Feb 08: Sabrina Tedeschi, one of the three siblings running the premier winery Tedeschi in Valpolicella, was in India for a short visit last week to visit important potential customers and have a few wine tastings and dinners and tastings one of which at Sorrento Restaurant at Shangri-la was attended by Subhash Arora who likes the match between Tedeschi and Prestige Wines and is confident that the evolved wine connoisseurs in India would appreciate the finesse in these wines that are trifle more expensive than the average liquid already available
I have known Sabrina Tedeschi for perhaps 12 years and visited the winery in Valpolicella many years ago and met her a few other times at various Shows and events; she looks after the Asian market while the other two siblings look at Finance and Winemaking. They are one of the top quality medium sized family producers in Valpolicella.
I had visited both their wineries/vineyards last, in November 2013 after which I had commented, ‘The high quality Tedeschi wines deserve to be on the wine lists of hotels in India with discerning F & B personnel and the clients. The same discerning category would love to buy in retail a couple of labels on the retail shelves of better quality retail shops that have knowledgeable sales staff.’
So when I learnt that Prestige Wines had tied up with Tedeschi and invited me for a wine dinner at Shangri-La and tasting of their wines last week, I gladly accepted.
Tedeschi family has been growing grapes in Valpolicella since the 17th century and making wine since 1918 at the Tedeschi family vineyards, and is recognised as a premium Valpolicella producer. They are also a member of the Famiglie dell ‘Amarone d’Arte, a breakaway group from the Association of Valpolicella producers making Amarone and marketing it as a group, as a protest against the Consortium not controlling the mass production of ever-so-popular Amarone, thus impacting the quality.
The family has reasons to be anguished- her father made Amarone first in 1964 at Monte Olmi Vineyards stretching 2.5 hA in Pedemonte in the heart of Valpolicella. Amarone is one of the most regarded premium wines of Italy. Made from dried grapes with higher concentration of sugar level and slow fermentation it is rich and opulent with higher alcohol levels usually ranging from 16% and above. The wine was first made in 1936 though the commercial labelling commenced only in 1950.
The family owns 45 hA of vineyards in Valpolicella, with 41 hA being on the hillside where the quality of the fruit is better. They bought another 84 hA estate a few years ago in Mizzane, 20 kms East of Verona where the Maternigo vineyards make excellent wines. Sabrina joined the wine business in 2000 but grew up playing around with her siblings and cousins in and out of the winery. In a lighter vein she says she used to often do her school homework in the winery.
Tedeschi produces over half a million bottles out of which 85% are exported to over 30 countries with Canada and US being more important. Asian markets include Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Korea and Nepal through their Thai importer and now India where Prestige plans to promote them to discerning hotels and restaurants offering high quality wines at marginally higher prices.
This was Sabrina’s first visit to India. She is very fascinated by the country and seemed to be very happy with the reception she and her wines got in Mumbai and Delhi. She hopes to visit once a year to help Prestige promote Tedeschi wines.
It is still not an easy job what with higher prices for premium products, reducing licenses for duty-free imports and the high registration fee for imported wines in Delhi. But Sumit Sehgal, the Vice President and Director of Prestige told me as we sat together at the dinner table at Sorrento, the Italian premium restaurant in Delhi that they are going to put all their might behind promoting the premium brand and will try to focus on- trade.
Wines at the Dinner
The wines currently imported and showcased at the dinner were:
Tedeschi Valpolicella doc Superiore 2016
Tedeschi Capitel Tenda Soave Classico doc 2017
Tedeschi Capitel San Rocco Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore 2016
Tedeschi Amarone della Valpolicella docg 2014
Tedeschi Amarone della Valpolicella doc 1995 (one-off surprise addition)
Both Soave and Valpolicella Superiore were also served with snacks. Undoubted Soave Classico is one of the better ones I have tasted in India or in Soave but priced at Rs. 3,300 a bottle (MRP) I am not eager to rush to order in a restaurant. In any case Valpolicella at the same price is a better bet, especially since it needs to be served cool at around 14°C and is very versatile wine and an excellent substitute for the white Soave.
Capitel San Rocco Ripasso undoubtedly deserved the crown for the evening. Made from Valpolicella grapes Corvina, Rondinella, Corvinone and Osilata), Ripasso is more serious than Valpolicella for producers because of higher volumes and lower prices. Made by passing wine over the fermented must of Amarone that still has some fermentable sugar left in them, the process makes the Valpolicella much more complex and taste like a softer version of Amarone.
Thought producers don’t like the classification but it is usually known as Baby Amarone and should be promoted as such in India. It is available at a fraction of the price of Amarone (35-40%) and can be drunk young with more finesse and elegance than Valpolicella. Sabrina admits that they sell much more of it and that for a market like India where the taxes are high and people may not store the wine for 5-10 years like Amarone- this might be a perfect choice to get the best of both worlds. It also has a lower alcohol levels at around 14%, though naturally higher than the 12-12.5% in Valpolicella.
The San Rocco handled all the dishes very well, including the fish I love at Sorrento, whereas Amarone2014 despite its opulence, power and balance was too strong and tannic for the dish. In fact, I requested some cheese to accompany the Amarone which made a lot of difference but at Rs. 10,000 it is expensive for everyday occasion, though I might say that when tasted separately, Amarone has a lot more to offer due to its ageablity- the 2014 was still too young. This was visible even more when a surprise pour of 1995 was made at the end. The smooth tasting, well-balanced wine with a lot of structure showed the ability of Tedeschi to age-after 24 years it was still very fresh. Sabrina says she has recently tasted Ripasso from the 1980’s as well and found it to be fresh and still drinkable.
As always, Exec Chef Neeraj Tyagi and the Team Sorrento did a magnificent job and thus continue to claim their stake as the best Italian cuisine restaurant in a 5-star restaurant in Delhi-NCR. It’s a perfect place to enjoy the Italian cuisine with a glass or a bottle of Tedeschi Capitel San Rocco Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore which at the MRP of Rs.4050 makes it a perfect wine for elegant tastes.
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