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Delhi Wine Club

Posted: Tuesday, 25 May 2010 16:28

Feature: Paradise in Puglia…and Kids are Welcome

The port town of Brindisi in the south eastern Italian province of Puglia organised the first Negroamaro Wine Festival last week in collaboration with the international wine competition ‘Selezione del Sindaco’, where the visitors including kids of all ages enjoyed the paradise-like atmosphere with music, wines of the region and food, writes Subhash Arora who was one of the international judges. 

The Sommeliers in Paradise

The evening was beautiful with balmy weather. The breeze from Adriatic Sea, a few hundred meters away was enchanting at the Piazza Vittoria in the fashionable center of town which was buzzing with hundreds of people milling around in the semi-open venue of the festival.

About 10 wineries had set up stands to serve tasting size of Negroamaro, the signature wine grape varietal of the area for three evenings on 21-23 May, the dates coinciding with the competition organised by Rome-based Cittá  del Vino, in which 10 juries of international judges tasted over 1500 wines. The first edition of the festival was enjoyed by over 5000 people from this small town.

And the kids of all ages, from toddlers to teenagers in groups or as couples enjoyed being in the ‘paradise.’

Maria Tolentino of Tormaresca

Although the town has other festivals, this was the first one branded as Negroamaro Wine Festival, said Polese Gianpaolo, a senior sommelier from the Italian Association of Sommeliers, Brindisi, who was seen in the daytime at the Istituto Alberghiero Sandro Pertini, the venue of the wine competition where a majority of wines and judges were Italians-and a lone Indian. Though the Festival smelt of Negroamaro, there were wines from other grape varietals too.

And the kids of all ages, mostly local Italians, were also welcome at the festival without any charges.

The kid is also listening in about wines-with her parents

Maria Tolentino, the PR and Marketing rep of Tormaresca, the Puglian winery owned by Antinori poured the Chardonnay and Nepica, the red blend of Negroamaro, Primitivo and Cabernet Sauvignon, which was also being served with the long, hearty lunches for the judges at the ‘Selezione del Sindaco’ venue. Also being introduced was Fiano-the signature white grape of the neighbouring region of Campania. ‘This is a great way to keep direct touch with the consumers some of whom may be ignorant about wines while others are connoisseurs.’ She still thought Sonarys was the current importer and did not know it was now being imported through Berkmann Cellars India. 

The kids were obviously not drinking her wine but were busy running around happily, playing with the dogs, enjoying the music and atmosphere with the parents.

With Romina and Luigi of Tenute Rubino at the Festival

There was also a stand by Tenute Rubino owned by Luigi Rubino, the son of a rich industrialist. He and Romina Liopardi had been gracious hosts to around 70 journalists, at a memorable dinner where the Sindaco (Mayor) was the chief guest and orator, talking of how the wines of the region had something special to offer. The cantina (winery) had served delicious local snacks with equally enjoyable Vermentino 2009.Later at the sit-down dinner, one enjoyed Giancola IGT Salento 2008, a Malvasia Bianca followed by Saturnino 2008, an IGT Salento off-dry Rosé made from Negroamaro, Jaddico DOC Brindisi- a blend of Negroamaro, Montepulciano and Malvasia Nera. Torre Testa IGT Salento 2008 was a unique wine in that it was made from Susumaniello, a local grape used for blending. Aleatico 2009 had topped off the evening with the dessert. It was good to see them both at the stand pouring some of these interesting wines.

Happy teens enjoying the music

The kids were not interested in their wine or any wine-they were happy enough with the music, the ambience and the company of their parents, friends and even dogs.

Cantina Due Palme whose award winning Selvarossa Riserva Salice Salentino Rosso 2006, (‘Salee-chay’ is a small town about 20 minutes from Brindisi, making popular DOC wines like this) preceded by Bagnara IGT Salento (made from the Fiano grape), would be hotly discussed for their flavour and quality at the Gala Dinner for the judges at the nearby famous Marco Aurente Restaurant, also attracted a large number of visitors and onlookers - not only because of the beautiful hostesses at the stand.

She's got a ticket to ride- and he sure cares!

But the several groups of teenagers could not be bothered  They were on a pleasant high in the company of their friends, listening to the version of the signature number from the classic movie ‘Oedipus’ and other hip swinging songs. The entry to the Festival was free for them and everyone else. Only if you wished to taste wines you had to buy a tasting glass for €5. This entitled them to four wines in quantity of 60-75 mL-the amount recommended at Delhi Wine Club dinners as the first pour.  The ticket also included a plate of snacky foods and a plate of sweets (dolci)-the food alone would cost more in the nearby cafes, lined on both sides of the main street full of people soaking in the weekend fun  

Baby's evening out-with happy parents scouting around for wine

The city town hall had organised the 3-evening event (7 pm-12 am) as a family affair, designed to entertain the denizens who had the option of tasting and buying wine from producers at a special prices. At an expected attendance of under 10,000 over 3 evenings, it was rather small event, according to Polese. ‘We have bigger ones in Brindisi and other Puglian cities like Bari where one wine festival attracts around 60,000 people in a single day,’ he exclaimed.

‘Of course, people of all ages including kids are allowed in such wine festivals,’ he asked-slightly non-plussed with the stupidity of my question.

Beautiful wife, two lovely kids and a glass of Fiano- life is good!

And then I was suddenly woken up by a voice on the PA system of Austrian Airlines, ‘Welcoming to the Indira Gandhi Airport in Delhi where the temperature has been touching 45°.’ The air-hostess sounded apologetic, ‘I am sorry visitors, but here you may not be able to afford wine which is not available in the supermarkets but only in liquor shops, and with excise duty of 30% on the maximum retail price which includes the VAT of 20%. We frown on teenagers buying or drinking wine in public. They must wait till they are 25 years old. And please don’t even talk about wine in front of the impressionable kids - certainly they will not be allowed entry in any restaurant or a wine festival even if they are carried by you on you shoulders.’

I realized I had just fallen from the dream that was a paradise, into the stark reality that is India!

Subhash Arora 



Gianpaolo Says:

I appreciated your detailed and accurate article of the Negramaro event in Brindisi land.As a sommelier I express my thanks for what you put into publicizing this event, please feel free to contact me for any need.Best regards. Gianpaolo

Posted @ June 01, 2010 11:33


Tarsillo Nataloni Says:

Just for information, I was born and brought up in Brindisi - where my parents still live - and where I had my first 'contacts' with wine. I have added more and more Apulian and other southern region wines to the list of FLAVORS and intend to continue. Later however I ‘defected’ to the ‘easier to live’ San Marino, so I may add some autochthon San Marino wines too.

Posted @ May 27, 2010 11:50


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