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Delhi Wine Club

Posted: Tuesday, March 16 2010. 10:50

Passing By: Roberto Barbato of Franciacorta Bellavista

Roberto Barbato, Sales and Marketing Director of Terra Moretti group which owns the coveted Bellavista in Franciacorta in Lombardy as well as Petra in Maremma was in Delhi, presenting wines from the two wineries to invited guests in the beautiful wine cellar of Hotel Oberoi.

Bellavista is an iconic level beautiful winery in Franciacorta, the Champagne region of Italy in Lombardy. Vittorio Moretti, a builder and developer is like KP Singh of DLF in India, who entered wine making in the 70s as a passion and then decided to become a vintner, setting up this winery in 1977.

The evening at the wine cellar adjoining Travertino and 360 Degrees Restaurants was reminiscent of the old VW ad in which over a dozen people would come out of the car. Filled with at least 52 people that the writer counted at one point, the buzz was not over the well balanced and tangy DOCG bubbly with fine perlage- it is made from the signature grapes of the region (80% Chardonnay, and 20% Pinot Nero and Pinot Bianco). It was not even due to the animated discussion on how different the expression of the region was- the guests could not be bothered.

It was the Happy Hour (two actually- 7-9 pm)! And everyone was enjoying the cocktails over fellowship. If they had waited for a second helping after about 20 minutes they might have been disappointed as the fizz was pretty much gone in rather a short period. But perhaps, they would remember that the bubblies from Franciacorta are made with Metodo Franciacorta, the Italian equivalent of Methode Champenoise, a term that is allowed to be used for second fermentation in the bottle, within the specified Champagne region in France

Earlier, Barbato talked about and tasted their entry level still white made from Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio-simple and simply speaking quite quaffable. But the single vineyard Uccellanda Chardonnay is a wine to watch out for, if you like an elegant, harmonious wine with a lot of finesse, finish and plenty of character, and insist on a perfect balance of fruit and oak.

The red wines of Petra, the modern Tuscan winery in the Suvereto Hills of Maremma produces a range of reds of which three were tasted-IGT all. Zingari with the blend of Merlot, Shiraz, Petit Verdot and the indigenous Sangiovese is the entry level wine. Ebo with Sangiovese blended with Merlot and Cabernet were the crowd pleasers though my vote would go for the Quercegobbe- 100% Merlot, even though I would have loved to sip their top level Petra, the Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon blend.

Similarly, a bottle of the top ended Bellavista Franciacorta Vittorio Moretti, the iconic bubbly which waits for 7 years before being released occupied the central position on the table, perhaps to be opened on the last day of tasting which is on 20th march or to those who are willing to pay the asking price of Rs.22,000 a bottle- pitched against the iconic Dom Perignon.

The promotional price of Rs. 875 for the entry level red wine from Petra at Travertino made my heart skip a beat. Had Oberoi gone into charity mode or was it a marketing ploy, selling a wine bottle at almost the cost price? It almost stopped when I learnt that this was the cost per glass! The hotel is truly a modern day Robinhood, robbing the rich who obviously couldn’t tell the difference between the entry level Zingari to the 6-times more expensive Petra, and give it to its ‘poor’ shareholders.

It looks like the central government directive to hotels prohibiting them from charging more than 250% of the cost price for duty free wines has been consigned to the archives. Of course Delhi government, charging 30% excise duty on MRP could also be a partner in crime.

If you have received the invite, check out the wines at the Wine Cellar from 7-9 pm everyday till 20th March when our friend Angelo de Iola, the all-Italian Restaurant Manager of Travertino will take you for a complimentary journey through three labels each of Bellavista and Petra. Terra Moretti group also has two more wineries Contadi Castaldi in Franciacorta and Tenuta La Badiola in Maremma which are not present here yet but Brindco might import them later.

Subhash Arora


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