|On a rather warm Tuesday evening a select few invitees had the chance to experience the pairing of French Cordon bleu cuisine with the Indian wine – Zampa. Beckoning us from the entrance were the bold though artistically themed posters of their campaign tag line – “Unmask your soul”. Suneeta Kanga reports|
The trendy full bodied name, which means “The Tiger’s paw”, in Italian, and the eye-catching label design that appears to be a Mask made out of grape leaves tweaks my curiosity about this new entrant on the Indian wine scenario.
The courtyard of Four Season’s Hotel, Mumbai, was primped up for the occasion. A welcome drink of the Zampa Syrah Rosé 2008 delighted my palate with its youthful exuberance and aroma of ripe red berry fruits. I’m told that this delightful wine has been made in the Vallée de Vin vineyards which lie in the tranquil valley of Sanjegaon, Nasik.
The party is buzzing with conversation – mostly in French. The Alliance Francaise de Bombay along with the consul general of France strive to make this a charity event, proceeds of which will benefit children afflicted by AIDS. Vasundhara Vidalur sets the mood for this lovely November evening with her soft French songs and lilting music. The delicate tinkle of wine glasses and helpings of prawn cocktail add to the atmosphere.
The two French chefs from Cordon Bleu, Paris, who are here especially to prepare this very traditional French banquet are Chef Christian Faure – Mof, (winner in 2007 of the most skilled worker award), specialist in chocolate and sugar and Daniel Verati – chef and professor at the Cordon Bleu. The menu for tonight is lavish Burgundy fare.
The charming and gracious team from Zampa headed by Mr. Deepak Roy and Mr. Neeraj Deora keep me engaged in conversation while we dine. I learn that Zampa is made by two renowned wine experts, Australian wine maker Paul Bailey and viticulturist Simon Robertson. Major expansion plans are in the offing. The wines are currently available in Mumbai, Pune, Goa, Delhi, Gurgaon and Rajasthan. And in two months time wine connoisseurs can look forward to the uncorking of two sparkling wines – a chenin and a syrah.
If Vallée de Vin can do an encore to the Syrah Rosé from their misty terraced vineyards, all I can say is that I want to be there when it happens! Vallée de Vin has plans for wine tourism in India to capitalize on the growing interest in wine as a lifestyle product. It also has plans to launch wine bars to popularize wine drinking and educate consumers on wine etiquette.
For the present, waiters expertly slide through the dining area balancing platters laden with gastronomical promises. We are now served out first course – Duck terrine and cognac marinated foie gras with mango chutney. The accompanying Zampa Chenin Blanc 2008 is a perfect sensory match of delicate cuisine and wine.
For the main course, we partake of some exotic rabbit marinated in red wine sauce served in sheets of homemade pasta with flavours of onion and truffles. Roast lamb is served next and we enjoy it tremendously with the full bodied, throaty Zampa Syrah 2008. Evolved and well balanced, its captivating aroma of dark plum fruits and spicy red berry notes marry well with the meats.
I decide to help myself to some more of the Rosé for the dessert course which is a cosmic creation of roasted pear, pastry and truffle caramel with rich ice cream. Guests expresse their delight for this marvellous meal with a standing applause for the two Cordon Bleu Chefs and their three promising protégés. The evening is now officially over but the final offering is an array of fine chocolates by Fantasie.
I will recall this evening as one of conscious abandon to the perfect complement of flavours, textures and harmony in the food and wine served.