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Delhi Wine Club
Madame Michele Larose from Chablis

Posted: Monday, 23 January 2012 12:18

Passing By: Madame Michele Larose from Chablis

Jan 23 : Gwenaël Laroche, wife of Michel Laroche, the well known Chablis producer was in Mumbai and Delhi where a French food festival was organised with the Michelin starred Chef Daniel Hebet who crafted a special Menu from the South of France, paired with wines from their portfolio. Subhash Arora had a chat with her at the exclusive lunch at 360° at the Oberoi Delhi.

The one-week long event starting from Monday had a special Menu with several wines from the portfolio of Laroche that also included wines from his wineries in Languedoc, Chile and South Africa, besides the flagship winery in Chablis where the family lives.

Michel Laroche has sold his wines for several years in India but was earlier exporting through Sonarys. The agency was transferred to Brindco in December 2010 and the wines including the Chile and South Africa produce were launched in March last year, says Aman Dhall, owner of Brindco. ‘Michel had decided then only to bring in a Michelin Star- Chef whom he knew personally. The present event is a fructification of that idea resulting in a delectable gourmet experience for discerning Indian customers.’

Michelin Starred Chef Daniele Hebet, owner of Restaurant Le Jardin du Quay in Provence, South of France was in India and had designed  a special Menu from South of France, pairing dishes with wines from Laroche’s international portfolio, first at Fenix Restaurant at Oberoi in Mumbai and then last week at 360° in Delhi. He became Michelin Starred in 1994 and has been running his own restaurant for 10 years. His set menu changes everyday depending upon the fresh ingredients available in the market and is priced at €43- same as a couple of main course dishes on the Menu here. 

The  Laroches are a Chablis based family well known for its Chablis produced in 110 hA of the land they own and making Chablis, Premier Cru and Grand Cru variants.. As Gwenaёl explained, there was a freaky season in 1985 when the lowest temperature hit -30°C while the morning was a respectable 10°C. Although the day-night temperature difference is very important for extracting flavours and aromas out of the fruit, this was too extreme of a temperature resulting in a tremendous loss of grapes. With no Chardonnay grape to sell, the Laroches looked to the South of France and this prompted them to buy a winery in Languedoc in 1995. South Africa and Chile were also added to the portfolio in the following years.

Laroche is one of the first to embrace screw-caps- since 2003, even for the Chablis Grand Cru. “We do use cork for the French and Russian market but this is more of an exception,’ says Gwenaёl who is not involved directly in sales but helps in communication and marketing. She also confirms that all wines exported to India are with screw caps and that 70% of the total production is screw-caps. Incidentally, the Chablis appellation laws do not restrain producers from experimenting with different  closures unlike most DOCG/DOC  appellations in Italy and similar laws in Spain and many other appellations in the old world.

The company stars in making only white wines of Burgundy –Chablis; it does not produce any red wines. ‘We did start with the red wines for a while but sold off the unit and decided to stick to white wines only,’ she adds.

At the 4-course lunch, one could taste and enjoy Chablis St. Martin 2009 and Chablis Premieur Cru `Les Vaillons` Vieilles Vignes 2008 was also showcased from Burgundy. She explained tht when Domaine is not mentioned in the label (Petit Chablis by Laroche) it implies that the wine has been made from bought out grapes. Basa was an excellent match with this wine though she conceded that it would be perfect with the Grand Cru.

Pinotage 2011 from the South African arm L’Avenir was fresh and easy drinking pleasant wine, followed by the fuller bodied Cab-Merlot blend 2009 with fruity flavours and a persistent end. Punto Niño Carmenere Reserva 2009 from Colchagua Valley was a fine testimonial to the Chilean claims that the problem of green and unripe grapes in the flagship grape has been resolved, at least by Laroche among several other wineries.

Michel whose passions include golf and sailing was on his yacht  to Cape Verde, an island nation about 500 km north of West Africa, while  Gwenaёl was on her way to meet him in a more comfortable way, by air  after she went back to Paris.

Subhash Arora


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