South African wines at Ubuntu, Andheri West, Mumbai


blog pix.jpgThe ambience and colours of South Africa came alive in suburban Mumbai at an evening out at the Indo-Afro restaurant, lounge and bar – Ubuntu. Our hosts, Neetu Sheth of Wine Rack, Ralph of Ralph Craven Wines and Geeta Jivan of Ubuntu welcomed us to a perfectly cured Sherry from Ralph Craven’s cellar which set the luscious tone and mood for the evening, writes Suneeta Kanga. Pictured right: Gita Jivan, Suneeta Kanga, Neethu Sheth and Ralph Craven

Some spirited (pun intended) activity followed with the playing of drums by the famed Drum Café from South Africa. Guests were encouraged to join into the African rhythm and strike a beat by giving them a Djembe at each table. Djembe are African drums and the name comes directly from the saying, “Anke dje, anke be”, which literally translates to “everyone gather together”. A lot of dancing and clapping followed and the evening was officially open to savour more flavours!
Our gastronomically delightful dinner started off with a Caesar salad to the accompaniment of a glass of Laborie Chardonnay 2006 from The Wine Rack. Barrel fermented with hints of citrus, candied fruit and butterscotch, the wine has a creamy aftertaste with a subtle crispness with the wood adding a toasty complexity. Laborie is a quaint winery situated in the beautiful town of Paarl, South Africa. As one of South Africa’s oldest wineries, opened in 1691, Laborie has a rich history and heritage.
The Wine Rack, which imports Labourie to India, has focused on smaller, quality-driven estates. All wines have been hand-picked to ensure they each have that special element to make them succeed in India’s growing market.
The well flavoured Soup with South African spices was served with Ralph Craven’s 2008 Sauvignon Blanc which was produced at his winery in Baramati. With a green yellow colour, the wine’s gooseberry aroma was delightfully typical with a hint of guava and dried fruits for complexity.
Ralph Craven is a wine connoisseur who loves to create and select his own exclusive wines. Having graduated in Hospitality Management from the Indian Institute of Hotel Management at Aurangabad (Taj Management School), he has studied wines extensively from the different wine producing regions of the world. Based on his experience, Ralph brings to us his exclusive wines through a winery from Baramati.
Post a perfect melon sorbet to clean our palates, the South African styled main course of risotto, barbecued chicken, and aubergine was served. We enjoyed the Laborie Pinotage 2006 with it.
I particularly enjoyed this outstanding, medium-bodied red wine with blackcurrant and smoky aromas accompanied by spice and vanilla notes on the palate. It is deliciously layered with very well integrated tannins and rich, dark, plummy fruit.
The dinner was rounded off with a fresh fruit dessert done in Cognac. We enjoyed a glass of Ralph Craven’s Port with it.
Geet Indo-Afro Restaurant, the brainchild of Pretoria restaurateur Gita Jivan, is in the heart of Mumbai’s film industry, Andheri West. The restaurant was created to give Indians a taste of South Africa and is made up of four sections: Ubuntu fine-dining restaurant, Zulu Terrace, Lappa Café and Marimba Bar and Lounge. (Ubuntu is the African counterpart of Om and Marimba, a musical instrument which adds a romantic quality to African music.)
The African-themed decor was brought in all the way from South Africa by Gita herself. The fine-dining menu is diverse and includes African dishes like pap with spinach or different types of gravy, African potjie stew, bobotie and bunny chows. Unfortunately, they couldn’t do game or exotic meats because of the rules of the country.
Nevertheless, all of the 60-odd guests seemed to have enjoyed this perfectly laid out, delightful evening.

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