It’s harvest time for most wineries in India and what better way to celebrate than with a wine fest? The oldest and biggest is Sulafest, which is now in its 5th year and took place in early February. (See SI’s report, Sula Fest 2012 – bigger and better than ever). This was preceded in January by York Live,The York wine festival, which returned for the second year. And now, Brinda Gill reports on yet another festival. Food, wine and music are a common ingredient in all.
The 2nd Malaka Vallonné Wine Festival 2012 held at Malaka Spice, Koregaon Park, Pune, blended the fun of grape stomping, enjoying wines from Vallonné Vineyards, refreshing Sangrias and an extensive offering of Southeast Asian cuisine that Malaka Spice is famous for.
The festival is organized to celebrate the beginning of the harvest season, offer wine lovers as well as those new to wine a range of Vallonné wines and a chance to interact with the Vallonné team, along with Praful Chandavarkar and Chef Cheeru Chandavarkar, owners of the popular restaurant.
The annual event started a little after noon and carried on till evening as guests soaked in sun and fun at the charming semi-alfresco dining area of the restaurant. A choice of starters – Vietnamese Fresh Herb Rolls, Lion Heads, Herby Steam Basa, Wild Pepper Leaf Mutton, Tofu Peanut Wonton, Kari Leaf Prawn, Thai Fish Cakes, Singaporean Curry Puffs and Vietnamese Prawn Toast – were served at the tables along with glasses of Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon Classique, Crimson Glory (a blend of Malbec, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon) and Rosé. Charming small centrepieces of glasses with grapes and leaves of grape vines were placed at the tables.
Adding to the drinks were pitchers of two lovely fruity Sangrias that had been blended the day before and well chilled. One was a blend of Crimson Glory with orange juice and wheels, pineapple juice and chunks, a dash of lime and lemon, strawberries, sugar syrup and ginger ale, with a hint of cinnamon. The other was a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, orange wheels and juice, green apple pieces, lime and lemon juice, sugar syrup and ginger ale.
The afternoon unfolded over wine, starters, grape stomping and conversation. Two barrels filled with Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes were placed on a low platform near the seating.
Left: Visitors have fun stomping grapes.
The buffet style main course offered Cold Soba Noodle Salad, Crab Asparagus and Grape Tossed Salad, Thai Green Curry Chicken, Kari Kapitan Vegetables, Honey Garlic Chicken, Baby Potato with Herbs and Chilly, Brown Coriander Ricer, Khowsuey Noodles Veg/Chicken. Light and delicious Chocolate & Grape Mousse, and Coconut Strawberry Mousse wrapped up the lunch, even as the wines and Sangrias were served till the evening. Interestingly, the chocolate mousse embellished with slivers of grapes was also called Vallonné mousse!
Shailendra Pai, Founder and CEO, Vallonné Vineyards, was most pleased with the response to the festival. “The festival aims at introducing people to wine in a very fun way and in an informal yet intimate ambience. We are very happy to have had over 150 people attend including many from Mumbai. Lots of people returned to barrels again and again to enjoy stomping grapes, and we had to turn over the grapes twice. Unlimited wine, food and fun is a great combination, and we are very happy to host this annual festival that has seen an even better response this year.”