Family bonding over Cotes Du Rhone Blanc Reserve

Une réunion de famille

Empty nesters are what parents become once their children grow up and leave home to carve out a niche for themselves, often on a work assignment in a different city. Being one of the ilk we were delighted when our son joined us at home for a family reunion – une reunion de famille as the French would call it.

Solar Eclipse Day

Today was a partial solar eclipse day and the better part of evening was spent inside where our familial conversation veered around a variety of topics (including a Goa trip in winters), finally settling down for the evening plan for a fine wine and dine at Delhi.

The Qube

The Qube, our choice for the evening, is a dining restaurant at The Leela Palace New Delhi, Having pleasant memories of being there earlier, we homed on it today too. It was full upto capacity by the time we reached and had a lively vibe about it. A glance through the wine list and the food menu indicated that it would be a good culinary experience tonight.

The Wine

After a brief deliberation on the various choices available, we selected the Famille Perrin Cotes Du Rhone Blanc Reserve as our wine for the evening. It comes from the house of Famille Perrin which is a leading wine producer in southern Rhone and a member of the prestigious Primum Familiae Vini – an international association of some of the world’s finest wine producing families.

A remarkably fresh and deep wine, with typical Rhône characteristics, great with Mediterranean food

A blend of four signature southern grape varietals – Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Rousanne and Viognier, this Blanc reserve ticked all the right boxes to appeal favourably to our tropical palates. Whereas the strong Grenache provided the structural backbone to the wine at same time Viognier brought in the freshness to be complemented perfectly by the floral aromatics of Marsanne and Rousanne.

“A Grand Vin is emotion and civilisation, a myth that endures beyond time” – Famille Perrin credo brilliantly justified by this Blanc reserve

Buzz On White Wine & Tannins

Tannin in wine adds both bitterness and astringency, as well as complexity. It comes from the skin of the grapes and gives a feel of what our mouth experiences on a sip of black tea without milk. But tannins are most commonly found in red wine (and absent in white wine). However now many winemakers are using partial skin contact to create whites with firmer tannin structures and greater complexity with grapes like Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Roussanne etc. This brings more gravitas to the wine without sacrificing freshness. We distinctly noticed this effect in the reserve Blanc on our table. If true then it also explains how, although being a white wine, it paired somewhat reasonably with the lamb chops too. However this does call for bit of more investigation.

Food Pairing

The staring pairing was to try out the wine with the baked bread starters and soup sticks and it was a fine match.

Wine going well with starters

Next was to pair the wine with cheesy pepperoni pizza, which being the text book pairing with a white wine, came off perfectly.

White wine with pizza : the text book perfect pairing

Life Tastes Better After A Slice Of Cheesecake

Well the above caption by author Jason Shaw truly rang true while rounding off our family wine dinner on a sweet cheesy note with a slice of mango cheese cake.

A loaded mango flavour cheesecake

13.5 % Alcohol Did You Say !!

The realisation dawned a bit late. The wine had a punch. Slight dizziness prompted me to check the alcohol content on the label of the bottle which to my surprise read as 13.5 % – quite high for a white wine, but then Grenache is a strong grape varietal and moreover no one was complaining, rather it helped us come back to the topic from where we started – the Goa trip in winters..maybe some more white wine awaits us on the azure shores of Goan beaches this XMas. Cheers.


Indian Theatre, German Riesling and a rainy evening

The rainy in spell came unannounced. A week into October, the weather had been nippy already hinting at an early arrival of winters. It was pouring heavily by the time we reached the LTG Auditorium at heart of New Delhi. The watch showed half past three in afternoon.

Hindi adaptation of the play Julius Caesar

Still half an hour to go for start of Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar we decided to stay in the car itself so as not to get drenched. The bard’s renowned play started soon after and despite rains and bad city traffic it was a full house. The ensemble of the actors did full justice in delivering a power packed performance which peaked with scene where a dying Caesar addressing his life long friend and confidante, said – Et Tu Brute.

Et tu brute – says Caesar to Brutus, feeling betrayed by him. Picture – Wikipedia.

