Unapologetically Italian – Ruffino Wine Dinner at Cellini, Grand Hyatt, Mumbai

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Suneeta Sodhi Kanga attended a 10-course wine dinner curated  by Chef Alessandro Persico at Celini, the Italian restaurant of the Grand Hyatt, Mumbai, with Ruffino wines from Tuscany. Emma Hammonds, Regional Director Asia, Constellation Brands flew in from Hong Kong to preside over the dinner.  

We embarked on a gourmet experience with a glass of chilled Ruffino Prosecco DOC; its supple and elegant taste with light mineral flavours teamed well with the beautifully-presented Truffle Compress Watermelon and Feta Mousse Lollipops. Thereon a gastronomical adventure unfolded and we allowed ourselves to be dictated by the creations of Chef Alessandro and the fine wines of Ruffino. Chef Alessandro hails from Genova and has been in India for eight years creating Italian delicacies for Mumbaikars.

The evening commenced with an eloquent introduction by the Director of Sales and Marketing, Tommaso Alessandri as guests sat around elegantly dressed tables. For more than 130 years, Ruffino has been an iconic Tuscan winery dedicated to celebrating “Gusto Italiano”, the enjoyment of exceptional food and wine with family and friends. First made famous by its Chianti wines such as Riserva Ducale, Ruffino is also celebrated for its more modern, innovative wines, such as Prosecco DOC and acclaimed Super Tuscan, Modus.

A well-known winery around the world, Ruffino is part of Constellation Brands, the premium wine, beer and spirits company. Having worked in the liquor industry for close to two decades, Tommasso has in-depth knowledge of the wine and alcohol market and his desire to spread his love for wine  brought him to India this summer.

Celini, the out-and-out Italian restaurant in Mumbai, with home-style cooking embraces traditional Italian recipes and presents them with a modern approach. Exuding understated elegance, the interiors of Celini are contemporary and simple. The restaurant has a wood-fired pizza oven, rotisserie and charcoal grill built into its open show kitchen.

The Chilled Pea and Mint Soup with Marinated Crab Timbale was exquisite. The Mango Salad with Spicy Beetroot Cream came and went; and in true Italian style it was time for a little pasta – a Lobster Tortello with Orange Hollandaise and braised leeks. The Ruffino Orvieto Classico DOC 2015 was paired with the three courses mentioned above. According to Tommaso, Orvieto, one of Italy’s most beautiful and ancient towns, is situated atop volcanic hills in picturesque Umbria, just over the border from Tuscany. The wines from Orvieto have been poetically referred to as, “the sun of Italy in a bottle”. Though produced in the traditional method, its easy-drinking style offers a touch of modernity.

After cleansing our palate with a Raspberry Sorbet in a waffle cone, we savoured the Ruffino Chianti DOCG 2015. Chianti DOCG occupies a special place in the history of Ruffino. When Ilario and Leopoldo Ruffino founded the winery in 1877, the first wine they produced was a Chianti. And it was the reputation of this wine that launched Ruffino’s early success. In fact, before World War I, Ruffino was the only Chianti exported from Italy to the United States, making it an ambassador to wine lovers around the world. In keeping with tradition, Chianti DOCG features a distinct Florentine bottle reminiscent of the straw flask in which Chianti was originally bottled. Its acidity also made it a great partner with the Pistachio Crusted Lamb Chop, which we ate as the main course.

Ducale Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2012

My taste buds perked up again when the most-awaited wine of the evening, the Ducale Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2012 was poured to accompany the eighth course of Chilean Sea Bass with Carrot Purée and Lemon Cream Foam. The fish was good but in a world where excellent was so far the norm the pairing seemed like a troubled marriage. Perhaps, some red meat or even a roast chicken might have been a better bet with the robust wine. (I heard some of the vegetarians complain about the Paneer Steak pairing also!)

Ducale meaning “duke” in Italian was named in honour of the Duke of Aosta who braved a journey over the Alps to taste the Ruffino wines that he had heard so much about. He was so impressed by the wine that in 1890 he appointed Ruffino as the official supplier to the Italian royal family. This fabled Ruffino wine was first released in 1927. The blend is 80% Sangiovese along with 20% Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine undergoes secondary malolactic fermentation to enhance its velvety texture, then ages for 24 months in oak, stainless steel and concrete vats. Riserva Ducale spends an additional three months in bottle before release.

Mascarpone Cheesecake

We culminated this luxurious culinary voyage with a Mascarpone Cheesecake topped with passion fruit, caramel, berries, wild cherry and chikki nougat. The evening ended with a selection of lovely Italian chocolate petite fours. A perfect ending to a perfect evening!

Ruffino wines are solely imported and distributed by Sula Selections, the import arm of Sula. They are available at all leading hotels, restaurants and select retail outlets across the country.

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