Dinner with Super Tuscans and a Diva

L-R: Senior Communication Manager, Deepica Sarma, General Manager Anupam Dasgupta, Madhulika Bhattacharya of La Cave, the author and Harish Acharekar of Brindco

Recently, The Oberoi, Mumbai organised a Super Tuscan evening for wine connoisseurs at their highly awarded Italian restaurant, Vetro, writes Suneeta Sodhi Kanga, who attended the exclusive dinner on behalf of Sommelier India

Curated by the highly talented resident chef, Francesco Francavilla and co-hosted by Madhulika Bhattacharya Dhall, also known as Madame La Cave, we allowed ourselves to be dictated by the suggestions of the Chef and Sommelier, Harish Acharekar of Brindco.

Madhulika who was looking resplendent in an elegant black evening gown is the owner of La Cave Fine Wine & Spirits boutique in Delhi that houses over a 100 wine labels in addition to other fine spirits. She is also the wife of Aman Dhall, who heads Brindco Sales Pvt Ltd – the largest importer of branded spirits in the country with over 300 labels of wine under its portfolio and a pan-India distribution.

Having worked at one of Italy’s few three-Michelin star restaurants, La Pergola and served as the personal chef to Hollywood actor Bruce Willis, Chef Francesco Francavilla now brings his enormous expertise and the magic of his craft to Vetro’s kitchen.

Harish Acharekar, Sommelier at Brindco, is the grand prize winner of the Indian Sommelier Championship 2015. Harish holds an advance certificate from Wine & Spirit Education Trust, London, and conducts in-house training and guest tasting experiences for the Brindco wine portfolio.

Anupam Dasgupta, the suave General Manager of The Oberoi, Mumbai, explained to us that Vetro, means “glass” in Italian. The restaurant is adorned with a modern glass panel installation that lends a bespoke ambience to the venue. It features the wine library: Enoteca, home to over 1,200 different labels of the world’s best wines. We started the evening with a glass of the ubiquitous Ti Amo Prosecco, a non-vintage Brut. Ti Amo means, “I love you” in Italian. It is dry and fresh on the palate with nice fruity flavors.

Vetro flows through three sections; a chic lounge furnished with L-shaped leather sofas, where guests can enjoy a glass of wine before dinner, an informal dining space with leather sofa seating, and a formal area set with intimate tables, which is where we headed for dinner.

With a menu that wooed our taste buds we started with an amuse-bouche of roasted figs and Bouygette, a soft handmade cheese made from raw goat milk.

A line-up of Super Tuscan wines that were tasted at the dinner

Delicious Panko-fried eggs served with Roman artichokes came next, and we were introduced to our first Super Tuscan, the 2013 Le Volte Tenuta dell’Ornellaia’ Toscana IGT.

Tuscany is in the middle of Italy, which is in the middle of the Mediterranean, which is in the middle of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world. And from the middle of Tuscany, Madam La Cave brought to us these fabulous Super Tuscans.

The Guanciale and fig risotto was excellent. An Italian cured pork cheek, Guanciale tastes similar to bacon. What really did wonders to the dish were the lavish shavings of fresh white Alba truffles.

By now we were primed for a flawless evening. The very pretty Deepica Sarma, who is in charge of Communications at the Oberoi was regaling us with stories, Madhulika was mingling with the other guests at Vetro, the conversation was bubbling over and the piped orchestral music was a frothy backdrop to a gastronomic treat the likes of which Rome would envy.

Question: What is better than pairing a Super Tuscan with a sumptuous Italian risotto?
Answer:  Pairing Two!

Super Tuscan wines – Gaja Ca’Marcanda Promis 2013, IGT and the 2012 Tenuta San Guido ‘Guidalberto’ IGT

We were absolutely delighted when Harish poured us the Gaja Ca’Marcanda Promis 2013, IGT and the 2012 Tenuta San Guido ‘Guidalberto’ IGT to pair with this course and the abundance continued with the next course of Lamb loin Tagliata as well. We were delighted to pair the succulent red meat with the 2012 Marchesi de Frescobaldi Castello di Nipozzano ‘Mormoreto’ Toscana IGT and the 2013 Luce della Vite ‘Luce’ Toscana IGT. Again it was a combo that rocked me to the roots. The fullness of the meat was complemented perfectly by the richness of these delicious wines.

