Rajie, August 19, 2015

In Praise of Pinot

 “In Praise of Pinot” with Sanjay Menon

article by Praveen Krishnamurthy

Pinot Noir, the grape that epitomises elegance, grace, novelty and above all beauty. Tough to grow, tough to harvest but easily drinkable and liked by all. One of the harder grapes to make wine from, Pinot Noir, if made right can create a magical experience like no wine. Even more so from the Burgundy region in France that prides itself with producing this magical wine.

Terroir, The Madras Wine Club, was instrumental in arranging a wine dinner evening on 8th August at Crowne Plaza for its members to celebrate the phenomenon that is PINOT NOIR. Mr Sanjay Menon from San Sula took us on a special pinot noir journey through the famed regions in Burgundy highlighting the specialty of this grape.

3)Welcoming all -In praise of Pinot-8.8 (20)

Through this write up, it is my endeavour to showcase the wines of that evening along with some tasting notes that was compiled along with Sanjay during the evening.

Before we dive into the wines, it is only appropriate that we give an overview about Pinot Noir. As mentioned earlier, it is a tough grape to grow and very fickle to weather. It grows well in the cooler climes and this explains some of the regions that grow this grape. Though known for contributing to the wines in Burgundy and Champagne, other notable regions that grow the grape are Marlborough and Martinborough regions in New Zealand, Central Coast in California, Willamette Valley in Oregon, Yarra valley, Margaret River in Australia.

In Burgundy, through the French tradition of Terroir, Pinot Noir is grown extensively along with Gamay used in Beaujolais wine and Chardonnay used to produce Chablis. Burgundy is by far one of the highest AOC appellation dominated regions in France and unlike its famous cousin Bordeaux, the appellation was derived through centuries of production by monks and monasteries.

Amongst the sub regions, Cote D’or produces some of the most known and expensive burgundies in the world. Cote D’or itself is divided into two regions Cote de Nuit which almost exclusively produces only the red wine and Cote the beaune that produces some white wines along with the Red Wines.

5)Humour amidst wine-New memebrs intro






The wines

Having gained an overview about Pinot Noir, we will now explore the wines of the evening. The attempt here is to give a brief history about the wine along with some personal tasting notes of the author.

2013, Francois Labet ‘lle de beaute’ IGP Corsica.

Francois Labet Ile de Beaute 2012

The first wine we tasted was in fact not from Burgundy but from Corsica. Though closer to Italy, it is a French administered region. Ile de Beaute, literally translated as Island Beauty is the IGP appellation name given to this region and IGP itself expands as Indication Geographique Protegee which is the intermediate classification in the wine classification system of France.

This pinot noir true to its region had a little bit of everything. It displayed the trademark of pinot showing cherry, floral notes, the earthy spiceness of the Mediterranean and the tangy freshness of the Alpines. Overall a perfect start.



2010 Bouchard Pere & Fils Cotes de Nuits Villages

The most interesting thing about the house of Bouchard Pere and Fils is that they have been producing wines since 1731. Though it is no longer family owned, in 1995 the Champagne house Joseph Henriot acquired the company and its quality has risen as a consequence.

Today Bouchard is led by Stephane Follin Arbelet while the wines are made by Philippe Prost who has been with the company since 1978.

Coming into force in 1937 The villages appellation in cote de beaune refers to the 14 villages in the region from which it is grown.

My nose was filled with black cherry and licorice with a round mouth, character, good length on satin tannins and the wine maker recommends that the wine should be drunk in its youth to enjoy the freshness.

 Interesting Sorbet between courses2008 Domaine Bouchard Pere & Fils Beaune du Chateau Premier Cru

Another illustrious wine from the house of Bouchard Pere and Fils, this time an older premier cru, the second highest classification below the Grand Cru. These wines are produced from pre defined single plots from the villages. These plots are known as climats.

A perfume filled bouquet filled with ripe red fruits, wood smoke and spicy notes lead into the palate with layered penetrating flavours and silky smooth texture. On the finish, the smooth spicy exit with the right touch of oak ensured I had a second fill to repeat the experience again.

1991 Domaine Bachelet Maranges 1er Cru La Fussiere

Situated in the southern end of Cote D’or The maranges region in burgundy consists of 170 hectares of villages and premier cru vineyards. 95% of the wine produced in this region is Red. The region itself is divided into 7 premier cru climats and we tasted the wines produced from the La Fussiere climat from the Premier Cru classification of Dezize.

