FineWinesnMore organised a four-course dinner at the Hotel Leela Kempinski, Mumbai where fine wines from Germany, with special emphasis on the Rieslings, were paired with fine Indian cuisine at the Jamavar speciality restaurant. Sonal Holland reports.
Dharti Desai, Founder and CEO along with Craig Wedge, Senior VP for Business Development for FineWinesnMore welcomed guests with a glass of Weingut Ulrich Langguth Riesling 2006, which to me seemed like the perfect way to start the evening after an hour long drive to the hotel. The wine displayed youthful refreshing aromas of lemon and floral with an off-dry palate, crisp acidity and some mineral characteristics on the finish. A good wine to have either on its own or balance well with delicately spiced dishes like tandoori grilled paneer and fine minced lamb kebabs, as were served during the first course of the meal.
The next wine was a Weingut Ulrich Langguth Riesling Kabinett Piesporter Goldtropchen 2003 and although the word Kabinett should indicate young and dry, this wine was sweeter with ripe nectarine, peach flavours and a honeyed nose. The faint whiff of petrol indicated the typical nose of a Riesling when aged. The richness of stuffed Kashmiri morels in saffron sauce and a succulent prawn curry seemed to balance the sweetness and flavours of this wine with much ease, although leaving a shorter finish on the palate.
These Rieslings were from the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer region of Germany, the best of which come from the steep slatey, mineral rich slopes showing the perfect balance of grapey sweetness and acidity which is crisp but never cloying. A Riesling grape performs best when minimally interfered with or manipulated at the time of winemaking. It’s a style that is unique and typical, both when drunk young or aged. The thing about Rieslings that pairs best with Indian food is the off-dry or sweet palate, as well as the crisp mouth watering acidity that helps counter the spice level in the dish.
The wine we were served next was Weingut Hans Lang Spatburgunder Trocken made from Pinot Noir in Germany which is not traditionally known for this grape varietal. It was a rather subdued expression of raspberry and cherries on the nose, with easy tannins and a light-bodied structure to complement the duck roulade and saffron scented Awadhi vegetable biryani with which it was paired. The combination worked to the extent that it helped bring out the fruit in the Spatburgunder (which by the way means Pinot Noir in Germany).
I loved the Kesar Pista Kulfi with fresh mango and longed for a glass of the much famed sweet dessert wine from Germany, but alas, there was none on the menu. However, I was altogether delighted to have tasted some very interesting Rieslings.
The restaurant looked luxuriously royal with soft chandelier lights and the table was well laid with fine crockery and glassware. Craig Wedge who presented the wines engaged the guests with his own passioned perspective on each one of them weaving interestingly stories from the start of his career as a successful wine consultant. Full marks to Surender Mohan, Corporate Sous Chef for laying out a sumptuous spread of flavours and textures in Indian cuisine that seems to be re-invented a-new each time with an innovative chef.