KISHORE AND SMITA IYENGAR live up an oenological sojourn at Mumbai's distinguished wine restaurants.
In India's wine capital Mumbai, fine wining and dining spells discreet distinction. Savoring the seamless synergy of premium world wines paired with delectable global cuisine is an exceptional gastronomic experience to wallow in.
BOTTICINO – The Trident Bandra Kurla
The imposing floor-to-ceiling Enoteca here stocks some of the finest world wines anywhere. The chic dining covers are highlighted by a raised frosted glass floor table for four. Beginning with a finely chilled Champagne Moet Et Chandon Brut Imperial 2006, our epicurean expectations were heightened with pear and Pecorino cheese salad.
The four course journey opened with a crisp, lightly citrusy Danzante Pinot Grigio Friuli Venezia Giulia Italy 2008 followed by pan seared chicken roulade with Marsala wine stewed figs. The dry wine complemented the distinct flavours of the dish. But one must be adventurous here with the stringoli with pork sausage ragout married with a fine Pater Sangiovese, Marchesi di Frescobaldi Italy red 2009. The wine's terra cotta and moist soil bouquet preceded the striking dry mushroom and hay flavours on the tongue, the light hint of tobacco notes lingering on. As a medium-bodied contrast we'd recommend a Stag's Leap Artemis, Napa Valley –California with its lightly spicy and effervescing Cabernet Sauvignon flavours.
Other select world wines include a delightful full-bodied and jammy Cabernet Sauvignon Escudo Rojo 2010 Baron Philippe de Rothschild from Chile or a dry red Bardolino DOC Pagus Allegrini from Veneto Italy 2007. Matching them with a succulent herb and parmesan crusted lamb rack create a relay of earthy, wild floral bouquets. Among the smart reds one could go for a velvety Rust en Vrede, Stellenbosch-South Africa or even a fairly light blend like Chinkara, Victoria, Cabernet-Merlot from Australia.
For the more enterprising wine enthusiast, the cinnamon-flavoured Barbaresco DOCG Marchesi di Barolo from Piemonte, Italy or the deep maroon Tuscan Brunello di Montalcino, Castel Giocondo will entice you with big, oak wood after tastes.
Meal for Two: Approx. Rs. 8,000/- (wines as per choice, extra)
IMPERIAL CHINA – The Hilton Mumbai International Airport
The soft whirr of handcrafted fans added genteel touch to mood lighting and pastel candlelight glows of this sophisticated fine dining landmark. Our aperitif - a well picked Bouvet Saumur Brut Blanc (France) effervesced with passion fruit and vanilla accents. The dishes of choice was crab stuffed shitake with five spice sauce matching a grand Gatsby of white wines -the thrilling lemon-and-fennel tinged Pazo de Barrantes Albarino, Rias Baixas (Spain) and an Anthilia Donnafugata, Sicily, Italy with fine bamboo shoot and citrus overtones. On the wine list is another exceptional white, the Miguel Torres, Sauvignon Blanc St. Medin, Chile with jasmine nose and vanilla flavours.
Wines make an impressive impact here with their distinct bouquets as we quaffed a superbly dry, cigar finish and oaky Ginestet St. Emilion from Bordeaux (France). The dish to cap it's voluptuous flavours was teriyaki chicken with green beans to sync with a dry and cinnamon flavoured Benziger Merlot, Sonoma Valley (California) with it's full bodied, ruby toned fine charcoal after palate. For premium Chinese fine dining, we discovered other fine reds like the very delightfully dry blend and the robustly assertive Penfolds Cabernet Shiraz, Koonuga Hill, South Australia.
Signing off a svelte fine wining and dining voyage, we ventured into Burmese purple rice with caramel custard lit up with a fantastic Muscat de Beaumes Venise Vintage 2003- Alsace, France. The fragrance of the vineyards came alive with melon and honey flavours.
Meal for Two: Approx. Rs. 7,500/- (wines as per choice, extra)
HAKKASAN – Michelin Star brand global chain
The uplifting whiff of fresh jasmine and mellow glows ushered us into blue mood-lit enscons accented with latticed teak wooden partitions defining sitting alcoves, bringing alive the restaurant's London Michelin Star gourmet icon's recall with remarkable allure. This premier Chinese fine wining and dining destination lays out its of signature wine collection, wine varietals and labels following an interesting classification - ‘Exploration', ‘Curious', Purity', ‘Terroir', ‘New Classics', ‘Blends', Magnums'. We commenced with a finely lily-stem flavoured Taltarni Brut Tache Rose from Australia.
The signature fare creates curiosity in flavours and textures. The irresistible edamame truffle dumpling and stir-fried lotus root with yam bean, asparagus and tofu made a handsome start with a brilliant, lily and vanilla flavoured 2008 Sylvaner ‘Sylvacello' Cave de Turckheim (Alsace-France). The measured roasted silver cod with Champagne and Chinese honey did well with a 2009 Sauvignon Blanc Circumstance (Stellenbosch-South Africa). On an adventurous note the Chardonnay “M3” Shaw & Smith; Adelaide, Australia and the Riesling Rene Mure, Alsace, France offered garden notes with lingering strawberry palates.
