Since our regular wine tasting sessions aren’t possible at present, find out what some members of the SI Tasting Panel have been drinking during the lockdown
Jug and Bunny Suraiya
One of the wines we enjoyed very much during the lockdown period is 2018 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC It’s important to remember that this is from Italy’s Abruzzo region, between the Adriatic Sea and the Appennine Mountains, where Montepulciano is the signature grape and not from Montepulciano in Tuscany. It has a good colour and magnificent ‘legs’ in the glass – the streaks that trickle down the side of a glass caused by alcohol in the wine. The nose has notes of black cherry. A couple of notches above ‘easy-drinking’, this is a wine to savour by itself or as part of a meal. A pricey wine at Rs 1,800 a bottle from Lake Forest Wines in Gurgaon, it probably sells for around €5 in an Italian supermarket!
Isabelle Beau De Lomenie
In early February I travelled from Kota Kinabalu (where I live now) to Barsac our home base in France. Unfortunately, Mr. Corona, the troublemaker decided that I should not return to Kota Kinabalu but stay in Barsac with my son, locked down at home until further notice. I admit that there are many worse places to be locked down and being in the countryside, in the middle of the vineyards of Sauternes Barsac is a privilege. So here I am after two months of enjoying beautiful days in complete harmony with nature taking advantage of lots of free time for cooking and wine pairing. What better time than now to try some different wines than the typical Bordeaux that we normally drink at home. So I decided to open a bottle, which was a gift from a good friend and one of the first from his newly re-launched vineyard in Saint Didier de Parnac in Cahors. The vineyard is co-owned by Mark Noyer Maingard, Santiago Fernandez Madero, and Hervé and Diane Joyaux who are also the winemakers. Built on the limestone headland which dates from the Jurassic period, the Prieuré de Cénac dominates both the valley and hills of the Cahors. The land rises to nearly 300 metres above sea level with calcareous soil covered with clay that is rich in iron and manganese. It benefits from Mediterranean and continental influences with moderate rainfall.
Prieuré De Cénac La Vierge – Cahors A full-bodied 100% Malbec, the wine has soft, supple tannins and complex flavours of spices, dark-berried fruit and white peach with great length on the finish. What to pair it with? Truffle risotto, lamb chops with a mint sauce or duck breast with red berries and for dessert, roasted figs in a sweet red wine sauce.
During lockdown times I would choose a German riesling with its fruity and complex character such as the 2016 Bex Riesling, Nahe available at Rs 2,000 in Delhi. Now that summer is really and truly here, a dry, refreshing sauvignon blanc from New Zealand like the Ward Valley ‘Triple Block ’, Marlborough at Rs 2,400-Rs 3,000 in Delhi can be a good option.
Lightweight and wonderfully refreshing, the 2017 Francois Labet ‘Il de Beaute’ Pinot Noir is an under the radar Pinot Noir from Corsica with almost non-existent tannins. The acidity that comes off as juicy is bright rather than sharp. An irresistible light red that’s even better when chilled, this wine is a vibrant, versatile, Mediterranean ‘Burgundy’ with lots of personality. A pioneer of organic viticulture, Francois Labet has one of the largest vineyards in the Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru. The background story is that Labet, who has a holiday home in Corsica, realised there was a possibility that Pinot Noir could work in some of the more elevated sites in the island’s rocky, high-altitude terroir. So, when the opportunity arose to work with a local vigneron, he didn’t hesitate. A red Burgundy with this kind of finesse, joyful drinkability, and genuine complexity would be unheard of at this price. I can’t help but imagine what it would be if it had a Burgundy appellation on the label instead of Corsica. Maharashtra MRP Rs 3,099. Duty-Free Rs 1,861. Importer – Sonarys.
I’ve been reaching into the bottom shelf of my (modest) collection and drinking some good drops. Most of them have been picked from wineries and are in pristine condition. I’ve greatly enjoyed the 2014 Schloss Gobelsbuger Ried Grub Reserve for instance, a Gruner Veltliner from Kamptal, Austria. Ried is a basin between two beautiful sites and a single vineyard cru at a slightly higher position than the two better-known sites of the house, Lamm and Grub. During the last glacial period – 20,000 years ago – thanks to its elevation, mammoth reindeer hunters used it as a settling place. Although the soil is mostly loess, bones from the stone age can be found here too. The wine needed some time to awaken from its long slumber and had an intimidating front nose, which gradually opened to minerality, oiliness, white pepper, and then to a faint bouquet of ripe, white fruits and lemony acidity. It had a matured grip and layers that slowly unfolded. The long trail of mouth-watering acidity, crusty mouthfeel, and touches of flinty minerality made a delectable treat each time it left the palate. I’m not sure if it would ever make it to India, but if it did, it would cost close to Rs 10,000 in Delhi retail.
Reva K Singh
At this time of year, I tend to reach for a rosé and 2017 Château De La Galinière Côte de Provence Rosé is the one that we drank the other night from my fast depleting cellar. A blend of Grenache, Cinsault, and Syrah, Château de La Galinière is a well-balanced organic rosé. I must have picked this one up on one of my travels. A beautiful salmon pink, with a delicate, fruity palate and crisp dry finish, it was a hit at the family dinner table. First planted to vines in the early 6th century, the Côtes de Provence vineyards are considered one of the most natural in France, thanks to the drying action of the Mistral. The château went organic from the 2014 harvest.
Château de La Galinière is situated east from Aix-en-Provence, in the village of Châteauneuf-le-Rouge on the Cengle plateau at the foot of Mont Sainte-Victoire. With characteristic red soil, the vineyards are fully trellised to capture maximum sunlight and protect the vines against the Mistral.