Orchestrating the grand finale was an opulent dessert of Hazelnut and chocolate crostata with caramelized orange ice cream. A delectable and fitting end to a marvelous meal.

Martin Luther once said, “Beer is made by men, wine by God.” I couldn’t agree more. But there is heavenly wine …. And then there are Super Tuscans! They are among the most enthralling wines in Italy and to understand these Super Tuscans better I asked Sommelier Harish Acharekar for some inputs.

S.K. How popular are Super Tuscans in India?

Harish: At Brindco we believes Super Tuscans offer overall value to consumers like no other country or region. Our portfolio includes Iconic ST like Sassicaia, Ornellaia, Mormoreto, Summus, Luce & Magari. While I was the Hotel Sommelier at Four Seasons Mumbai, we had maximum Italian selections with special concentration on Super Tuscans. They are the favourites of consumers and connoisseurs alike.

 S.K. What are the best food pairings with these wines?

Harish: Super Tuscans are very robust and intense and hence work well with rich meat preparations like  the Lamb Loin Tagliata or creamy dishes like the Guanciale and Fig Risotto

S.K. Which of the wines we tasted is your favourite wine and why?

Harish: My all-time favourite is Guidalberto IGT Tenuta San Guido the second wine of Sassicaia because the first ever wine promotion I did was with this wine. Guidalberto was introduced by Nicolo Incisa and family as they wanted to challenge themselves with a grape they had never used before – Merlot. This was my inspiration to run a successful wine promotion.

S.K. Some quick etiquette tips to keep in mind while drinking and serving these lovely wines?

Harish: I would recommend to drink these wines at around 15-18 degrees C. The best time to open a bottle of Super Tuscan is with the ageing from 8 – 15 + years, well decanted for at least 30-60 minutes before drinking ensuring no sediments pass through the bottle.

S.K. Please share some fun facts and trivia for the below mentioned wines for our readers:

Harish: While reading, I came across that Super Tuscans are labelled as brand names as they commonly cannot list grapes or specific appellation Many of these names have interesting translations. Like –

  • Sassicaia – place of stones
  • Ornellaia – place of ash trees
  • Ca’ Marcanda – The House Of Endless Negotiations
  • Mormoreto  -  ‘murmur’ sound of that wind

Gaja ‘Promis’ Merlot, Syrah & Sangiovese IGT Ca’Marcanda, 2013: The proprietary name promis (pronounced proh-meess) was created by the Gaja family to denote commitment, expectation, fulfillment, and hope. The promise of quality and the reward of diligence and excellence.
Guidalberto IGT Tenuta San Guido,  2012: Guidalberto is a second wine from the producers of the legendary Sassicaia first produced in the year 2000.

Luce’ IGT Toscana Luce Della Vite, 2013: Luce is the result of a project launched in the early 1990s, the fruit of a dream of two leaders in the history of wine, Vittorio Frescobaldi and Robert Mondavi. Their common goal was to unite together their individual passionate commitments and their own personal traditions, in order to offer the world a truly exceptional, utterly different wine, grown in the heart of Montalcino. Their sons, Lamberto and Tim, at that time both young winemakers, were the ones who brought into reality their fathers’ vision, uniting together in a magisterial blend, Sangiovese and Merlot, a wine that was given the name Luce, which means ‘Light’ as tribute to an element essential for the flourishing of every new being. A wine so distinctive deserved a similarly distinctive logo, a radiant sun with twelve flames, now graces Luce’s bottle, making Luce instantly recognisable even before it is opened.

Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi ‘Mormoreto’ Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot & Cabernet Franc IGT Castello di Nipozzano,  2012: A very particular cool wind caresses a small enclave of the Nipozzano estate, with south exposure, ideal soils and perfect altitude, between 250 and 300 meters. These outstanding natural conditions convinced the Frescobaldis to designate this enclave to the Mormoreto vineyard and its name was inspired by the sound of that wind that blowing along the vines is very like a “murmur”.

The wines listed above are solely distributed by Brindco Sales Pvt Ltd in India; price on request.