March 14: Stephane Tournade, Sales Representative for India for Chateau Valandraud Saint Emilion, owned by the ‘Bad Boy’ Jean Luc Thunevin and popularised in India by its distributor, Vishal Park was in Mumbai recently and an interesting Tasting was hosted by its owner, Vishal Kadakia at Four Seasons. Maloo Natarajan who used to write for delWine before she left for Singapore 5 years ago and returned to India last year, reports
Over the past five years, while being based in Singapore, I had the opportunity to travel around various Southeast Asian countries. It was interesting to note a common trend with regards to the wine space – there is certainly a greater awareness and people know more than just the colors of wine, love pairing the local cuisine with both Old and New world wines and there seems to be a greater preference for red wine. It would not be too long before Subhash Arora’s dream of converting most whisky drinker in India to wine lovers becomes a reality.
It is always a pleasure to receive a call from my wine guru to participate in some of the great tasting sessions. Wine Park, the love child of Vishal Kadakia,a wine aficionado, hosted a tasting session of wines from Chateau Valandraud Saint-Emilion on 11th March at Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai -known to be a tranquil haven with Indian hospitality. Vishal has been one of the pioneers in introducing boutique wines in India.
Jean Luc Thunevin, the man behind the wines was born in Algeria and started his career as a banker and according to Stephane Tournade, Sales representative India for Thunevin Chateau Valandraud, ‘Thune’ in French is ‘money’ and ‘vin’ is wine. He was destined to get into the wine industry although not trained in this field.
In the initial days, he was considered a rebel a.k.a Bad Boy as he was keen on breaking the rules in the conservative French wine industry. He introduced the concept of garagiste movement - wine making no longer meant you had to own large acres of land handed down over several generations. Small parcels of land in St-Emilion were used to produce fewer cases of wine with enormous concentration and combined with excellent marketing techniques, it made them unique yet popular.
‘Wine to the French is like cricket to anIndian - there is passion and complexity involved; you enoy it even better when you understand the nuances’, said Stephane Tournade.
The room was packed with wine connoisseurs from the F&B industry, distributors, trainers and a banker. It was amazing to see the select audience very serious about the session and most knew what they were in for. As they say ‘every bottle has a story’ and this seemed very apt for the wines that were being tasted as even the name of the wine had an interesting twist to the tale.
The tasting started with Jean Luc Thunevin Bad Boy 2015 (95 % Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc) and the first attraction was the creative label with the nickname given to the owner by Robert Parker. Spicy and fruity with hints of berries, it was well balanced and I was told it could be drunk young. Currently this is available in India and priced at INR 5530.
The second wine was 3 de Valandraud 2014 (65% Merlot) which had hints of dark fruits and was pretty smooth. Not my favourite although I did notice a few nods of approval.
The third wine was Virginie de Valandraud 2014 (80% Merlot, 20% Cab Franc) which was rich with lots of hints of plum and spice and this was pretty much appreciated by the audience.
The best was indeed kept for last - Chateau Valandraud; very appealing with notes of dark fruits and full bodied and as Neal Martin calls it “a beautifully crafted Saint Emilion destined to give a lot of pleasure over the years”. This was the star of the evening.
The tasting session was followed by networking over a wide spread of dips with the sips. Overall a good selection of wines although a tad too expensive.
The Indian in me always wonders why most of us are skeptical about pairing wine with the local cuisine and stick to the tried and tested western cuisine. Is it because these wines would only be stocked and served in an Italian rather than an Indian restaurant or are we just treading the safe path?
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