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Delhi Wine Club
Chilean Esmeralda and their Monsoon Reds in Mumbai

Posted: Tuesday, 04 September 2012 12:34

Chilean Esmeralda and their Monsoon Reds in Mumbai

September 04 : The Chilean Navy ship Esmeralda which is a sail training ship on the world voyage of 260 days anchoring in 14 ports around the world, was in Mumbai last week where the Embassy of Chile invited about a hundred people to give them the Flavours of Chile by serving Chilean wines and food. Suprio Bose who was one of the invitees, reports.

When the Green and white invitation from the Chilean embassy was brought to my desk, the three gems on the top left corner immediately caught my attention. The foodie in me automatically picked it up and read with focused attention the text that followed the words “FLAVOURS OF CHILE”. Though what followed was the usual protocol invite from the Chilean ambassador to visit aboard their visiting Frigate – The Esmeralda, the words which caught my attention were Cocktail, followed by, Flavours of Chile. Suddenly the dream of enjoying mussel empanadas with some fine Chilean Carmenere seemed a not-so-distant reality. The date on my calendar was locked and the agenda fixed – hook, line and sinker!

The Esmeralda is a steel-hulled, four-masted barquentine tall ship of Chile. It is the second tallest and the longest sailing ship in the world. It has a long history of training Chilean sailors. It was launched in 1953 and serves the Chilean Navy as a sail training vessel. Her current voyage will take her 260 days to complete as she visits 14 ports around the world.

Click For Large ViewThe Chilean Navy ship was to anchor on Indian shores on August 29th and we were to go onboard the 31st. It would be docked till the 3rd of September wherefrom it would continue its goodwill visit to other countries eventually returning to Valparaiso, Chile on 6thJanuary 2013.

Despite having reached early to avoid the terrible Mumbai peak hour traffic, we had to wait for a while at the dock gates as there seemed to be some confusion with the ushers, but once inside it was quite a sight to be in the presence of the massive four-masted barquentine. The sailors in their crisp white uniforms received us and escorted us to the upper deck which had been covered and converted into an event area. 

Giant screens with videos of sights and sounds of Chile followed by foods and wines of Chile were playing in an endless loop and the tables displayed endless bite sized portions of food items that we were to taste. But to me the Pièce de résistance was the massive table in the center upon which, apart from the different food items from Chile, stood four sentries – the four wines that we were to taste tonight. In the plethora of all the Chilean Value-for-money wines available in the Indian market, it was quite thrilling to see four giants of the Chilean wine diaspora being represented on the wine list.

Perhaps it was the historic occasion of the Esmeralda´s docking on the Indian shore, or the romance of the Mumbai Monsoons, that the ProChile team decided to showcase the four musketeers-Montes Alpha, Luis Felipe Edwards, Anakena  Ona and Valdivieso on this occasion. And to make it even more exciting, all of them were different varietals of reds!! (Call me what you want, but I tend to be a bit partial to the masculine reds!)

Click For Large ViewNow those of you who have followed the Chilean wine journey in India would know that the presence of Chilean brands in India has been steadily increasing with more and more Chilean wines marking their permanent presence in almost all the prestigious wine lists around the nation. Just five years ago, there were only 12 brands of Chilean wines available in the Indian market with a total volume of only around $300,000 whereas the year 2011 saw them close the year with around 24 brands and imports volume of around $1 million.

However, the Chilean wines have long been associated with value for money wines, a notion which even though quite flattering to the India psyche, does not truthfully do justice to the quality of the Chilean wines. This tendency was quite evident on the previous promotional events from the embassy as well as the majority of the wines displayed during those events usually tended to be of the value for money variety. But on this occasion, it was a pleasant surprise to see wines from Chile which stand out uniquely for their quality and are capable of competing with some of their finest counterparts. The dark red, mildly oaky Montes Alpha Merlot, 2009 was the first wine to be poured.  For a Chilean Merlot, it had a slightly fruity nose and soft tannins and was served accompanying Chicken skewers marinated in garlic, onions and orange juice and chicken and sweet corn pie (where the sweet corn was surprisingly absent).

This was followed by the Anakena Rose paired with Artichoke hearts filled with goat cheese mousse and ceviche de Salmon. The bite sized portions were a perfect pairing with the light and refreshing cabernet rose which usually finds quite a fan following amongst the fairer sex and even here it was conspicuously making its mark on the beautiful crowd. Valdivieso Merlot followed soon after and was soon forgotten, not because it lacked in quality, but because it was overshadowed by the two wines which followed soon after.

Click For Large ViewLuis Felipe Edward Pupilla Merlot has always been a personal favourite of mine with its slightly spicy taste with flowery plum flavors and blended perfectly well with the lamb and cheese empanadas and asparagus and parmesan cheese timbales. But the best one for me that night was the magnificent Anakena, Ona Premium – a trio blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (55%), Carmenere (25%) and Syrah (20%). The oaky wine was ironically quite dry as opposed to the weather which was pouring quite heartily. I guess what really made it stand out was that the blend kind of reflected the mood of the evening on board the historic ship - authoritative, elegant and charismatic. If I was to choose the best wine of the evening, I would root for this one hands down.

The dessert shelf was quite well stacked with a goat cheese cake with natural figs, berry compote, Crème Brulee of Lucuma with berries and the Milhojas (pastry with berry filling) but somehow white wines were not really missed at the event since the catering staff was quite happy pouring out hearty measures of Pisco Sour (a cocktail made out of Chilean grape brandy) and Piscola (simply Pisco and coke – a Chilean classic) to end the evening on a happy (read high) note!

ProChile seems to have taken its earlier events as learning lessons and have made major improvements in the catering department as the pass around snacks prepared by the Lalit hotel were absolutely in line with the theme of the evening and paired quite well with the available wines. They were quite representative of the Chilean cuisine and also appealed to the Indian palate.

Click For Large ViewOne thing that could have been better, though, was the wine service. Since the event was not a sit down event, the wine servers should have had a label mentioning the wines that they were serving as not everyone knew which wines they were drinking. Considering the fine varietals showcased in the event, it was a shame that the labels didn’t get their share of fame. All in all, the event was well organized and fairly attended by over a 100 guests from the F&B, Travel and wine and food sectors despite the heavy Mumbai monsoon rains.

A congratulatory note to the entire team of the Chilean contingent is in order for not only organizing such a fine event, but for also managing to showcase such a fine array of Chilean reds which shall most certainly help dispel the common myth that Chilean wines are just value for money wines. I for one, would certainly be looking forward to the next Chilean wine event in Mumbai and tasting the finer varietals that the country has to offer (Read – Errazuriz Don Maximiano, Montes Alpha M and Montes Purple Angel, Almaviva, Concha y Toro´s Don Melchor and Terrunyo). Salud!

Suprio Bose

Suprio Bose is a long time member of the Delhi Wine Club, currently based in Mumbai



Subhash Arora Says:

And Hail Chilean wines!

Posted @ September 06, 2012 14:05


Emily Lau Says:

All hail the Chilean Navy, which puts up the majestic Esmeralda, its officers and crew, for such a delightful event, a first for Chile in India.

Posted @ September 06, 2012 13:10


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