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Delhi Wine Club
Four Seasons: Serve the Reserve with Food

Posted: Thursday, 20 October 2011 11:09

Four Seasons: Serve the Reserve with Food

Oct 24: Food is an important aspect of the enological experience and the right match of food and wine enhances the gastronomical experience. Four Seasons Wines organised a lunch for special invitees at the Olive Qutab, last week with the international cuisine Chef Saby demonstrating and preparing dishes live to match their wines, with a focus  on their Red Reserve Cabernet and Shiraz wines, writes Subhash Arora

Chef Saby and Abhay Kewadkar, the Chief Winemaker of Four Seasons (wine division of Vijay Mallya’s  UB group) who had stopped over specially from the winery in Baramati  on his way to Bangalore, took a select group of invited food critics and wine buffs through a gastronomical experience by pairing a few of Four Seasons wines with signature dishes prepared by Chef Saby.

There was the spicy chicken espatada to go with the clean, zingy, fresh and not-so-sweet Chenin Blanc which has vastly improved over the past few vintages. Sauvignon Blanc paired with the signature chicken and mushroom pizzas as well as the pepper, onion, tomato and mushroom pizzas made deliciously in the wood-fired oven was the perfect appetizer. For the red wine lovers, there was Fusili with tomato cream sauce that was paired with the Shiraz varietal.

The protagonist for the afternoon was certainly the Confit of duck leg with red cabbage slaw with caramelized shallot jus and prunes which Abhay took pains to point out had been soaked in the same wine, as might be expected. Chef Saby prepared it in front of the guests, on the live station- the specialty of the ‘glass house’ at Olive, post sealing of premises and re-opening a couple of years ago. The duck was crispy from the outside but beautifully soft inside, giving it an excellent texture and flavours that went very well with the full-bodied, spicy and slightly earthy Shiraz with ripe tannins matching the proteins of the meat.  It would have possibly won a Gold medal in the ‘food and wine match’ category at the Cathay Pacific HKIWSC from where I had recently returned after judging wines and ‘food and wine’.

 For the lovers of full bodied Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve there was Filo wrapped Portobello- smoked scarmozza ratatouille with mushroom salsa.

For the medium dry Rose (Blush) there was the special dessert- a Winter Choco spiced cake which was subtly spicy and excellent on its own but as a food-wine match it seemed to be a contrived match. Indians are not really used to wine with their desserts, anyway. I’d be happier slicing some soft, unseasoned cheese, possible our Indian cheese with black pepper or even red pepper, to go with this wine. But as I often emphasize, the food and wine match is a matter of personal choice and any pairing is subjective. 

Although their varietal white Viognier was not available at Olive, it is one of the best white wines Abhay has crafted.  He informed me that their Ritu Viognier had won a Bronze medal at the recently concluded Wine Style Asia Award in Singapore and would be showcased at the ‘Wine For Asia’ wine show to be held on 27-28 October in Singapore. The same wine had also won a Bronze last year at the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Wine and Spirit Competition (HKIWSC).  This would have been a good opportunity to somehow showcase this wine at Olive Qutab.

I was quite impressed by a small Guide titled as ‘A Window into the World of Wine’ that was being distributed to the guests at lunch and presumably is available to all the wine novices who are thirsting for knowledge on the wine basics but neither have time nor inclination to spend a lot of time attending wine seminars or read Jancis Robinson’s Oxford Companion to wines. 

Starting from defining wine, the 30-page attractive booklet takes you through the types of wine, winemaking process, wine regions of the world, grape varieties. It also guides you on wine tasting, how to taste, serve and store the wine, with tips on food and wine match. Taking you through the wine terminology, it also touches the contentious issue of screw-caps as the closure that Four Seasons Wines uses. Even the tasting notes of the wines they produce have been presented succinctly without the usual self-praising poetry to help the novice understand their wines. Highly recommended for those whose taste buds are itching to taste more wines but who feel awkward asking basic questions about wine. 

Contact who may possibly send you this useful booklet or tell you where to find it. Glancing through the booklet I was intrigued that all their wines have exactly 12.5% alcohol (except Viognier at 13.5%). While it would be a marvelous feat and certainly a positive characteristic since a majority of Maharashtra wines have higher alcohol content. I would need to visit the winery to convince myself of the universal twelve-five.

Subhash Arora

Disclosure: I was an international judge and president of one of the three panels at the Wine Style Asia Awards (WSAA) held at Conrad Centennial Hotel in Singapore over two days, earlier this month. However, the names of the country of the samples being tasted blind are not disclosed at this competition- so there is no way of knowing if this wine was served to my panel. But I did not even know if Four Seasons had entered their wines- I would have politely excused myself from judging any Indian wines, had I known. Kudos to Four Seasons and Abhay Kewadkar for a well earned recognition! Editor


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