Recently, Delhi’s self-confessed bon vivant, Rajiv Kehr, invited us for a very special dinner. It was a dinner with a very special winemaker visiting India.
I like people who are driven by a passion for the finer things in life—not, hopefully, for the branded connotation that it can sometimes bring, but because of the sheer joy it delivers to them. And then I like it even more when they invite others to partake of this joy with them.
Recently, Delhi’s self-confessed bon vivant, Rajiv Kehr, invited us for a very special dinner. It was a dinner with a very special winemaker visiting India. Egon Müller is one of the most respected winemakers in the world, representing not just Mosel and Germany, but also the cause of Riesling. His wines, to the uninitiated, might seem extremely fruity and perhaps even a tad “sweet”, but in fact, they are a complex juxtaposition of the mineral with the floral, the savoury with the ripe. These are wines which will last not just in your cellar, but also linger endlessly on every sip.
Riesling, a grape with a very strong personality, can be hard to tame. It is often the case that a winemaker making Riesling gets lovely varietal expression, but is unable to harness it in a manner that could be considered signature or unique. Müller’s wines excel here, for they are a true coming together of nature and man, showcasing the best of what both the entities can unleash in a wine.
Another reason why this dinner was different was because, unlike his previous dos—where Rajiv simply has people come together for a good time with his wines—this time around, he also had a role to play as a tradesman. Ever since he put his money where his passion had always been and turned wine importer, too, he has taken it upon himself to try and bring some very exquisite wines to India. Suffice to say that Rajiv is clearly mixing business with (his) pleasure, but hey, as long as he is contributing to upping the overall drinking quotient of the city, we aren’t complaining!
Le Cirque at The Leela is one of the last bastions of true French fine dining left in the city. As always, the service was on point—astute, attentive yet discreet. The food, which is always top notch, this time had another star, pun intended, added to it, which was the presence of German chef Daniel Dal Ben of Restaurant 1876, who brought some of his flair and skills to the mix.
Now, pairing white wines isn’t always easy and is tougher still when they happen to be Riesling. Nevertheless, the restaurant team, in tandem with Daniel and Rajiv, made it all rather seamless. But to not be too ambitious, Rajiv still brought out some lovely Barbera and Nebbiolo (including a young, but precocious Barolo) from the house of Rocche Costamagna (also represented by him). All in all, the dinner was a lovely evening of fine indulgences.
I normally refrain from sharing la dolce vita that one enjoys because there is only that much that one can enjoy vicariously through reading. But the good bit is that all these wines and some others are available in Delhi, so if one really wishes to indulge themselves, then it isn’t entirely impossible. Sure, they won’t be comparable to the entry-level stuff that is mostly hawked out there, but then neither is the experience delivered by a fine wine comparable to a mere quaffer. Kudos Rajiv, thank you for this delightful and memorable start to 2020. We are only in February, so I hope the rest of the year heralds more such starry soirées.
The writer is a sommelier