February 28, 2011

New Kosher Wines and Winemakers Debut at KFWE

New York…If great quality wine is proof that the kosher food industry has come of age, the Kosher Food and Wine Experience, which took place this past week in midtown Manhattan, was proof that kosher has indeed made it. Old Israeli favorites like Barkan (best selling Israeli wine in the US) and Carmel (best selling Israeli wine in Israel) shared space with newcomers like Flam and Alexander. With vintages from around the world ranging from New Zealand’s Goose Bay to Argentina’s Elgazi, the event attracted a wide spectrum of wineries and wine selections. One of the newbie’s to the US wine scene is Alexander, a winery located in Moshav Beit Yitzchak, northeast of Netanya. Continuing in the Tunisian tradition of his family, winemaker Yoram Shalom produces eight varieties of Cabernet and other fine wines. Yoram stressed the family heritage attached to his winery saying, “The names of my wines come from the members of my family and each label features a treasured family heirloom.”

Another newcomer to the US scene, Gilad Flam was present to show off his forthcoming kosher wines from his Flam winery in central Israel. Although not yet kosher certified, Flam wines plans to offer kosher wines in the US in the near future. Gilad explained that his “decision to become kosher comes after many year of perfecting our wine. Now that we’re comfortable with our product we believe it’s important to bring it to the kosher market.” Gilad explained that his wine follows in the Italian tradition, following a new trend of Israeli winemakers who study abroad in Italy and Spain to learn the regions ancient winemaking secrets. Barkan, the second largest wine producer in Israel after Carmel, showed off its new line of reserve Shiraz 2006 wines at the event. Known to be more European in taste, the Shiraz exemplifies Barkan’s expertise in winemaking, especially its ability to produce fine vintages at low altitude levels. Yotam Sharon, an associate winemaker at Barkan, spoke about the differences in taste between the American and Israeli palate saying, “Israelis love to hear about new and exotic wines, they like to be on top of the trends. Americans however, are more conservative in their wine choices. In both countries however, Cabernet is still king.” The number of other kosher wines in the show was dizzying and so were the number of people who simply marveled how far kosher wines have come. Some placed the credit with the sponsor of the show, Kedem, that has “educated” kosher consumers about the benefits of kosher wine.