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Delhi Wine Club
Scintillating Spanish Evening at Sevilla

Posted: Tuesday, 07 May 2013 15:09

DWC Dinner: Scintillating Spanish Evening at Sevilla

May 07: Delhi Wine Club members were treated to a Spanish gastronomic experience with wines from Torres at the Sevilla at the Claridges New Delhi last Thursday, writes Arun Batra

Photos By:: Adil Arora

Click For Large ViewIt is indeed interesting to know how the seed of an idea for a wine dinner germinates. Our Club President, Subhash Arora was having a meal with Tarun Seth, the F&B Director of the Claridges, and Sumit Sehgal of Prestige Wines a couple of months ago. The conversation meandered through the latest happenings in the worlds of wine and hotels, when Tarun mentioned that the Claridges had just imported and was soon going to install a Josper oven at their Mediterranean outlet, Sevilla.

For those not in the know, a Josper oven is the gold standard when it comes to grills and ovens in the food preparation industry. Charcoal based, this Spanish made oven imparts a unique flavour to food and gives a chef a great facility to experiment. So Subhash had an idea–why not build a wine evening around this oven? With the cuisine at Sevilla being largely Spanish, the possibility of serving a line-up of tapas prepared in the Josper oven was discussed and a couple of more meetings that followed culminated in the dinner.

Click For Large ViewThis line-up of Tapas fuelled another tweak in the schedule for the evening. Normally we enjoy an aperitif with a couple of pass-around snacks for about 45 minutes and then proceed for the sit-down part of the evening. Over the years, there have been murmurs from the members that the aperitif time was not long enough to circulate amongst fellow members .

So we have done experiments like having an entire wine evening with just pass - around snacks, more on the lines of a cocktail party to enable more social interaction. Though we’ve returned to the aperitif and sit-down model, the model is not cast in stone and is amenable to frequent tweaks. Subhash applied his mind and extended the aperitif session to 90 minutes with 2 wines instead of one, and compensating on the other side, a shorter sit-down session with just the main course and dessert.

Sevilla is one of the under-discovered gems in Delhi in terms of a dining location. Set in a beautifully landscaped garden with little bridges over gurgling streams of cool water, the diner has the option of either being seated in the open (great when the weather’s cool) or in air-conditioned rooms with large glass windows so that the visual impact of the lighting and landscaping are not lost out for the diner. At the far end is their bar and open kitchen with the Josper oven taking the prime space now.

Click For Large ViewThis was where we gathered on a relatively cool May night for a Spanish influenced evening (Event #211). As the menu had largely Spanish influenced dishes, the choice of wines was a no brainer. It had to be Torres, the Spanish wine giant through their importers and distributors-Prestige Wines- but with  a twist. Our President had requested Sehgal that the wines should be mostly a first time offering at the club!

Click For Large ViewFirst up was the De Casta Rosado Torres, a young lively Rose made from a combination of two traditional grape varieties, Garnacha and Cariñena. Great as an aperitif, it went well with the grilled asparagus and the roast vegetables with goat cheese Montados. Very much an integral part of Tapas, a montado is a flavorful topping perched on a small slice of baguette. The Josper oven really made its presence felt with the superlative aioli prawn and pepper and sherry marinated chicken skewers. The prawns were large and juicy and the sherry gave the chicken an unusual flavour twist with a unique smokiness.

The bar area was mostly filled by our members by the time I changed over to Jean Leon Viña Gigi Chardonnay. As Subhash mentioned in his introductory remarks, Jean Leon was a friend of Miguel Torres who bought over Jean Leon’s estate in Spain when the latter passed away-on the condition that the Brand would be kept alive and independent. Though under the Torres umbrella, Jean Leon is marketed as an independent brand and the Chardonnay in our hands was named after Jean Leon’s daughter Gigi. A delightfully fruity wine, it had melon and pear on the palate with a decent finish, well worth its $27 retail price.

Click For Large ViewThough the evening was to be largely Spanish influenced, Subhash had prevailed upon Tarun to include a selection of pizzas from Sevilla’s wood fired pizza oven in the tapas line-up. And I am glad, as the thin crust Pepperoni pizzas were really top of the line. Invariably when I order a thin crust pizza it comes crisp towards the edges and still soft in the centre making it a nightmare to eat with a glass of wine in the other hand. The Sevilla pizza was uniformly thin and crisp with high quality Pepperoni. The Mas Rabell – a good example of wines made from Parellada grapes in this region, was fine with the pizza but excellent with the Margherita and a couple of Quattro Staggioni pizzas that Tarun decided to offer impromptu.

When the sit-down section was announced, members seated themselves with a fair bit of alacrity - maybe a sign of tired legs after an hour and a half of standing! The Paella Valencia which was served to us in individual bowls turned out to be a bit of a disappointment – dry, more like a pulao and definitely a distant cousin of the Spanish original.

Click For Large ViewThere were two red wines for the main course –the Ibericos Crianza and the Mas La Plana. The Ibericos is Torres' first wine produced in Spain's most famous wine region, Rioja and is made from the Tempranillo grape. A deep coloured wine, the Ibericos was well balanced though had a distinct oaky mouth and slightly spicy aftertaste. Surprisingly, it matched well with my pan roasted Basa which was fresh and fleshy. The Mas La Plana was a cut above the rest – easily the best wine of the evening. It demonstrated Torres versatility in being able to tame the Cabernet Sauvignon grape - with its pleasant tannins, excellent body and a long and pleasing finish, this wine, a 1996 vintage was a pleasure to drink and great value at its $27 price tag. The wine did cry out for a red meat accompaniment but those on my table who ordered the roast chicken said it paired well.

For those of us who had OD’d on the Tapas, we still had to find space for the Floralis Moscatel Oro – an amber dessert wine made from the Moscatel de Alejandría grape which is reputed to deliver an unmistakeable floral nose. The wine was well balanced with the sugars equally matched by good fruity acidity.

And with that the curtain rang down on a delightful evening with Spanish nuances carefully crafted by Chef Neeraj and his team. F&B director Tarun Seth had played a stellar role in planning and executing the evening. Our thanks to both of them. The Josper oven is indeed a jewel in the Claridges' crown and we wish them the best of luck. I, for one, know I will be returning for the thin crust pizzas!!

Arun Batra is a Delhi based food and wine enthusiast and a longtime member of the Delhi Wine Club.


Tags: Sevilla, Josper, Torres


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