Sixteen of the Wine Society’s luckiest members had the privilege of dining with Bernadette Thienpont – the maker of our Bordeaux Private Label – this past week at Valhalla Restaurant, Churchgate (Mumbai), writes Piyush Gadkari. The Wine Circle dinner – hosted by WSI Wine buyer and educator Myles Mayall – kicked off with some delicious Piper Heidsieck Champagne, a welcome drink for arriving members. Left: Bernadette Thienpont
After everybody trickled in and all the Champagne was spent, proceedings moved to Valhalla’s private dining room, elegantly set up in a discreet corner of the restaurant.
The first course of the night was paired with the Mandrarossa Fiano 2008, which despite being a gem of a Sicilian White, was relatively unknown, and required a short introduction by Myles. It was served well before the dish it was meant to be paired with, and set a cheery atmosphere that lasted well through the rest of the week!
We were halfway through the second wine of the evening when the Duck and Chicken Liver Terrine arrived. It was intense and creamy, with a tart prune sauce acting as the perfect foil. So outstanding was our first dish that conversation ground to a halt for almost three minutes, as everybody focused solely on the starter in front of them.
Within seconds of our next course arriving, we realized we were in the hands of a master craftsman. Even more remarkable was how well the Blue-shelled Crab Salad paired with the Wine Society’s Steven Spurrier Selection Bordeaux 2007, poured slightly earlier than expected.
Bernadette Thienpont – its producer – stood up to speak passionately about Terra Burdigala, her private venture away from her family’s own interests in Bordeaux. Terra Burdigala makes our Steven Spurrier Selection Bordeaux Private Label, a blend of 70% Merlot with 30% Cabernet Franc, which that night, was meaty on the nose, with slight tannin on its juicy palate.
The Roasted Seabass with Sweet Potato Gnocchi that followed was exceptional enough for some of our members to ask to meet the Chef, midway through the course! Chef Shantanu described how he set about creating the Menu, and said something that I found to be quite revelatory: most Indian cuisine tends to focus on the flavours of the spices and the curry of the dish. European cuisine, on the other hand, will focus more on the flavour of the meat. A single flake of Chef Shantanu’s seabass would’ve told you that he clearly belonged to the European school of thought.
The night culminated with a pouring of the mystery wine, which had been allowed to mellow in a decanter on the sideboard, all this while. Mme Thienpont had brought with her three bottles from her family’s rather famous estate, Vieux Chateaux Certan! The Thienponts have owned the hallowed property for close to a hundred years, and are producing some of the finest Bordeaux ever. The 2004 vintage that was passed around was a bit young, but still an utter treat!
The evening wound down with a delicious cheese platter, after which Mme Thienpont had to rush to catch her flight back to Bordeaux (via Paris), where she will continue to make excellent wine, some of which we hope to showcase to you later this year!
For more information about The Wine Society of India and its events, visit www.thewinesocietyofindia.com.