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Posted: Friday, 02 August 2019 18:31

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Piacevole Italian Wines at Italics Wine Club (IWC) Tasting

August 02: Members of Italics Wine Club and Delhi Wine Club had a taste of 5 wines from Italy earlier this week at a private event organised by Indo-Italian Chamber of Commerce and Industry at an upmarket Restaurant Masala House in Delhi where the wines were selected and food-paired by Cavaliere Subhash Arora who also conducted a mini Master Class presenting the wines and regions (Veneto, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Basilicata and Piedmont), with a consensus that wines were excellent and pleasurable as was the cuisine making it an excellent Indo Italian juggalbandi

Photos By:: Adil Arora

Here is a list of wines served along with Notes prepared for the Masterclass:

Astoria- Prosecco DOC Extra Dry NV (Veneto)

Astoria is a winery making prosecco doc wines but located very close to Conegliano in the docg area. Prosecco is made with Glera grape and since 2009 the two appellations (doc and docg) were established as independent bodies. Prosecco at over 600,000 million bottles produced in a year is the biggest selling sparkling wine in the world. It is usually an NV (non vintage) and besides being DOC or DOCG (it’s not allowed to be an IGT wine since 2009). Producers like Astoria in the docg area, may produce a doc wine but reverse is not possible.

In terms of residual sugar, it is categorises as Brut, If it is 0-12 gms/ lit. Extra Dry has `12 gms-17 gms.’/lit.  Prosecco ‘Dry’ is actually quite sweet with 17-32 gms/liter residual sugar. This prosecco in a beautiful wide bottle (there is no specification restriction on the shape) has about 12-14 gm of sugar. It will soon be available at the Mesa Wine Bar in Aerocity next month. Surprisingly, it is touted as Spanish Prosecco in Spain! It can be produced in all 9 provinces of Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia, with some of the most beautiful and evocative sites on the Italian Peninsula, though not as picturesque as the DOCG area. Alcohol is normal at 11% Alc.

Fresh bubbly with tiny bubbles with floral aromas and flavour of citrus, peach, dried grass and white flowers. It's got nice, creamy, fresh and foamy finish. It was the darling of the overflowing house-by itself and with the delicious snacks.

Sartori Soave Marani IGT 2016 (Veneto)

Produced by a big Venetian producer since 1898, Sartori di Verona, about 25 Kms East of Verona, towards Venice this Soave is a special variant. Most Soaves are either a Soave DOC in flatlands outside the mountainous area of Soave making simple, quaffable wine or Classico DOCG and making flavourful and complex wines. Both use the Garganega local grape (70-100%) blended with Chardonnay. Classico is from a well-defined area within Soave appellation. 

Brilliant yellow in colour with aromas of rich, ripe fruit and honey with a sugar of 7 gms /lit it feels slightly sweet on the palate but full and rounded with a persistent mineral finish, thanks to the volcanic soils of the Soave belt. It uses 100 % Garganega grapes.

For this wine, grapes are left to dry for at least 40 days thus reducing the water and concentrating sugar content. The grapes are subsequently pressed slowly, followed by short skin maceration at low temperature. A part of the MUST is fermented in oak casks. The wine is then left to mature on the lees for 6 to 7 month to give it fuller and creamier texture, flavour and intensity. It ages in the bottle for 3 month before release. This process increases the shelf life to 4-5 years as compared to 2-4 years for the other variants. This vintage will peak in 2020.

The wine was chosen as the Best of White from Veneto in Mundusvini 2018 Spring Edition international competition.  With alc at 13.5%, this is a food wine crafted specially for the HoReCa sector. Slightly off-dry, it’s excellent with Indian food. There were mixed takers for this white with darker gold colour.

Marco Felluga Ronco dei Moreri Refosco dal Peduncolo IGT 2013 (Friuli Venezia-Giulia)

Refosco grape has been well known for centuries. Even the Roman writer Pliny the Elder praised the variety in his writings in the first century. Refosco dal Peduncolo is one of the sub- varieties and means grape have red stems. It is considered the best sub-variety, grown in FVG and also parts of Veneto.

Refosco wines have particularly high acidity (making them a fit case of matching with fried Indian foods and snacks. They produce dark and densely coloured wine with violet and grassy aromas. Flavours of dark peppery spices and plums abound on the palate, and the wine often displays a slightly astringent, almond-skin finish on the palate.  This late ripening variety can produce harsh, unripe tannins if harvested early.

Marco Felluga is one of the better known wineries of Friuli-Venezia- Giulia (FVG). The owner Roberto Felluga was in India when Arora had conducted a Master Class with him.  The Felluga family has been in the wine producing business for around 100 years- he is the 5th generation producer. The 6th generation is getting ready with his daughter Ilaria studying oenology and viticulture at the University.  It used to be Felluga family winery till the two brothers Livio and Marco split up in 1956. Roberto’s father also purchased the smaller, historical winery (700 year old) Russiz Superiore. Marco Felluga makes around 600,000 bottles (50,000 cases of 9 liters) whereas Russiz Superiore makes only 200,000 bottles.

