Tasting on the Terrace at Tonino

The terrace at Tonino, the Italian restaurant on the way to Mehrauli in New Delhi, is a magical place. Parmeet Sawhney has successfully created an eatery with a distinctive ambience serving excellent food and wine. Not only has the wine list improved immeasurably, but you can be confident the wines are stored and served at the right temperature, without any fear of being fobbed off with a faulty bottle. When I heard that the wines to be served on the night of the tasting were from the Indian importer, Wine Park, this was an invitation I couldn’t resist, writes Reva SinghClassyChianti1b.jpg

Wine Park’s aim is to import wines into India that are truly reflective of their region as well as the highest expression of their varietal, from select wineries around the world. What’s more, importer Vishal Kadakia believes (as I do) that one of the great joys of drinking wine is learning about the people and the region from where the wines come.
“We believe that each wine bottle has a great story behind it,” he says. “These stories and your experiences while drinking the wine are what really make the whole wine drinking experience so enjoyable. We intend to bring countless such stories to your tables.”
And he was as good as his word for he regaled us with delightful anecdotes about the wines as each one was served. The dishes that were paired with the wines were truly a marriage made in heaven, or was it the total experience – the ambience, the people at my table (some old friends, a few new faces) all with a common interest in good eating and fine wine.
The service was a little slow, but each dish when it arrived was worth the short wait since it meant that the food was attractively presented and the wines, properly served.
All the wines that evening would pass muster on several counts and were greatly appreciated. However, if I were to single out the ones that stood out for me it would have to be Saint Clair Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, 2007 with its light, crisp palate and delicious aromas, Querciabella Batar, 2005, a unique white from Tuscany, made with 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Blanc, and the “Super Tuscan” Il Blu from La Brancaia, an Italian estate owned by a Swiss couple, Martin Kronenberg and his wife, Barbara, who is a skilled winemaker. Their dedication and commitment to wine production is reflected in the quality of their wines.
“Super Tuscan” are wines that cannot be properly termed Tuscan since they don’t adhere to the rules set by the Tuscan appellation. However, because they were so good – the result of excellent winemaking or a special blend – they began to be called “Super Tuscan” by wine writers and the name stuck.
A nice finish to the meal was provided by Grappa which accompanied the dessert.
Tonino Ristorante Italia — Tel: 011 26801588/26802633. Mob: 98111 15978

Wine Park’s list of wines with the importer’s tasting notes (unedited) and some of the hotels and restaurants where the wines are available:
1. Falesco Est! Est!! Est!!!, di Montefiascone, 2007
Est! Est!! Est!!! Is a blend of 3 local grapes, 60% Trebbiano, 30% Malvasia, 10% Roscetto grown in the region of Lazio. This Straw-yellow wine is fresh and structured due to its good acidity level. The nose has characteristics of fine aromas with floral and fruity hints. It is an excellent aperitif and a good complement to fish appetizers. To be served at 10-12c. It has been short listed several times for its value for money by the most important national guide-books.
Retail price in Delhi inclusive of all taxes: Rs. 1114
2. Saint Clair Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, 2007
The wine has an extraordinary bouquet, intense powerful aromas of passion fruit, gooseberry and grapefruit leap out of the glass. The palate is crisp and full, well balanced and elegant, with long lingering finish. A perfect match with antipasto and fresh seafood.
Wine Spectator 2007 – 89
Retail price in Delhi inclusive of all taxes: Rs. 1941
3. Querciabella Batar, Toscana, 2005
Batar is a unique blend of 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Blanc. It was termed as the dream white by the famous wine critic Hugh Johnson. The wine is fermented in barrique. The oak is 100% French. The wine is released around 20 months, and it reaches its full maturity about 42 months, after harvest.
It is recommended to decant this wine for it to express its full potential. This is also one of the few white wines from Italy where you can find verticals in several top restaurants across the world.
Wine Spectator 2005 – 90
Retail price in Delhi inclusive of all taxes: Rs. 5556
4. La Brancaia TRE, “Super Tuscan”, 2006
The wine is a blend of Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Plum and hints of earth come through on the nose. The palate is round and velvety, with meaty, fruity, chocolaty character. It is balanced and already delicious.
Wine Spectator 2006 – NR
Retail price in Delhi inclusive of all taxes: Rs. 2095
5. Querciabella Chianti Classico, Toscana, 2006
Querciabella is a blend of 90% Sangiovese; 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is a firm, fruity red, with oak-tinged black currant and a hint of roasted spice. It is medium-bodied, with good spicy fruit flavors and a firm mineral finish.
Wine Spectator 2006 – NR
Robert Parker 2006 – 91
Retail price in Delhi inclusive of all taxes: Rs.3035
6. Rolf Binder Heinrich
Heinrich, Shiraz-Grenache-Mataro, Barossa Valley, 2005
The wine has brilliant crimson color, with pure, fragrant aroma at times floral and also showing warm climate richness and ripeness. The palate is much more delicate than that of shiraz, and builds gradually in the mouth and finishes with satisfying, delicious fruit and fine tannins.
Wine Spectator 2005 – 91
Robert Parker 2005 – 93
Retail price in Delhi inclusive of all taxes: Rs. 2361
7. La Brancaia IL BLU, “Super Tuscan”, 2004
The Super Tuscan is a blend of 50% Sangiovese, 45% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine has extraordinary aromas of freshly cut roses and lilacs that follow through to crushed blackberry and cherry undertones. It is full-bodied, but extremely balanced, with velvety tannins and a finish that goes on for minutes.
Wine Spectator 2004 – 96
Robert Parker 2004 – 94
Retail price in Delhi inclusive of all taxes: Rs. 5654

8. La Brancaia GRAPPA

GRAPPA, Toscana, 2005
Fresh and carefully selected marcs, obtained from the squeezing of distilling pomace, grape residue and steam distilled. The marc deliciousness and the used procedure magnify the quality of this product.
Wine Spectator 2005 – NR
Retail price in Delhi inclusive of all taxes: Rs. 5911
Delhi – Imperial and Hyatt Regency and more to come
Mumbai – JW Marriott, Renaisance, Olive, Grand Hyatt, Four Seasons, Hyatt Regency, Leela, ITC Maratha, etc
Bangalore – Olive, Leela, Sunny’s, The Park, etc
Goa – Marriott, Park Hyatt, Cidade de Goa, etc

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