February 8, 2010

Slumping French Wines Look to Kosher for Resurgence; Spain Makes Move to Kosher

New York…Visitors to the recent Kosher Restaurant & Wine Experience (sponsored by the Kedem Group) on February 1st at Pier 60 (Chelsea Piers) were struck by the large presence of French kosher wineries as well as the unprecedented presence of Spain. The two countries have faced stiff competition from Israel wineries, including Barkan, Binyamina, Gamla and Psagot, many of whose wines have in recent years been receiving high grades at international competitions. It is no secret that export demand for French wine in general is at its lowest since 2000, according to official figures for the 12 months to June 2009. The volume of exports to the EU is particularly low, at 2.8 million hl, and sales to the UK have fallen by a massive 27% to 0.8 million hl. France showcased some of its best, including wines from Alsace, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Loire Valley, Laguedoc-Roussilon, Rhone Valley, and the Southwest region of France. Also on display were Champagne and Cognac. Through a special booklet, the French sought to provide the Jewish links to the region and in some case cited popular folklore associated with the region. Spain too showcased some of its better wines in an attempt to compete with Israel, which has emerged from almost obscurity to become a world-class winemaker. Both France and Spain are trying to gain a foothold in the growing kosher wine and spirits market. According to Nathan Herzog of Kedem: “The reality of the emerging popularity of Israeli wines has put these countries on notice that they will need to aggressively reposition themselves in the kosher market.”