admin, July 22, 2011

Four Seasons

Location: Chennai
Date & Time: Thursday, September 3, 2009 – 15:02

Terroir – Madras Wine Club organised its fourth event since its inauguration in Jan 2009 with a tasting of UB’s Four Seasons range of wines held at the fashionable pub of Chennai called 10 Downing street on the 3rd September 2009.

Mr Abhay Kewadkar, the chief wine maker and Business Head of the UB Wine division was present at the event attended by about 30 members of Terroir.

The event started with the tasting of UB’s Sparkling Wine from the Bouvet Ladubay range – Bouvet Ladubay BRUT, one of the prestigious Loire valley sparkling wine producers which was bought by UB a few years back.

While the members were sipping the BRUT and making their palate ready and fresh to taste the Four Seasons range, Mr Abhay Kewadkar gave a brief talk on the Bouvet Ladubay range and then introduced the members to the Four Seasons range of wines made at their Baramati winery. The five varietals of Four Seasons wines launched this year all over India – Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Blush Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz.

The Chenin Blanc was an instant hit with the members of the Terroir compared
to the Sauvignon Blanc. The reds were soft and easy drinking too without too much of tannins. A few members preferred the white wines over than the red ones and there was a comment from one of the members that India needs a few more years to experiment and come out with a good red wine. Mr Kewadkar emphasised that Four Seasons range of wines are simple wines which are light in body and have low alcohol content. He also pointed out the “ herbaceous” character of the wines.

Some members did like both the reds and I personally liked the Shiraz and all the members agreed that this vintage happens to be the first vintage from Four Seasons and we were all very confident that their wines will improve with every vintage with the able guidance of Mr Abhay Kewadkar who is right now India’s only well known “ Indian” winemaker and we should all be proud about that.

Mr Kewadkar answered the questions of some members about the winemaking process in Baramati winery and also shared with us Dr Vijay Mallya’s preference when it comes to Wines. The snacks offered by 10 Downing Street was a good accompaniment to the wines tasted.

Terroir was proud to have the first tasting of Indian wines from the Four Seasons range after having organised a few tastings of Imported wines from the old and new worlds. We look forward to organise such tastings to promote and popularise wines “ Made in India”. Mera Bharath Mahan!

Chinmaya Arjun Raja

Filed in Events No Responses
admin, July 22, 2011

An Evening with Steven Spurrier in Chennai

Date & Time:
Thursday, April 8, 2010 – 19:30

Right: Steven Spurrier with the Terroir Chronicle 2009

Talk about shattering preconceptions about wine. “Steven Spurrier’s take on the current wine scenario is that the French are drinking less wine, the Chinese can’t get enough and that India is the next big market,” writes Parvathi Nayar. The setting was the wine dinner held at the Sheraton Park, Chennai.

Right: Steven Spurrier with the Terroir Chronicle 2009.

Mr Spurrier’s myth-shattering persona is famous – he was responsible for the 1976 blind tasting competition, “The Judgement of Paris” which made the world sit up and take notice of Californian wines. The story was given the Hollywood treatment in the Alan Rickman starrer, “Bottle Shock”. Interestingly enough, a screening of Bottle Shock paired with wines, was one of the activities that Terroir members enjoyed last year.

Quite appropriate then, that Terroir’s 10th event was an evening with Mr Spurrier himself. Today, Mr Spurrier is Chairman, Board of Wine Advisors, Wine Society of India, as well as consultant editor to Decanter and director of Christie’s wine course among other wine-related activities.

The evening’s liquid refreshments opened with a sparkle, an Italian Ti Amo Prosecco. Mr Spurrier recalled how, in Italy, his preferred mid-morning drink was always a glass of Ombra Prosecco; adding, his choice of beverage was influenced by the knowledge that you risk being labelled an ignorant tourist if you ask for a cappuccino any time after 10 am.

Our caviste for the evening declared the first wine served with dinner, the 2005 Maison Louis Jadot Bourgogne Chardonnay 2005 from Burgundy to be “perfect”, from its balanced structure and fresh fruit aromas to how it had been stored. However, the crowd pleaser of the evening was probably the 2004 Joseph Phelps Sonoma Napa Chardonnay. Spurrier commented on the richness of the wine and pointed out how “the higher alcohol content in this wine does make the wine bigger.”

Diners were duly appreciative of the selection of wines over the evening. Terroir member Salony Kane, for instance, noted, “The two reds tasted were both wonderful representations of the stylistic traditions of their regions. The Stag’s Leap Artemis showed vivacious zest and elegance whereas the 97 St Estephe was mature and subtle.”

Mr Spurrier was happy to share his knowledge, and his expertise publicly with the assembled guests, and more privately in one-on-one conversations, where he took time to answer specific questions. He explained, for example, exactly why 2009 was an extraordinary year for wine in France.

