Gurgaon and Bengaluru riding on the fresh beer wave has seen brewpubs mushrooming over the last few years however so many of them are making beer which can be completely given a pass and many are driving good competition. And amidst sizeable demand and enough options in Gurgaon, Seven Degree Brauhaus a place known for its German style brews has completed four years in operations and I was there to partake in the celebrations with R N Rathi the owner of the pub.
My first time at the place, I started of with the much needed 4 beer sampler and I was hooked on to the their lager, malty and floral for the rest of the evening. The other beers showed good promise and perhaps why the place has been able to sustain over years. Lastly a mix of Indian and continental appetizers both fried and from the tandoor proved worthy companions for the beer.
“It’s almost four years since we started serving authentic German food & Beer for the first time in Gurgaon. Your feedback and continuous inspiration to grow is highly appreciated and hence we are soon introducing new dishes in our menu. We consider ourselves a family and we’ve grown our family substantially with time, thanks to the support of our customers and hard work from all of the staff.” beamed Rathi
More power and fizz to your Brauhaus!
Cool nights, misty morning and hot afternoons are what give the grapes on the US west coast the prolonged ripening season that not only increase sugar levels while retaining the acidity but also packs the fruit with flavors. In an exclusive soiree at the ITC Grand Central, the US department of Agriculture (USDA) along with Sonal Holland the beverage honcho for the ITC hotels hosted a west American wine knowledge session, of course complete with tasting some very good wines.
Sonal took the audience through the evolution of American wines and certainly in the entire scheme of things one couldn’t rule out the role of American root stocks in the wine world. For those who are still wondering, the American rootstocks are resistant to a dreaded vine disease called Phylloxera which wiped out the whole of Europe in the late eighteenth century, the louse is still a threat if not for the American rootstocks. Speaking of America crossing the chasm, my knowledge goes back to the historical 1976 Judgment of Paris, where the American Meritage blend Stag’s Leap wine cellars trounced the Bordeaux first growths.
Sonal then spoke about the robust wines from the more inland Napa valley to the distinctive Sonoma ones and not to forget the bouncy Pinot Noirs from Carneros. She also discussed some gems from Oregon and Washington state up North and some elegant and some strong pours coming from as south as Santa Barbara. Remember the movie Sideways, anyone!! The 1100 km of Californian coast practically grows every prominent grape variety. They have a classification called the AVA (American Viticultural area) equivalent of the European PDO however their regulations are more liberal encouraging winemakers to express their creativity given their understanding of the terroir and winemaking techniques. The first wine we tasted was a 2012 Sauvignon Blanc from Honig (RS 4200) a produce of Rutherford, Napa Valley, which showed lot of chalky minerality with generous but restrained underlying fruit and crisp acidity, frankly wouldn’t have guessed it as old world if I were to taste it blind. The 2011 Patz & Hall Chardonnay from Sonoma was typical American with powerful oak and tropical fruits; it was very well balanced with good acidity and a super long finish. Probably that explained the price tag of Rs 9200
Zinfandel an indigenous grape variety from the USA which Italy claimed to be theirs, they call it the Primitivo and some time ago Croatia asserted it originated there. It did not matter much to us as we sipped on the spicy medium bodied 2011 Zinfandel from the house of Kendall Jackson ( Rs 3600) a known producer; I loved the wine but thought it had a short finish. The 2011 Pinot Noir again from Kendall Jackson (RS 3600) a produce from the Mendoncino, was extremely fruity with some wet leaf aromas to begin, it was light with minimal tannins and the palate confirmed the nose. Nowadays at many international tastings the order of whites before the reds Is withering and we had a superb Oregon Pinot Gris by Erath poured just after the Zin, pronounced aromas reminiscent of flowers and honey, this wine was terrific and almost off-dry and was easy on acidity. We ended with a Washington State, Columbia Crest Merlot (Rs 2000) the cheapest wine for the day, now on reading cheapest some of us may have already passed a judgement but I strongly believe that quality is not the only factor that affects price. This wine may have seemed lackluster after the wines that preceded it, but it had good fruit and structured tannins albeit with a short finish and to be honest the 2008 wine put up a very brave face.
Last words, Indians have had their share of French and Italian and still continue to, Chilean and Australian wines are making their presence felt, Can America take a share of a the pie? Only time will tell but they surely have the potential to woo the Indian palate!!
Spanish wines in India; where we are still coming to terms with wines, are usually not a part of our buying consideration set. Perhaps because we first got to know of the European heavyweights France and Italy which make great wines and then recently got convenience from simpler labels from new world regions like Australia and Chile.
