I was recently a guest of the Indian Tourism Commission, which hosted a function at Manjit’s at King Street Wharf in Sydney to show off the amazing foods and spices India produces.
Former street kid now celebrity chef, Ranveer Brar (the equivalent of Jamie Oliver) was the star of the show, weaving his culinary magic and talking about his life experiences and how he learned to cook. Now an author, famed cook and blogger he also has his own TV show that is watched by millions as well as being a judge and food stylist. Brar was in Sydney promoting his cooking techniques with chef Varun Gujral of Manjit’s demonstrating several traditional as well as contemporary dishes such as air-fried okra, pani puri (bread), chicken tikka with mint chutney, chilli dry prawns and steamed idlis (steamed rice buns) to name a few. One of the guests asked about Indian wines to go with the dishes on offer (we were served Australian pinot grigio and shiraz to go with the Indian foods). Brar told the assembled crowed about the Indian wine industry and how he has used Indian wines to match with the eclectic mix of Indian cuisines. For your information, the majority of Indian wineries are in Pune about a six-hour drive north of Mumbai. At last count, there were 100 wineries throughout India with Chateau Indage, Grover Zampa and Sula Vineyards being the most well known inside and outside the country.
Angullong Sauvignon Blanc – This wine would have to be up there with the best sauvignon blancs in the Orange region for consistency and quality. The colour is green straw, indicating youth. The nose is awash with tropical and grassy aromas such as pineapple, grapefruit and gooseberry notes. The palate shows a natural crispness with passionfruit flavours and lemon and limes coming to the fore. The finish is dry with natural mouth-watering acidity rolling around on the palate. The Angullong 2017 Pinot Grigio also shows a green straw colour with lifted varietal fruit flavours on a perfumed nose that gives way to green apple and pineapple. The palate is not as lively in the acidity department and is a little restrained making you sit up and take note and ask yourself, is it grigio or gris? But of course the label tells me it’s grigio. Same grape variety but made in different styles. The French call it gris and the Italians call it grigio. Buy it and try it and see what you think. (rrp $20)
Berton Vineyards Metal 2016 The Black Shiraz – This wine is a deep crimson colour with a vibrant pink rim around the edge of the glass. The nose is reminiscent of ripe black fruits with plum and cinnamon spice evident. The palate is soft and juicy with a distinct taste of blackcurrant and blueberry notes. The use of oak is not evident but the wine drapes the palate in softness of varietal fruit flavours with soft acidity and limited oak and tannins. An uncomplicated wine and a great quaffer for the price (rrp $12). Its stablemate, the Berton Vineyards Reserve 2015 Shiraz, is on another level with deep purple/inky black colours resonating through the glass with a lively pink hue rimming the glass. The nose is more intense with aniseed and spicy black and red cherry fruits dominating. The whiff of American oak is also present showing vanilla and spice. The fruit on the palate is more intense than the Metal label and has more structure on the palate such as body, weight, texture and flavour. While the fruit shines and there is plenty of it, the wine has backbone when it comes to acid/tannin/oak structure. As I’ve stated before about this particular wine, a Reserve wine at this price point and quality is living the dream (rrp $17). With Christmas just around the corner, this is it!
The 2017 Lowe ‘Jodie Wilbertree’ Sparkling Rosé is a bright and lively salmon pink in colour. The nose offers rose petal, bubble gum and strawberry notes and is very alluring. As you pour the wine it displays a nice creamy mousse that quickly dissipates followed by a slight bead. The palate is fresh and fruity, not dry but not sweet. Sweet red apples and strawberry notes come to the fore. It’s a lovely wine as an aperitif and would go well with either a bowl of strawberries or a light antipasto platter or a simple prawn cocktail. (rrp $22)
2017 Lowe ‘PF500’ Shiraz – If you looked at the label, you would think the wine was still in the embryonic stage of a laboratory experiment. The PF stands for “preservative free” while the 500 stands for “500ml”, with organic and biodynamic practices applied. Either way, this wine is something different as far as taste goes, as well as the size of bottle. Light see-though purple in colour with a crimson/pink hue around the rim, the fruit on the nose shows mulberry, raspberry and plum fruits taking centre stage. These flavours also flow to the palate, which is soft and juicy. In my view, the wine is lacking in structure. The finish is light-bodied, dry with minimal oak/tannins and soft acidity. (rrp $22 for 500ml)
Clare Valley-based O’Leary Walker has recently released its Polish Hill River 2017 Riesling. Pale straw in colour, the nose gives way to citrus and green apple with mineral overtones. The palate is fresh with citrus, orange blossoms and mouth-watering grapefruit flavours adding to the presence of acidity on the palate. The finish is dry with crisp acidity together with mineral overtones coming through. This wine is drinking well now and would be most suitable with grilled barramundi or a spicy Asian dish, but with careful cellaring would also go the distance for the next 15-20 years. (rrp $22)