The last fortnight has been an exceptionally busy (hic!) one. I first tasted beer from the Simba brand, which is pretty similar to Bira, that is, it will appeal to the millennial crowd, but the more persnickety beer heads may not be taken in by its taste. I felt Simba went out of its way to imitate Bira not just in taste, but also in presentation, positioning, packaging, et al. Well, it is the best form of flattery, right? By contrast, and even though I may not be personally too fond of their name choice, Happy by Thirsty is a rather chuggable beer and distinctly tries to do its own thing. At the time of writing this, Delirium and Chimay are readying for their India launch and I, for one, can’t wait. The famous Delirium, with it’s Pink Elephant logo, and the revered Trappist Chimay beers are among the finest in the world as every beer nerd will testify.
Then I assisted with a dinner for the wines of Robert Mondavi at the recently relaunched (In)Diya Indian restaurant at The Leela Ambience, Gurugram. The new chef there is really changing the way traditional Indian fare is perceived and this dinner was testimony to just how pair-able Indian food can be. Robert Mondavi’s Private Reserve label is a benchmark Napa series and it didn’t disappoint even with the range of dishes and cuisines that it was put up against. I strongly recommend their Cabernet Sauvignon as also the Woodbridge Blush.
The same space, on a different day, also hosted the 25th anniversary celebrations for Grover-Zampa, one of India’s oldest wineries and, undoubtedly, the most respected of wine families. Kapil, and daughter Karishma Grover, organised a vertical of their iconic (and very nostalgic) La Reserve red wine, which showed that although drinkable when young, it can also age beautifully and even after almost a decade, there was still so much power in it to keep going. A small food pairing exercise was also a part of this activity before the grand party at ‘Indiya’, where street food and wine stalls were the theme for the walk-around evening. Here’s wishing them 25 more strong ones ahead.
Then, I hosted the Chilean wine masterclass in the capital, the kind that hasn’t taken place since—no wait, ever! Carolina Vasquez, the lady responsible for drawing more attention to Chilean export products in India, realised that there was a prevailing misconception about the wines of her country here, which is that people largely think that they make only entry-level wines. So she got Wines of Chile on board and put together a bevy of wines, which has never been seen before on Indian shores. Imagine the top houses flying down with the best of their wines. As we discussed how Chilean wine zones aren’t just divided as north, central and south, but also as coastal, central plains and Andes mountainsides, we also tasted wines from many of these terroirs to better understand the difference the soil and climate can make. So hopefully, look out for these names soon on Indian shelves: Casa Silva, Viña La Rosa, Valdivieso Caballo Loco, Emiliana, Cono Sur, Viña Requingua, Terranoble and Luis Felipe Edwards. They aren’t cheap, but they are certainly more value-for-money than many other wine regions.
All in all, a rather fruitful and enjoyable two weeks. But don’t get jealous just yet for the coming fortnight promises to be equally heady. So, till then…
The writer is a sommelier