The highly rated grilled chilean Seabass with Chinese honey was paired with a fascinating 2007 Chardonnay Marsanne Viognier “Novas” Emiliana Casablanca (Chile). The blend offered luscious notes of green pepper and lime, the mid-palate enhanced with buttery soft green apple. Not to be left out was our tasting of Graciano, Vinedo No.7, Senorio de Sarria from Navarra, Spain –lucidly voluptuous with black berry and black currant flavors. The icing on the cake was the most expensive and celebrated Peking duck with Ossetra caviar married with a fine, prized 2006 Sito Moresco Gaja-Piemonte-Italy, its earthy aromas of truffles, decidedly dominant black olives and burnt wood back palate completed the signature culinary adventure.
Meal for Two: Approx. Rs. 8,500/- (wines as per choice, extra)
CESKY – Meluha The Fern Ecotel
Modern Pan European cuisine and select world wines elevate the weekly changing 7-course Degustation fine dining experience to an enchanting level here. Perfectly chilled flutes of Bollinger Special Cuvée Brut augur the first course of Oyster, Champagne and Beluga caviar, graced with a dry, grassy and very crisp Henri Bourgeois Pouilly-Fume from France and a highly recommended, Livio Felluga Illivio Bianco from, the north-eastern Friuli region in Italy with green apple and green pear tones on the taste buds.
Contemporary décor seems to elate the dining mood with a light summer vegetable tart combined with a smart D.O. Somontano Chardonnay 234 from Spain, the floral aromas lingering onto a lightly acidic and evocative mid-taste of leeks. You could also savour the fabulously dry and faint saffron and peach flavored Domaine Schlumberger Gewurztraminer Grand Cru ‘Kessler' from France's Alsace region. The fresh Razor clams, saffron spaghetti, bouillabaisse essence, confit cherry tomato did just that with a cheery E.Guigal Travel Rose from Provence, France. Spring flowers, light rose and lime hints came across with verve.
Perfect partnering with two superb red wines, -Torres Sangre de Toro (Spain) and Marchesi di Barolo, Barolo (Piemonte-Italy) - macho labels with assertive oak and cedar bouquets, cigar and leather after tastes which bowled us over. Close company there with an eminent vintage of class, Masi ‘Costasera', Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC from Veneto in Italy. Finally, dark chocolate and raspberry mille-feuille nougatine crisp paired with a Montalto Passito dessert wine with light mint and clove flavours was quite simply, ‘Enchante' !
Meal for Two: Approx. Rs. 7,000/- Degustation Menu (wines as per choice, extra)
TUSKERS – Sofitel Mumbai BKC
This Indian vegetarian fine wining and dining accented regally with rich Indian tapestry, furnishings, elephant motifs and warm tones lays out a tempting library of fine wines.
Our kaleidoscopic vegetarian dinner was ushered in with a finely chilled 2003 Louis Roederer Brut Vintage Champagne, lighting up our dining score with pan-fried raw banana, raisin cake stuffed with tangy, spicy curd. It relayed well with two labels, -one was a 2010 Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc Cape Mentelle, Margaret River from Western Australia, then onto a bold Rose –Torres de Casta, Penedes 2010 (Spain), the intrinsic melon and citrus flavours overtaking the light acidic tang.
With those evocative appetizers, we graduated to an interesting dish, asparagus and aloe vera cooked in curd and tomato gravy. The wine pairings were exciting. Nobilo, Pinot Noir, Marlborough 2009 (New Zealand) and Clos de Los Siete, Malbec-Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (Argentina). The strikingly measured tannins and woody flavours of the red wines capped their distinct wood polish, mushroom and black berry bouquets. With lots of spicy goodies, we suggest other smart labels of equal status like Orin Swift ‘The Prisoner' Napa Valley 2010 (California), Nobilo, Pinot Noir, Marlborough, New Zealand 2009 and Tenuta San Guido, Guidalberto IGT, Bolgheri, Toscana 2008 from Italy.
Meal for Two: Approx. Rs. 7,500/- (wines as per choice, extra)
YAUATCHA – Michelin Star brand excellence
London's Michelin Star dazzler that redefined the art of dim sums creates waves on Indian palates. From a 26 feet high glass front to avant garde interiors, mood soothing fish tanks to embroidered upholstery, blue glass screens - it's class and sophistication.
This stylish outpost celebrates dim sums with their outstanding signature wines range. Steamed wonders include scallop Shumai, zucchini prawn dumpling and the superlative edamame truffle dumpling were presented with a Torrontes Reserva, Nieto Senetiner-Argentina and Conundrum, Caymus 2009 (California) dry yet floral with a Kiwi fruit twang. The amazing pan-fried turnip cake with vegetables and sweet green tea sesame ball and fried chilli squid in small portions lived up with a Riesling ‘Dr L' –Dr. Loosen 2009-Germany, light, fruity and nectar tinged. Another white captured the culinary victory…Villa Antinori Bianco, Marchesi Antinori 2010 from Tuscany, Italy. Splendid!
Designer dishes like stir-fry lobster in spicy XO sauce and, mongolian-style lamb chop are not-to-be-missed delights paired with a super dry, peppery and smoky vintage Shiraz Domaine Montval 2009-France and a Cerejeiras, Companhia Agricola do Sanguinhal 2009-Portugal offering moist earth and intense oak flavours. But you could opt for other equally evocative red wines like Merlot, Meerlust 2006-Stellenbosch, South Africa with smooth medium tannins and well rounded red berry flavours or the macho, cigar-flavoured Shiraz, Fonty's Pool, 2007 Pemberton, Australia.
Meal for Two: Approx. Rs. 8,500 (wines as per choice, extra)
Kishore and Smita Iyengar
(International Wine Writers and Wine Awareness Consultants)