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Delhi Wine Club
La Cave- Wine Shop that also sells Liquor

Posted: Wednesday, 09 September 2015 16:54


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La Cave- Wine Shop that also sells Liquor

Sep 09: In the Indian retail world of ‘wine shops’ that sell only liquor and sometimes a bit of wine, it is pleasing to see the opening of La Cave, where wine is the focus and priority and gives an opportunity to novices to learn about wines, writes Subhash Arora who met Aman Dhall, owner of Brindco and his wife Madhulika Bhattacharyya who has been involved in completely refurbishing the store earlier known as House of Spirits and will independently look after the sales

Photos By:: Adil Arora

Click For Large ViewAs the Delhi government became gradually progressive, it allowed wine and alcohol sales in the shopping malls through a new excise license, a few years ago.  One Mr. Vimal Nath Monga was an early bird to get such license at the popular Select City Mall. Besides liquor, he stocked a few labels of wine in the shop he named ‘House of Spirits’-there was no pretences of wines being a part of the store’s name. I visited the shop a few times.  He seemed to be pleased with the sale during week-ends and confirmed to me that more and more women walked in to pick up a bottle or two of wines as they found the shop very approachable. Weekdays were dull with few customers walking in.

The name of the shop used to freak me out as it conjured up images of some Spirits making it their House. The business apparently did not improve to the level he hoped for. At any rate, Aman Dhall of Brindco apparently signed a supply contract to the shop. A status quo was maintained though he did add more wines from his own imported wine folio. However, to the passers-by the shop did not give any different look.

La Cave is Born- Again

Last month Aman told me in a meeting that the shop was being totally refurbished and would open shortly with a totally new look and a new name- La Cave (The Cellar). And it would be the baby of his wife Madhulika Bhattacharya who is a wine connoisseur and had been working overtime to give it a complete makeover. The soft launch took place this week and from the first looks, it is a genuine, premium wine shop in Delhi although DSIDC had taken the baby steps a few years ago when they opened first air-conditioned shop in Greater Kailash 2 and had impressed with their range of wine though it lacked the pizzazz and wine knowledge of the sales staff.

About 12 years ago, I had organised a Delhi Wine Club lunch at La Cave Restaurant at the then Grand Hyatt (now The Grand) in Vasant Kunj. It was the first professional wine cellar with a dining table for a private meal of 12 persons amidst a beautiful collection of wines. Coincidentally, the wines had been then procured from Brindco and Aman Dhall was present for the 5-hour lunch that is still fresh in memory with the 14 members who attended. Perhaps, that was the day when the idea of a modern wine shop named La Cave came to his mind. He was then unmarried and Madhulika was already living in the world of wine as the Communications and PR Manager of ITC Maurya, organising wine events for the hotel as a part of her activities. Apparently he has been able to convince Mr. Monga to amend the store name.

Appetising looks

Click For Large ViewFrom the moment you enter the store, you feel you are in a small, specialty wine and liquor store abroad. The racks have a very appetising look with over 130 labels of wine stocked vertically under the proper country heads. More labels are under order, she tells me (the usual excise license issue means several labels are on order, pending registration). By the end of next week, 258 labels will be available-offering a complete range of imported wines. A Spanish white wine is already available for Rs. 640 while a Chateau Palmer sells for over Rs. 61,000. Besides, there will be a range of Indian wines to choose from-it is already stacked up with Sula.

There is a normal wine range costing up to Rs. 15,000. Then there are wines displayed separately in La Cave Prestige section. Wines like Chateau Palmer would be in the La Cave Prestige Reserve section in the form of a special list. One can go to the store and have a look and discuss the wines with Madhulika who can guide and advise you. Based on your selection, the wines will be procured .

As Madhulika says, the store will be a reflexion of luxury. A vast majority of labels in the store will be available exclusively in this shop. Of course, according to the excise laws, no discounts may be offered and home delivery is not permitted. 

Assisting Madhulika is a team of French Sommeliers who are available to be sent to your house to help with the menu pairing etc.-without any extra charge.

Madhulika has been completely involved in the store design. The idea came to her a couple of months ago. She has worked double shifts to refurbish the store in 3 weeks.  she had to contend with making a make-shift store in the middle of the shop-duly inspected and sealed by the excise department and could not be moved out of the shop. She seems to have Click For Large Viewdone a commendable job in such a short time. For the design she has made generous use of the wooden crates from the suppliers. Even the counter is made from the wood of these cases. A barrel gets a prominent place  in the center of the store to display premium wines.

A man or a woman cannot live on wine passion alone. The liquor lovers have their choices kept in mind though the Diageo-owned John Walker finds a prominent position with Blue Label available for Rs. 21,000 and the top end John Walker & Sons Odyssey selling for Rs. 150,000. Several other forms of liquor are a part of the inventory, making it a complete store for the tipple of your choice.

But the store is designed to attract the wine connoisseurs. While I was at the store, Radhika Puar, a food and wine blogger who runs her own Blog wandered in, browsing and picked up a bottle of Mouton Cadet. She seemed very impressed with the store and said she would be back more often. It was very nice, approachable and very engaging wine store-a pleasure to browse around.

For the wine-lovers it is a perfect store to browse around and perhaps take a tip or two on wines from Madhulika or Chloe and pick up a bottle or the case of their favourite wines according to their budget, whether it is Rs. 640, Rs. 61,000.. or more.

Subhash Arora

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