The nose had a robust tones of red cherry, raspberry and matured wood. The palate is strong, mature with a firm but smooth finish leaving a tinge of Turkish delight and earthiness on the palate. A star premier cru.Polenta steak with Chilli Parmesan crisp served with Wild Mushroom Guazetto

1998 Domaine Bachelet Maranges 1er Cru La Fussiere

In no way inferior to the 1991, this wine once again displayed all the characters of the predecessor but the differentiator and the uniqueness coming from the taste which left a touch of Vanilla on the finish.

2000 Domaine Louis Latour Corton Grand Cru

Louis Latour 2000The final wine of the evening was the delightful Grand Cru from Corton in Cote de Beaune. Corton itself is the largest and only Grand Cru appellation of Cote de Beaune. This particular wine is from the climat of Clos du roi in the village of Aloxe-Corton.

The aroma immediately fills you with dark Cherry and ripe berries with hints of rustic earthiness. Medium to full bodied on the palate with silky mature tannins the taste reveals full power of the fruits and integrated oak with a balanced and full finish.

This brings us to the end of this terroir event. Overall it was an enjoyable evening and of course a special mention about the food during the evening which was spectacular to say the least and paired extremely well with the wines.

My pick of the evening was the Heart of Palm and the squash and walnut Ravioli.



Madhu, September 13, 2012

French Wine & Fine Dining at Vintage Bank, Hilton, Chennai

I have been a member of Terroir, the Wine Club in Chennai, for a couple of years. Terroir facilitates many events in a year. I must confess that although I love the wine (most of the time) at the Terroir events, being a foodie, it’s usually the Cuisine that holds the pull for the events.

Earlier this week, there was a Terroir mail about wine tasting event being hosted by the Hilton in Chennai, featuring Wines from the Maison Louis Jadot vineyards in Burgundy France. The mail mentioned that there were ‘limited’ invites, I confirmed my attendance within seconds of receiving the mail.
The event was to be held at the ‘Vintage Bank’ at the Hilton Chennai. I was greeted by the General manager of Hilton, Mr Roger Brantsma and his wife and a glass of bubbly. It was my first visit to the Vintage Bank and I was very impressed with the ambience, wood and leather, a typically plush European feel of the place. There was live music (which was excellent).

We were soon joined by the other members of Terroir. The wines were presented by a one Mr. Olivier Masmondet from Louis Jadot, who himself is a Sommelier. Incidentally he was the youngest Master Sommelier in France and before taking up upper level corporate responsibility he had been Sommelier in 3 Michelin star restaurants in Paris. He took us through the History and Viniculture in Burgundy. He also gave us a brief introduction about the wines. I have written a separate blog post about the wine(which you could click the link to go to the posts). Each of the wines were paired with different courses of food in typically French Cuisine.

The First Wine of the Evening was the Maison Louis JadotChablis 2010. This wine was accompanied by an Entrée of three dishes…

The first was Grilled Scallop, sweet Chilli and Crème Fraiche (which in French literally means ‘fresh cream’, but is actually sour cream, soured by bacterial fermentation.) The next was called the ‘Sarson Mahi Tikka, mint coriander and Missi Roti, this was basically Seer fish marinated in Mustard, served with Mint and Coriander Chutney, along with an ‘idli’ sized Missi roti. I have tasted this combination for the first time and loved it! Especially the mustard marinating of the fish. The third dish was Tartlet of smoked Vegetables, Genovese and Goat Cheese. All three dishes complemented the Wine and did indeed make me Smile 😉

The Second wine of the evening was Chassagne- Montrachetpremier cru Morgeot 2004 Vintage. This Brilliantly well defined wine was accompanied by three more dishes.

The first was Smoked Salmon over a tiny Dill scone, along with some Horse radish cream. The salmon was exquisite and quite possibly one of the best dishes of the evening. Next was a Chicken and Asparagus Roulade (Roulade originates from the French word ‘Roule’ which means Roll, this is typically a dish where some form of meat is rolled over a filling, which is either a meat or a vegetable; in this case Chicken was rolled over an asparagus stub). This was a little too bland for my liking probably because I tend to mentally link asparagus to the ‘healthy’ soups I force myself on. The third dish was Corn Cakes served with Tomato Pepper relish; basically a mixture of Corn and flour cutlet served with a relish and was pretty tasty. An excellent idea, I thought, for a quick snack that can be made at home.

