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OTW Dinner: A Yachtmaker’s Poetry in Bubbles

Posted: Saturday, 16 February 2013 12:04

OTW Dinner: A Yachtmaker’s Poetry in Bubbles

Feb 16: Vittorio Moretti, owner of Bellavista winery in Franciacorta, believes in perfection and harmony. We got to savour this belief at a wine dinner at OTW-On the Waterfront in New Delhi, where master maker, builder and yachtmaker’s established bubbly Bellavista was served along with Petra, the Tuscan newbie, writes Sourish Bhattacharyya.

Click For Large ViewIN THE yachting world, Vittorio Moretti is known as the “architect of poetry”. The qualified master mason whose first business was industrial prefabrication owes the description to the webzine Yacht OnLine and it couldn’t be more apt for the guardian angel of Maxi Dolphin, whose ten-to-twenty-million-euro boy toys are famous for their flawless architecture.

Beauty, as Moretti said in an interview to Yacht OnLine, means order, harmony and sharing. “There’s no sense to have a thing of beauty if you don’t share it with others,” he said. It is this passion for perfection and harmony, combined with the spirit of sharing, that have found their finest expression in Bellavista, the sparkling wine that was born in the 1977 (ten years before his yacht business) out of Moretti’s desire to share the fruits of his ancestral vineyards in Brescia, Franciacorta, with the top clients of his construction firm.

Franciacorta is called Italy’s Champagne, but wine visionaries such as Moretti have lifted the region to a league of its own. The sparkling wines from the Alpine foothills of Franciacorta may use the grape varietals and follow the production rules of Champagne (at Bellavista, remuage, or riddling, the ritual of daily shaking and turning of bottles to ensure the sediments gather at their neck, is still done by hand), but their balance of crispy acidity and the sweetish finish of fruit make them more accessible to the unaccustomed palate than the bone-dry offerings of the French capital of bubbles. It is this expressive Franciacorta that a bottle of Bellavista packs in.

And we got to savour it this past week with a pilgrim on his way to the Maha Kumbh, one of the world’s greatest spiritual spectacles that takes place every 12 years in the historical city of Allahabad, the confluence of the two lifelines of India’s northern plain — the rivers Yamuna and the holy Ganga as well as the mythical (or possibly real!) Saraswati.

Click For Large ViewAlessandro Vallecchi was one of 70 million people to take a ‘holy dip’ in this confluence of history and religion (this is the second time he has done it in his life), but before heading to Allahabad, he stopped at Delhi to share the joys of Bellavista with a small group of connoisseurs invited by Brindco International CEO (and India’s largest wine importer) Aman Dhall and Indian Wine Academy President Cav. Subhash Arora at the city’s plush multi-cuisine restaurant, On The Waterfront.

Click For Large ViewThe evening opened with sushi and salmon paired with the Bellavista Gran Cuvee 2007. This sparkler with a pale, lively and decidedly persistent mousse, and an ample, inviting bouquet with rich floral and ripe fruit notes of white flowers and ripe fruit, leaves a tangy, satisfying aftertaste. An ode to elegance and balance, the wine followed us to the dining table, paired with young beans, caramelised chilli walnuts, parmesan crisp and rocket drizzled with balsamic vinegar. Giving it company was the memorable limited-production, oak-fermented Bellavista Gran Cuvee Brut Rose 2007, which seduced us with its exuberance, its densely packed and persistent bubbles, its onion-skin hue and intense fragrant bouquet of flowers and fruit. Refined and harmonious, with an elegant undertone of blackcurrants and sweet almonds, it is an elegant expression of Moretti’s vision.

We would have loved to continue with the Brut Rose 2007 forever, but the artichoke agnolotti (pillow-shaped ravioli) and cream of asparagus arrived with the Bellavista Curtefranca Convento SS. Annunciata 2009, named after the historic Convento dell’Annunciato, which dates back to 1449 and is said to command one of the finest views of Italy. On the entrance to the convent, where monks made fine wine, are inscribed these memorable words in Latin: “ENTER, LOOK AND ADMIRE, and, in truth, he who looks but does not admire is not capable of admiring and is not worthy of even looking.”

Click For Large ViewIn the vineyards in the midst of the remains of this old convent grow the chardonnay grapes that go into this fairly deep straw-yellow wine with a nose that comes with hints of apricot and pineapple. With its attractive and elegant vanilla note and a marked mineral vein, the wine displays excellent balance and freshness on the palate, and shows its true colours in the long, tangy finish.

Click For Large ViewThere’s clearly more to the Bellavista story than sparklers and white wine from the convent. A constant entrepreneur, Moretti has been stirring the Tuscan wine scene with Petra, his Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot blend produced at a showpiece winery (designed by the Swiss architect Mario Botta) whose façade looks uncannily like the Jantar Mantar, the sun-dial erected in the 18th-century by the Maharaja of Jaipur in what is now New Delhi’s Central Business District, Connaught Place.

We had the Petra IGT Toscana Rosso 2007, whose ruby red hue is as intense as the complex nose. Its marked scent of red fruit and jam, notes of chocolate and coffee, intense full-bodied taste and well-rounded tannins lent an ask-for-more quality to the wine. It waltzed along with the gently pan-fried plump Chilean sea bass served with farm-fresh asparagus and borlotti bean sauce. As it did with the portion of forest mushroom filo on a pool of porcini cream sauce with baby wilted spinach I stole from Subhash Arora! The coupling was flawless and the guests, unsurprisingly, were in a state of bliss. The kind of bliss one earns at the Maha Kumbh. By the end of the dinner, Bellavista’s export manager must have earned enough good karma even before he could even step out for the Maha Kumbh. He didn’t really have to take the holy dip!

Sourish Bhattacharyya


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