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Delhi Wine Club
Floating in Aqua with Italian Royalty

Posted: Friday, 21 October 2011 12:53

Floating in Aqua with Italian Royalty

Oct 21: Count Francesco Marone Cinzano, producer and owner of the Col d’Orcia winery in Montalcino spent an evening with the Delhi Wine Club at the Aqua Restaurant at Hotel Park New Delhi last Monday while on a short visit to India PARK, writes Arun Batra.

Photos By:: Adil Arora
Click For Large View

The weather in Delhi at the end of October is in transition to winter so the evenings are pleasant and very conducive to get-togethers in the open without having to worry about temperature control, rains and guest comfort. So we, at the Delhi Wine Club try to factor this in whilst organising wine events for our members at this time of the year as there is nothing to beat an alfresco evening with great wines and food.

So a visit to India by Count Francesco Marone Cinzano, the owner of the third biggest and renowned Col d’Orcia winery in Montalcino in Tuscany was just the perfect opportunity to have an evening by the poolside at Aqua at the Park New Delhi Hotel (#15/186). It is a venue which we have used before over the last couple of years and have always marvelled at the way in which the Park has delivered on both food and service in a non-restaurant setting.

Montalcino could quite legitimately put forward its claim as the Mecca of Italian wine as it is here that the legendary Brunello di Montalcino docg wine is made from the Sangiovese grape (known as Brunello here) – a wine that underscores the dizzy heights to which centuries of wine making has taken Italy to. No wonder we had a close to a full house with only a couple of seats empty due to last minute cancellations which always happens with such large numbers even though the cancelling members have to pay 50% as the cancellation charge

Click For Large ViewAlways the one to try and do something different each time, our Club President, Subhash Arora decided to start the evening off with the Col d’Orcia Rosso di Montalcino 2009 –probably the first time in the history of the Club that we have had a red wine as an aperitif. And what a great decision that was as members walking in to expect to an entry level aperitif were literally blown off their feet!

The Rosso was plump and juicy, with an intense fruity bouquet and a persistent finish with just a hint of tannin. For a $25 wine, the Rosso 2009 was clearly boxing well above its weight and most members had refills.

Once we took our places for dinner, Subhash Arora who probably knows Montalcino like the back of his hand took the opportunity to introduce Count Cinzano and the two of them gave us an overview of Col d’Orcia wines and an update on the latest developments related to wine in the Montalcino area.

We were also fortunate to have among our midst the Italian Ambassador H.E. Giacomo Sanfelice di Monteforte who has been a keen supporter of our Club during his relatively short time here in New Delhi.

Click For Large ViewWhist we listened to our speakers, our attention was diverted by the outstanding Artichoke and Rocket salad with sundried tomatoes and Pecorino cheese. This was paired with the Col D’Orcia Pinot Grigio Sant Antimo 2010 – a grape not normally found in Montalcino, but given the Col d’Orcia lineage, the straw coloured end product was very palatable with an aroma of citrus fruits and a fresh mouthfeel.

The pasta course was a refreshing take on cannelloni with ricotta and spinach –both ingredients complementing the Col d’Orcia Gineprone Chianti Classico DOCG 2009. A typical example of Chianti, this ruby red wine was strong and bold with a distinct plummy mouth. Interestingly, whilst a Chianti Classico is required to be aged for 2 years, there is no such constraint for the Gineprone Chianti, which despite its DOCG classification, was matured in bottles only for just 4 months.

For the main course, Col d’Orcia brought on its heavy artillery in the form of the Col d’Orcia Nearco Sant Antimo DOC 2005 and the much awaited Col d’Orcia Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2004. The Nearco was full bodied with complex layers due to its blend of 50% Merlot, 30% Cabernet and 20% Shiraz. The Brunello 2004 , on the other hand, though not as full bodied as some other Brunellos I have tasted,  still lived up to its big ticket billing with it elegance and fruity tones.  Unfortunately the lamb I ordered was sliced too thick, was dry and chewy and to some extent detracted from the overall enjoyment of the Brunello.

Click For Large ViewThe rich chocolate cake dessert too was dry and far from moist – probably the chef was having a rough evening at the office! But despite these few glitches on the food front, the hotel more than made up for it with its slick table service. In all my years of attending wine dinners I have never seen such a high ratio of table staff to guests. I am told there were 48 staff on hand to attend to us 56 diners and all of them were hands on working very efficiently as a team to deliver us our wine and dinner.

Kudos must go to Abhijit Bose, the General Manager and Debjit Bannerji, the F & b Director for shaping and training their team to deliver such a high level of service. Little wonder then that the Park is one of our first choices when it comes to planning a wine dinner.

So a truly outstanding evening came to a close but what made the difference was the presence of the elegant and erudite Count Cinzano who made it a point to interact with our members and improve their knowledge of his wines.

Incidentally the Count has extended an open invitation to our Wine Club member’s to visit the Col d’Orcia winery for a personally guided tour and a red carpet treatment . Any one planning on heading to Montalcino ??? Get in touch with President Subhash Arora.

Arun Batra is a Delhi based food and wine enthusiast and a long time member of the Delhi Wine Club



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