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VDEWS 2014: Another Successful World Wine Symposium

Posted: Thursday, 13 November 2014 15:54

VDEWS 2014: Another Successful World Wine Symposium

Nov 13: The 6th edition of the World Wine Symposium held in the dream-like setting of Villa d’Este on Lake Como concluded on Sunday after 4 days of deliberations, networking, rare wine tastings and bouts of gourmet eating and drinking plenty of fine wines, that has become a ritual for select wine producers and professionals who flock to the annual event, says Subhash Arora who is a regular participant since inception

Photos By:: Adil Arora

Click For Large ViewAs usual the event opened with Danili Zucchetti, the General Manager of Villa d’Este welcoming the delegates along with Francois Mauss, organiser of the event he founded in 2009. The open wine tasting kept most people occupied as 50 of the pre-registered guests headed for the Veranda Room, the Restaurant where all the meals are served.

Flavors and Tastes of Botrytis

This is where ‘Flavors and Tastes of Botrytis’- the first of the Prestige Tasting - was held with wines from 4 prestigious estates of Sauternes, Burgenland-Austria, Tokaji and Mosel Saar regions. Philippe de Lur-Saluces, Kracher, Istvan Szepsy and Egon Müller are iconic producers of sweet wines-each with a different style but all the four captivating the hearts of the audience.

While the producers lamented the decrease in consumption of these meditation wines, Arora suggested that as Indians grow more fond of wine and drinking some wine with food, there was a good possibility of consuming them with the hot and spicy food-be it Indian, Thai, Chinese or Vietnamese. This lit a spark in the discussion with some of the producers chipping in with their own experiences with several other cuisines including even Mexican. Most of the producers, especially Gerard Kracher, and many in the audience loved Indian food and agreed they would love the younger sweet wines with Indian food as they took away some of the heat. They agreed that this was an avenue they needed to explore for the future.

Evening with two Haut-Brions

Click For Large ViewThe next evening saw Prince Robert of Luxembourg whom I had met in India last year, present 4 different vintages- 2000, 1989, and 1975 and 1961- of his First Growth Chateaux Haut Brion and an equally popular and famous La Mission Haut-Brion with his General Manager and right hand man Jean-Philippe Delmas. The two estates had been traditional rivals till 1983 when they came under the same management.  La Mission was equally loved by the 50 participants. 1961, one of the top vintages of the century for Bordeaux (1945 being the other) kept the people under awe with its freshness and liveliness and finesse after 53 years!

Tasting the DRC

Click For Large ViewThe Trinity of the Prestige Tasting reached a crescendo on the third day with Aubert de Villaine, winemaker and co-owner of the most-talked about Burgundy Estate of DRC presenting wines from Romanée-Conti and Montrachet Grand Cru vineyards. Despite a seemingly steep charge of € 2000 per person for this Tasting which merits a separate feature, it was the first time that the number of seats was increased to 70 and still was sold out well in advance. According to experts it was a steal considering that the 10 wines included 1971 and 1961 of Romanée-Conti and 1982 Montrachet. Most aficionados were simply mesmerized by the most electrifying tasting of a lifetime.

Seminars and Workshops

Click For Large ViewThere were 2 days of intense presentations of lectures and seminars that opened with the thematic ‘How to acquire a Wine State’- a topic that generated a long discussion with some French producers expressing reservation to outsiders ‘invading’ their territory that defined passion and Terroir and was not meant for mere investors who bought them for the real estate value and flogged off at profit after a few years. There were an equal number of producers who did not care if outsiders bought over, especially when the change was considered inevitable with the descendents not willing to carry on the wine production business or the wine estate was choked and needed funds. Perhaps, investors in India interested in wine business like their Chinese counterparts would have been happy to pick a few points from the Talk and the discussions!

Evolution of Wine in Restaurants

An interesting afternoon seminar on bridging of North Europe and South Europe was followed by an engaging talk about ‘Evolution of the wine consumption in top restaurants' by Antonio Santini of the 3-Michelin Starred Italian Restaurant Dal Pescatore and Philippe Bourguignon of the Parisian Michelin starred Lauren Restaurant.

Antonio said they don’t like serving wine by the glass but in half bottles even if it is grand cru. He wasn’t too enamoured with the new culture of people bringing mobiles, taking photos and talking on mobiles all the time. ‘When customers ask for the wine list- they check guides like l’Espresso or Parker ratings-they are always connected through the internet. The Sommelier is the ideal person-they should ask him or her for guidance,’ he said, adding that in the past 15 years in Italy  80% of customers asked for Cognac or Armagnac and never liquor as they did in the 60s. (Hopefully, we shall also see that trend in India during this century -editor). He added that the wine list should be like a boutique and not a department store.

Philippe agreed with Antonio as he conceded, ‘from the 90s onwards we started with half bottles. Initially people would say we were being miserly but later it became very popular. Bordeaux wines were the major components but not anymore. Rose and green wines are becoming more popular and the customers are becoming more knowledgeable and expect to discover something different.’ He was of the opinion that perhaps the wine list should be handed first and then the Menu so the customers may order food according to the wine.

Both of them agreed that the customers expected red wines to be at higher temperature-meaning the Chambre-which would normally be over 22°C. We can perhaps feel less guilty in India now for the red wines being at higher than the desired temperature of 16-18°C!

Mapping of Vineyards on Google

Click For Large ViewAntonio Galloni, founder of Vinous and the former lieutenant of Robert Parker has been working with Google on various maps-starting with Barolo. He gave a lecture on the various aspects of this revolutionary concept.