Tenuta Gelsi Aglianico del Vulture DOC 2016 (Basilicata)

Aglianico del Vulture is the Italian red wine made from Aglianico grapes and produced in the Vulture area of Basilicata. It was awarded Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) status in 1971; the region also received Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita status in 2011. Native to southern Italy (Campania is known for Taurasi wine which is often compared with Barolo). It produces full-bodied red wines that show berry flavours with firm tannins and good aging potential. Even in hot climates, it can reach high levels of acidity. The structure and richness of Aglianico make it a popular grape for blending in southern Italy. Aglianico del Vulture is produced from Aglianico grapes grown on the slopes of the volcanic Monte Vulture in the region of Basilicata.   

When young, these wines are astringent and concentrated, especially when the harvest is taken earlier if phenolic ripeness is achieved due to weather conditions. A few years of aging softens the tannins and they become garnet-red, eventually fading into terracotta shades after sufficient time in the bottle. They prefer warm, dry climate and ripen late even in warm climates, with the aromas of chocolate and plum.

Tenuta Gelsi was founded in 2003 by Pasquale Bafunno and Ruggiero Potito, in Rionero del Vulture, in an area named Monticchio Bagni, close to the volcanic lakes and springs of one of the most well known Italian mineral waters.

It's the signature wine of the winery, made from grapes growing on 40 year old vines. The 100% Aglianico wine has been aged for 12 months in 6-month old-barriques and 12 more months in 30hL Slavonia oak casks. Sometimes it is considered to be a poor man’s Barolo; due to proper marketing over the decades it could not stand shoulder to shoulder with Barolo. It was decanted for over an hour to soften the tannins before serving and was very well liked wine; if it were not for the last wine’s brand image, it could have won the title as the best wine of the evening-excellent match with red meats and the mushroom dish.

Tenuta San Mauro DOCG Barbaresco 2014 (Piedmont)

https://www.tenutasanmauro.com

Barbaresco is the star wine of Piedmont (Piemonte) made from Nebbiolo grape, used also to make Barolo wines.

In the winery, the grapes are destemmed and the subsequent fermentation of the same in stainless steel tanks continues for about fifteen days at a controlled temperature. After racking, it goes through malolactic fermentation in stainless steel tanks. In the following March it is transferred partly in French barriques and partly in French oak barrels of 50 hL. The aging in wood lasts about 24 months, after which the wine is poured into stainless steel tanks where it rests for a few months before bottling. It rests for a year in the bottle before being sold.

All the hard work showed in the bottle. The bright ruby red wine had an intense bouquet with notes of roses and red fruits. It had balsamic notes with slightly spicy shades.  Very structured wine with hints of minerals and spices balanced with soft tannins. Elegant and balanced with expected maturity of at least 10 years.  Alc. is a bit high at 14.5% (Most Barbaresco wine these days are at this level though). We double decanted it for an hour before serving at a perfect 16-18° deg C by the restaurant staff.

Similar wines were presented under the aegis of Italics Wine Club at another private event earlier.

The food served at the event by Masala House was simply superb. There were two types of people in the evening-those who have been in the restaurant before. They were so enamoured with the progressive Modern Indian food that they insisted on coming when they saw the wines being served with them. Then there were mostly those who have never been to the restaurant. Both groups praised the food and the wines, Masterclass and the experience. It was also an opportunity for showcasing fine Italian wines with Indian cuisine where the wines came out shining and smiling. 

Aruna Chawla, a young millennial lawyer was ecstatic about the evening. ‘It was such a pleasant surprise. Every item on the vast Menu was absolutely outstanding-even the vegetarian fare was amazing. And each and every wine was superb on its own and went supremely with the dishes. I am so glad I came today.’ Another member Mahesh Misra is very succinct but lucid.  He says, ‘Of the 4-5 wine dinners that I attended, last evening stood out. The food was exceptional and some of the wines stood out too. It is rare to find crisp prosecco and the Barbaresco was also superior. Thank you and well done.’

Masala House has proved that their cuisine is a lovely match with Italian wines. ‘The true Indo-Italian affair deserves a push if we were to promote Italian wines’, was the common refrain of the evening. A nice scoop of the new Italian gelato Veluto (Italian for velvet) that was being launched a day later at The Visaya in Panchshila Park by Mrs. Geeta Batra who was also present for the dinner, gave the requisite nice Italian finish to the evening.

A special mention needs to be made of the wait staff. Despite being an overflow of guests, splitting on two floors, they did their very best with a smile and the standard of service was thus superb. Bravo to the staff for an excellent support. 

Italics Wine Club was started a couple of years ago by The Indo-Italian Chamber of Commerce and Industry under the project Il Dolce Vino; Arora has been a facilitator in Delhi and has also helped them in Mumbai and Bangalore. Delhi Wine Club was founded by him on 29 July, 2002 and it was the 293rd event of the Club.

Subhash Arora

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