Khan Market is an upscale marketplace in New Delhi and one where we headed after thoroughly enjoying the theatre. It was still raining as we searched our way to and reached the newly opened Italian restaurant named Tere Vita. It had a distinct pink interiors interspersed with chic posters and mirrors.

Tere Vita – Instagram-able trattoria and bar at Khan market, New Delhi

A quick browse through the giant menu (again pink) lead to our selecting a German Riesling for the evening. Though the bottle had a somewhat un-wine like name – Black Tower, which to me sounded more like a strong beer, but it did tick all the right oenological boxes on sampling and so we ordered it.

Riesling is, without question, Germany’s favorite grape. Widely planted it is the superstar of the white wine world. The grape originated in the Rhine region of Germany, and the best of them are said to grow along the banks of the Mosel River on the beautiful steep, south facing hills.

Black Tower, the wine of the evening however comes from the Pfalz wine region of Germany. It is produced by house of Reh Kendermann which is making German wines popular all over the wine drinking world.

Pfalz wine region in Germany

Being very chilled when served, the Riesling appeared a tad tight and very citrus at the start but it opened up soon in the glass thereby revealing an aromatic nose and prominent flavour of tropical fruits which supported by a refreshing acidity soon screamed (or rather we did) for some warm cheesy food to pair with. Our first dish was the Porcini pasta which is made from the eponymous porcini mushrooms which are a famous and delicious addition in Italian cuisine.

The name porcini actually means “piglets” in Italian. For the French they are cèpe, for the Germans steinpilz meaning stone mushroom and the English also call them cep or ‘penny buns’

Porcini pasta – perfect pair with the crisp Riesling

Next we ordered Fettuccine pasta which again complimented the wine perfectly. In Italian, fettuccine means “little ribbons” and the pasta does indeed look like a pile of ribbons on the plate. Traditional fettuccine pasta comes in thick ribbons which are robust enough to hold light to medium sauces, especially tomato and cream sauces.

The perfect day – night, theatre – wine outing was rounded off the a scoop each of gelato in cone the sweetness of which will keep alive the memories of a beautiful day.


Mauro Sebaste Winery – first zoom webinar by Delhi Wine Club

The first zoom webinar by Delhi Wine Club was conducted on 24 May 2021 wherein the members of the club got a chance to interact with the owners of one of fine wine houses in Piedmont region of north Italy – the Mauro Sebaste Winery.

The webinar was moderated by Sourish Bhattacharyya, a renowned Delhi based journalist. Sourish, who is also an active promoter of wine culture and tourism in India, opened the session by inviting Cav Subhash Arora to share his views on the theme of the webinar, which was to discuss the Alba wine region with a specific reference to the Mauro Sebaste Winery.

Another First

Subhash started by reminiscing as to how the very first wine dinner by Delhi Wine Club was with wines from Alba. That was in 2002 and now after so many years the first zoom webinar of the club is also on the theme of wines from Alba. The world of wines always has its pleasant coincidences or maybe this was destined to be so.

Alba Wine Region

Alba – gateway to wines of Langhe. Photo Courtsey iStock.

Alba is a small picturesque town in the Piedmont area of northern Italy, in the province of Cuneo. Considered the capital of the hilly area of Langhe, Alba is famous for its white truffle, quality wines, and the Ferrero Rocher Chocolate Company. As Subhash brought out, Alba is also called as the gateway to the wine areas of Langhe which has hundred of wineries producing an array of dynamic wines.

Mauro Sebaste Winery

Speaking from Alba, Sylla Sebaste, the scion of the Mauro Sebaste winery, brought out as to how the passion of her father Mauro Sebaste lead to the birth of their wine house. After the passing away of his mother Sylla – a famous winemaker woman and a true Langhe wine expert, Mauro left the family business and alongwith his better half Theresa, started the winery with a single objective – that of producing quality wines.

Mauro Sebaste and his daughter Sylla (Photo courtesy Tom Hyland)

Nowadays, Mauro manages thirty hectares of vineyards with absolute devotion and care in order to produce wines of uncompromising quality. He produces an average of 120,000 bottles of wines each year which are exported all over the world. Now the next generation has also joined the family business – Sylla working in accounts department and Angelica involved in design/painting of the labels.

