There was much good cheer at the Bandra Wine Tasting Festival held at D’Monte Park Recreation Centre last weekend. With more than 60 Indian and International wines from 12 wineries to sample, there wasn’t a dull moment for the steady stream of visitors reports Suneeta Sodhi Kanga
The beautiful open air venue was the perfect setting and the colourful gazebos instantly drew the eyes to the bounty they housed. Wine bottles were artfully arranged at each stall, and winery representatives eager not only to pour samples of their wines but also to provide information to curious visitors. “Some people ask for specific varietals,” said Darius Chichgur, Country Manager – Wines, Pernod Ricard India. “Others ask to taste wine depending on their preferences for sweet or dry.”
For wine enthusiasts already familiar with many domestic wines, it was a pleasant surprise to come across new wines from home-grown Sicilian grapes like the Nero D’Avola and Grillo from Reveilo. A wine to watch out for is their lovely Chardonnay. “It’s great that we have a choice of varietals now. One does want to go beyond the Cabernet Sauvignons and Chenin Blancs,” said a gentleman as he swirled his glass and held it up against the light.
His young companion raved about the sparkling rosé offered by Vinsura. “Such a refreshing wine,” she exclaimed. Mr. Gopal Jadhav, their newly appointed COO should be pleased to hear that. The recently launched Mokssh rosé was also a popular choice. Bharat Deshmukh from Four Seasons proudly poured out glass fulls of their aromatic Viogner.
Mr Hans Raj Ahuja, the marketing head for Riona in India was equally upbeat about the response he received for his wines. Being the only stall of wines imported from the Marche region of Italy they were naturally very busy. Dr. Rajesh Rasal, the wine maker at Good Earth, proudly displayed his fine work. Must say their reds were lovely.
A wine that deserves a special mention is the yet to be launched Crimson Glory by Vallone. “This rich and opulent wine is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvgnon and Malbec.” said Prashant Thanawala -“Bordeaux” in Bandra…!
It was not all about wine however. The cheese lounge, displaying a range of exotic cheeses from Acres Wild (Coonoor), La Ferme (Pondicherry), Kodai Dairy (Kodaikanal), and Vallambrosa (Bangalore), did brisk business. “It’s amazing to see the interest that the cheese has generated,” said a representative of the Pune Gourmet Club who was manning the stall. “People are buying platters to enjoy with their wine, and we are happy to suggest wine and cheese pairings.”
Meanwhile grilled lobsters and crabs and blackened Cajun Fish were being ordered faster than they could be served at the Seafood BBQ counter at the Food Court. Other stalls were dishing up Pork Vindaloo and Sorpotel, kebabs, and shawarma and grilled chicken hot off the rotisserie. There was ice cream and a range of patisserie options for those with a sweet tooth.
It was an unhurried agenda, and many visitors lingered through the day, attending the cooking with wine shows by Michael Swamy of Masterchef India, and the sushi and tapas show by Asha Khatau. Nikhil Agarwal’s aroma sessions based on Jean Lenoir’s world famous Le Nez Du Vin system were a big hit, as were Ajit Balgi’s sessions on ‘Six wine styles you must know’.
“I feel much better equipped to taste the wine now,” admitted a visitor who had attended both sessions.
A range of interesting wine accessories were available for sale from Dozo Services Pvt. Ltd, including aroma kits, aerators, bottle openers and decanters. At the Big Bag Theory stall, coasters and bags with wine related sayings attracted visitors taking a break from sampling wine. Live jazz music by Ryan M’s Project and Jazzmates added to the relaxed ambience, and many happy visitors were seen tapping their feet over yet another glass of wine.
Organised under the aegis of Celebrate Bandra by Monsoon Winds, a venture of Pune Gourmet Club (www.punegourmet.in) members, the Festival will return next year. ‘Celebrate Bandra’ is a joint initiative of the Celebrate Bandra Trust & Fountainhead Promotions & Events Pvt. Ltd and is held once in two years. The Pune Gourmet Club is a group of food and wine enthusiasts headed by B.Shankaranarayan who, in 2006, embarked upon an adventure to discover the wines of India and international cuisine.
Said Festival Director, B. Shankaranarayan, “The response from Mumbai was very heartening. It was a wonderful experience to be able to introduce so many wine lovers, both novice and experienced, to the huge range of wines in the Indian market.”
And now the Pune Gourmet Club (PGC) is all set to take Pune by storm with the 4th Pune Wine Tasting Festival on the 11th and 12th of December 2010. Looking forward to it….