After a couple of casual wine evenings with pass-around snacks, it was a pleasure to receive the communication from the club regarding a wine dinner at the Private Dining Room (PDR) of Spectra at Hotel Leela Gurgaon scheduled for the 20th of June (# 8/196). I do feel strongly that there is a very strong direct connection between a formal sit down dinner and the enjoyment of wines paired with good food. The ability to focus on the wine at hand is greatly enhanced when one doesnâ€™t have the distraction of having to juggle a wine glass, napkin and the finger food at the same time.
What was looking like an extremely enjoyable evening being lined up for our members by the Club President, Subhash Arora came perilously close to derailment when Brindco, the commissioned wine supplier of the evening suddenly communicated its inability to supply wines barely a couple of weeks before the event for inexplicable reasons- it could not have been a logistical problem.
Despite being out of the country on his wine travels, Subhash was able to hastily put together a wine list by reaching out to Sumit Sehgal, the Director of fast-expanding Joint Venture of Torres-Drouhin-Grant and Thapar- Prestige Wines and Spirits. The young and dynamic Sehgal was able to deliver two wines each from the Houses of Miguel Torres and Joseph Drouhin a couple of days before the dinner, despite the short time-our thanks and appreciation to Prestige for making the evening a roaring success.
There was another reason for choosing Torres and Joseph Drouhin wines, says Subhash, who had coincidentally selected a wine each in his recently compiled â€˜List of 50 Top Favourites Winesâ€™ for the Upper Crust magazine for their special issue from the prestigious family run wineries from Spain and Burgundy respectively. â€˜I have known Miguel Torres and Frederic Drouhin, the owner-CEOs of the two companies for several years and had dinner with them at La Piazza last month. I know them personally and their wines well enough to want to showcase to the members as well. I am happy I was able to quickly select wines from their portfolio to best pair with the fantastic menu crafted by the Exec Chef Thomas Figovc,â€™Â he says.
The wine list and the menu for the evening is usually sent out a day or two before a wine dinner and it was good to see members reading the mail and sending in their comments. The most succinct one was from our long time member Parthi who wrote â€œHats off!!! Itâ€™s a fabulous menu and excellent wines. We get it for a songâ€. I couldnâ€™t have agreed with him more especially as I had early birded at Rs 2800! Incidentally, the four course menu developed specially for us by Chef Thomas, the F&B Manager Abhishek Roy Â had a line-up of eel, duck and Australian lamb, besides the likes of prawns and crab cake as pass around snacks.
When we gathered for the evening in the Crystal Room, adjoining Spectra, we were in for an interesting surprise. In keeping with membersâ€™ feedback, the numbers of wines for the evening had been limited to 4 instead of the earlier 5 for 10 years. So I was intrigued by the menu which had listed a Tiamo Prosecco as an aperitif in addition to 2 whites and 2 Reds. However what we were presented was a rose Frizzante with the compliments of the hotel. This sparkling was intriguingly served from a decanter. Unfortunately for the wine, this intermediary stage led to a loss of aeration as well as flavour and mouthfeel. Moral of the story â€“ please donâ€™t ever commit the cardinal mistake of decanting a sparkling wine and then serving it.
So what was the story about the Tiamo Prosecco?? It turned out that Subhash, whilst still recovering from his travel jetlag, had the Tiamo Prosecco at the back of his mind- he had selected it for a wine appreciation event he has planned at the Taj Goa next week! Therefore, at the time of sending out the menus he had inadvertently included it! Nevertheless, not to disappoint members, he quickly sprang into action and organised it from the hotel. It was well worth the wait â€“ fresh and crisp with plenty of bubbles and the fruity palate made it an ideal companion to the salt and pepper prawns , crab cakes and mini pizzas that were on pass- around.
The PDR at Spectra â€“which is the multi-cuisine all day dining outlet at the Leela Gurgaon â€“ is an ideal venue for a medium sized dinner gathering. Large enough to accommodate about 30, it is at the same time cosy enough for a speaker to be comfortably heard without the need for amplification. One quick look at the table settings including the elegantly designed personal Menu cards indicated that Anuj Soin, the Spectra manager had ensured that as much effort was put in to make this a hugely successful evening.
So once Subhash made his introductory remarks and the members ordered off their personalized menu cards, the Joseph Drouhin Chablis 2009 was served and the dinner was underway. This Chardonnay based classic was from a vintage year when Joseph Drouhin re-launched their Chablis wines under the Drouhin Vaudon label. A clean and fruity wine, the Chablis married excellently with the braised eel and foie grasâ€“ both dishes which one normally doesnâ€™t see at fine dining outlets. Hats off to the Chef for being daring and including these in the menu. The mushroom Bruschettas with olive foam unfortunately fell by the wayside.
Tuna sashimi was up next paired with a Vina Esmeralda Torres, Moscatel de Alejandria 2011. Made from Muscatel (90%) and GewÃ¼rztraminer (10%) grapes, grown on the mountains of the Upper PenedÃ¨s, this young and crisp wine had floral aromas and a mouth of apples and pears and was an ideal accompaniment both to the Tuna Sashimi and the Mushroom soup with truffle oil and the crab soup which followed.
With my main course of a trio of Australian Lamb, I was able to try both the reds â€“ a Laforet Bourgogne Rouge Joseph Drouhin 2009 and a Gran Coronas Torres Cabernet Sauvignon 2007. The Joseph Drouhin was a 100% Pinot Noir from the Burgundy region of France and well representative of its varietal type by being soft and elegant with elegant floral aromas. The lamb, though slightly overcooked, was better handled by the Torres Cabinet Sauvignon with its full body, strong tannins and berry led flavor. The duck platter too was very well received by those who opted for it and matched both reds very well.
A choice between a selection of cheeses and a hot chocolate pudding was just the perfect round off to an extremely well-choreographed evening with great wines and food and service matching the best in town Our thanks to the Leela for once again supporting the Delhi Wine Club so enthusiastically and consistently and Prestige for organizing the wines.
Arun Batra is a Delhi based food and wine enthusiast and a long time member of the Delhi Wine Club.
Tags: Sumit Sehgal, Torres-Drouhin, Joseph Drouhin,
Upper Crust magazine, Frederic Drouhin, Thomas Figovc,
rab cake, Crystal Room, Tiamo Prosecco, foie gras,
Vina Esmeralda Torres, Laforet Bourgogne Rouge Joseph Drouhin,
Arun Batra, food and wine enthusiast .