Oct 31: Members of the Delhi Wine Club were full of praise and excitement for Fratelli Vineyards’ J’NOON red, India’s most expensive wine, at the second Pop-up dinner at OKO Restaurant at the Lalit New Delhi, as a run up to the Indian Wine Day on November 16. This also demonstrated that Indian wines could also be a good match with Pan Asian food, writes Subhash Arora, President of Indian Wine Academy which organizes the Day on November 16 at the Lalit
Photos By:: Adil Arora
As a venue no one can ever find fault with OKO Restaurant with the panoramic view on the 28th floor of The Lalit in Connaught Place, standing majestically as a part of New Delhi’s skyline. The whole floor has been made into a restaurant serving Pan Asian cuisine-primarily authentic Japanese, Thai and Chinese. The view of even the polluted Delhi is quite magical as one can look out through the numerous windows from the air-purified restaurant.
After the first Pop-up with Sula wines earlier this month at the Indian restaurant Baluchi, our venue for the Indian Wine Day, we chose to showcase Pan Asian Food with Fratelli wines; the dinner on November 16 will have wines from Sula, Fratelli and York. Thanks to the archaic policies of the Delhi government, the market is not open to smaller producers. As a sweetener (besides selecting the slightly off-dry sparkling wine NOI, a Sangiovese Bianco ( the only white wine made from red grapes), M/S white- blend of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc created by the winemaker Piero Masi and Steven Spurrier, the famous UK wine critic, past wine merchant, author and now a sparkling wine producer, I showcased J’NOON, the collaborative label of Fratelli and Jean Charles Boisset, the Burgundian- American producer of high quality wines in his multiple wineries in California.
The evening started with the pleasing, off dry Noi which has hit the sweet spot in terms of sugar, fruitiness, freshness and light texture. Salad was excellent paring for Sauvignon Bianco and as Arora mentioned, it was a bold move to make a white wine from the red Tuscan grape- even the producers attempting in its home state Tuscany can be counted on fingers. A Touch of tannins with a white wine is not easy to grasp though the acidity is reasonably high due to the characteristics of the grape. One needs a few glasses on different occasions to appreciate the taste of the dry wine but it was a very good match with both the Pomello Salad (v)and the excellent Sashimi Salad (nv).
Unlike the Japanese Whisky, the Japanese style Sashimi Pizza did not move the members despite the freshness and crispness of the M/S white which frankly was again a delicious pairing. It was the Mains however, that blew our minds not only because of the selection- Peking Duck, Crispy lamb and the Mappo Tofu (and a couple of Thai dishes specially added to spruce up the vegetarian fare), but J’NOON was simply magnifique, even if J’NOON was not the greatest match for the Chinese lamb due to spices.
Technically the M/S was a better paring but it did justice with all other dishes. Even by itself it was very pleasant, smooth like mother’s milk with ripe and silky tannins and no bitterness and not much astringency. The Blend of Petit Verdot (58%), Cabernet Sauvignon and a dash of Sangiovese was an example of perfect balance and harmony-it was a Cool, Calm and Collected wine one could not get enough of.
Though members felt that Rs. 4000 MRP was a tad expensive for an Indian wine but in perspective they felt it was way ahead of the imported wines costing that much or even slightly more. The wine retails for $60 in California and the small numbers they produce get picked up fast. Needless to say the wine with 2 years of aging in the new barriques has been designed to age for years-certainly 10 years or more would be the expectation though it was drinking very well even now with an hour of decanting and breathing in the beautiful glasses.
Incidentally, the noodles were also the talk of the long table. Slightly spicy, they were perfect for Indian palate, even if they interfered a bit with wine pairing. It is the beauty and duty of these wine dinners to experience see where paring may be changed or improved based on the individual tastes- Wine and food pairing is all about individual preference anyway.
All in all, a memorable evening in the PDR, facing the walled city. Just like the previous dinner at Baluchi, it was a slap on the face of wine snobs who due to lack of wine knowledge, look down upon Indian wines and rather wait for them to be popular overseas before uncorking in India. This is precisely the purpose of the Indian Wine Day on 16 November when we propose to gradually demolish the myth for a few more people, thanks to the implicit and explicit support of the Indian wine industry.
For a couple of earlier related Articles, visit
November 16 is Indian Wine Day in its Third Year
DWC Dinner: Sula Wines Slap on Face of Indian Wine Snobs
Taste of Chianti in White from Fratelli
Subhash Arora ,Presenting wines at the Pop- up dinner at OKO
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