Mr Mauro and the Barolo Boys

Barolo Boys refer to a group of winemaker friends who brought in a revolution in the Langhe wine making techniques in 1980s which brought fame to the Barolo wine and prosperity to the Lange wine region.

Barolo Boys story was made into a movie

Asked whether Mr Mauro identifies himself with the philosophy of Barolo boys, the winery team said yes he does but it’s also superimposed with layers of his own convictions. As for example Mauro still prefers the age old technique of maturing the Barolo wines in large sized barriques which enable minute and slow oxidation of the wine as opposed to the philosophy of the Barolo boys of using smaller new world oak barrels.

The Wines

Mauro Sebaste Winery produces a wide array of wines and their cache includes the prominent 3 Bs of Langhe – Barolo, Barbaresco and Barbera. Besides these they also make Dolcetto and amongst white wines, Roero and Gavi wines.

Many of these wines, especially the Barolo are made by vinifying wines from different parcels of vineyards separately and then blending these judiciously to make the final product. Although such process requires more efforts in the winery but it adds a lot of quality and structure to the wines.

The wine house is soon to launch an excellent sparkling wine too, with a potential to match the popularity of Prosecco – the quintessential Italian sparkling wine.

Compatability of wines with Indian food

Wine gatherings by Delhi Wine Club always have a twin focus – that of enjoying the wines being served as also to learn about their technical aspects. Though the webinar mode precluded actual tasting of the wines however true to their spirit of learning, the participants keenly discussed the aspect of pairing of these wines with Indian food.

Dal Makhni – a good pair with Barbera wine

Amongst all wines being made by the winery, it was felt by the majority of members that Barbera is the one which holds maximum potential of a perfect pairing with Indian food. Sourish exemplified this further by highlighting the excellent matching of Barbera with the Indian Dal Makhni (Dal Makhni is an Indian dish made with pulses).

Shraddha Dahiwal, a wine enthusiast from Pune, India who is presently undergoing an internship with the Mauro Sebaste Winery, was tasked by the club members to explain more about this wonderful pairing to the wine makers.

What shall it be then – Barbera d’Alba or Barbera d’Asti ?

Mauro’s winery produces both of the Barbera wines – Barbera d’Alba and Barbera d’Asti which take their names after the nearby towns of Alba and Asti. So the natural question posed to the forum was – what are the differences between the two?

Barbera d’Alba

The winery team explained as to how Alba tends to ripen early with intense floral characteristics, and smooth tannins whereas Asti is bright, with more red fruit flavours and aggressive tannins. As such Asti needs an additional year of the ageing process as compared to Alba.

Sylla went ahead to show everyone the soil samples of both places collected in a glass jar, with Alba soil having more clay and Asti with more Sandy characteristics mixed even with ancient sea shells and fossil material. All this provided a good understanding of the soil types existing in Alba and Asti.

Barbera d’Asti

And as to which is better is best summarised in the words of Luca Currado Vietti – “Alba is an elegant woman with finesse that you can dance with, Asti is a determinated, powerful, intense – a woman you gotta watch out for”..

So like this, the maiden webinar of Delhi Wine Club progressed and unfolded a vast cache of information about Alba region and its wines. The members of DWC ever alert, were ready with their questions too. These were addressed satisfactorily by the winery team which commendably came very well prepared with a host of information, wine maps and soil samples.

The webinar which was interspersed with wine knowledge, fun, humour and some wine goodies promised as prizes, ended on a positive note with hope by all to see the wines of Mauro Sebaste Winery in Indian markets soon.

A Club night with Pinotage

A weekend which comes after some continuously hectic work days is always much welcomed. And so the last Saturday provided a perfect opportunity to rewind at the club with some wine. Amongst the rather limited choices available, I selected a Pinotage from Stellenbosch wine region of South Africa.

History of South African Wine

The first wine in South Africa was produced at a settlement by The Dutch East India Company (source : wikiwand)

Vines were first planted in South Africa by Dutch settlers in the 1650s, although wine production did not really begin to take off until French Huguenots arrived with viticultural skills and knowledge in the 1680s. Stellenbosch is also an historic as a wine-producing region of South Africa, the first vineyards having been planted there in the 1690s.

