This year, life does not permit me to go on a full KFWE tour. Besides KFWE London conflicting with day one of Sommelier here in Israel, and KFWE Paris (Bokobsa really) conflicting with the second day of Sommelier, I need to be in NY the week after KFWE, which effectively rules out the rest of KFWE NY & LA. Luckily, between my trip to France a few months ago and Sommelier, I should pretty much get to taste through everything I would have at the other KFWE’s except for the Herzog Cali wines, which I will have to figure out. But, back to KFWE-TA….
As I have written over the last few years, while KFWE-TA does not get the international love from visiting oenophiles that London, NY, LA, or even Miami do, the TA show is REALLY well done. The venue at the north end of Tel Aviv Port is beautiful, the food is plentiful and well-made, and the wines are poured without reservation. The only downsides to this show in relation to the others is that there is NO VIP room with back vintages and better food and for some of the wines, older vintages are being offered in Israel than they are in NY or LA. These things really cancel each other out in a way – tasting top-end wines that are a couple of years older allows checking on their progress – plus they are just a touch more ready. I had no problem drinking the stellar 2016 Herzog Chalk Hill or Alexander Valley or the 2014 Pavillion de Leoville Poyferre or 2015 Chevalier de Lascombes or Chateau Lascombes. All great wines – and all showing even better than previously with that extra passage of time. So while I am sure there are newer vintages being shown at the other events, we didn’t exactly suffer.
The food stations were basically the same as last year with Meat & Wine the clear star, serving fall off the bone ribs (honorable mention to Skyline, who kept on switching up the dishes they were serving every hour or so). If there is one thing foodwise that needs changing, it’s the desserts that are eh. There was also a cocktail station. At the end of the night, I enjoy a nice cocktail; the drinks are inventive for the most part and a nice way to end the evening.
Now on to the wines. There was a LOT of wine. Most of the wines that were shown I have already tasted and written about. The most relevant post in this context would be from my recent trip to France, where I tasted through almost all of the current releases coming from Royal Europe, or last year’s KFWE posts, which covered the rest of the Herzog Cali wines that were shown – or my most recent RCC post, which featured the current upper-tiered Elvi Wines that were poured. In this post, I’ll stick to a couple of new wines that I haven’t written about at all – or in their final form.
2019 Elvi, Vina Encina, Cabernet Sauvignon (Mevushal) – Calm yourself – yes it’s an Elvi Cab. Why? I guess because the market in Israel and the US demands yet MORE Cab. This wine is targeted at supermarkets in the 3/NIS100 range. In Europe, it likely costs half that. In any event, in that range, it’s exactly what you would expect from the combination of a quality producer inhabiting the ultra-low cost space. It’s nothing complex – but it’s well enough made. The only reason I mention it is because as a Mevushal CS at that price, it may very well be of interest to people. This bottle was a sample and was not likely the finished wine – though I’m sure it’s close.
2019, J. de Villebois, Pouilly Fume (Mevushal) – This was a wine that was left out of our tasting in France, and while this wine is finished, the kosher labels aren’t even ready yet. This is a really nice wine – showing again that my distaste for SB does NOT extend to the old world style. Beautifully floral and fresh on the nose, with citrus blossoms and fresh cut grass. In the mouth, loads of tart citrus and pith keeps this lithe wine interesting from start to finish. It’s not a very complex wine, but it is super enjoyable. My guess though based on its construction would be that it is a wine to be enjoyed in the next 1-2 years and no more.
2018 Les Marronniers Chablis, Premier Cru, Cote de Jouan– One of the few disappointments of my French trip was that the bottle of Les Marronniers Premier Cru that Menachem had prepared for us was mishandled and dead. This was my first opportunity to taste this wine, and it was worth the wait. It’s slightly different in style from the regular Chablis, with a richer body and more muted nose. In the mouth, apple profile is heavier – but the lemon follows strongly and then turns into more of a lemon curd. Then you have great saline and mineral with some sweet citrus to finish. I loved this wine as much or even more than the regular Chablis. Really great stuff and well worth the wait.
2018 Chateau Gazin Rocquencourt, Blanc, Pessac-Legonan – Yes, I tasted this wine in Paris, but it is now finished – and what a beauty. This (and its previously reviewed red brother) was the most exciting wine of the night for me. I’ve already written about the background of this wine; here are the final notes. On the nose, the oak here is already in a better place than it was in Paris, with now creamy overtones and then the standard lemon and a good hit of char. In the mouth, well it’s just a wow moment. Such beauty and complexity. Sweet cream, lemon curd, baked tart apple, apple butter, and toast, with excellent baking spices, all with a line of acid that holds this together beautifully. I am not doing this wine justice. I am sure this wine is going to be expensive – but in this case, it is likely going to be worth it. The core here is built to last and likely has a good 8-10 years ahead of it. I really, really, really loved this wine (and it’s 100% Sauvignon Blanc!)
In other notes, Hagafen was disappointing – the recent reds have really gone downhill IMHO, which is a real pity. They poured the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2015 Cabernet Franc, and 2013 Merlot – and none showed well. I guess it’s time to simply move on. I would have loved to have tasted the 2019 SB – but they were still pouring the 2017!
In terms of Israeli wines, there were a few new whites and rosés to taste, but nothing exciting and I sort of left feeling unenthused about the upcoming 2019 vintage as two of the rosés I traditionally enjoy were poured, with one showing “OK” and the other being a pass– but more on that in my next post which will deal with Sommelier 2020.
In summary, KFWE-TA 2020 was successful kick off to the wine tasting season. The food and atmosphere were great and a fun time seemed to be had by everyone attending. Zur and Royal did a fine job in showing their wares for this year, and my thanks to them both for having me!