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Delhi Wine Club
DWC Dinner: Judgement at Q’la with Fratelli Wines

Posted: Friday, 11 August 2017 14:34


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DWC Dinner: Judgement at Q’la with Fratelli Wines

Aug 11: The Delhi Wine Club Dinner at Q’la Restaurant last Friday was a unique event where Fratelli Vineyard wines were pitted against similar foreign wines from their portfolio for honours when served totally blind with delicious food prepared by Chef Priyam Chatterjee, in which Fratelli Vitae Chardonnay was the winner in both- without and with food categories and the Top Two wines were from the Fratelli Indian stable followed by two foreign wines, writes Subhash Arora, President of Indian Wine Academy which had conceptualised the event

Photos By:: Adil Arora

Genesis of the evening at Q’la Restaurant was an earlier wine dinner about a year ago at the Olive Bar and Kitchen where Fratelli wines were paired with excellent dishes by Chef Sujan Sarkar. I had then suggested to Kapil Sekhri, Director of Fratelli Vineyards that it was time to pit domestic wines against some of the imported wines from their portfolio. We would taste them blind against each other, without food and with food, pairing them with the same dish.

It was bold for Kapil to agree to my suggestion since it would mean directly pitting Fratelli wines with foreign wines. But since they would be served blind, the idea impressed him. There is generally a bias towards the foreign wines in India when the label is known. But Arora assured him that the tasting would be absolutely blind with only two similar wines known to the taster who won’t know the origin of the wines-except that either one would be Indian . Having tasted as an international judge at over 50 wine competitions in different parts of the world, it would be easy for Arora’s Indian Wine Academy to devise the challenge in a professional way. Kapil agreed for the face-off.


It would be a year of working at the concept and getting Craig Wedge, the Aussie Chief Brand Consultant for Fratelli to choose 8 wines for the face-off. Arora selected Q’la as the venue for the dinner and was quick to name it as Judgement at Q’la for obvious reasons. The usual 5-course dinner would have 4 pairs of wine served with each dish-each flight having one wine from Fratelli and another from overseas, selected at random for each pair. The tasters would have to even identify whether it was an Indian (I) or a Foreign (F) wine. By the time, we finalised the evening, Craig Wedge was extremely excited too and came from Mumbai especially for the event. Kapil Sekhri also re-adjusted his winery visit schedule and attended the event for a part of the evening.

Judgement at Q’la

Following the welcome Fratelli sparkling wine Brut with zero dosage complementing the hot and  streaming snacks that would have been sufficient for a complete dinner,  8 Wines selected were numbered as 1-2, 3-4, 5-6 and 7-8 (no one knowing which these wines were-except that each pair would be similar in terms of grape varietals).   

 Wines served Blind

In order to pair with the dish, wines were served in the order as white, red, white and red, breaking the tradition of whites followed by reds. In competitions today, my convention is being used increasingly to avoid the palate fatique. Each wine bottle was wrapped in aluminium foil and numbered from 1-8. To ensure that no one could guess from the bottle neck or top that could give away some information like a screw-capped bottle or in cork, Craig insisted he had them served  pre-poured in the glasses having number tags, known only to him.  Following wines were served:

1) Fratelli Sauvignon Blanc (I)

2) Caliterra Sauvignon Blanc (F)-Chile

3) Cecchi Chianti Riserva (F)-Italy

4) Fratelli VITAE Sangiovese (I)

5) Fortant Chardonnay (F) -France

6) Fratelli VITAE Chardonnay (I)

7) Molly Cradle Cabernet Sauvignon (F)-Australia

8) Fratelli Sette (I)

Tasting Parameters

Click For Large View25 ‘qualified’ tasters (pre-2015 members of the Delhi Wine Club and invited sommeliers/tasters with adequate tasting experience) were to guess if the wine was Indian (I) or Foreign (F).  Each table had an experienced taster as moderator/leader to guide others at the table and ensure nd serious tasting as consistent as possible within the range specified. Each taster was requested to put himself/herself in the shoes of a High Court judge with the wine in the glass and the palate as the evidence. Ankur Chawla and Kriti Malhotra, joint winners of the first delWine Excellence Awards held at Pullman Aerocity last year were special invitees.  Others requested to be the moderators were Prateek Arora from Q’la, Lavina Kharkwal and Sourish Bhattacharyya-both senior members of DWC-well qualified for the job at hand, each at a different table.