“The reasons were because the flowering and fruit-set was early, at the beginning of June with sunny and relatively dry weather, so that there was no loss of buds; the ripening was complete, thanks to hot weather and just the rainfall needed in August and September. The grapes were in perfect condition in the final ripening stages in late September/early October and the vintage took place during unusually dry conditions.”

Good conversations and legendary company, the Steven Spurrier evening was a memorable occasion – and a sign of many more such good vintages to come for wine lovers in Chennai.

Left: Founding members of the Terroir Madras Wine Club

Filed in Events No Responses
admin, July 22, 2011

Dinner in the French Quarter

Location: Satsanga Restaurant — Puducherry
Date & Time: Saturday, August 28, 2010 – 19:00

An evening with Pierre Elouard the owner of Satsanga with a selection of Bordeaux wines and maybe a little education.

Filed in Events No Responses
admin, July 19, 2011

The Screening of Bottle Shock

The Screening of Bottle Shock

Location: Chennai
Date & Time: Friday, July 24, 2009 – 15:01

Bottle Shock Night

The third “official” event organized by the Chennai Wine Club, Terroir, was a well-balanced brew of great ingredients: a thoroughly enjoyable film about the grape titled Bottle Shock, some appropriate grape to keep the film company, and great company that stayed to chat about the grape.

On the evening of July 24th 2009, 20 members of Terroir gathered at the Screening Room of the Park Hotel, some reaching by the appointed hour of 6pm, others making impassioned telephone calls about “traffic snarl-ups”. So the evening started fashionably late but as the movie itself – picked by Terroir’s Mukund Padmanabhan – was an unqualified success, there were few actual complaints.

Creating – shock – waves of appreciation at Sundance, Bottle Shock directed by Randall Miller is based on a real event of great importance in the history of wine: the so-called Judgment of Paris, a wine tasting event in 1976, in which French and Californian wines faced off in a blind tasting.

The always-enjoyable Alan Rickman plays Steven Spurrier, a Brit wine merchant in Paris who is a snob about the superiority of French wine. He gets involved in setting up the blind wine tasting, which forces him to visit the barbarians of Napa Valley. But it’s his nose that’s in for something of a shock – no longer can it be held disdainfully up in the air when faced with the luxuriant aromas of Napa’s perfect chardonnays. The Napa end of things is brought to life by the conflicts between Barrett senior (Bill Pullman) and junior (Chris Pine) about how to lead ones life, and run a profitable business by making the best possible wine.

The Screening of Bottle Shock

“I admittedly felt proud and patriotic when the American wines won against all odds!” says Ragini Gupta, Acting Public Affairs Officer, U.S. Consulate General, Chennai of the film. She adds: ” This wine club event was especially enjoyable because members got to know one another – it was a nice intimate event unlike prior dos!”

Members made good use of this opportunity to discuss the movie as well as meet other Terroir members in an informal setting. There was, for example, a hilarious round of introductions; had there been a prize, the member who offered an entertaining self-introduction as “professional socialite” would have won hands-down. Unwilling to call it a night even as the Screening Room closed, 10 members went on to have dinner – and the odd glass of wine – at the Anise in the Taj Coromandel.

Wines brought in by the members to accompany the film included both Californian and French vintages. Among the offerings were Seshagiri Valangiman’s 2006 Kendall Jackson Napa Chardonnay, Reserve which has a “big, tropical fruit-scented nose, fine acidity, and medium to full-bodied flavors”; and Sabu Balagopal’s 2006 Chateau Teyssier, Bordeaux’ Château Teyssier being referred to as “a rising star in St-Emilion – one of two right bank ‘stellar cellars’“ according to Williamson & Moore’s Wine Behind the Label.

Wine of the evening? Most likely the 2005 Beaulieu Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet, aged for 16 months in French and American oak – and made with 100 per cent Napa Valley grapes, which kept to the spirit of the movie. Whine of the evening – the plaintive “But why don’t we do this more often?”

-Parvathi Nayar

Filed in Events No Responses
admin, July 19, 2011

A glittering launch

Terroir kicks off with a grand party at the Taj Coromandel

Terroir, the Madras Wine Club, was launched in great style at the Taj Coromandel on January 22, 2009. The event was attended by the club’s members as well as a section of the city’s elite at a glittering function, which saw some great wines being drunk, a fabulous dinner laid out by the hotel, and plenty of bonhomie and conversation.

The event was made possible with the help of Brindco, the country’s largest importer of wine. Aman Dhall, Executive Director of Brindco, had said that if he was going to help with such an event, he was going to do it in style – a promise he more than redeemed.

The Taj Coromandel, thanks to the initiative of General Manager Arindam Kunar (who now heads the chain’s Westend property in Bangalore), pulled out all the stops to create a splendid evening.

