Photos by :: Adil Arora
|Faiek Saadani, Subhash Arora, Prahlad Kakkar and Bindu Malhotra
‘A commencé à être bien demi fait’ -.well begun is half done! The invite to the inauguration of the new wine club ‘Terroir One’ in Mumbai was a piece of art! Having seen the invite, the distance and the traffic jam in Mumbai would not have stopped the guests from getting to JW Marriott on a weekday on time and most of them did just that!
Wine clubs run by wineries, importers or retail marketers have been around for a while now, but the move toward clubs run by wine connoisseurs not linked to a winery or a commercial interest appears to be more recent, at least in Mumbai.
In his welcome speech, Mr Subhash Arora, Chairman of Terroir One and the founder of the Delhi Wine Club stated that he had already helped and would be happy to see many more similar clubs set up in India to get like-minded people interested in wine and good lifestyle together. He also stated that this club would primarily target and run by women as they have been the propellants of wine culture throughout the world. Being focused, sincere and creating awareness while having fun drinking wine was his objective while setting up the Delhi Wine Club in the early 2002 and would continue in Mumbai.
Wine clubs have been growing in India over the past few years and the normal question asked is whether it is worth joining a club. Asked about the competitive advantage of Terroir One, Ms Bindu Malhotra, the President of the new club said ‘Our objective is to fuse together the rich and wonderful world of wine with relaxing and fun events. We believe it is a lifestyle product that goes well with food, art, spas and music and we promote learning at your own pace while enjoying the experience’. She was talking in the same breath about the next dinner being planned with different wines and healthy food at the spa at JW Marriott next month.
Inaugurating the historic event, Mr. Prahlad Kakkar, the ad guru and a gourmet who is the founder Vice President stated that ‘moderation’ is the key to enjoying and experiencing finer things in life. In a tongue-in-cheek comment, he stated that while a man gets obnoxious after a few rounds of whisky, he gets romantic after a couple of glasses of good wine. He also lamented that while Mumbai always took the lead in lifestyle products, Delhi had beaten Mumbai in starting a wine club.
Mr Faiek El Saadani, the visionary, wine enthusiastic Director of F&B at JW Marriott said that he was keen on partnering with someone who had a passion for wine and who could introduce wine in a unique way with no snob value attached. He said it took him a minute during his first meeting with Subhash Arora a couple of months ago to see his traits and decided immediately to support the endeavor.
It must have been his presence throughout the evening and an oblique supervision that the setting for the evening and the service and the quality and variety of food were a notch better than excellent. Of course, we were blessed with a beautiful weather for outdoors, always an uncertainty in Mumbai at this time of the year.
The five wines displayed and tasted during the event were provided by FineWinesnMore. Said Dharti Desai, the founder owner, ‘it has always been a pleasure to work with Subhash because he is a sincere wine evangelist and any of his ventures is bound to be successful in impacting the wine culture. I feel honoured that he wanted to work me for the historic event, being the only woman entrepreneur in the wine import business. We will actively support the club and Bindu who is a very dynamic and well focused woman.’
|Karishma Grover (Grover Vineyears), Cecilia Oldne (Sula), with Dharti Desai (FWM)
Craig Wedge, the business head and Senior Vice president of FWM took the guests through a journey of wines for the evening. Starting with the bubbly-the Australian Yerring Station Yarrabank Cuvee 2001 which he explained was made from champagne grapes and using the similar traditional method of second fermentation in the bottle and was a good example of how Champagne could be over-rated, he went on to the Hans Lang Riesling Spätlese Hattenheimer Hassel 2005 from Germany. Some might have found it a bit sweet but most women loved it and it complemented the tandoori kababs and the sushi. No wonder several guests declared it was the best wine of the evening.
Rockbare Barossa Babe Shiraz 2003, Mount Langi Ghiran Shiraz 2003 and Parker Estate First Growth 2001 were the three red beauties which generated personal discussions on which one was the individual top favourite-all of them were excellent and it was not easy to give top honours to any one of them.
Mr. Saadani’s team had very intelligently placed different wines at each of the live stations which were opened gradually so that the guests could move from aperitifs, to white to the red wines with the food items pre-selected at each counter. After completing the round, they could go back and try paring whatever they fancied. Those with sweet tooth could pig out at the dessert counter which had an array of mouth-watering desserts.
The details to which he had looked into was clear when one saw a wine cellar full of wine bottles. These were offered to the guests at 50% of the MRP which is quite low to start with-being duty- free purchases. Mr. Saadani also announced a table every Wednesday afternoon to the members at the Reflections Bar where three glasses would be available with aperitifs for a mere thousand rupees-it would appear that he is very keen to promote the wine culture in the city!
No one's ever said the wine industry doesn't throw great parties and nobody could have done a better job than Subhash Arora and Bindu Malhotra. Attended by about 120 guests including Babita Malkani (founder executive committee member), Anita Raaj, Leena Mogre, Vikram Bawa, JK Valecha, Pradeep Hirani (Kimaya), Morani family, Cecilia Oldne (Sula Vineyards) and Chef Max of Olive, with Prahlad Kakkar (PK) enthralling friends with his jibes and un-conventional take on life (After many hangovers you will come to the conclusion that the best wine is what your palate likes the best, he told me), it was indeed a memorable evening.
To quote from the movie Bottle Shock, "You mark my words, we'll be drinking wines from South America, Australia, New Zealand, Africa, India, China...this is not the end Maurice, but just the beginning. Welcome to the future!"
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