The sweet dessert wine Bellissima by Chateau de Banyan made from the Late Harvest Muscat grapes is a well priced, delicious wine that should impress the novices and connoisseurs alike despite the slightly lower acidity, as I discovered at the wine dinners at Beleza Resort in Goa last week at the Delhi Wine Club wine weekend.
Bellissima signifies ‘beautiful’ (female gender) in Italian. Beleza is ‘beauty’ in Portuguese. And Bellissima at Beleza beach resort in Goa made a beautiful combination at both the wine dinners organised by the Delhi Wine Club, which makes me recommend this wine as a dessert wine, as also an aperitif wine with some hard, seasoned cheeses or even with very spicy, savoury snacks to quench the fire- not the best way of enjoying this wine but workable nevertheless.
Muscat is known for its aromatic characteristics and the grapy flavour which would find favour with palates of novices. The dark golden colour with amber hues is very pleasant to the eyes. The aromas are reminiscent of tropical fruits with honey in the background. The flavour is full of peach, honey and raisins. It is a simple wine, slightly cloying but has a decently long after taste. It lacks the acidity somewhat and hopefully in the following vintages their consultant winemaker Lucio Matricardi would focus on this aspect.
Lucio Matricardi who has studied wine-making at University of Bologna, followed by a Ph. D. in Wine Biotechnology at the University of California has a lot of winemaking experience and it shows in this wine. This is perhaps the first dessert wine in India made from the Muscat grapes. Nashik producers generally use Chenin Blanc as the varietal which is not as aromatic, though it has taken well to the late harvest.
A natural match for gulab jamun and pastries or even crepes, it added to the flavour of even vanilla ice cream with a spoonful poured over as garnish. If you have a sweet tooth, a small dose of chilled Bellissima at 4-6° C would be a welcome dessert. The alcohol at 13.5% is not the best feature of the wine but it is integrated well enough not to be an issue for the small amount consumed at a time. (Moscato in Piemonte in Italy for instance, come with very low alcohol content)
At Rs.249 in Goa, the standard half bottle (375 mL) is a steal. Buy it at several supermarkets including Newton’s, Laljee’s, and Orchard in North Goa, Big G and Watson in South Goa. Pick up a few bottles if you or your friends go next time to Goa instead of that not-so-drinkable ‘Goan Port.’
It is available also in Karnataka but the higher excise duty due to its being out of state wine, makes it more expensive at Rs.375 (this should also tell you about the excise duty logic in the country!). Soon, it will be available in Andhra Pradesh where it has reportedly been registered and would cost around Rs.350, says the national marketing manager of Chateau de banyan, Mr. Kawaljeet Singh. Delhi is out of bounds for most Indian wines, anyway due to the prohibitive entry costs. For more info contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.