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Delhi Wine Club
DWC Dinner: A Sparkling Italian Wine Evening

Posted: Monday, 18 March 2013 12:09

DWC Dinner: A Sparkling Italian Wine Evening

Mar 18: Members and guests of the Delhi Wine Club enjoyed high quality Italian sparkling wines from Ricci Curbastro in Franciacorta at Delhi’s newest French eatery, Le Bistrot where three bubblies that vie to challenge Champagne, were served with rustic Italian cuisine. Arun Batra reports

Photos By:: Adil Arora

Click For Large ViewSparkling wines have traditionally been served at Delhi Wine Club dinners as aperitifs to be enjoyed with pass-around snacks whilst the members assemble prior to the sit down segment of the evening. However this time around, for the first wine dinner in Mar (#3/208) our Club President Subhash Arora decided to stand tradition on its head and go for a sparkling wine led dinner on March 7.

We at the Delhi Wine Club are indeed fortunate to have what I would term as a “working president” in as much as Subhash spends probably more days in a year travelling to wine fairs, judging competitions, and visiting wineries and vineyards around the world than probably dining at home with his wife!!

Click For Large ViewDuring one of his recent visits to Italy, Subhash visited Franciacorta, an area in Lombardy region of Northern Italy, famous for its sparkling wines. He met among several other producers, Riccardo Ricci Curbastro, owner of one of the oldest and highly respected wineries producing sparkling wines. Unquestionably, the best sparkling wines of Italy come from Franciacorta which has established its reputation as the best sparkling wine producing area of Italy. Its wines are often referred as ‘Champagne’ with an Italian terroir. The visit gave him the idea for a Franciacorta sparkling wine evening at a club dinner.

Franciacorta sparkling wines are produced by the traditional method of the second fermentation in the bottle. It was granted a DOCG status towards the turn of the last century. The wines are made using the Metodo Classico process with strictly defined compositions (of Chardonnay, Pinot Blanco and Pinot Noir) and aging durations upwards of 25 months, depending upon the style. As Subhash informed us, this is the only docg wine in Italy which does not need to mention docg on the label. Thus you will find only a Franciacorta Brut on the sparkling wine bottle that meets the docg standards.

The venue for the evening was the Le Bistrot at the French Cultural Institute, slap bang in the middle of Lutyens Delhi on Aurangzeb Road. This French style bistro is being managed by Tarsillo Nataloni, a member of our Club and a restaurateur cum chef who also runs Flavours, the popular Italian trattoria in Defence Colony. Open only to members, Nataloni had used his contacts to get permission to allow the DWC members join in for the dinner.

Click For Large ViewIronic you might say to celebrate an evening of Italian wines on French soil – and that too the wines that compete directly with the French coveted bubbly- Champagne. But our club is known to promote wines of all countries. It was a different and beautiful venue with exclusive location. I am sure as members walked through the gates and along the lush lawns lined with eye-catching seasonal flowers to the far end where Le Bistrot is located, one thought that must have crossed most peoples’ mind would have been ‘what a great location for a discreet business lunch or otherwise!’

As members assembled on the patio outside the Bistro, we were served chilled flutes of Ricci Curbastro Brut - a very pleasant, easy drinking aperitif with a floral nose and a dry finish in the mouth. The cold weather had eased off and it was indeed a great experience to be outdoors amidst excellent foliage. I must make particular mention of the pass-around snacks which were not only plentiful but also excellent to taste. The chicken liver pate on crisp toast and the bacon tarts were outstanding. Nataloni also had put the recently installed wood-fired oven to good use to make a French dish that looked like French ‘pizza’.

Click For Large ViewUnusual as it was, there had been no last minute cancellations/no shows and a full house of 44 sat down to hear Subhash introduce our chief guest Gianluca Grandi, the Deputy Head of Mission at the Italian Embassy, and then talk about the region of Franciacorta and the wines that we were being served that evening.

To keep us company was a shot of potato soup infused with ginger and the Ricci Curbastro Satèn Brut DOCG 2007. This 100% Chardonnay-based sparkling wine with 13% alcohol was in another league compared to the aperitif – I understand the smooth mouth feel and a relatively more rounded body is largely due to the Satèn style of production in which the wine is packed under lower atmospheric pressure of 5 bars. Subhash also explained that this style was ‘invented’ by Franciacorta and was a specialty of many producers’ bubblies now to allow drinking Franciacorta throughout the meal.

Franciacorta had been producing still wines –both red and white, much before the sparkling wines were introduced in 1961. These are labelled as Curtefranca DOC. In the white section we had the Curtefranca Bianco DOC Vigna Bosco Alto 2007 paired with the Spaghetti Carbonara with smoked chicken. The 100% Chardonnay Bianco was a little unlike most fruity Chardonnays as it tended more towards the dry side of the continuum.

Click For Large ViewI tried it with the main course of Sea Bass Franciacorta and I thought it went better with the fish than did the Curtefranca Rosso D.O.C. Vigna Santella del Gröm 2008 served next. The Rosso, a blend of 40% Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cab Sauv, Barbera and Carmenere, turned out to be a bit of a “khichdi”.

As usual we saved the best for last. Subhash had been waxing eloquently about the Franciacorta Rose Brut so we decided to pair it with the dessert of vanilla pudding with fresh strawberry and Tarsillo’s surprise dish of a strawberry risotto. One sip of this well-structured salmon pink sparkling served from a lovely frosted bottle and I knew we were sampling something special. Unfortunately there was not enough of this elegant fruity sparkling available for seconds but this is one sparkling that deserves a revisit soon at one of our forthcoming wine dinners. It was also not a good match with the risotto which was an unusual preparation.

At the end of the day it was indeed an education to try Italian sparkling wines and we have to thank Subhash for conceptualizing this evening and Tarsillo for implementing and delivering robust and rustic Italian cuisine. Salute!!

Arun Batra

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

Gallery                      Menu

Tags: Riccardo Ricci Curbastro, Metodo Classico, docg, Italian sparkling wines


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