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Posted: Wednesday, 11 March 2015 16:47

DWC Dinner: Going Loco for Caballo at Zerzura

March 11: Although the Chilean Valdivieso Blanc de Blanc Brut was a great start for the recent wine dinner at Zerzura, their iconic Caballo Loco No. 13 was distinctly the wine of the evening, bettering the Rose, White and Red AOC wines from a small estate Chateaux Lamouroux from Graves in Bordeaux, writes Subhash Arora who was impressed with the food quality at the Moroccan-Mediterranean Restaurant where a sprinkling of belly dancing added fun to a Sunday evening wine outing

Photos By:: Adil Arora

Click For Large ViewCaballo Loco means crazy horse in Spanish. There are stories about why the wine is named as such but introduced in 1990 by the producer Valdivieso which had its origins in making ‘Champagne’ since 1879, it had a rather crazy origin too. Made from grapes chosen from special parcels, it is made by Solera method- like Sherry. Each vintage is a blend of 50% of the wine from the current year’s blend and 50% from the previous years, stored away as the base wine or reserve wine-whatever you may call it. Thus, No. 13 that we served at this dinner had 50% from the 2008 vintage and balance had wine from each of the vintage since 1990 to 2007! The wine will drink best in 5 years or later.

Caballo Loco was introduced in India about a decade ago when the now-defunct Sovereign Impex became a distributor for Valdivieso and launched the label at a Delhi Wine Club dinner when the then Ambassador Jorge Heine was the ambassador. Though the Sauvignon Blanc and the sparkling wine were a hit, it was Caballo Loco (I believe it was No. 4) that caught our fancy and we would drink it whenever feasible. The blend was kept secret until recently when Puneet Ralhan, Director of the importing company Agnetta International informed us- blend of Cabernet Sauvignon from Maipo Valley, Shiraz, Malbec and Chile’s national signature grape Carmenere. In fact, now they have started mentioning on the bottle where they use to earlier say it was made from a secret blend of different grapes.

Caballo Loco also has another interesting story for the Delhi Wine Club which celebrated its 10th year and 200th wine dinner (each event is numbered and detailed on their website ). Valdivieso had been recently launched in India by Agnetta and I invited them to sponsor the iconic wine from this company to showcase to the 250 guests attending from the Club, their guests and hospitality industry. Not only was the wine imported by air and loved by one and all, the export director of the company, Crisitian Sotomayor flew in from Chile along with the winemaker Brett Jackson to attend the historic dinner and meet the trade.

Click For Large ViewTherefore while selecting the wines, I decided to start the evening with Valdivieso bubbly and end with this top-ended wine. ‘At Rs. 6050 in Delhi market, Caballo is not exactly cheap but President Subhash Arora does get ‘loco’ at times to give us a memorable experience,’ said Tarsilo Nataloni, a long time Italian member and owner of Flavours Restaurant, whose palate is Italian but appreciates fine wine from other countries as well.

Memorable evening it was! The Brut was so delicious with its creamy, crispy and fruity flavours, nice mouthfeel and the lovely zingy texture on the mouth that it started flying the moment it was served with an array of mouth watering snacks like Sumac flavored Roasted Mushroom, Garlic & bell pepper Pizza, Thin Turkish pizza topped with generous amount of chicken mince with Arabic spices; followed by the kebabs and Briouats- Grilled summer vegetables rolled in thin phyllo pastries, stuffed crispy fried with cheese. A few members found the Chelo kebab (with minced meat), Jujeh kebab (chicken) and Potato Pepper Chelo finger-licking delicious. In fact, not realizing that we had deconstructed them from the Main course to let them enjoy the flavours of the restaurant cuisine complained at the end that the snacks had been too generous and interfered with the appetite for the Main Course.

The secret of success for the bubbly could also be because the wine is made from a single varietal Chardonnay or the champagne-like bread yeastiness or the 8gm/liter in the dosage which makes the wine sing on the palate or the long length when you mixed it only with conversation (Rating 90/100).

Wines following the sparkling Brut, with the dinner at the table were:

Ch Lamouroux Bordeaux Rose 2013

This was the only repeat from the earlier dinner at this venue, partly because it was really loved by the members and partly because we chose two other wines from the same group in Graves. Aromatic wine made from 40% Merlot and 60% Cabernet was only a shade darker than my favourite Provence colour Salmon pink, but it had medium body and soft tannins making it possibly to be a  common denominator wine for vegetarian and non vegetarians. The nominal 8gm/liter sugar is also conducive to the palate and moderate spices. (88/100)

Château LAMOUROUX white AOC Graves-2013

Click For Large ViewBefore the Rose we served the medium bodied AOC Grave white with 75% Sauvignon Blanc and 25 % Semillon (pronounced semi-yyoN), a typical blend for whites in Graves and other parts of Bordeaux (and Australia). Quite aromatic wine with intense perfume of white stone fruits, pineapple, guava spilling into the flavours, it had medium length and balanced acidity- quiet an engaging wine (89/100).

Château LAMOUROUX red AOC Graves-2010

Red wine was a blend of 50% Merlot and 50% Cabernet Sauvignon. Though the wine was medium bodied and quite fruity with hints of minerality due to the gravel soil, it felt a bit lean on the palate with a seeming weakness at the back end. Pleasant and clean wine but not overly impressive due to the thinness. Good match for the lamb cutlet Tagine and to a lesser extent with the chicken, yam or vegetable Tagine.(86/100)

Caballo Loco needed a bit of warming in the palms. Of course, it is always better to serve red wine slightly colder-maybe 2-3 deg C so that it may warm up in hands, if needed. But this has the obvious disadvantage that if the drinker is novice, he or she may not do so in which case the flavours are muted to quite an extent. This wine could have been decanted for 30-60 minutes serving. Those who could hold on to the wine thru the suggested 30 minutes in the class could really savour the classic beauty with all its elegance, balance, red berry flavours that impressed you even more than the seductive, complex aromas of the wine, soon as you took it slowly to your nose and got amplified with swirling. Quite impressive after the warm-up acts of the 3 previous wines. (94/100)

Click For Large ViewChef Yadav did a fabulous job with the revamped Menu and the dishes conjured up by him in the absence of the owner Shagun Somani who needn’t have been apprehensive enough to call up from China and check with the Restaurant Manager Dinesh who worked extra hard. This despite the salads and soups were average. It is unfair to expect a 5-star service at a restaurant like this, especially when people come out to relax and distress and service takes a bit if back seat. But the service was otherwise quite adequate, while the wine service was even a couple of notches higher thanks to Abhishek Thakur from Agnetta, who doubled up to manage the wine service.

Even the Belly dancer who is from Estonia and is new here regaled the members and others at the restaurant with her moves-worth a watch from 4-6 feet (closer than that, the bouncers won’t allow).

If you are looking for a quiet and formal wine dinner you would have been disappointed, but if you have some fun in your bones, this place turned out to be truly a memorable evening and worth a revisit in future.

Subhash Arora

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