We were recently invited with a select few guests to spend a glorious Sunday evening to sip Sommelier India Wine Competition, (SIWC) 2009 award-winning wines from York combined with gourmet food at the very quaint and much talked about hip new restaurant, Pali Village Café, at Bandra, Mumbai, writes Suneeta Kanga.
Every great wine has a story. At YORK, it is the story of passion. The passion of the Gurnani family, who were into the hardware business in West Africa, to make skilfully crafted wines that transcend the mainstream. It is also about their aspiration to offer Indian wines to the global palate with pride.
Pictured: York Reserve Shiraz 2008, a super varietal and SIWC 2009 Gold Winner
Their first wines made a great debut at the biennial Sommelier India Wine Competition (SIWC) held in Mumbai in November 2009. Their superstar varietals, The York Reserve Shiraz 2008 won a Gold medal and the York Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 won a Bronze medal in the Indian wines category. The Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon also got commended at the International Wine Challenge held at the London International Wine Fair in May 2010.
Ravi Gurnani, Director, who was proudly presenting York’s bouquet of wines told me that York gets its name from the initials of all the siblings. We started the evening with a wine from their first crush, a York Chenin Blanc 2008. Pleasantly dry, a clean, fresh, fruit forward, juicy, aromatic white with great lively acidity. Green apples, mineral notes and a touch of peach lead to a very pleasant dry finish.
The other white was a very internationally made Sauvignon Blanc. Chilled at exactly the right temperature, it did the rounds refreshing our palates. The York Sauvignon Blanc 2008 has an intense, voluptuous bouquet with fruity aromas. The wine was round and full-bodied with excellent structure. It had an elegant aftertaste with a citric edge.
The York Zinfandel Rosé 2008 was sipped with appreciation by many of the guests. With a blend of rich, ripe strawberry and raspberry on the nose, York has a characteristic Zinfandel finish with nice spices. The wine is well-rounded, soft and smooth with a dry mouthfeel. It made an easy pairing with the delectable hors d’oeuvres that Pali Village Café had prepared for us. I particularly enjoyed the Beef carpaccio with bitter chocolate drizzle and the Aubergine and Brie roulade with raspberry vinaigrette.
Surprisingly the grapes for these wines are sourced from contract farmers who are monitored closely for the quality and yields of the vines. Ravi invited all the guests to visit the winery which also has a Tasting Room, open every day of the week for visitors. It overlooks the estate vineyards and also the scenic Gangapur lake. There is a gallery with a view of the winemaking in progress in the winery. According to Ravi plans are afoot for starting a full fledged multi cuisine restaurant soon at the winery.
Six acres of estate vineyard produce grapes for the Reserve wines which the family and their South African winemaker lovingly tend. I particularly enjoyed their outstanding York Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2008, exquisitely crafted from handpicked estate grapes, this wine has been matured in French & American oak barrels. It is a medium bodied wine with a rich palate of green pepper, herbaceous notes and subtle oak flavors on the finish.
For those who know, the perfect partner to any good wine is a good cheese, Parmigiano Reggiano, Brie and Gouda were served with the superstar of the evening, the York Reserve Shiraz 2008. Modern in style, this beautifully balanced wine is made from handpicked estate grapes, aged in new French, Hungarian and American oak. Fruit forward with a lively palate, full of berry fruits and violets, the subtle oak flavours lie in the background and add extra complexity and structure.
There is nothing better than ending an evening with a dessert wine. The next variety to be added to the York portfolio is a Late Harvest Chenin Blanc – which was introduced in a blind tasting. The winner got to go home with a special “York Winery” gift hamper. The honeyed, perfumed sugars set off by the fine, fruity acidity of the 100% varietal was the perfect finish.
Priced very competively (Rs. 300/- , 400/- and 600/-) and enjoyed immensely by the expatriate community, these wines are currently sold only in Mumbai and Maharashtra.
More of a party than a somber wine tasting evening, the Pali Village Cafe was truly a fantastic choice for the venue. Whilst some of the patrons may have left slightly hungry, none complained about the quality of the wine or the interesting evening they had had and hope to see more of the wines in the future.