There are some big names like Roda and Mauro from Spain in India and Cava the sparkling wine from Penedes may soon be a common sight. One name that has been top of mind for all those who have bought Spanish wines is Torres. A family owned brand, now run by the fifth generation, Torres was very recently voted ‘World’s Most Admired Wine brand” by Drinks International, UK, the first European winery to earn the accolade. Torres wines have also expanded their interest in Chile and in America. In India, Delhi based importers, Prestige Spirits have been behind Torres in India and last evening they hosted Ms Emma Llorens the Brand Ambassador for Torres wines in a soiree at Pali Village Café, Bandra. Emma took us through a guided tasting of the following wines:
A blend of aromatic varieties Muscat and Gewürztraminer, it gets its name from the color of the Mediterranean, Emerald. It has light perfume, some residual sugar and medium acidity. A no-fuss wine easily suited to the ‘Indian’ palate. Price: Rs 2000
Mas Rabell White:
Made of 100% Paralleda Grapes, an indigenous grape variety, it is name after the witch who resided in the house of Rabell. This wine has a very good body with great fruit and a hint of autolytic notes. This wine is found only in hotels/restaurants and not in retail.
A Chardonnnay and Paralleda blend with a majority of the former, this wine was lighter in body than the Mas Rabell with more tropical aromas and a hint of Oak-ageing aromas. Price: Rs 1850
Mas Rabell Red:
A blend of Carinena and Garnacha, this wine has great body, supple tannins and a spicy finish. Again this isn’t available in retail across the globe, only for institutional sale.
This wine pioneered the use of foreign grape varietal in blends. Cabernet Sauvignon forms the major part of this blend. This Reserva wine had pronounced black fruit with hints leather and cigar like aromas. Amazing wine I must say.
Only 2000 bottles a vintage and we tasted the 597th bottle from 2001. Still holding on to the colour this wine saw a lot of forest and mushroom like aromas with underlying fruit and very soft tannins. It is available at select hotels in the country. It must be at least 30k on the menu. In my opinion the wine is at its peak, drink now.
The evening ended in some disclosures, Torres to come up with Cava for the first time, the Indian market however will have to wait for it for a while, till then we have plenty of the other Torres pours to savour!
‘Champagne can make any dull place light up, but today it is just adding to the aura of this one.’ said Rajiv Singhal, Ambassador of Champagne in India. The venue was the Zenith Suite (a mysterious multilevel private party venue) on the 38th floor of the Palladium hotel and the occasion, International Champagne Day and the hosts, Rajiv the Champagne man and Abhishek Malik the hotel manager of the Palladium.
For those who did not know, Champagne, a sparkling wine can only be made in the Champagne region of France; but the brand of ‘Champagne’ is so entrenched in the minds of most that almost every sparkling wine is addressed by the name. If it were to be just about the name, one would not have cared but the whole process of making Champagne and the aging of the wine for a minimum of 15 months and the blending of wines endows the liquid with all its complexity with yeasty bready aromas. Champagne Day celebrations started five years ago and now it’s a global thing, frankly for us another reason to uncork one more!
Champagne Menu for the evening:
Taittinger Brut NV: A light and refreshing tipple with balanced fruit and biscuity aromas.
Billecart Salmon Brut NV: This was fruitier on the fore and the toast lingered on
Castelnau Brut Rose NV: This brought in set of red fruit aromas couple with the the classic Champagne nose. Quite easy drinking this one was.
Drappier Brut Rose NV: This was spicy and had much more body to it than the rest.
Krug, Brut Grand cuvee: Coffee, honey and intense toast with a golden hue, the Krug was the most mature that evening.
Another star of the evening was Varun Chawda the Sabrage specialist at the Palladium. Sabrage is the technique of opening Champagne with a saber. We just couldn’t stop applauding the act. The picture below would tell you the story.
The evening went on for a few hours with good food and Champagne interspersed with topics ranging from Sunday brunches to Darjeeling tea to Goan Feni. And also to a certain extent on what could the Champagne day in 2015 look like! Champagne dinners, Champagne tastings and many more, you never know some of us could actually be in Champagne to celebrate the day!!!
‘India’s finest’ an initiative by the Mumbai wine club aims to acknowledge the best wines from India. With India being the ‘brand new-world’ in wines, it is still experimenting with regions, grapes, styles of production and treatments and evolving every passing year. With more than 80 wineries in the country and no proper wine labeling laws in place; wine selection is a major task for the customer. ‘India’s finest’ will highlight the best across categories making it easier for the consumers and helping the wineries who are genuinely trying to make good wine.
The Mumbai Wine Club appointed an independent jury to taste over 100 wines over a period of 2 days and as you read this piece, the jury is judging the red wines from India. The jury consists of eminent personalities from the wine world ( See the image below) Rojita Tiwari who is also the curator of this initiative said, “This is to acknowledge the spirit of wine making. We have a handful of companies making great quality wines. We also have a number of wines which have won medals, awards and accolades in various international platforms. It is high time that we prepare our own dream list which every wine company would aspire to find a place in. As this list will be updated every year, it will offer a chance to newer and greater number of participations year after year.”
Grover Zampa, Fratelli, Sula, Reveilo, York, Myra, Four Seasons, Vallone, Nine Hills, Charosa, Chandon, Alpine, Big Banyan, Krsma estates and SDU wineries featured in the list of wines that are in the tastings. The results we hear would be out in a week’s time, We will keep you updated.
Look forward to new beginnings in the Indian wine scene. Cheers!