After explaining the Tasting procedure in brief (See Video) they were then asked to focus on the wines and score them for different parameters. In order to keep the scoring fairly consistent, they were given a range of possible scores for Colour (10-9), Nose ( 30-21), Flavour/Taste (40-30) ) After-Taste (10-7) and Overall Impression (10-7). Every wine could thus get a maximum of 100 and minimum of 74 points.

The score given by each taster for each of the 8 wines was to be converted into a ‘medal’ like any international competition, with scores as:  Commended (80), B- (84),  Bronze (85),  B+ (86),   S-  (87),  Silver (88)   S+ (89)  G- (90) -  Gold (92)  G+ (95). They could also mentally decide if the wine deserved a medal or a mere Commendation, and fine tune it with a + or – for each medal. Each wine was already pretested by Craig for any possible defect. While tabulating, the ratings were all converted first into total points for each wine and then an average taken. For the purposes of determining the ‘Medal’ the average score was converted back into a medal.

Wine is a beverage best suited with food. Even an ordinary wine can make a tremendous difference to the food flavours on the palate at times. Keeping this in mind, the tasters were asked to give a final score/ medal to a wine after tasting with the dish. This meant tasting 2 different wines with the same dish and opine on the combination (100-74 points). As the results did show later, my assumption of wine-food match was sufficiently validated.

Results at a Glance



Without Food



With Food



Fratelli Vitae Chardonnay





Fratelli Sette





Fortant Chardonnay





Molly Cradle





Fratelli Sauv Blanc





Caliterra Sauv Blanc





Cecchi Chianti Riserva





Vitae  Sangiovese




Fratelli Indian wines win Top Two Spots

Click For Large ViewFratelli Indian wines captured two top spots –with Fratelli Vitae Chardonnay being at the top Sette (Silver) followed by Fratelli Sette also securing a Silver medal, though with lesser average score. The next two spots were secured by foreign wines-Fortant Chardonnay at the third spot and Molly Cradle Cabernet Sauvignon from Australia bagging the 4th position.

 The situation changed when tasted with food. Fratelli Vitae Chardonnay again kept the number one spot in this category. For some inexplicable reasons, all the Top Four spots in the Food Category were bagged by Fratelli Vineyards , though the scoring was very close with much wider spectrum of score  –ranging from 74-100. It must be conceded that some members were really tight while others were very liberal with the scoring. No adjustments were made and perhaps balanced out.

 Indian vs. Foreign

The purpose of this category was to ascertain whether the Indian consumers who drank wine regularly could correctly judge if the wine was Indian or there were just biases and prejudices wherein many people refuse to drink Indian wines simply because they are Indian and foreign wines are ‘better’. Each category had 2 wines- one Indian (I) and one Foreign (F). One could get all 4 correct answers and get 4/4 or down to 0/4 if all the guesses were wrong. Here are the results:

Score           No. Of tasters

4/4                         1

3/4                         3

2/4                         11

1/4                         5

0/4                         5

Only one taster out of the total of 25 got all 4 the origin of wines right! Less than 50% (11/25) could get 2 wine pairs correct. 20% got it all wrong! It is quite interesting that in a blind tasting; almost no tasters got the origins completely right. Since we had promised a totally blind tasting, we did not make it mandatory for tasters to write their names on the scoring sheet- only the number to make them feel comfortable. Unfortunately one does not know who got them all right. But kudos to that one taster (it wasn’t me!).

