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Delhi Wine Club
Taste of Fratelli Wines at Diva

Posted: Tuesday, 14 August 2012 11:57

Taste of Fratelli Wines at Diva

August 14 : When delWine recently organised a tasting of the full range of Fratelli wines at the Diva Restaurant for the visiting journalist and author Joel Payne from Germany, our Asst Editor Natasha Vohra decided to accompany in order to get a first hand taste of the much talked-about wines. Here is her account of the evening:

Click For Large ViewHaving recently relocated back to Mumbai after a 6-year stint in California, I am pleasantly amazed to see so much activity on the wine front in India these days. People are enjoying wine and want to know more about it and have access to a large variety available in retail stores.

Indian wines have been evolving steadily over the last decade and one of the newer entrants is Fratelli wines. I had the pleasure of being part of an exclusive tasting of their wines on a sultry Monday evening in New Delhi last week. The prospect of sampling new wines is always a pleasant one but what made the evening extremely enjoyable and a lot more educational for me personally, was the august company I was in - Joel Payne, an internationally renowned wine writer, only one of whose many laurels include being the Best Sommelier in Germany for three years, and Cav. Subhash Arora, Founder-President of the Indian Wine Academy.

 We had 8 wines to get through and started with the Chenin Blanc 2011- a golden yellow, light-to-medium bodied, fruity and fresh wine with aromas of ripe apples. The wine felt dry (about 6gms/lit sugar to Arora who also felt it had good acidity without being harsh). It had a slightly bitter taste at the back end. Joel was of the opinion that the wine may also have been acidified.
(The wine is priced at Rs.560 in Delhi and Rs. 530 in Mumbai.)

Next up was the Sauvignon Blanc - Grassy aromas, slightly green, good balance, cut-grass flavours, dry and citrus. The wine was nicely full on the palate. It found favour with Joel who preferred it the most out of all the whites we tasted.

I rather liked the next wine, the Chardonnay 2011. It was clean, full-bodied, with muted aromas, quite dry, with a flavour of green apples and a very impressive back palate. It was slightly ripe and definitely felt a bit astringent to all three of us. Perhaps this characteristic tipped the scales for Joel in favour of the Sauvignon instead.

The first of the reds served was the Sangiovese 2011. The tannins were soft but not attractive enough, there were some green notes in the taste as well as the aromas. We tasted it with a delicious, simple dish of fried rice balls with a light sauce on the side. It tasted a lot better with the food, giving credence to the age old axiom that wine goes better with food.

Joel had an interesting explanation for the ‘greenness’ in the wine. According to him, this wine was a ‘psychological wreck’. The reason was that in India, when the grapes are in the phenolic ripening phase; it is usually around February/March, when it’s still more the winter season than spring, thus having shorter days, the grapes do not get sufficient hours of sunshine. He explained that in contrast, in other wine producing regions in the West, for example, the grapes enjoy the day longer and hence achieve a fuller degree of phenolic ripening.

Next wine to be served was a usual favorite of mine, the Merlot, that was fuller bodied than the preceding red and fruity, though not as aromatic and luscious as I would have liked. This is a clean wine, with ripe tannins and a long aftertaste, but Subhash and Joel agreed it leaves that same green grass feeling on the palate due again to the local climate factor.

The Cabernet Franc Shiraz 2011 was fuller on the mouth, slightly sweet (4-6 gms per Subhash’s estimate) with a hint of chocolate and high in acidity. The ‘green’ feel was more muted in this wine, though still detectable in the aftertaste, but it was still a fantastic match with the duck ravioli. At the MRP of Rs.650, it’s a decent value-for-money red wine.

The Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 was spicy, with green and black pepper, and to Subhash, had a shade of coriander in the back layer. It’s a pretty clean wine with a persistent aftertaste, and would work well with food.

The best was definitely saved for last with the Sette 2009, the signature blend of Piero Masi, matured for 14 months in French Oak Barrels and capable of maturing in your cellar for years. Piero Masi’s craftsmanship is evident in this beautifully structured fusion of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese and it was by far the best wine of the evening. It went beautifully with my pork entrée, which was a bit rarer than I’m used to, but delicious nevertheless… and there was no green pepper flavours to boot.

Click For Large ViewAll in all, the tasting took me through enough diverse wines in one evening for my palate to be satisfied. As I mentioned earlier, the prices are a bit on the higher side but the variety of wines in Fratelli’s portfolio are definitely worth going through.

The evening was made all the more pleasant by the immaculate service at Diva, with the wait staff knowing just when and how to offer and pour the wines. We did not have to wait for the different, brilliantly prepared courses to arrive at the table with the right wines and offered up with discreet, polite smiles.

The food was well paired with the wines in general and, needless to say, was as excellently prepared as can be expected from the restaurant.

It looks like Fratelli wines are poised to be an important part of the Indian wine industry and would also find support at the international level.

Natasha Vohra


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