Photos By:: Adil Arora
After a number of members sent in their positive feedback regarding the Wine Club evening at the Terrace at Claridges with food from Sevilla, which was essentially a casual wine and tapas affair, our Club President Subhash Arora decided to follow it up with another similarly themed evening (#7/195) on 15th May, the very day he returned from his visit to Italy.
This time the venue was the P’tit Bar in Defence Colony – a charming French Bistro owned by Tarsillo Nataloni, an active, long time member of the Delhi Wine Club. As a part of the ongoing 1oth Anniversary celebrations of the Club (2002-2012), Subhash had decided to add a little extra hype to the evening with the theme ‘Let’s go Crazy” –inspired by a popular song from the 1984 album Purple Rain by Prince and the Revolution, who is from his ‘home town’ Minneapolis in the US. And to kick off this evening was the never before take home gift of Malvasia Bianca 2010 from the Puglia based winery of Feudo Di Santa Croce to all attendees ( with the only restriction being a single bottle for each couple).
This event was the first time the Club, in its 10 year existence, had offered a such a “back present” as it were and it was well appreciated by all members, some of whom had done their mental math and calculated that this wine which retails for over Rs 2000 with taxes at restaurants meant the evening was free and even profitable for the early birds. As has become a club practice, most of them were early birds who had no clue about the complimentary gift. In fact, as Subhash explained at the event, even he didn’t know at the time of planning the dinner. ‘We were planning this give away for the anniversary celebrations and suddenly I came up with this crazy idea and said why not let’s go crazy this time.’ He added that there were several interesting ideas the club had up the sleeves to make the year memorable.
The P’tit Bar is just that – a small eatery on two levels overlooking a lush lawn and diametrically opposite its sister concern Flavours - the flag ship restaurant of the food group headed by Nataloni, an ex- Italian corporate chef- manager turned restaurateur and purveyor of European food. The Delhi Wine Club had organized a memorable wine dinner at Flavours a couple of years ago and also a French wine tasting with the Commercial section of the French embassy over a year ago. So this time around once again he readily acceded to our request to have a casual Tapas kind of evening at his new French Bistro.
We gathered on the upper level of the P’tit Bar where members were welcomed by a glass of the Chateau de Los Bordeaux Blanc, an easy drinking young blend of Semillon and Sauvignon. Simultaneously with the wine, the food service, which was plentiful throughout the evening, commenced with some chilled Gazpacho, bite sized Bruschettas and chicken and duck pate on crisp Melba toast.
By the time we had a full house, which was around 9 o’clock, the Riva d'Oro Chiaretto Rosato IGT 2010 was being served. A merlot grape based wine from the Lake Garda area in Veneto, this entry level Rosé went extremely well with the onion and tomato quiche.
The flight of red wines for the evening is always eagerly awaited by our members though I must say that the opening salvo fired by the Camas Malbec VDP d’OC disappointed – a very ordinary French table wine. However the next wine-the Cibreo Terra Scura Chianti, 2009 -more than made up. This predominantly Sangiovese blend had a distinct flavour of cherries and a nice smooth long finish very much living up to its DOCG billing .The only red meat dish on the pass-around –the lamb meatballs - complemented the Chianti pretty well despite the polenta being slightly underdone.
Cesanese del Piglio docg- the star
However the star of the evening was a very exclusive tasting of the Cesanese Del Piglio DOCG. In his never- ending quest to add to our members wine knowledge bank, Subhash had personally organized a collection of 6 bottles during his recent trip to the Lazio region in Italy where this wine is produced in a small quantity, in a province called Frosinone, about 90 kms from Rome . With only around a million bottles of Cesanese bottled a year and only a fraction of that being exported out of Italy, the Cesanese grape is nowhere as well known as the Sangiovese.
In fact, Subhash had offered the evening free of cost to anyone who could prove they had tasted this grape before and predictably there were no hands raised.
The Cesanese del Piglio was a smooth well balanced wine with floral nuances and a hint of spice which was very much evident in the lingering finish. There were two variants--Superiore and Riserva, all 6 bottles from different producers. Our thanks to Subhash for having reserved his duty free allowance of a couple of recent trips for our members who now become a part of an elite group in India to have sampled the wine from this little known grape.
Maybe it was the thought of the giveaway wine lying in wait at the exit downstairs but I have never seen such a quick dispersal of members after the dessert was served! Be that as it may, the happy smiles on members’ faces said it all as they walked off into the night with their Malvasia Bianca bottles in their hands!! Tarsillo and his team had done an excellent job of organizing the evening, going to the extent of even special parking for the members for the evening and keeping the downstairs dining area in hand in case it got a bit too hot. His chefs had done outstanding job in the preparation of tapas, including the yummy chocolate based dessert, although the service could have been slightly better, even for a stand-alone restaurant. But it was a casual wine evening to remember.
For details about Cesanese del Piglio, please also read the article in the previous edition of delWine:
Chasing Cherries in Cesanese of Ciociaria
Arun Batra is a Delhi based food and wine enthusiast and a long time member of the Delhi Wine Club.