 Comments from members

Since it was perhaps the first time ever that such an exercise was carried out in India- comparing Indian wines with their foreign equivalent varietals, the results are very interesting. It was also a time when we took every qualified member at his/her face (palate) value and did not tinker with the scores. In a majority of wine competitions, the scores are adjusted to keep consistency-for instance, in Vinitaly, the lowest and the highest scores are removed for each sample; in some cases if the score of a taster falls outside the average range of the panel by a percentage, like 5 or 10%, it is not counted.

Most comments were complimentary but a few would like to see the quality of wines upped a bit.  Here are the comments from some of the members/ tasters:

‘Delhi needs more of such judging events. Thanks you Subhash ji for putting together such a fabulous event.’

‘Amazing concept! Outstanding food and it was curated in the best of international way. Thanks.’

‘Very nice concept, loved the pairing but needs to be more organised with food and wine pairing; seafood didn’t go very well with the reds. So there should have been a separate Menu for the reds and whites. Overall, a nice experience!’

‘None of the wines were really spectacular except 5 & 6 were good. Food was very artistic.’

‘Interesting concept! Would we improve the wines next time? At least one of two very good wines?’

‘Subhash, Fun evening. More learning events  please!’

 ‘Loved the event. Beautifully organized. Food Yum-licious! Fantastic Presentation and Service.’

‘The concept is brilliant. Please have more Delhi Wine Club events like this. Overall the wines were average save for a couple!’

‘Good dinner! Not too good wines. We can do better!!’ were comments from members who would have preferred better quality wines in the line up.

In general, those tasting the wines liked the concept even those some connoisseurs were not very impressed with the wines. However, this was one of the main objectives of rating the wines blind. The most flattering Comment came from a member who wrote, ’this was truly a historic evening. Subhash ji, you have done it again. You are truly a pioneer.’

A successful experiment

It was a bold experiment by the Indian Wine Academy since nobody had ventured in the area earlier. Chef Priyam Chatterjee and his team was outstanding in terms of the food quality and it was well matched by the service-especially the wine service which was kept totally blind. Wines were served at correct temperatures and were totally blind-except Craig Wedge no one knew anything about the labels, not even me.  Prateek Arora’s team deserves kudos for the professionalism.

Q’la had specially arranged the ‘Zone’ –their party/banquet room with live music and A/V Presentation for the evening. It is interesting to note that the members were divided about the presence of the music during the tasting. Most competitions internationally have a quiet atmosphere so each taster can focus on the wine. International Wine Challenge in London where I have also judged, is one exception-where where music plays throughout the Tastings with Tim Atkin  MW ,Co-chair being the quasi-official DJ who even takes requests from the judges. Theme of the music changes from morning to the afternoon depending upon the mood. Most people I interviewed, love this concept.

Wine is the Winner

Click For Large ViewThe results, no doubt, might be surprising and are flattering for Fratelli Vineyards, which might not have expected the Top Two wines to be from their stable and Vitae Chardonnay to be winner in both the categories. It is even more confounding that Indian wines won all the Top 4 spots when paired with food. But a transparent tasting is what we promised and the ‘unplugged’ results are here for all to see. Medals for each wine show the variation was from Bronze to Silver+ and is a good comparative spectrum.

There might even be some justified or unjustified criticism from some  quarters on some issue or the other-especially the quality and training of the tasters. Our basic premise was that all 25 would be qualified consumers who drink wine regularly.

In any case, the results are not for record books. The objective of creating a buzz about wines and especially Indian wines was fully realised. Hopefully, there will be more such comparative tastings and even company like Sula which also has a big portfolio of foreign wines would carry out such comparative tastings.

No matter what the results are, wine was a winner at Judgement at Q’la , and with a clear message that Indian wines have arrived and should keep up the momentum. Such friendly face-offs would also encourage Indian wines to do better in future.

Subhash Arora

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