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Spectracular Wine Cellar Unveiled at Leela Gurgaon

Posted: Wednesday, 08 March 2017 18:44

 

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Spectracular Wine Cellar Unveiled at Leela Gurgaon

Mar 08: Spectra Wine Cellar, the new jewel in the crown of Leela Ambience Hotel in Gurgaon, unveiled to a select audience on March 6 with a lot of surprises and prizes, is not only an aesthetically and scientifically designed cellar but with the palatable new prices- reduced up to 60% from their existing levels, making the General Manager Michel Koopman- led hotel a not-to-miss wine destination, writes Subhash Arora who believes the wine sales will certainly improve significantly as the Cellar offers free Tastings in the list which offers multiple choices to order at any of the restaurants

Photos By:: Adil Arora

Click For Large ViewAs you walk into Spectra all-day multi -cuisine restaurant in Leela Ambience Hotel, you are welcome not only by the lady with the folded hands but escorted to the restaurant with a glass-covered  whisky cellar on the left and a similar wine cellar on the right. A new entry to the restaurant has now been carved out of the wine cellar-christened as the Spectra Wine Cellar. As you enter the cellar, you are given a quick tour of the cellar for the connoisseurs and the potential wine lovers by a sommelier who lets you taste 3-4 sets of wine with a view to decide what you might like to order. Wines have been arranged in a systematic manner with prices displayed subtly so that the customer knows in advance about the wine he would like to order and what it might cost with different styles showcased through categorising and tasting by the sommelier.

Blind Tasting of 9 wines

To make the unveiling more interesting and unique, 9 wines were numbered and kept blind in  a khaki bag-marked 1 to 8A and 8B- the last two Click For Large Viewrepresenting champagne and sparkling wine section. Each station had one wine and two dishes- one of them -#7 being the Indian wine station. The guests were asked to taste the wine poured by their sommelier Ekagar Sharma. One could taste a wine with either or both the vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes at the station. Then they were asked to write whether it was old/new world wine, country, grape and the estimated latest price in the cellar. Meant more for fun and food with wine, there were 3 prizes for guessing where parameters- a Herculean task but Michel Koopman kept on reminding the invitees that it was more for fun than a competition. In the equally friendly spirit that I played, I did win the third prize, the other two top prizes being won by expats.

Why the new Concept

Explaining the rationale, Michel Koopman, the Dutch General Manager of the hotel and a long-time wine connoisseur says,’ most customers are too intimidated to order wine since looking at the thick Menu with hundreds of wine is very confusing and overwhelming for most drinkers. We have categorized the wines in different styles and the price points are known to the customer. A complimentary tasting is given to him of the wines he might like to enjoy with his meal. Thus, he knows what he would be ordering with the food and can be more comfortable with. We have designed the cellar in such a way that the customer walks in through the cellar. Although it is attached with Spectra, every guest is welcome to come to the cellar, taste the wine and order in the restaurant of his choice-prices are same in all the restaurants.

Price Reduction and Rationalisation

Click For Large ViewThe display is very enticing and conducive to make true wine lovers salivate. But no amount of tasting and display is going to help sell wine in substantial quantity if the prices are at high levels-sometimes conceived by the finance departments (in any case approved by them). Therefore, Michel has conducted a fine surgery of the complete wine list and decreased the prices on 60-70% of the labels (where the importers could not decrease the prices, they remain same as before-implying that importers have played ball to increase the sales, perhaps getting a green signal from their principals.)

Here are some of the wines I have selected from the point of view of quality, price reduction and budgets, generally avoiding the wines that are above Rs. 10,000 a bottle.  I have tried to make the list as varied as possible but based on the reduction offered from the existing pricing. First and Second Growths have seen a sizable cut but i have purposely not included in the Article.

TOP VALUE-FOR-MONEY RECOMMENDED WINES

 

S. No. Wine Country Old Price New Price

 

1.        Frescobaldi Attems Sauvignon Italy 3500 2500

 

2.  Cakebread Cellars Chardonnay Napa- USA         10,500    6.500

 

3.        Maison Louis Latour Pouilly France 7500 4500

 

4.        De Bortoli Family Selection Pinot Grigio Australia 2500 1500

 

5.        Schloss Gobelsburger Riesling Austria 3800 3000

 

6.        Tyrrell’s Brookdale Semillon Australia  4500 3500

 

7.        Gewurztraminer Les Princes Abbes Dom Schlumberger France 6500 3500

 

8.        Torres Moscato Vino Liquoroso Spain  5000 2500

 

9.    Marques De Riscal White Reuda Verdejo Spain 5500 2500

 

10.    Drappier Champagne Carte Dor Brut France 5500 3500

 

11.    Tyrrells Moore Creek Brut Chardonnay/Semillon Australia 1750 1200

 

    Red      

 

1.    Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz Australia 3200 3000

 

2.    Bertani Valpolicella Ripasso Italy 5000 4000

 

3.    Allegrina Corvina Veronese La Poja Italy 14000 6950

 

4.    Bodega Norton Reserva Malbec Argentina 4750 3250

 

5.    Badia Passignano Ch.Classico Ris. Antinori Italy 5250 3500

 

6.    Tignanello Italy 13500 12500

 

7.    Torres Coronas Tempranillo Blend Spain 3950 2500

 

8.    Torres Sangre De Toro Gren/Carignan 375ml Spain 1350 1500

 

 

 Kudos for promoting Indian Wines

Click For Large ViewThe encouraging part is that the restaurant is really promoting Indian wines with 4-5 labels in red and white from Grover and Fratelli –all at Rs. 1500. ++Taxes are extra, of course. Prices have been slashed by 50-60% to bring them all at the same price point of Rs. 1500. Even if you still do not like to order wines thinking they are still too expensive, go for the Indian wine of your choice. It’s a pity though that I didn’t see a bubbly in the Indian collection though. I feel there must be one Brut and one Rose label (if they feel there is enough demand –I believe Rose goes so much better with meaty food and snacks)-perhaps not at Rs. 1500 but slightly higher price would be justified.

The hotel and the GM Koopman deserve a pat on the back and ought to be recognised by the Indian wine industry on the whole to have included a very good exposure to Indian wines at amazingly low prices.

Best of the Best

Click For Large ViewIf someone put a gun on my head and give me one option for each category with best value-for-money option (wine drinking is always a matter of company, mood, food and the price points) at that moment), I would go for Champagne Drappier . Marquese de Riscal Rueda Verdejo and Badia Passignano Chianti Classico Antinori. When in a celebratory mood, the best choices for me in the Luxury category would be Cakebread Cellars Chardonnay and Tignanello-both matched with food though. I was told that Taittinger has been priced at Rs. 3,500 but is currently out of stock.

Whatever your preferences are, the Spectra Wine Cellar beckons you for enhancing your personal dining experience with the wide selection of wine and you must make a trip south of the Border. Who knows what the Haryana government has in store for taxes next month?. Remember, they went really berserk last year with illogically high taxes and that time of the year is fast approaching. There is no earthly or heavenly reason why they would lower the taxes -there is always some excuse to increase taxes.

Enjoy the visit to this Spectracular experience at Leela Gurgaon. Cheers! Jai Ho!!

Subhash Arora

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