Stellenbosch wine region (image – Trip Advisor)

Martin and Mathilde Malherbe

Martin and Mathilde Malherbe are the owners of Pelican Soul, a boutique winery located in the Stellenbosch region of South Africa. The couple purchased the property in 2015 and have since transformed it into a thriving wine estate. Martin, a former investment banker, and Mathilde, a former marketing executive, both having a passion for wine left their corporate jobs to pursue their dream of owning a winery and producing high-quality wines that reflect the unique terroir of their vineyards.

Pelican Soul use only organic and biodynamic viticulture

Pelican Soul specializes in producing small-batch, premium wines that are made using traditional, sustainable winemaking practiced and is committed to ensure that their vineyards and winery are as environmentally friendly as possible. (Here I must mention that I sourced all the information about the winery and the owners only from the ChatGPT).

A word about Pinotage

Pinotage is a signature South African grape variety that was first cultivated in 1925. It is a hybrid of Pinot Noir and Cinsault, and is known for its bold, full-bodied flavor profile with notes of dark fruit, spice, and smoke. Interestingly, Pinotage was initially met with some skepticism in the wine world, but it has since become a beloved variety in South Africa and beyond.

Club night and the birthday cake

It was a musical evening and the hall was almost fully occupied with the guests by the time we arrived. The singer duo rendered beautiful duets from Indian cinema of 1960s to 80s, the melody of which were accentuated by sips of the fruity Pinotage. And to literally add a cherry to the proverbial cake, it also happened to be the birthday of a family friend who brought along a Black Forest cake which we relished (which I also experimented to pair with the wine, in true spirit of a wine enthusiast. The Pinotage did pair well).

The Pinotage paired nicely with the cake

It certainly turned out to be a pleasant and relaxing evening with family and friends over some melodious songs and wine. Cheers !!

Domenico Clerico

One of the renegade band of winemakers known as the “Barolo Boys,” Domenico Clerico started his career as a progressive winemaker, breaking from traditional Barolo protocol to make terroir-driven, long aging yet approachable Barolo wines. Robert Parker Wine Advocate reviews this wine as…”the 2007 Barolo Ciabot Mentin is one of the greatest wines I have ever tasted. Deep, sensual layers of fruit flow from the glass as this full-throttle, intense Barolo reveals its profound, breathtaking personality”. It needed an hour of decanting to open up.

Situated in Monforte d’Alba, right in the heart of Barolo, the small Domenico Clerico estate possesses holdings in some of the region’s most esteemed crus, including Ginestra, Pajanà, and Mosconi. When Domenico took control of his father’s eleven-acre estate in 1976 (since expanded as Clerico bought new vineyards), the estate didn’t make wine; it only grew the grapes, selling to the local consorzio or at the farmer’s market. Domenico had the vision to estate-bottle his own wines, and the wine world has never been the same.

Pairing Homemade fettuccine made with lamb in ragu sauce (and some red wine). Paired perfectly with Domenico Mentin Barolo wine from Piedmonte, Italy.

Though often positioned in Piemonte’s modernist school, Domenico’s style moved more toward traditional winemaking in the latter half of his career. Like many modernists, Clerico started with traditional Slavonian oak casks, but by 1990, he was aging all of his wines in barriques. As much as Clerico’s use of barriques might place him soundly in the modernist camp, his deep Langhe roots make this classification complicated. At the core of Clerico’s winemaking philosophy sits his belief that the quality of the vines is the sole factor determining a wine’s potential. Clerico always regarded production techniques as mere tools of the trade, and appropriately enough, he championed the virtues of terroir by focusing on single-vineyard bottlings.

There’s no better testament to Domenico Clerico’s commitment to viticulture than the sign on his cellar door:”Domenico Clerico, Viticoltore,” or Domenico Clerico, Vine-grower. This sign as much a testament to Domenico’s ancestry as it is to his humility, and it serves as a touchstone for the beauty of the wines that bear the Domenico Clerico name. These days, the Clerico estate is helmed by his wife, Giuliana, and his protégé, Oscar Arrivabene, a talented, trained enologist. Together, Giuliana and Oscar ensure the legacy of Domenico’s vision, heritage, modesty, and painstaking winemaking.