader Pushes for Israeli Wines at Jewish Functions

Chicago – Howard Bernstein is no stranger to promoting Israeli products. From his days as chairman of the America-Israel Chamber of Commerce in Chicago, Mr. Bernstein, who owns a merger and acquisition briskness, has pushed the idea of buying Israeli as a way of helping the Israeli economy.  His most recent crusade is to encourage Jews, particularly organizations, to buy Israeli wines. Through his Website and extensive contact list, he has been a champion of buying Israeli and now is on a mission to encourage the purchase of Israeli wines. Says Mr. Bernstein: “Many organizations now routinely serve only Israeli wine at their functions, including America-Israel Chamber of Commerce/Chicago, Jewish Federation, Keshet, Friends of Israel Defense Forces, American Friends of Weizmann Institute, ADL, AIPAC, American Jewish Committee, Israel Bonds, AIPAC and many others.” Mr, Bernstein relates that he and his wife recently attended the annual fundraiser for Illinois Holocaust Museum and Educational Center with Laura Bush as the featured speaker. The event, which took place at the Hyatt Regency and was attended by about 2,000 people, featured only Israeli wines.  He notes that AIPAC served Israel wine to about 18,000 who attend the annual event in Washington, DC.

Two Years after Acquisition Some Customers Still Fret

Detroit – Two years after a deal that saw the giant Kroger’s acquire the 75-yaer old Hiller’s Market, many kosher consumers are still upset with Kroger’s despite the chain’s efforts to retain and even strengthen its kosher program in many of these stores. In a story in the Jewish News, Steve Achtman, a 28-year resident of Walled Lake, said that he prefers shopping at the Kroger supermarket on 14 Mile at Haggerty in Commerce Township. Noticing that the fresh kosher deli meats were being eliminated, Achtman was told the store is “redoing their display cases, and if they have room they will put kosher deli meat back in.” Not placated, Achtman said, “How does a Kroger store within the Jewish community make this change without questions from the Jewish community? Kroger buys out Hiller and they start making changes?” According to Rachel Hurst, consumer affairs manager at Kroger’s corporate office in Novi, the change is strictly a business decision. Achtman’s local Kroger store is “going through a miniature remodel to be more consumer-friendly,” Hurst said. The manager, formerly employed by Hiller’s Market, said, “I’m sure that for some kosher items that didn’t sell, they’ve gone by the wayside. But that goes for any product. We are always in flux with our display cases, changing what we carry to improve the customer’s experience.” For now, Achtman is purchasing his kosher meat at Johnny Pomodoro’s Fresh Market Some other options include Harvard Row Kosher Meat & Poultry, Noah’s Marketplace, and One Stop Kosher Food Market.

In 2015, Kroger of Michigan bought all seven Hiller’s Market locations in a deal that also saw the closing of the Commerce Township store. Kroger, which owns many stores with significant kosher offerings, retained a kosher presence in the Hiller stores. Founded in 1941 as a downtown Detroit butcher shop, the first Hiller’s store opened in Berkley in 1951. Many Jewish Detroiters were initially upset about the Hiller’s acquisition but were reassured by Kroger’s of the continuation of a kosher program in the stores.