I recently attended a tasting of the wines and spirits imported and distributed by Allied Importers USA, the second largest importer and distributor of kosher wines in this country.
Over the course of its nearly 40 years in operation, the Long Island City, N.Y,-based company has developed a reputation in the kosher wine trade for quality, service and selection. Its portfolio of kosher wines includes both premium and budget friendly brands from Israel, Italy, France, Portugal, Chile, Argentina and Spain.
Allied’s portfolio includes some stellar brands, like Israel’s excellent Dalton Winery and the Italian wines of Cantine del Borgo Reale. Some of Allied’s newer brands include the Lewis Pasco wines from Israel and the Cantina Giuliano wines from Tuscany, Italy.
Shai Ghermezian, who joined his family’s business in 2002, is Allied’s executive vice president, manages the day to day operations and works closely with wineries.
Although Allied is more interested in growing its existing brands than in further expanding its portfolio — the kosher wine market is “heavily saturated,” says Ghermezian — a few notable new products have been added, including the Hayotzer and Bin Nun wines from Israel.
The Hayotzer Winery is a relatively new boutique brand of premium wines created by Arza, Israel’s fifth largest winery. Rather than strive to create a premium tier within the Arza brand, Hayotzer was created by Arza’s French-born winemaker Philippe Lichtenstein to build a premium brand without the sweet, sacramental associations of Arza.
One nice example to try is the Hayotzer, Lyrica, GSM, Galilee, 2014 ($40): This enjoyable Rhône-styled, medium-to-full-bodied blend offers aromas and flavors of black cherry and dark berry fruits, a little oak and has just enough depth and complexity to sustain interest. Drink now through around 2021.
The Bin Nun Winery is also of fairly recent birth. In 2012, doctor and jazz musician turned wine grower Danny Yaniv decided to open the winery in Kefar Bin Nun, a moshav in the Ayalon Valley, in central Israel. To ensure quality and the winery’s professional operation, Yaniv recruited the talented winemaker Lewis Pasco.
The current American release is the Bin Nun Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot, Reserve, Judean Hills, 2016 ($29.99): an inviting and enjoyable fruit-forward wine with nice earthy notes and a little Mediterranean spice.
As I write, I’m drinking a root beer float bourbon cocktail, made with White Hall Bourbon Cream ($23; sort of a domestic version of Bailey’s Irish Cream). The White Hall Bourbon Cream is from the kosher-certified Boone County Distilling Co. and is one of the new products in Allied’s spirits portfolio.
This cocktail was suggested to me by Gene Taft, co-owner and founder of Boon County Distilling, who was manning his tasting station at the Allied event. Mix a healthy shot of White Hall Bourbon Cream to root beer and ice in a cocktail shaker, mix until frosty and frothy and serve. It’s rich, creamy and decadent, with a sweet bourbon finish. L’chaim!