Chilling out with Chileans (# 12/164)
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Chilling out with Chileans (# 12/164)

A scintillating evening at the Hyatt was the venue for the members of the Delhi Wine Club and their guests to interact with the Ambassador Designate and other Chilean guests  over Chilean wines and great food at their 164th event since the club formation.

Whilst tying up the finer details of the August Wine Club dinner in a mail to members on the 14th of August, our club president Subhash Arora mentioned a tentative date for a Chilean wine dinner at the Hyatt on the 16th of Sept (#12/164) with the possibility of the Chilean Ambassador -designate attending.

Believe it or not, without mentioning the cost, menu or the wine list, Subhash had to mail out post a “SOLD OUT” notice within 48 hours and had an unenviable time during the past month politely refusing fresh requests – the response not only indicative of the positive memories that members carry over from previous wine dinners at the Hyatt but also reflective of their confidence levels in blindly booking another one with this staunch supporter of the Delhi Wine Club organising the event.

Pre- dinner aperitif and snacks were served at the Polo Bar – a very lively yet comfortable watering hole – a place most of us tend to miss out on in our visits to the hotel to dine.  The Anakena Rose 2008 was chosen to accompany the pass around snacks which included empanadas from Chile, forked out at the request of Subhash to add a Chilean specialty. The executive chef had an urgent telecom with his counter-part at the Santiago Grand Hyatt and taken the recipe. The Cabernet Sauvignon based Rose was a well balanced pleasant crisp wine and was well received by the gathering –so well in fact, that stocks of the Rose barely lasted us thru Subhash’s speech welcoming the  Ambassador-designate of Chile, H.E. Cristian Barros Melet .

As we trooped across the lobby for dinner, I dwelt on one of the pass around snacks which in retrospect really set the quality bar for the rest of the evening- the prawns in orange salsa and nestled individually on a golgappa shell –highly innovative and one of the few flashes of fusion in what is generally otherwise a very traditional approach to a cuisine that the hotel usually takes.

 

The Hyatt- well tuned to the needs of a wine club dinner, had allocated us an exclusive dining room at the Senate Room– a sensible move as it enabled Subhash to dig into his inexhaustible knowledge bank on wines, get on the mike and share some nuggets about the Chilean wines at hand without disturbing other diners as would have probably been the case had the venue been in a restaurant.

Whilst the waiters got busy with getting the wine service under way, it was impossible not to marvel at the simplicity of the impressive table set up. Three rounded rose displays surrounded by  a ring of glassware for the evening was incorporated into the central rose display on each table thereby reducing wine waiter movement at your elbows to just pouring the wine and removing empties. As Shaji Paul, the Asst Director F&B put it , “the idea was to enable the guest to concentrate on the wine and food and yet have the glassware for 7 wines unobtrusively at hand”.

Montes were the first of the 4 Chilean wineries lined up for the evening and whilst we nibbled on some of the best sour-dough bread I have had in Delhi, their Montes Alpha Chardonnay 2005 and Montes Alpha Merlot 2007 was served. A Merlot you may ask with an appetizer of salmon? Well that was the tweak that Subhash introduced into the wine pairing in his belief that whilst there is a custom to pair a white wine with white flesh, wine drinking is also a very personal thing, so experiment and you just might like what you try.

And a pretty good tweak too as the Merlot, being light with a well rounded palate, went equally well with the succulent salmon as it did with the vegetarian selection of a delectable goat cheese mousse –yes I must confess to trying and finishing both selections!! The Chardonnay was too oaky and overpowered the inherent fruitiness of this varietal.

The next wine, the Anakena Carmenere 2007 from the Rapel valley region of Chile was an eye opener. A wine varietal not commonly seen in India, this 100% Carmenere was spicy with a more than a hint of pepper and counterbalanced the blander leek and potato soup. The other pairing with the soup was the complex Errazuriz Max Reserva 2006 , a Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc blend  yielding a medium to full bodied wine with a firm structure.

To go with the main course of slow cooked Australian lamb leg, we had three wines, the first of which was the well known Concha Y Toro Casillero del Diablo Merlot 2008. This is an elegant wine with plummy nuances, full palate and a good balance of the fruit and the tannins. The second was the Errazuriz Don Maximillano 2005 , a largely Cabernet Sauvignon based blend where the big bold tannins were tempered by the presence of Shiraz, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc-well deserving of a 94 point rating by Robert Parker.

I was past the main course by the time the Montes Alpha M 2003 was served, so I was able to savour the best wine of the evening on its own before the dessert of chocolate parfait and peach ice cream came around. The Alpha M is truly an excellent wine –rich, balanced and intense –a serious drinkers wine indicated by its $60+ price and 94 point rating by the Wine Spectator.

And so another great evening at the Hyatt with top wines and artistically presented food came to a very reluctant end but not before Chef Dirk Holscher, the new Executive Chef and his team received an enthusiastic round of applause from all present –it’s good to know that the Hyatt’s kitchens are in safe hands. All the Chefs labour behind the scenes would have come to a naught but for the smooth wine and table service upfront, professionally masterminded by Kumar Shobhan, Asst Director F&B.

The Hyatt easily comes out tops in conceptualizing and executing a pre-plated multi course sit down dinner for 60 with accompanying wines. Our thanks to them for their unstinting support of the Delhi Wine Club over the years and we look forward to many more such great evenings in the future too. And to those members who couldn’t be accommodated, make sure you book early next time!!

Arun Batra

 

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