I had the good fortune of following Tastin’ France as it travelled from Delhi (at the French Embassy) to Mumbai (at ProWine). So, if I missed tasting a wine (or spirit) in Delhi, I could always make up in Mumbai.
There was no way I could do justice to the 100 or so wines and spirits on hand in just one evening. The events organised in Delhi, Mumbai and Colombo, were well timed, especially considering the current onset of the third Covid-19 wave in India, and people were glad to step out and physically interact with each other, after a year of virtual tastings in front of a Zoom screen.
Tastin’ France was organised by Business France, under the aegis of the French Ministry of Agriculture and Food, and the Embassy of France in India. The South Asia edition – as Mr. Emmanuel Lenain, the French Ambassador to India informs us – was a part of 30 such events in 45 countries.
The India edition featured 14 wine and spirits producers from major regions, including Champagne, Rhône Valley, Bordeaux, Languedoc and Gascony.
I’m drawn first to wines from the Jura, a producer called Domaine Grand, whose chilled bottles of Cremant Du Jura, are nestled attractively in a bed of ice. It seems like the perfect aperitif for me to get the evening started.
Domaine Grand dates back to 1692, and is now run by Nathalie and Emmanuel, who are writing a new chapter for this storied label. Their vineyard is spread over 9.5 acres in the Jura and is cultivated organically.
The Cremant is a powerful white wine and a good choice as I take stock of the tasting booths around me. I then realise that my need for an aperitif might have been better served by a chilled flute of Champagne from Champagne Lonclas, but I make up with a chilled flute of bubbly from this family owned vineyard, that is a labour of love of Bernard Lonclas and his daughter Aurélie.
As I walk around the various booths, flute in hand, I welcome the chance to meet with many other members of our industry and I’m doubly grateful to Tastin’ France for enabling such a convivial setting for the close-knit members of Delhi’s food and wine community to come together.
As I walk around, seeking recommendations from some of my peers on what I should try next, what becomes quickly apparent is that the barriers between the so called Old and New worlds of wine have fallen, especially when it comes to branding.
The wines are arrestingly named and branded, and are sure to catch your eye on a retail shelf. There’s a wine label in particular that I remember from Chateau Rombeau, from the Languedoc-Roussillon region, a label called Le Botaniste, with the wine that I’m drinking a Muscat.
The label in question has a man traditionally dressed in an overcoat, but with the top half of his head replaced by a bouquet of flowers and greens. There are several more such labels from other producers, all begging to be tried out, but I’m saving some of my appetite for Mumbai.
Also as I’m still recovering from dengue, I’m keen not to strain my liver too much! I am also keen on trying out some Armagnac, a spirit from France that I really relish. I do wish they had some Calvados for tasting too!
The producer exhibiting today is Armagnac de Montal, who has a wide range of Armagnacs for us to taste, and in this I’m joined by my friend and fellow oenophile, Karina Agarwal. Armagnac de Montal is one of the largest Armagnac producers in the world, located in Nogaro, produced from a union of about 60 grape growers in the Bas-Armagnac region.
We taste spiritedly (pun intended!) the VSOP and the XO, as well as some past vintages of one of the variants. What is also interesting to taste just before we leave is Le Mousquet, an interesting product in that it’s an Armagnac liqueur.
It’s on the sweeter side, but well positioned for the new world of highballs and cocktails, and a step by Armagnac to move with the times. Vive La France!