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Delhi Wine Club
Wine Club: Pick of Piccini Wines from Italy

Posted: Monday, 28 February 2011 14:24

Wine Club: Pick of Piccini Wines from Italy

The Italian wine producers bench strength is strong and deep as Arun Batra discovered at a Delhi Wine Club dinner with Piccini wines, primarily from Tuscany at the Sevilla Restaurant at Hotel Claridges where an interesting Menu concentrating on  Mediterranean cuisine has been designed.

Photos By:: Adil Arora

Having attended well over a hundred dinners of the Delhi Wine Club , I had thought I had covered most bases as far as quality Italian wine producers were concerned . Well, I was in for a very pleasant surprise when I attended the 2nd event of 2011 of the Delhi Wine Club at Sevilla at the Claridges last Thursday during the course of which the wines of Piccini Estates from the Chianti region of Italy were showcased.

As we gathered in the open air courtyard at Sevilla for our pre dinner aperitif, I couldn’t but help being overawed by the setting. If there was an award for the best outdoor dining venue in Delhi , Sevilla would win it hands down with its multi level seating , great interplay of water and light –all in all a great ambience to pair quality wines with good food, with a brand new impressive Menu to boot. We had selected the Signature dishes of the Restaurant as devised by Chef Ravi Saxena and his team for this event, matched with the wines by our President Subhash Arora as usual.

Piccini Estates, as I learnt from Andrea Landozzi, their visiting Export Manager, is a fourth generation wine making company which manages 4 estates, totalling over 400 hectares, in the heart of Chianti Classico province in Tuscany. Starting from humble beginnings in 1882 with Chianti bottled in the traditional straw wrapped flasks, Piccini has grown to represent a healthy 12% of Italian Chianti wine production today –no mean task given the high standards red wine drinkers have grown accustomed to expect from a Chianti wine.

Unfortunately at this stage, the weather played spoilsport and as the drizzle dripped through the trees, our members had to scurry for cover. Fortunately, President Arora had been keeping close contact with the Met Department and the Hotel and knowing the chances of rains had taken a decision to have the dinner inside the cabins. 

But before the weather Gods commanded us top go inside, Sevilla chefs presented some of their signature Tapas  to go along with the Piccini Bianco Toscana IGT 2009 –an easy drinking blend of trebbianno, vermentino and chardonnay grapes though with a distinct minerally mouth. Amongst the tapas, the goat cheese tarts were outstanding -the sharpness of the cheese perfectly complemented by the crispness of the tarts.

Once seated inside, we were presented with the chefs take on a salad Caprese to go with the Piccini Orvieto DOC 2009. The salad was under-dressed and whilst we made amends with the olive oil and balsamic available on the table, it gave the wine time to breathe and evolve from what was a very inoffensive white at first take. This dry white would definitely benefit from decanting to help release the fruit and give a rounded mouth to the wine.

Being based in the heart of Chianti, a red wine territory, it would be pretty evident that white wines would not be Piccini’s forte and so it was with bated breath I awaited the roll out of the Piccini reds. The first out was the Piccini Chianti Riserva 2007 – a 100% Sangiovese, giving it a ruby red colour, a fruity nose and a long and smooth finish assisted by soft tannins. This 13% alcohol wine, was a great representation of the finesse Piccini have in handling the Sangiovese grape, and is just one of the many DOCG Chianti’s have in their line up.

Next was the star of the evening –the Piccini Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2005 – a powerful and classy wine with excellent structure, intense fruit and a rich mouth feel. This outstanding wine deserved a second glass which was promptly filled by the attentive table staff and whilst savouring it, I reflected that it was wines like this that truly reflect the vision and intellect of President Subhash, especially about Italian wines and makes one’s membership of the Delhi Wine Club a great decision.

In the shadow of such high quality wines the Valencia Paella and the New Zealand lamb chops in a puy lentil mash slipped away without much flutter but we were not done yet! There was yet another star from the Piccini stable on parade – the Piccini Sasso al Poggio Toscana IGT 2004 . Though categorised as an IGT, this superb Super-Tuscan wine is a result of the Italian appellation system, as it is a blend of 20% each of Cabernet and Merlot and thus not eligible for the DOCG tag. 24 months of aging in barrels and barriques give an oaky coating to this excellent marriage of fruit and tannins –indeed a complex wine and well worthy of belonging to the category of the “Super Tuscans”.

Dessert Chef at the Sevilla must be complimented for an excellent rendition of a Crème Brûlée and an Almond Tart. In fact he seems to have got the texture of the tart down to a “T” – crisp and light as to compliment the filling and not soggy and crumbly like most versions one encounters on 5 star dessert buffets. Many thanks also to the Corporate Chef Ravi Saxena and the Executive Chef Neeraj Tyagi for an enjoyable evening once again.

And so we rang the curtain down on the 173rd dinner of the Club since its inception –yet another great evening. It was a unique opportunity to have a single banner selection of wines with Andrea going from table to table talking about his wines. Such events give one a great opportunity to gauge the winemaker’s mastery over a variety of grapes. I don’t know how well the wines being imported by the Torres-Thapar JV-Prestige Wines will do commercially in India, given the tax structure but it is good to know that the bench strength of Italian wine producers is deep and I hope the Delhi Wine Club brings many more such gems our way soon!!

Arun Batra

Arun Batra is a Delhi based food and wine enthusiast and a long time member of the Delhi Wine Club






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