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Delhi Wine Club
The World of Franco Mondo

Posted: Wednesday, 01 August 2012 15:08

Passing By: The World of Franco Mondo

August 01 : Valerio Mondo, the 3rd generation owner of Franco Mondo in Piedmont specializing in Barbera and Dolcetto was in Delhi recently to promote his range of wines and meet customers when Subhash Arora caught up with him at a dinner hosted by their relatively new importer KRUS, at the Hotel Eros-Hilton in Nehru Place, Delhi.

Photos By:: Adil Arora

Click For Large ViewWhen I received an invitation from Akash Sharma, the country head of the German-owned KRUS Wine and Spirit Company, my heart sank. I had declined two of his invites earlier due to not being in town and also wanted to catch up with his activities. But the prospect of trudging to Hilton in Janakpuri (which is incidentally a beautiful property that nevertheless brings to mind the North-South Mumbai divide) made me develop cold feet- until I realized looking at the invite carefully that the dinner was at Eros-Hilton, Nehru Place.

One has known this hotel as Park Royale for many years, since the beginning. Somewhere along the line, it became Inter-continental (even though we continue to link that brand with Oberoi of the 60s). Although I pass by the hotel several times, I didn’t even know when it changed its collaboration and became Hilton-oops, Eros- managed by Hilton, this time.

The names may have changed, the management (of the property, promoters are very much the owners) may have changed but the Chinese restaurant, Empress of China has maintained its food quality from the beginning and I started to look forward to the evening with Franco Mondo-as it turned out the man from Franco Mondo was Franco’s son Valerio.

Click For Large ViewThe Winery was started at the end of the second war by Valerio’s grand-father in 1948 with 13 hA of vines. The business is now run by the father–son team; Franco looks after the vineyards while Valerio supervises the winery.

Located in San Marzano Oliveto between Monferrato and Canelli, in southern Piemonte, the winery specializes in Barbera d’Asti, an easy drinking red wine that finds favour with Indian food as well. They produce three variants. Besides the regular Barbera which is sold in India, there is Superiore version with 6-month ageing in wood. Barbera d’Asti Superiore Nizza is the top quality variant, not being exported to India yet. Moscato Passito and two blends doc Monferrato Rosso and Barbera 70/30 cab sauv are other variants.

Mondo started selling wines through Krus to India last year. They are already exporting 55% of their wines, mostly to Germany, Sweden, Denmark and Japan. They export Barbera d’Asti, Dolcetto and the white blend Di.Vino-an equal blend of Chardonnay and the local Piemontese grapes, Favorita and Cortese (same dry grape is used in making Gavi). The yellowish straw colour wine with green hues is quite an interesting medium body wine with Vanilla flavours.

Click For Large ViewValerio was in India for the first time and was concentrating on the Delhi market unlike many producers who make a whirlwind visit across India in a week or even less. He had organised winemaker dinners in Diva as well as Sartoria-two of the several Italian restaurants in town, before the wine tasting at the Empress of China at this hotel. The previous night there had been a similar dinner at Rara Avis Restaurant.

The interesting thing about wines from Franco Mondo is their attractive pricing. For the money one needs to spend on any of these labels they are available at an excellent Price-quality ratio making them a good buy. No wonder restaurants in Crown Plaza, Ramada and U-Rail golf course Road are already stocking the wines. Though not available in Gurgaon Retail, In Delhi they are available at around Rs. 1200-1600.

Franco Mondo also distributes wines produced under their label Il Soldale. This includes Barolo and Chianti Classico both of which are marketed in India. In fact , the Chianti was served as an aperitif before dinner. The two reds, Barbera d’Asti and Dolcetto accompanied the dinner. Barbera was a very approachable, fruity wine with ripe tannins. It was not surprising when Valerio said that it was very popular with the Indian palate.

Click For Large ViewOver the years the hotel has maintained its quality of food and service and this evening evidenced the same. But it was also an example of how a pairing can be excellent or a disaster, debunking the theory that any wine may be drunk with any food. Whereas the Barbera was a perfect match with the Braised Soy Duck and even Filo wrapped lotus stem, the Dolcetto was a disaster with the Chocolate Mousse. As it is, it’s not easy to match a chocolate dessert with wine but trying it with a dry wine like Dolcetto is slated to fail. Hopefully, while making it, the person did not think of Dolcetto as a sweet grape-like many people think erroneously. One needed perhaps Vin Santo, Moscato or Zibibbo from Sicily.

Valerio seemed to be very satisfied with the response he received from the connoisseurs. Rs.2000 a plate with 4 wines would be a great deal for any connoisseur-no wonder the space fell short and people had to sit outside in the main restaurant while we were having dinner in the spacious PDR.

Subhash Arora


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