Boldly spiced food and a passionate wine maker were the featured pairing of The Wine Society’s March 27 wine dinner at Yum Yum Tree, writes Jyoti Thottam of Time magazine. The evening started out with a sparkler, Bouvet-Ladubay’s Bouvet Brut, served in the grill area of the restaurant, a favorite in New Friends Colony.
UB Group imports this bubbly, and it was all charm, citrusy and crisp, in a classic Saumur style that Bunty Singh, VP, The Wine Society, Delhi, proclaims to enjoy even more than some Champagne. That assertion definitely needs some investigation, so I hope The Wine Society will follow through on his recommendation to start all our events with a sparkling wine toast. In any case, it was a fitting way to begin the evening, during which 35 or so Wine Society members and guests had the chance to taste the first vintage of wines made by UB Group.
We began with a viognier, a wine with a rich nose — flowers and lemongrass — that didn’t quite follow through on the palate. No matter; it gave me a good reason to get into a spirited discussion with Abhay Kewadkar, UB’s chief winemaker, about the difficulties of making a great viognier (it needs oak to really bring out the flavour), particularly for the Indian market. The other two whites–a chenin blanc and a sauvignon blanc–were confidently made, each in their classic styles. The off-dry chenin had a hint of white pepper that was perfect with the sweet hoisin sauce in the duck appetizers; the sauvignon blanc, with lots of green apple and grass, complemented everything else, particularly the chive and cashew dumplings. It is hard to believe these wines are the first to be made by UB Group; Kewadkar’s long experience in the industry and his love of the grape surely get the credit.
The two reds were a shiraz and a cabernet sauvignon. The shiraz had a slightly smoky, gamey nose ahead of its classic black pepper and black fruit flavours. This isn’t a fruit bomb; it’s a little more ambitious, and it was an ideal pairing to the entrees–barbecued spare ribs and sliced lamb. The cabernet sauvignon felt thin to me in comparison, but Bunty tells me it gained some character after an hour or so in the glass. I have no doubt that Four Seasons’ next few vintages will only get better. Until UB Group’s own vineyards in Baramati are ready, Kewadkar says he is buying grapes from the region’s farmers. Perhaps he can then also consider making a sweet wine, something to match the chef’s sophisticated cappuccino ice cream. I’m looking forward to that day — and hopefully The Wine Society will be there to taste the first bottles!