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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.