It was Taj International Wine and dine experience Volume V and as I look back, it was an afternoon which opened up a new world for me. The lunch, to create the lining before we started exploring the world of wine, had choices of Pasta, grilled fish, English fish and chips and gremolata crusted braised lamb to name a few. The desserts, especially alphonso baked cheese cake was spectacular.
The master class on wine was conducted by Count John Salvi MW and Keith W. Edgar, who took us through the differences between New World wine vs Old world wine and we got to taste two varieties of Sauvignon Blanc. The old one was Pouilly Fume from France and the new age wine was Durvellia Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. What we learnt was that the old world wine growing regions were at places closer to major cities since they were created at a time when transportation and logistics were not advanced. The new world wines on the other hand are produced from regions which are best suited for those grapes to grow. As Count John Salvi took us through the differences, we realised that the old world wines are leaner and more elegant in flavour yet complex in their tones. They are the ones with a bouquet of flavours and the new world wines on the other hand are more aggressive and have on your face flavours. Of course the major difference also came to because of the techniques used as well as oak casks vs stainless steel casks. After two glasses of wine, as we took breather during the question answer session, Mr. Vishal Kadakia from The Wine park Mumbai took the stage. It was all about the variety of grapes. As it stands out, the 10 most popular grapes are produced by 3 countries in particular- Bordeaux France, Spain and Italy. One interesting fact that came out was that 70% of Indian wine drinking population drinks red wine where as only 30% drinks white wine. This is in contradiction to what it should be ideally as far as the climatic condition of India is concerned.
We tasted Vermentino variety from Coastal Tuscany which was Medium bodied, medium acidity and the fact that it’s from coastal side was clear from the slight salinity of the wine. While making this wine, Stainless Steel casks are used and not the standard Oak. The flavours were dominated by flavours of lime, Grapefruit, Green apple, almonds and yellow flowers. Next was Garganega variety which is grown in Northern Italy for centuries. These grow to produce Soave one of the major white wines of Italy. This wine had crisp acidity and was full bodied. The make that we tasted was Tenuta Santantonio- Scala White We kept on remembering the key tips of having wine. Swirl it more so that it comes in contact with air and the aroma intensifies. As we took sips, we rolled the wine across the taste buds by lightly swishing it around your mouth and then held it for 5- 10 seconds before swallowing. The last one in this lot was from Argentina. These grapes are cultivated all across Argentina and the only wine variety which is considered 100 % Argentine.
Pink is the New Black
Karishma Grover, the third generation wine maker from Grover Zampa had the audience to splits as she made the session interactive. We tasted the Grover Zampa Rose and it was spicy, acidic and a perfect choice for pairing with coconut curries and sea food. Fellow blogger Debjani reminded us of quintessential Bengali chingri machher malaikari. Rose wine often gets type casted with women as the colour pink but if I were being offered this as a part of blindfolded tasting, then would have surely liked it. Lesson learnt – the last Rose wine that I neglected was uncalled for.
The final session
After 7 glasses till now (or more? I had lost count till then) Count John Salvi MW got into the final discussion of difference between the grapes of the Right and Left bank of Bordeaux. Some of the interesting learning from this session was the right bank has clay dominated soil with lime stone and Sand Stone and the soil is cooler which helps in growing grapes like Cabernet Franc which is one of the wine producing grapes world wide. The left bank grows grapes Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. This was the session where we tasted the Red wine and we tasted Chateau Phelan Segur and ETS Theuvin Bad Boy. Where the blend of the cabernet sauvignon and merlot from the left bank was distinctly red with violet hues, possibly because of hints of plum, it was quite a medium bodied wine with some minerality in it. The latter, from Bad Boy was a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc and had freshness and some amount of sweetness to it. It was medium bodied, soft and had fruity flavours.
Overall, after having educated in wine as well as drinking quite a number of them, we realised that there is so much to wine than one can fathom. Not that we did not know it. We were laymen who were in their baby steps when it came to wine. Madhushree had her first wine as Port Wine when she was in her college in Goa. In fact, most people in India start from Port Wine. Slowly we graduate to the usual Cabernet Shiraz, Merlot, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc etc. Rarely do we try something different on our own, mostly because of lack of knowledge. So initiatives like these are a welcome gesture and thanks to Taj Bengal Kolkata for this wonderful opportunity.