Wine bars & BIG “Wines of Israel” tasting

The big “Wines of Israel: Mediterranean Inspiration” (cool name huh?) tasting is coming up TOMORROW, February 3rd in NYC!!!  More on this in a second.

First I want to VERY BRIEFLY mention my experience at two local wine bars this evening.  A good friend and Israeli wine industry professional is in town for the big tasting and we went out and grabbed …what else  –  a couple of glasses of wine.

We began by going to CLO, a (relatively) new wine bar that has been written about by LOTS of bloggers.  Sadly I can NOT tell you anything about it as I could not gain entrance.  NO, they weren’t packed with people on this typically quiet Monday night.  They had some guests remaining from a work function.  I was told I must come back another time.  I understand that this kind of thing happens, and I suppose I could have called in advance to make sure I wouldn’t encounter any issues.  But what ticked me off was the unapologetic and unsympathetic nature of the girl who turned me away.  Again, giving the benefit of the doubt I joked around with her when I first walked in so maybe she thought she was joking around with me.  But I told her I was meeting someone from out of town and she could have been a tad more sympathetic.  Oh well…MAYBE I’ll try again.  Should I???

Having been denied entrance at CLO I met my friend and we walked North a few blocks to Bar Boulud.  I’ve never quite made it into this place (although I have wanted to for a while) but picked the right night tonight.  Well, only insomuch as the place was empty.  Between the two of us we tasted (2 oz pours) about 7 different wines.  We enjoyed about 5 of them so that went well.  The help was nice, attentive (that isn’t saying much as we were 2 out of maybe 10 people there – but it was the last hour of the night; 10-11PM) and knowledgeable.  Our first round (of tastes) was brought over by a gentleman with an accent – I think it was French.  He was professional, knowledgeable, nice, even apologetic when I asked for a wine within a flight to be replaced with another (didn’t happen).  But I must admit (and please don’t think me a bigot) I find something so damned pretentious about people with French accents speaking about wine.  Maybe I am just jealous…who knows.  What can I tell you…it just rubs me the wrong way.  You all know how much I hate pretension in wine so I am sure I’m overreacting.  Over all though I have nothing to complain about as it was a pretty cool place with good wines & good service.

NOW – back to the aforementioned WINES OF ISRAEL: Mediterranean Inspiration tasting.  It is happening tomorrow; Tuesday February 3rd. I’m sorry for not notifying you of this sooner, but it is an industry event primarily for media and those in the trade.  But fear not, most/many of these wines (and others) will be coming to a location near YOU very soon.

If anyone has specific questions about the event feel free to be in touch (pre or post event).

As to the event itself, there will be two seminars.  One led by Mark Squires, wine critic for the Wine Advocate and another led by Victor Schoenfeld, head winemaker for what some regard as Israel’s top winery – Golan Heights Winery (AKA “Yarden”).  I am eagerly looking forward to hearing what Squires has to say…

There will be representatives from about 20 wineries at the event.  The bigger usual suspects (all kosher) as well as some smaller boutique wineries (many of whom have decided not to obtain kosher certification).  The cost for wineries to participate was not cheap, but it was low enough to enable some of the established boutiques to attend.  These boutiques make some very nice wines, but unfortunately many of them price their wines at levels that prevent the masses from trying them.  This is party due to the costs associated with producing wine on a smaller scale.  But also because of how highly they are regarded within Israel.  Many of them are entering the US for the first time and I am worried for them.  It is a very tough time (given the dismal state of the economy) to introduce a (relatively) expensive luxury good to a new market that has no shortage of alternatives.  I suspect that given where these wines are priced that they will need to be supported by Zionists who are willing to pay a premium for very nice wines from Israel.  I suppose only time will tell – but I am rooting for you guys and as always I’ll be singing your praises…

More about the tasting to come.  If you are there please come by and say hi.  In case we have never met I’ll be sporting my good suit 😉

Happy pleasant wine bar and Israeli wine tasting!!


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