A Personal Experience of the World of Wine

Click For Large ViewIt was a time for nostalgia when the much revered British wine expert and author of several books and known for his Pocket guides Hugh Johnson shared his experiences through the wine journey of 5 decades. I had briefly met Hugh in the late 90s at a wine event at the Oberoi Hotel in Delhi. He was as approachable and modest then as he was when I chatted with him after the talk (Details in a future issue of delWine). That was the last time he had been to India.

Wines of Armenia

Click For Large ViewArmenia may be known in India more as an erstwhile Russian satellite country but it has a lot to offer in terms of wine. Victoria Aslanian, CEO of the ArmAs family winery owned by her father represented Armenia which was chosen as the country of honour. She claimed in her presentation that Armenia was the oldest wine producing country in the world. Although Russia had assigned it a production role as a brandy producer during its control from 1922-1991, the Armenians had kept up the tradition of wine making and today are already exporting wine to countries like Russia and Germany. Interestingly, the wines tasted from her winery at lunch and at the Tasting Room later in the evening were surprisingly delicious and fresh.

Austrian Dinner and more

The lunches and dinners are gastronomical delights at the Veranda Restaurant with a two sided beautiful view of the lawns in the property and Lake Como across. Food is of impeccable quality with truffles adorning many a dish starting with Eggs Benedict at breakfast. Every year, one country is featured for dinner with food and wines specially served from that country. Austria featured this year giving the participants an opportunity to taste wines from Pichler-Krutzle, Clemens Strobl, F.X. Pichler, Tement, Leo Hillinger and the dessert wine producer Kracher.

But it’s the Gala Dinner that takes the cake, oops, wine –with Cristal 2002 magnum from Roederer stealing the march with wines like the Chateau Montrose 1996 at the table full of wines from various producers. They seduce people to drink more than the safe levels but once in a year one can possibly afford to indulge at a heavenly venue like this.

Click For Large ViewTalking about the venue- the ambience is unparalleled but the service is unmatchable too. With a bevy of servers, sommeliers and Maitre d’s  hovering around as if you were a Maharaja or Nawab, the place is likely to spoil you forever. (of course, at €3900 registration charge for two that includes the stay at the super-deluxe property complete with meals and unlimited fine wine, one would be perhaps the modern day Maharaja anyway!)

Music Concerts

If you think you have some spare time between the evening tastings and dinner, you could fill it by listening to the classical music concerts before and after dinner-the performances by the renowned violin, viola players and pianists are the equivalent of home Baithaks in India of Indian classical music and are a rare opportunity to soak in some beautiful western classical music. The Fazioli grand piano is as impressive to look at as is the music.

Auction for Action

Click For Large ViewIf the DRC Tasting was the undisputed King of Wine Tastings at Villa d’Este, the culmination of the Symposium was for a charitable cause-Grand Prix du Vin where 30 lots of 3 magnums, each in a special black coloured wooden carry case, donated by the participating wineries, were auctioned on Saturday 8th November in order to form a corpus to give a scholarship to a deserving candidate under 30 every two years. William Metz, a young American studying at Ecole d’ingénieurs de Changins (Switzerland) for a Master of Science in Viticulture and Enology, was selected as the first recipient by the Selection Committee for the €10,000 scholarship. He is working on a Drones Project- unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and their use to map Terroir high resolution image processing, in order to capture the various aspects. of vineyard development, including components and effects of Terroir, throughout the most important wine growing regions of Europe.

Click For Large ViewThe reserve price for the lots had been kept quite modest starting with €150 a lot to €10,000 for the 30th and final lot. The seemingly high price was deemed too low by the discerning audience, as one of them made the winning bid of €32000. It consisted of 3 unbeatable magnums of the rare Romanée Conti 1971, Sassicaia 1985 and Egon Mueller’s Scharzhofberger Riesling Auslese 1988.In general, most lots fetched 3-4 times the Reserve Price. The total amount of over €91,000, showed the quality of wines donated and the generosity of the bidders to help a noble cause.

After many more lectures, seminars and wine tastings and drinking and pairing wines with the food for 3 full days, the curtains came down on the Villa d’Este Wine Symposium on November 9, with participants hugging and kissing each other goodbye, each one congratulating and thanking Francois Mauss for organising another brilliant edition of VDEWS, each taking a bag full of memories and promising or hoping to return next year on November 5-8 for the 7th edition of VDEWS. The Indian contingent of ten was confident of a revisit with a few more of their wine friends next year.

Subhash Arora

This is Part -1 of a series of articles to be published on the Tastings and Seminars of special interest to the readers of delWine. Watch this space-editor

Tasting with Producers          Wines For Auction         Moments at VDEWS         Gallery for Gourmets

If you Like this article please click on the Like button   

Tags: Francois Mauss, Romanée-Conti, Montrachet

Comments:

 
 

Subhash Arora Says:

 

Francois, I am very sorry the point of 'ego' has not reflected in the Article. In fact, this is one of the Top Three reasons why I feel one should attend this event. Where else can one meet and freely discuss with the likes of Auber de Villaine, Egon Mueller, Prince Roberts of Luxembourg, Pierre Lurton, Gaja, Antinori and Hugh Johnson who patiently talk with you and not to you and crack a few jokes as well. Brilliant point you raised. 8 people are coming again next year mainly for the reason you have mentioned. Thanks for pointing it out. Subhash

Posted @ November 15, 2014 12:30

 

Mauss Says:

Many thanks Subhash for this report. If you allow me to add something : the quality of this event is the full result of the qualities of every guest. Everyone is at the same level, we leave on the side the various "ego" and then, we areable to develop an event where exchanges are done with an exceptionnal confidence between people. We are proud of that above evrything else !

Posted @ November 15, 2014 12:05

 
       

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