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Delhi Wine Club
Wine Club Dinner: Terroir goes Saffron with Aussie Wines

Posted: Tuesday, 27 September 2011 14:49

Wine Club Dinner: Terroir goes Saffron with Aussie Wines

Sep 27 : Terroir One, Mumbai Chapter of the Delhi Wine Club organised a dinner at the swanky Saffron Restaurant at JW Marriott Hotel in Mumbai with seven Aussie wines from Shaw. Borchardt, Kamberra and Canonbah Bridge from New South Wales and Canberra showcased and paired with Indian cuisine, writes Subhash Arora who feels that the food variety matched rather well with the varietals and the experience was a pleasure on the palate.

Robert Chua, one of the four members of the visiting Aussie delegation, was surprised when informed that the wine dinner would start at 9 pm. He preferred the programme to start at a more civil 7:30 pm.  Fortunately, he and his colleagues from Australia, E. Kabir and Mrs. and Mr Ken Borchardt had a bitter-sweet taste of Mumbai traffic while returning from South Mumbai earlier in the evening and realised the impracticality of an earlier start.

If the traffic trend in Mumbai is any indication, time is not far off when Delhi chapter may also have to postpone the starting time to 9 pm from the current 8:30 pm. Several members and guests were stuck in the traffic jams and many arrived at 10 pm and after!

Chua, Kabir and the Borchardts were visiting Mumbai after a whirlwind tour of Delhi to participate in the dinner with sponsored wines which had taken a circuitous route and process of over a month to be brought from Australia to the restaurant. Ken Borchardt, the winemaker and owner of the Borchardt winery was visiting with his wife and presenting the wines from four wineries including three from his colleagues in the region. Several wines from these producers are lauded and much awarded and yet are in the affordable range.

Indians may not be aware that Canberra, the Capital of Australia, is the name derived from Kambera which in the old tribals’ language means ‘meeting place’. No wonder Kamberra Wine Company makes wines labeled ‘Meeting Point’ which signifies the meeting point for the grower, winemaker and the wine drinker. Crisp Kamberra Meeting point Chardonnay ‘10 welcomed the guests at the meeting point of the evening - Saffron Restaurant known for its excellent Indian cuisine. After a successful Aussie Wine Experience in Delhi with French cuisine, Terroir One had decided to go with the Indian cuisine and from the looks of the people dispersing at the end of the evening, they were not disappointed. 

The endless pass- around snacks that satiated their hunger went very well with the fresh and crispy Chardonnay to make them ask for another glass. It was a great accompaniment with both the vegetarian snacks- the Tandoori vegetables and the stuffed Tandoori potatoes.  Interestingly, the juiciness of the pineapples meshed with vegetables and had a shade of acidity that made the wine slightly zingier. Kamberra Meeting Point Merlot ‘10 was also luscious and fruity with a good balance and handled the red meat lamb extremely well, just as it did the spicy chicken dish, thanks to its spicy flavours and berry taste, but with a character of its own because of the terroir and the region.

Talking of the region, Craig Wedge, an Australian Sommelier and a wine expert now living in Mumbai and working as Senior Vice President with Finewinesnmore, told the members that while Australia gave the image of Barossa, Margaret River and Yarra Valley for fine wines, there were several other relatively unknown regions, which make interesting  wines with different styles and deserved a place on the wine lovers’ palates.

Click For Large ViewBindu Malhotra, who had a tough time keeping the number of members down to 60 said that the wines were fruity and easy yet complex and were a good match for the food, especially the snacks. ‘Frankly members had their personal favourites, some preferring Borchardt Numbers Cabernet Sauvignon ’09 to Shaw Cabernet Sauvignon ‘08 whereas there were some who wanted to continue with Kamberra Meeting Point Chardonnay ’10’ she said. Prahlad Kakkar, the Vice President of Terroir One and a well-known celebrity of Mumbai did not want to be drawn in the discussions. ‘I am enjoying the whole evening of these wines with food; to me the whole experience is quite delicious.’ Cecilia Oldne (Sula) and Farhad Bhabha (Berkmann Cellars India) who are both importing Australian wines admitted that the wines were interesting and in contrast to what they were dealing with.

I quiet liked the easy drinking and fruit forward, young Canonbah Bridge Bottle Tree Semillon Chardonnay ’10 with the snacks as they continued to came to the table. Shaw Shiraz ’08 was my definite favourite. I found it very perfumed and peppery with plenty of dark berry fruits. The wine was quite well balanced and matched both the chicken and lamb dishes.

E. Kabir, General Manager of CCS Trading which had organised the Aussie Wine Experience in Delhi and Mumbai with 15 wines from the four producers was on a high after the event. The feedback from the members was quite positive and the response from importers some of whom had been special invitees was encouraging. ‘I am a strong believer in the Indian wine market for various Australian products including wine. Being originally from the sub-continent and now living in Australia, I would love to see more Australian products especially in gastronomy in India and I am pleased with the initial response.’

He plans to return within a few months to follow up on the visit. Ken Borchardt who is a winemaker-owner of the winery enjoyed interacting with the members but unfortunately, due to paucity of time and space-the PDR is a bit too small for addressing over 30-35 people and it is not feasible to talk to the people in the main restaurant, he could not enlighten the group much about the region. So he spent time talking to people individually and explaining about the region, grapes and his wines as well as from his colleagues from New South Wales and Canberra.

Whether some or all of the labels would find a place in the Indian market would depend a lot on the future government policies. With Australian wines already present in large numbers and other countries breathing hard on the neck of everyone in the distribution change, it may not be a cake walk. But going by the wines of the evening and the reaction of members and importers, these wines deserve a chance. In fact, as Kabir informed me they were in advanced talks with one importer who had shown keen interest in a few of these labels. One advantage the Mumbai importers would have immediately is that all seven wines are duly registered with excise and they just need to negotiate and start selling almost immediately, and the distributors may have an opportunity to test the market.

Following four wineries were showcased. For any information, check out their websites or contact

Mr. E. Kabir at
Shaw Wines:
Kamberra Wine Company:
Canonbah Bridge Wines:
Borchardt Wines:

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