When Etienne Hugel of the renowned Hugel & Fils wines of Alsace, France, decided to introduce his wines to Bangalore’s wine lovers, he did it in style – at a dinner with an all-Indian ten-course tasting menu, served Indian-style on the lawns of the Lalit Ashok, Bangalore reports Ruma Singh
Left: Sanjay Menon, Sandra & Ramiah Daniels
The candlelit evening saw guests sit cross-legged at ‘chowki’ style tables to sample seven of Hugel’s most popular wines. The dress code was ethnic and the wines perfectly matched to the food by the Lalit chef, Nimish Bhatia.
The welcome wine was one of the most popular in the Hugel stable, the Gentil, an aromatic fruit-driven expression of different grape varietals — Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Muscat and 50% Sylvaner.
The main courses included bite-sized portions of dishes like ocean fresh prawn in mustard and Baluch spices, mutton kebabs shaped like a pear, chicken with kidney bean sauce with baby potatoes and mini leavened bread, and duck breast with roasted vermicelli served with tempered yoghurt, while six wines were served in two sets allowing diners to compare, contrast and pick their favourites. The Hugel Riesling 2009 and Hugel Gewurztraminer 2009 were followed by three wines from the premium Jubilee range – Hugel Pinot Gris Jubilee 2005, Hugel Gewurztraminer Jubilee 2007 and the Hugel Riesling Jubilee 2005. All the wines had gorgeous noses, and superb structure and balance, as expected from the Hugel brand.
As he was introduced to the gathering by general manager of the Lalit, Ramiah Daniels, Etienne, who was dressed in Indian regalia to fit the mood, presented Hugel wines and their home, the charming village of Riquewihr in Alsace in a humourous, anecdote-laced talk. Over dinner he chatted with guests on topics ranging from Indian taxes on wines (excessively high) to China (from where he had just come – it’s booming there for the wine trade, he said) to his interactions within the exclusive club Primum Familiae Vini, which comprises 11 famous families who form the ‘royalty’ of wine (including Mouton Rothschild, Antinori, Torres and Sassicaia, besides Hugel.)
The grand finale was the exquisite dessert wine, the Hugel Gewuztraminer Vendange Tardive 2005, perfectly paired with tandoori figs in an extract of fresh rose.
For the guests, the introduction to the best of Alsace wines could not have been more memorable.