The best wines to drink… The question is what is the best? When speaking about wine, how does one describe the best? It isn’t necessarily the greatest, as the greatest wines in the world may not be the best wines for a specific occasion. What makes a wine “the best” is how suitable it is for the particular moment when you choose to open the bottle. “It’s not simply a question of quality,” says Eric Asimov, wine critic of The New York Times, although that’s crucial. It’s a combination of the occasion, the people with whom you share it, the food you eat and the context. Ultimately, what counts are the memories.” I couldn’t have put it better myself!
We asked a few sommeliers and friends of the magazine which wines they plan to drink more of in 2017, and why. Here are their responses….
Rakesh A – Resident Sommelier
The Oberoi, Gurgaon | Trident Gurgaon I believe balance is important in wine drinking. Hence I am looking out for some under the radar sparkling wines, unexpected countries, more focus on indigenous grapes and practices that go beyond the vineyard to include cooperation between wineries. Traditional method sparkling from England, the Loire Valley and the northeast of Spain to name a few regions that are making some serious fizz. Continuing my fascination with post-Soviet countries, I am really interested in drinking wines from Slovakia and Moravia. Indigenous grapes from different countries, like Hungarian white Furmint from Tokaj, Xinomavro from Greece, fresh crisp Vinho Verde from Portugal, heat and drought loving, Carignan. These wines are not always easy to find, but they are worth seeking for the variety and diversity they offer.
Judith J. Sciarone
Sommelier, The Claridges Hotel, New Delhi In this new year, I look forward to tasting the releases of York and Vallonné and to continue exploring the wines India has to offer. This summer I hope to be able to discover a new wine region and do some on-site discoveries. Furthermore, I would love to taste natural wines from South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Hopefully the domestic market will continue its development and we’ll see the diversification of importers’ portfolios to include more organic and biodynamic delicacies. Lastly, I look forward to moments well spent sharing wine with friends, old and new.
Stanley Pinto, founder of The Bangalore Black Tie fine-dining club, former advertising guru and jazz musician. As the new year comes crashing in and eternity looms even nearer to oldies like me, I wish to spend more time with wines from Bourgogne. That’s a broad wish list, but my fascination with Bordeaux could perhaps use some competition. And I would like to experience varietals that are not quite on the beaten track: Carmenère, Cabernet Franc and Grenache, are three that interest me. Unfortunately, they’re not easy to cultivate, probably not at all in India, which means we have to buy international wines at the extortionate prices that our beloved leaders impose on us. Still, it’s only money and, to end as I began, eternity looms a year nearer.
Parag Tripathi, an off-the-cuff comment from a lawyer friend who is fast becoming a vino in his own right. I am looking forward to drinking 2015 Mauvais Garcon Syrah. Mauvais Garcon is an interesting wine from Bordeaux made by Jean-Luc Thunevin. The wine takes its name from the moniker for Jean-Luc who is affectionately called the Bad Boy of St. Emilion, for not following the expected path but marching to the beat of his own drummer. The Bordeaux vineyards producing Mauvais Garcon are planted to 95% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc with a total production of about 40,000 bottles. There are now two more Bad Boy wines produced in Bordeaux, a Bad Boy Blanc made from 100% Chardonnay and sold as Vin de France and – unusually for Bordeaux – a 100% Syrah. Drinkable on release, Mauvais Garcon is firm and silky with a medium body. It has blackberry characters with a kiss of licorice as well as a hint of tar.
Bunny Suraiya, author and SI chief copy editor. As I will be spending two weeks in Bologna in May, I am looking forward to drinking the wines of the Emilia-Romagna region. Especially the Gutturnio, which I have not tasted yet, and the Barbera, the Bonarda, the Sangiovese and, of course, the famous Lambrusco in its various avatars — dry, semi-dry, semi-sweet, as well as red rosé, frizzante and spumante.
Rukn Luthra, Managing Director, Fermentras India Pvt Ltd – Liquid Sunshine Marketing LLP. I’m looking forward to drinking more of Robert Mondavi, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Dark fruits of black cherry, plum and blackberry are layered seamlessly with sweet spice, herbal, dark earth and a touch of sweet tobacco, with silky tannins and a long finish.
Rajiv Kehr, president, International Wine & Food Society, Delhi chapter. Wines such as an aged Riesling from Egon Müller or a Château Mouton Rothschild 1990 or even a rare burgundy like a Domaine Romanée Conti are great wines and for most of us, sadly, only the stuff of dreams! The holy grail is not drinking the most expensive bottle even if we were fortunate enough to be able to afford it, but to find a wine (as with a painting) that sells for very little and can still hold its own against the best. I had one such moment last year when I discovered a wine with which I fell in love. This was Château Bela 2015 served at an exclusive dinner in Germany. It was poured alongside a Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos from Vincent Dauvissat, who is widely accepted along with Raveneau as the best producer of Chablis. I was amazed that Château Bela not only held its own but actually trumped the Chablis Grand Cru. I have since come back to this wine more than once to reconfirm my eureka moment and have never felt let down.