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Delhi Wine Club
DWC Dinner: Three Dog Night at Pullman Gurgaon

Posted: Monday, 17 December 2012 17:53

DWC Dinner: Three Dog Night at Pullman Gurgaon

December 17: Dogajolo is a delicious and affordable wine from the Tuscan producer Carpineto with both the white and red labels capable of matching a variety of dishes, as the members of the Delhi Wine Club and the outgoing Ambassador of Italy in whose honour the dinner was being hosted, discovered at the DWC dinner (# 205) at La Riviera Restaurant in Hotel Pullman, Gurgaon, writes Subhash Arora.

Photos By:: Adil Arora

Rarely do I come across wines of the same label where both the red and white are not only delicious but affordable and great VFM (value-for-money) wines and thus recommendable. Dogajolo Toscano Rosso, a young Super Tuscan and Dogajolo Toscano Bianco are a beautiful pair of wines that a couple may not be able to stop at just one bottle. For this special dinner organised to bid goodbye to H.E. Giacomo Sanfelice, a great supporter of the club for the last three years, these wines were a happy choice.

There was another reason. I have been since long a staunch supporter of the concept of bringing half bottles (375 mL) for the Indian market. It’s not always possible to finish a full bottle even between a couple; it becomes a storage problem if only one person is drinking wine. In a restaurant, this problem gets compounded because of prices and if wine-by-the-glass choice is not available, I have avoided ordering wine many times. Dogajolo red is available in half-bottles. It was a step of showing solidarity with the importer Ace Beveragez and recognizing the efforts that we selected the Dogajolo 2011. They are also perhaps the first importers to import a double magnum on a commercial level and Dogajolo 2010 was the choice for a ‘vertical’ tasting of two young vintages of this young Super Tuscan. Dogajolo 2012 white made for the trio for the evening.

During his recent visit to India, Antonio Zaccheo, partner of the Tuscan producing company Carpineto had told me that the Dogajolo label was extremely popular in the USA as a young Super Tuscan; in fact, the popularity of the red wine which is the hallmark of Tuscan wines, made them craft the white wine as a blend of the local variety of Grechetto with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. The red is predominantly the Tuscan workhorse Sangiovese (80%) with Cabernet Sauvignon giving the backbone- somewhat similar to Tignanello from Antinori, a superior Super Tuscan costing more than 6 times as much. The 3 wines of the evening made for the Three Dog Night at Hotel Pullman-Gurgaon which  has been already operational for 9 months but the La Riviera Restaurant has been relatively new and a hidden gem as we discovered during the evening.

Apart from welcoming Ambassador Sanfelice, we wanted to spread a red carpet also for Mr. Joao Cravinho, the Ambassador of EU in India and his wife Jessica. Since he is Portuguese, we could not think of a better way than serving ‘Red Carpet’- a cocktail made from the Croft Pink Port from his country. Another Ambassador for whom we had the Red Carpet ‘rolled out’ was the Portuguese Ambassador Jorge Oliveira who was suddenly taken ill and had to regret.

Managing the restaurant and adding an efficient charm is Stefanie Jan, a young and beautiful French lady with experience of managing restaurants in London with a special focus on wines. She works with ‘a here-now, there-now’ efficiency, pouring wines into the glasses from the double magnum one moment, discussing with the Chef in the open kitchen right across our guest tables the next; talking to some members here at one table and smiling at another one as she passes the next table in another moment. 

But the master of the kitchen is Master Chef Tanveer Kwatra who Sourish Bhattacharyya, a certified Gourmet, a well-known food writer, critic and Vice President of the DWC described as ‘my find of the year’ when we went for the tasting earlier. The international experience of this Indian born Australian showed not only in designing an excellent Menu but also tweaking it to the guests’ special requirements. His creativity impressed the guests from the start-with the very cool Foie gras ice cream on ciabatta croute and fresh basil that was truly awesome in texture and taste (For the recipe click here) to the delicious and creative dessert-Manjari Chocolate Cremeux, raspberry jelly and ivory milk. There were other delicious snacks like blue cheese and pine-nut tart, crumbed goats cheese fritter that would have gone quite well with the Red Carpet but a chance opening of a Dogajolo white resulted in everyone gravitating towards my favourite white wine, validating my discovering this wine as a popular choice.

Seared scallop and king prawn with pistachio puree and Noilly prat fumet was as exotic as it read on the Menu and everyone finished till the plate was cleaned out dry. Again a fabulous match with the white Dog, that. Even the vegetarians loved their Asparagus and grapefruit salad with caramelized walnuts and smoked curd.

Although I had tried to convince Chef Tanveer to give us Mushroom Risotto as a Primo Piatto, he had strongly recommended and I am glad we selected the cherry tomato based risotto which was tweaked to perfection for the Indian palate. The Italian Ambassador sitting on my right would have perhaps preferred it al dente but as most Indian customers talk al dente but prefer to eat the well-done version, it was lapped up-helped by the fresh and juicy red Dog 2011 with soft tannins and balanced acidity to handle the tomatoes as well. Goat Cheese tortellini wit agro dolce pumpkin, rocket and pistou was perhaps better choice with the white wine but who cares if the company is good?

Pan fried snapper with Vichy carrots was delightfully crispy from outside and creamy and smooth on the inside- again perhaps a better match with the white wine but the Red Dog 20010 pre-poured by Stephanie out of the double magnum was adequate with it. The wine was perfect with the Rib-eye steak for the red-meat eaters.

Ambassador Cravinho sitting on my left was adequately impressed with the creativity of the chef.. ‘He has gotten my Rib-eye steak just perfect medium rare- at the right temperature too.’ Arun Verma, another member at our table had sneaked in a special request that needed to be custom-tailored. It was perfect and on time, he agreed. The Chef went from table to table asking the guests how they liked the food and taking their feedback. David Briskman, the American member of the Club and an unofficial ‘thanks giver’ did not mind admitting that this was one of the best meals he has ever had in India. If you love the cuisine from the Riviera, from parts of Italy and France, there is no better place to go to.

The restaurant qualifies for a revisit on another occasion for a Delhi Wine Club event- perhaps with a focus on French cuisine and wines next time. Till then, members are sure to remember the evening as one of the memorable ones and would love to repeat on their own. As the curtains are drawn, bringing to close the 10th year of the Delhi Wine Club, that also saw the members celebrate the 200th event, the evening at La Riviera was truly a Grande Finale.

Subhash Arora

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