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Taste of Fratelli Wines at Baluchi Indian Cuisine Restaurant

Posted: Tuesday, 16 May 2017 16:50


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Taste of Fratelli Wines at Baluchi Indian Cuisine Restaurant

May 16: The Baluchi Restaurant at The Lalit has been serving delicious Pan Indian cuisine at the flagship hotel in Delhi for decades and has spread its wings now to Mumbai, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Jaipur and even in London, and has taken the high road to promote wines with Indian cuisine and is leading the ‘wine with Indian food’ concept, writes Subhash Arora who attended the earlier tastings with Sula, GZV and York and could not pass up the opportunity to enjoy a dinner with Fratelli wines last Saturday at Baluchi

Photos By:: Adil Arora

Click For Large ViewAlthough a frequent visitor to Baluchi and in fact The Lalit for many years in the early 1990s it dropped out of the radar for multiple reasons-none of which was due to the food quality or service. It caught my attention again when I went for the Sula Tasting over a year ago and was served streaming snacks from the restaurant, which included Pheni Paratha (PP). The little 10-12 cm circular bites sprinkled with sesame seeds and a lot of butter, make this item, roasted in an iron tandoor rather than a conventional clay tandoor from their ‘Nannery’, so sinfully delicious and irresistible that I have to request the wait staff to keep it away from me every time I visit the restaurant.

Baluchi claims to be the first Indian Restaurant in Delhi to have installed a proper wine cellar, according to Ravinder Kumar, the corporate F & B Director of the Lalit Group of Hotels. ‘Thanks to our Executive Director Keshav Suri who is a staunch advocate of promoting Indian wine with Indian food, we have been innovative with our wine list and I can proudly say we have all the Big Four in our portfolio-Sula, Grover Zampa, Fratelli and York and are negotiating with a couple more to add to our list.’ Suri who should be given credit for a complete makeover for ‘Annabelle’ and converting into ‘Kitty Su’- the internationally popular night club with excellent music and champagne at an unbelievably low price of Rs. 5000 a bottle for the wine lovers, is so fond of this concept that he is in London where Click For Large ViewBaluchi is being launched, to oversee that the similar concept of wine with food, with the four Indian labels proudly awaiting to welcome the guests.

Following up on the Nannery Trail I was further impressed by their offering of a ‘Nannery breads with wine’ for only Rs. 1000++. This includes 2 pieces of 3 variants of special bread-Pheni Parantha, Gilafi Kulcha and Bakarkhani complete with chutney and 3 tasting shots of wine of 50 mL each- York Chenin Blanc, Fratelli Sette and Beaumes de Venice AOC Domain Lapigeade 2013 from South of France, making it almost a complete meal for small eaters who don’t mind the carbs with their cabs or chards. The jury for the delWine Excellence Awards last year took cognisance of the contribution of their French Sommelier Charles Donnadieu who curated the wines and Click For Large Viewdesigned the Menu and it was no surprise when ‘Baluchi- the Pan Indian Destination’ won the Trophy for the Best ‘Indian Restaurant with the Best Wine List for Delhi/NCR in the 5-star category’.

It was a pleasure to see the Trophy displayed proudly in the wine cellar when I entered the restaurant and naturally the cellar. It was also a pleasure to see Craig Wedge who is the VP and Brand Manager of Fratelli Wines which I use to differentiate between their domestic wines-Fratelli Vineyards (FV) and their recently started (almost 2 years now) import division. Claiming to be number two in volume in the Indian wine industry following the giant Sula (though jury is still out on that since Grover Zampa might not be willing to concede their second spot; not yet anyway), it has a very wide range of wines to offer from Italy, France, USA, Australia and Chile.  

Caliterra and Chadwick

Click For Large ViewEduardo Chadwick who I first met at his winery in Chile in 2008, is one of the most respected winemakers of Chile and is held in high esteem internationally, even more so after the famous Berlin Tasting in 2004 in which his top wines had come out ahead of the world- famous French and Italian wines in a blind tasting carried out blind in Berlin. He was visionary enough to have started Caliterra Winery in Colchagua Valley with Robert Mondavi. Earlier distributed by Finewinesnmore, they adorn the Fratelli Portfolio now; 2 of their wines – Chardonnay Reserve and Merlot Reserve shared the honours with Sette 2012, the super-premium wine from FV.

Click For Large ViewAfter Grand Cuvee Brut which struggled a bit to keep pace with PP due to the bubbly being completely dry, the evening got even more delightful as we sat down for dinner  where Panchporan Mahi  (Fish)Tikka with the PP and Hyderabadi Gosht Kebab went superbly with Caliterra Reserve Chardonnay, the  kebab being divine with Caliterra Reserve  Merlot. The Main Course of the evening- Murg balti yakhni paired better with chicken with the rich, creamy, spicy and luscious flavours whereas Sette seemed to be made for the rogan josh. The Daal Baluchi, a signature dish of most Indian cuisine restaurants and always finger-licking delicious was singing merrily with both the Merlot and Sette. The private collection of late harvest Chenin Blanc ‘Santo’ was unfortunately not a good match with the gulab jamun which was otherwise soul satisfying (I am not a fan of paan Kulfi, anyway!). The dessert wine was crying for a ‘pineapple pastry’ or a ‘pineapple upside-down’.

But a great evening all the same, it was. The plush decor, beautiful outfits for the wait staff and the stewards and there service in addition to  all the fineries on the table, makes Baluchi an elegant fine dining restaurant to enjoy Indian Cuisine and the wines today were a good indicator of how the Indian gourmet experience may be enhanced without burning a hole in the pocket. If you are not sure which wines to order, there are several ‘wines-by-the-glass’ which are colour coded. Your wait staff can help you with a selection even if Sommelier Charles is not around.

Subhash Arora

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