The wines were laid out by country – France, Italy, Australia, Chile, Spain and Portugal. The French counter, which was populated with intriguing some Bordeaux and some splendid Burgundies (some of which were Grand Crus) was much sought after. The Italian counter was very interesting too, with a fabulously rich Amarone and a silken Mormoreto by Frescobaldi. Those who managed to stray as far as the Australian counter may have enjoyed the single varietal Grenache, full of zest and spice. The unveiling of the club logo, which signified its launch, was done jointly by Terroir’s president Capt. Arjun Nair and Mr. Kunar. In his address, Mr. Nair explained the process that led to the club’s formation and its aims and objectives. He introduced the other founding members of the club – Sabu Balagopal, the Secretary, Sudhir Rao, the Treasurer, and Mukund Padmanabhan, journalist. Mr. Kunar promised his hotel would start selling wine at very attractive prices, something he soon followed up on, and also to hold events related to wine in the future. Mr. Aman Dhall, spoke about his company and its engagement with the wine business. A special guest of the evening was Reva Singh, Editor of Sommelier India. In her talk, she spoke of the important role that wine clubs play and said she was impressed by the sheer grandeur of the Terroir launch.

Filed in Blogs No Responses
admin, July 19, 2011

Sangiovese for Indian summers

Recently on a warm and muggy May evening in Chennai, I opened a bottle of Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva 2004 frm Acino D’oro.

It was delightfully agreeable. Everytime you needed to swirl the liquid in the glass to get a wonderful bouquet. A medium bodied easy wine to drink that I thought others may like to know about.

Medium oak and smooth Tannins

Lively acidity

Easy smooth finish

Cost about S $ 60 at the duty free in Singapore

Filed in Blogs No Responses
admin, July 19, 2011

A wonderful diverse world of wines

A wonderful diverse world of wines

The opportunity to taste wines form different parts of the world of wine is too much to resist for any Oenophile, especially in India where the choices available are normally very limited even in the best of gourmet restaurants and wine bars. Justifying the day-light-robbery which was my exorbitant last minute ticket deal more as an investment in keeping my palate finely tuned, I promptly booked my ticket for Mumbai.

Visitors to Taste 2010 – held in Mumbai were able to sample and visit representations from around the wine world. The opportunity of coming face-to-face with the wines of Austria is a novelty in most parts of the world, but to have the delectable providence of being able to encounter them here in India was unique. The Indian imported wine segment is dominated by the French, Italian and New world wines which are aggressively promoted, becoming synonymous with geographies that Indian consumers consider wine countries. But so many more gems exist, waiting to be rediscovered – such as Austria! The vibrancy of the Austrian wine industry is in no doubt – as it is wonderfully reflected in its wines.

For the Austrian wine industry, 1985 was a big year when a minor scandal involving a few unscrupulous growers and distributors broke out. These rather dodgy fellows were caught illegally adding diethylene glycol to their wines, allegedly to improve the palate weight. The international public focus on its wine industry inspired the Government and industry to alter attitudes in the country, forcing an upgrade of industry standards. The change was dramatic and the Austrian wine industry is now known for its impeccable standards and for its spirit of openness to stylistic experimentation not dissimilar to that of the new world vignerons.

Wine growing in Austria is mainly concentrated around the beautiful city of Vienna and Wachau valley in the East, with plantings in the South known as the Greater Steiermark and Burgenland regions. In Mumbai, I had the pleasure of tasting wines from the Traisental, Kamptal and Steiermark regions.

The Gruner Veltliner (pronounced as Grewn-air Felt-lean-air) Austria’s dominant white grape variety was showcased in styles ranging from fresh, fruity, floral, easy drinking to the more complex ones displaying layered aromatics with elegant structures and textured palates. The wines tasted were excellent expressions of differences in soils, winemaking practices and above all a willingness to experiment with styles.

The Rieslings were engaging and showed good minerality, structure, balancing a fuller palate without being sweet.

With the Sauvignon Blanc, a willingness to experiment comes through but those who are expecting the aromatics to pop out of their glass like a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc; this region’s Savvy Blancs are definitively not going to provide that.

The other highlight of tasting for me was the Zweigelt, a relatively new kid on the block, which is a cross between the grape varieties of Blaufrankisch and St. Laurent, which was effected by Dr Zweigelt in 1922. This variety holds a position of prominence in Austria’s red wine portfolio. The wines typically are soft with a sweet cherry profile. The wines tasted reflected its reputation for easy approachability and clean appealing palates.

The Blaufrankisch, also known as the Lemberger in other parts of the world, in my tasting showed intense berry nose, a rich palate and soft tannins. These are indeed approachable and enjoyable wines. I have been told, however – that this grape can also produce some delicate and nuanced wines. Now, I have another wine to look forward to seek out in the future.

At the end of my few hours of tasting I walked away feeling sufficiently optimistic about the diversity of my wine world in India, as these wines do have a representation here. This write up is certainly not a plug for Austrian wines rather it is an attempt to exhort you to go out and experiment with your wine choices. For there is a marvellous diversity in the world of wines. You may quite rightfully ask how will you get this diversity in to your cellar or glass? Well, ask your local wine shop or supplier for it by name and chances are they may well oblige you. After all, this is the 21st century!!

admin, July 19, 2011
admin, July 19, 2011