The prospect of spending an afternoon tasting with with one of the most famous palates of the wine world – Steven Spurrier – the man behind the famous Judgement of Paris in 1976, is something few wine lovers would pass up. This afternoon was extra special – for not only was Spurrier in town to lead a tasting of Four Season wines, but later that evening he was officiating at an exclusive dinner of wine paired with Indian food hosted by the Wine Society of India, writes Ruma Singh.
The Four Seasons tasting of Sommelier India Wine Competition (SIWC) award-winning wines saw the media invited to taste the wines with Spurrier at Fava, UB City. The first wine tasted, the Four Seasons Sauvignon Blanc, silver medal winner at the SIWC 2009, got a nod of approval from Steven.
“A Sauvignon Blanc should have a vertical style, rather than a fuller mouthfeel as perhaps a Chardonnay or Viognier,” he said, giving the wine a 16/20, while informing everyone that the name ‘Sauvignon Blanc’ comes from the French vin sauvage or ‘savage wine’ for its characteristic of having aromas that almost ‘burst out of the glass’.
The Four Seasons Viognier was next. A gold medal winner at SIWC 2009 was a contrast to the Sauvignon Blanc – more aromatic, exotic with white stone fruit notes. “The lower acidity gives the impression of a softer, sweeter wine, though it is dry. This one expands on the palate into an explosion of summer fruit,” Spurrier commented.
The popular Four Seasons Rosé was next, and its fresh colour got another nod of approval from Spurrier, as he explained how rosés were made. This one had undergone 10-12 hours of maceration, its softness on the nose and palate offset by the hint of tannins from the skins of the grapes. “Easy to drink. A good wine for those starting out,” he said.
Then it was time for the two award-winning Four Seasons Reserves – the 2008 Shiraz was Steven’s personal preferrence, he confessed, describing it as a perfectly ‘square’ wine. “It has much more elegance than I expected. This one is getting ready to drink, and I much prefer drinking a wine on it’s way up (on the maturity table) than down. The 10% Viognier in the wine has smoothened the robustness of the shiraz grape.
The 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve was much more ‘reserved’ than the Shiraz, he added. “You can taste the black fruit and oak, both well-blended. It also has a ripeness on the middle palate, and good structure. If a Cabernet Sauvignon doesn’t have structure, it’s really no good!”
Later at the evening’s dinner, hosted at the Ista Hotel, Chef Suprabhat produced an elegant yet unusual Indian meal to pair with the wines. Invitees sipped on the
Pink Elephant rosé from Portugal as an aperitif before sitting down to Teen Murgh Tikka/Khasta Makai Palak with the Steven Spurrier Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2010 from South Africa, an elegant aromatic young wine which expressed the best of its varietal. The Tawa Pomfret/Paneer Khurchan came with the local Grover Viognier Clairette 2009, while the main course of Tandoori Gosht in a bed of saffron Khichdi/Bharwan Gucchi was served with two interesting reds: One from the New World, the other, Old World.
These were the splendidly balanced Errazuriz Single Vineyard Carménère 2008 from Chile and the complex made-for-food Guigal Crozes-Hermitage 2006 from Rhône, France. Guests compared, contrasted and savoured the wines before heading on to the cheese and dessert. All the while, Steven’s anecdotes, stories and keen observation coupled with his exceptional palate kept everyone listening keenly.
A rare opportunity to taste wine with the best!