From the Whites we moved on to the Reds, the first Red of the evening being the Maison Louis Jadot Chateaux de Jacques Moulin-a-Vent 2008vintage, which was a Gamet.

This wine was accompanied by another triplet of delectable looking dishes. The first being Grilled Tenderloin Cutlet, the second, Salsa Verde Croutes, which basically was a Grilled tenderloin Cutlet served on a piece of round bread along with some salsa. The Cutlet was well made. The Pork sausage wrapped with Oak smoked Bacon. This was another winner. The Bacon was heavenly and along with the sausage and the wine was a match made in heaven. The third dish was an Aubergine Caviar Crostini, which basically tasted like Aubergine blended and shredded served on a small toast. It tasted strictly ok, but it was up against the bacon which was a hands down winner.

The Second red of the evening was a Pinot Noir, Maison LouisJadot Pommard 2007 Vintage. This Wine was paired with the following three dishes.

The first was a Beef Skewer glazed with Sesame and Soy, which was skewered just right and tasted succulent. The next was a Pan seared Duck with sage Jus. I must confess that after weeks of watching masterchef, I had been looking forward to some duck meat and I definitely wasn’t disappointed. The Pan seared duck was delicious and blended well with the Sage Jus (which was basically a reduced combination of Chicken stock, sage, shallots and pepper). The third dish was called the Bharwan Dingri, Feta and Safron Nan, which I guess was the Chef’s attempt at providing a fusion experience to go along with the predominantly European fare. This was basically Mushroom stuffed with Feta cheese and served along with a small saffron flavoured Nan. This was interesting and good.

The third red of the evening was another Pinot Noir from Burgundy, called Maison Louis Jadot Gevrey Chambertin premier Cru ‘LesCazetiers’ 2004 Vintage. This was another brilliant smooth wine accompanied by another triplet platter.

The First Dish of the platter was Grilled lamb Chops serve with Mushroom Jus. Lamb Chops are always on the top of my favourite picks at most five star properties because of the quality of the lamb, which they import. This particular dish also was definitely an imported New Zealand lamb, cooked to perfection and went well with the Mushroom and the Pinot Noir. Another Winner!!. The next Dish was Roasted Chicken served with Olive tapenade, this was a little too bland, and maybe because anything after lamb chops is always a let down I guess. The third dish was a Potato and Carrot Roesti served with Sour Cream, palatable if you are vegetarian. For me it was another helping of Lamb Chops please !!

Roast Chicken, Baguette, Olive Tapenade (Foreground), Potato and Carot Roesti with Sour cream (Left Back ground), Grilled lamb Chops, Mushroom jus (Right background)
Next came the cheese Platter with three cheeses 1. Manchego (Spanish origin cheese made from the milk of the Manchega sheep of the La mancha Valley. This was a firm and compact cheese), a little too hard for me. 2. Emmenthal : which is a swiss cheese from the emme Valley. It has the big ‘holes’ that we associate with the Swiss cheeses. This was also a firm to hard cheese. 3. Gorgonzola : The Italian blue cheese, which was my definite favourite, with its buttery consistency and a salty taste . This was accompanied by a fruit paste.

The Finale of the evening was the Bitter Chocolate truffle, which was literally a melt-in-your-mouth ball of sin. Thankfully it was served on a huge platter and the waiter carried it around from one table to another, lest it had parked in out table, it would have been wolfed down in a jiffy completely and regretfully considering my long drawn love-hate relationship with the weighing scale usually the morning after.

Bitter Chocolate Truffle
By the time the evening ended most of us were on the floor jiving to some peppy music by the house band. Olivier confessed that it was one of the best tasting he had attended with a lively and vibrant bunch.

On a final note I must compliment the Executive Chef at the Hilton Chef Daniel Leah, who demonstrated his wonderful culinary skills along with the rest of his team. Also the resident Sommelier of Hilton ,Ashlin Moses, though he played second fiddle to Olivier on this evening he made sure that the Hospitality was impeccable. Finally Roger Bantsma, the general manager for having conceived a fine symphony of good wine, great ambience, excellent food and impeccable service.

I would strongly recommend the Vintage bank for the ambience and the excellent selection of wines and the Hilton Chennai for its quality of food and Service.

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