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Delhi Wine Club
Wine Club Dinner: Top Wines from Gaja Impress

Posted: Thursday, 01 September 2011 10:12

Wine Club Dinner: Top Wines from Gaja Impress

September 01 : The Delhi Wine Club Dinner at The Oberoi Gurgaon with Gaja wines from all its three wineries in Barbaresco, Montalcino and Bolgheri had several firsts besides being a perfect balance of wine, food, ambience and service leaving a long after-taste in the memory, writes Subhash Arora who recognizes the role of co-hosts Carl F Bucherer, the premier Swiss Watch company.

Photos By:: Adil Arora

No one can doubt that Gaja makes top end Italian wines, some being the equivalent of Growth Bordeaux Chateaux but with the high prevalent taxes in India it is not practical to buy them for most dinners –certainly not wine club dinners. So when Yasho Saboo, Director of Chandigarh- based retail chain of fine Swiss watches suggested that Carl F Bucherer, one of the top manufacturers of premier Swiss watches would be willing to chip in for a premium top-of-the-line wine dinner organised by the Delhi Wine Club,  Gaja was my immediate choice as the wine that would match the premier standard of Carl F Bucherer.

We selected the Rossj Bass Chardonnay DOC Langhe 2009 from Piemonte, two vintages of Brunello di Montalcino Rennina 2004 and 2006  and  Promis 2008 from Bolgheri- so all the three wineries from Piemonte and Tuscany were represented. The flagship wine, Barbaresco is normally unaffordable but it had to be a part of the portfolio-even though we had to settle for pre-poured smaller quantity, something the Club had never done before.

Selection of venue was a bit tricky. Oberoi Delhi was out of the question since the last dinner we had a few years ago in Taipan had been so poor in terms of quality of food, service and attitude that our members had taken a vow never to return. Fortunately, the recently opened ‘The Oberoi Gurgaon’ had all the necessary ingredients  and it had nothing to do with Oberoi Delhi directly. One visit and a meeting with the General Manager Kapil Chopra convinced us that despite the super premium charges, it was the perfect venue for the event- a decision one would not regret.

Rossj Bass- a blend of Chardonnay from the lower height vines from different vineyards of Angelo Gaja and blended with a small proportion of Sauvignon Blanc gave it just the right amount of fruitiness and crispness. A very serious wine, it could mature for another couple of years and would go with most cuisines using chicken and medium textured sauces or even pork and had no difficulty in handling the snacks-especially the smoked salmon canapés , smoked chicken and avocado on French baguette and  the mushroom vol- au- vents.

Ceviche of shrimp and calamari and Prosciutto di San Daniele had been selected as starters on the sit-down tables especially in order that we could compare the pairing with Rossj Bass and Promis from Ca’Marcanda winery. Despite the No-Refills clause invoked for the first time in the Club history, the 60 member congregation had gone past the 15 bottles diligently and barring a few opened bottles, it was not possible to serve to all.

This might have been a blessing in disguise because it gave us all a chance to realise how easy, pleasant and young new world style the Promis is. A Blend of 55% Merlot, 35% Syrah and only 10% Sangiovese, it could be appropriately termed a Super Tuscan but it is perhaps one of the few wines from Gaja that is so easy on the palate that it may be drunk without any food.

The number of members could well have made a record attendance if we had not regretted to  20+ members-this was also due to the space constraint of the venue. As another first, we offered Rs.500 discount to the members in the Early Bird category to encourage a few to cancel. Not a single cancellation! And yet another first- no last minute absenteeism at the venue either.

To serve Barbaresco and pair with food, we changed our tracks-another first time attempt. Normally we would keep an iconic full bodied wine like Gaja Barbaresco at the end and for the main course. But Cream of forest mushroom with porcini foam would handle the tamed Nebbiolo grape of ’07 quite well and we wanted members to savour it, giving their full attention. Surprisingly, not only the soup was the best mushroom soup one might have enjoyed ever, it went quite well with the soup. The perfect balance with ripe tannins at the back and presence of plums and cherries-black and red, with a long after-taste that won’t go, made it a darling for everyone; there was not a single person who did not love it.

Champagne Sorbet that followed was not only a breather from the food and wine it gave our co-sponsors, Carl F Bucherer to talk of their amazing watches and give a personal ‘dekko’ of the products. Both Mr. Mukhtar Mohammed, Director of CFB and Yasho Saboo were impressive and precise in their  watch presentation.

Brunello di Montalcino Pieve Santa Restituta 2004 and 2006 are two excellent, iconic wines from Gaja’s Montalcino winery he purchased in 1994. The pair served with Grilled corn fed chicken breast and  Norwegian Salmon might not have the perfect pairing with the chicken but the Salmon was excellent with both Brunello vintages. Even chicken dish made a good pairing job. However, there were animated discussions on which one was the better Brunello-the opinion was divided almost down the middle. Of course, although 2004 seemed to have enjoyed better patronage as it was more ready to drink and was a very harmonious wine.

After giving away three lucky draw prizes- a Léoville Barton, A dessert wine from Sauternes and a mechanical watch winder (total value exceeding Rs.40,000) won by Mukesh Malhotra, Suparna Malhotra (what were the chances of both the husband and wife winning independently!)  and Ann Bellotti,  the chief guest H. E. Giacomo Sanfelice, the Ambassador of Italy, a big supporter appreciated the efforts made by the club to promote Italian gastronomy including wine  Although the club promotes wines from all countries (the next event is with wines from Australia while the previous time, there were Bordeaux wines), the members did appreciate his sentiments- a majority of them love Italian wines.

The hotel deserves accolades for the service-more specifically Prashant Gupta the F & B Director and for the way they handled wines. The professional touch was unmatchable. Although a difficult dinner to repeat,  Delhi Wine Club is always ready to accept new challenges to raise the bar which is already quite high.

Subhash Arora 

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