The first wine event of 2006 started with a grand pop. Champagne style Franciacorta sparkling wine from their Lombardia stable, Montenisa Brut got the members and guests into perfect mood for a memorable evening ahead, an evening that saw passion in many forms and gender.
Alessia Antinori, the youngest daughter of Marchese Piero Antinori, the Tuscan wine king who is the 25th generation wine producer, was present to talk passionately about her wines, only nine of which were served at the dinner. Sanjay Menon of Sansula, who has been importing these wines for years was even more passionate in talking about them than usual, perhaps because his wife and business partner Sonali was also around , making her rare appearance at such events.
The man who is always very passionate about the food, wine, and service at his hotel, Roger Lienhard, General Manager of Hyatt Regency, had personally overseen all the arrangements including paring of each dish with wine, not an easy task considering the wide variety. His right hand man, Prasanjit Singh (EAM) who is also just as hard working and a stickler for details was present in all four directions throughout the evening. He had earlier nosed into minute details like the leather covered Menu describing all the wines, the Tuscan and Antinori map; placement of guests to glasses and right temperature of wines served.
Both Sanjay and Alessia exhorted the guests to stay away from too much of the delicious bubbly at the poolside assemblage area. They knew that though it was crisp, fresh, tangy and a temptress, many more serious wines were around the corner, waiting to seduce them. Even the entry level Bianco and Santa Cristina Rosso served with the first two course at La Piazza were very respectable wines. As Alessia put it, ‘My father's philosophy is to maintain highest quality at all levels and it shows in our complete range including these two daily drinking wines'.
Italian food and wine go so well with each other that matching them is not the most difficult task. Tortellini with Montepulciano and Chianti Classico were both perfect matches, Classico being surprisingly, fuller bodied and complex, perhaps because of having spent more time with the oak barrel, it being a reserva.
Sorbet was meant to clean the palate. But it was also a welcome short break from the delicious calories. Tignanello and Brunello are both wines to savour and not write about, I feel - the former being the first Super Tuscan (a term coined by the Americans specially for this wine 30 years ago, and the latter being the top quality Sangiovese grape in Montalcino, known as Brunello. Generally, people preferred Brunello as it was softer and more ready to drink. Tignanello when fully mature will be complex and long- simply awesome wine.
Muffato is a dessert wine that would be perfect even as a dolce but with the perfect-ten soufflé` it was simply paradiso for our culinary senses.
Hyatt Regency Hotel takes the wine dinners very seriously and is implicitly establishing its supremacy in this area. Most of our members and other guests, all of whom ate and drank passionately , were very generous with their words of praise for the evening eccelente. In fact, some went to the extent of declaring that this was the best of eighty-one events organized by Delhi Wine Club since its inception, West View being the close second. What's my view? Tell me who the most beautiful woman in the world is- Ash or Sush . Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and so it is with the person enjoying that glass of wine with great food
I can only hope that the astounding Alessia comes back soon with some more wines from the portfolio, and Hyatt agrees to host another event like this with the Club. Many members could not be a part of this flight of fantasy as only a limited number could be accommodated. They also equally deserve the best!
January 23, 2006
**For a related article on Antinori by Sourish Bhattacharyya , Click Here