Jacob’s Creek is India’s best known Australian wine. The brand that came into being in 1976, is owned by the multi-national wine and spirits giant Pernod-Ricard and is named after a place in South Australia where a gentleman called Johann Gramp planted his first vines on the banks of the Jacob’s Creek in 1847.
Recently, Jacob’s Creek launched a unique event, “The Longest Reserve Table”, for the first time in India on the 1st of March at hotel JW Marriott, New Delhi where I was invited to take a seat. Notching up a century of wine and food enthusiasts at one single table, the concept brings together people who love gourmet cuisine and good wines.
Being a Sunday, a relaxed mood amongst the attendees facilitated the right atmosphere for the rendezvous. However, the plans did go into a spin- albeit temporarily- due to an unforeseen wet spell in Delhi that necessitated the event to be shifted indoors. But thanks to the super efficient team at JW Marriott led by Ankur Chawla, the Beverages Manager, the transition was seamless (even if I was envious of fellow wine lovers in Bangalore, who were blessed with a lovely sunny day at the outdoors session).
The engagement started with a refreshing sparkling as Jacob’s Creek Pinot-Chardonnay as the guests assembled. Made from two of the Champagne varietals, the wine is an easy going sparkling ideal as an aperitif and an excellent conversation starter.
As we sat down, a five course continental menu crafted for this special table by Chef Pavan Kumar Chennam, Executive Sous Chef of the JW Marriott New Delhi Aerocity, was presented. The level of deliberation and understanding of the nuances was evident in the pairings.
My gauche et droite were occupied by my chosen wine friends, and we ordered different options from the menu so that we could get a panoramic view of the dining experience. We might have earned the ire of some fellow diners, as we did get quite excited at times as we exchanged notes.
Thus it went:
Course 1: Sous vide chicken with roasted pears and crispy frisée (NV) or Goat cheese and beetroot coulis with apricot chutney (V).
Wine pairing: Jacob’s Creek Chardonnay.
The sous vide chicken was tender and mild flavoured with the roasted pears and the frisée (a leafy vegetable) adding dimension to the flavour and texture. It worked well with the classic Australian oaked Chardonnay having stone fruits and creamy disposition. My vegetarian neighbour felt similarly, even if his tangy chutney spiced it up a bit more for him.
Course 2: Spiced root soup with sour cream and onion crisps.
Wine Pairing: Continue with Jacob’s Creek Chardonnay.
This was a delectable soup – creamy, nutty and toasty. It was quite engaging with the continuing wine, shoulder to shoulder with the refreshing acidity, and the toastiness of oak. Defying conventional wisdom, soup is not a waste of time with wine.
Course 3: Salad of white asparagus, green asparagus, toasted mustard, extra virgin olive oil and greens.
Wine Pairing: Jacob’s Creek Reserve Chardonnay.
Justifying its Reserve status, the wine had more complexity while retaining the common attributes of the previous one. It was a fuller wine with a honeyed feel and a softer demeanour. All this worked well with the varying textures of the salad components.
Course 4: Red Snapper with brown butter, celeriac purée and caper crumbs (NV) or Corn Fed Chicken with parsley, cous cous, country style potatoes, eryngii and enoki (NV) or Ravioli with zucchini caponata, four cheese and cured artichoke (V).
Wine Pairing: Jacob’s Creek Shiraz Cabernet and Jacob’s Creek Reserve Shiraz.
Curious to try two robust red varietals with fish – which is a tough pairing according to conventional wisdom – I ordered the red snapper. Had it not been for the accompaniments, the pairing would have fallen flat. But, in the overall scheme it did sail through. Both my wine buddies who had ordered the corn fed chicken and the vegetarian option seemed quite happy.
The Shiraz Cabernet was very expressive on the nose with red fruits and spice accompanied by a rounded luscious palate. It is a supple wine, effortlessly elegant on the palate. The Reserve Shiraz was the big brother with ripe black fruit flavours, pronounced oak overtones and a firmer structure.
Course 5: Cherry, Lemon and Mascarpone Tart with mulled Jacob’s Creek ice cream.
Wine Pairing: Jacob’s Creek Rose Sparkling.
The salmon-pink wine had aromas of fresh red cherries, strawberries and sliced baguette. On the palate, it was refreshing as well as creamy with mixed berry flavours. A dry wine with dessert always remains a challenge, but the fruity nature can pull it off. In my opinion, the chef approached the pairing with a great deal of insight by incorporating a wide flavour profile (sweet, sour and umami) so that it worked for the majority in some way or the other.
My biggest anticipated challenge was the service. I wondered if so many people could be taken care of at one go – one single table added one extra level of unforgiving complexity. But, the service was immaculate and extremely precise throughout.
Commenting on the launch of the series, Jacob’s Creek Reserve Table, Kartik Mohindra, Business Head – International Brands at Pernod Ricard India said, “The Jacob’s Creek Longest Reserve Table offers consumers a unique dining experience, showcasing our range of very expressive varietal wines and their versatility with various cuisines.”
It’s community dining of gastronomy enthusiasts – with the fine dining flair. If you are wondering how this might be, then the closest you can possibly get is by booking a place online at the next “Longest Reserve Table” in your city in April or book your very own ‘Reserve Table’ by making an online reservation at www.reservetableindia.com. Priced at ₹2500 to Rs. ₹3000 per person it promises to be good value for your money.
Buoyed by the success of the program, Kartik shared with me that following this launch, the hotels will be offering 3 course meals paired with Jacob’s Creek wines in four leading restaurants of each city. The focus will be to pair the wines with the culinary expertise of the respective chefs.
It’s fine dining – la style grande!
(Published in vino india)