The Sweet Taste – a workshop showcasing Italian food and wine with an aim to find fresh business synergies between Italy and India was conducted under the aegis of the Italian Trade Agency (ITA) on 27 Apr 16 at hotel Leela Palace, New Delhi. The workshop, which was a day long affair saw informative talks by business leaders from both sides, coupled with food and wine workshops by experts. The audience comprised of business leaders, trade professionals and selected media.
The proceedings were opened by Francesco Pensabene, Trade Commissioner Italian Embassy in New Delhi followed by a welcome address by H.E. Lorenzo Angeloni, Ambassador of Italy to India. Different sessions interspersed with live demonstrations/workshops followed thereafter.
The overall ambit of “The Sweet Taste” being food and wine, sessions ranged from market dynamics, typical challenges and the recommended way forward to promote trade between India and Italy in these sectors collectively valued at € 33 bn of Italian exports engaging 58,000 companies.
The major food items encompassed within the workshop were pasta, fruits and seeds, cheese, chocolate, cured meats and olive oil. Italian wines formed the other important part, for which Dr. Giuseppe Martelli, an accomplished wine personality of Italy, also the current President of Italy’s National Wine Committee specially arrived.
Restricting our focus on the wine component of the fixture, let us have a look at some statistics related to Italian wines in the following image:
The workshop on wine started with Dr. Martelli presenting several distinct advantages that the country possessed on the front of winemaking. These are:
- The benefits of ‘hillside farming’ to produce superior quality grapes facilitated by a continuous mountainous terrain running from north to south of the country. Italy is probably the only country in the world to have such unique terrain advantage.
- Access of international market to even the smallest of wine producers by means of Cooperatives so that everybody has a place under the Sun.
- Most stringent wine laws of the world with customer as the central focus.
- Only 100% grape originated product qualified to be called as ‘wine’.
A very important aspect of the Italian wine quality pyramid was highlighted by Dr. Martelli where the highest DOCG classification is accorded to wines that show commercial aggressiveness in the Italian as well as international markets- which implies that after achieving all the quality systems in place, a particular wine has to demonstrate that it is indeed appreciated by the end consumer.
However Dr. Martelli also added that this does not mean that other wines are any lesser , as the Italian wine quality pyramid addresses different needs that are dependent on occasion, cuisine, price and similar such variables.
A guided tasting of the following eight wines was led thereafter by Dr. Martelli, assisted by Atul Tiwari, India’s Champion Sommelier 2014. The emphasis was to highlight wine styles from different regions (wines lined up L-R in the photo below in the sequence of description):
Ti Amo Prosecco DOC
A simple, light and fruity sparkling wine with no additional complexity- as described by Atul Tiwari. According to him such wines makes the job of a Sommelier simple since they are straightforward ‘easy to enjoy’ wines.
Bepin De Eto Prosecco SuperioreDOCG Conegliano Valdobbiadene Brut
Region: Veneto ( Sub-region Conegliano Valdobbiadene- the best classified Prosecco region)
An elegant sparkling wine with a floral bouquet and crisp palate. In the words of Dr. Martelli,given the delicate nature of this wine, it would be best with starters when thinking of classical Indian cuisine with gravies and rich flavours.
Piccini Pinot Grigio IGT delle Venezie IGT 2014
A medium gold coloured wine with aromas of stone fruits and flowers. Refreshing on the palate with a distinctive gooseberry finish. Sommelier Tiwari educated the gathering that white wines constitute just 15% of Veneto’s production- the remaining being red. According to him, this is again an easy going wine that can be enjoyed well during Indian summers.
Banfi Le Rime Chardonnay Pinot Grigio Toscana IGT 2014
Coming from one of Tuscany’s famed producer Castello Banfi, this wine is an interesting blend of Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay. Dr Martelli highlighted that the blending with Chardonnay affords this wine with roundness and weightiness. Sommelier Tiwari added that owing to malolactic fermentation, the wine is smooth and buttery, hence it can be an ideal candidate with creamy and curry dishes.
Planeta La Segreta DOC Sicilia 2014
Dr Martelli brought to the attention of the gathering that apart from the wine-tasting moving from North Eastern to Central and now to the southernmost part of Italy, this wine was the first for the day to incorporate indigenous Italian varietal Grecanico as major part of the blend. The wine is a blend of 50% Grecanico, 30% Chardonnay, 10% Viognier and 10% Fiano (another native Italian varietal).
The wine had earthy aromas and a crisp palate of green apples and pears followed by a long finish.
Piccini Chianti DOCG 2014
Dr Martelli described this wine as youthful, with a brilliant colour and a well balanced lingering palate. Sommelier Tiwari described Chianti wines as a versatile range- from simple and youthful to extremely complex. He also drew an interesting parallel of tannins in Chianti wines as being similar to those found in Indian tea, hence an attractive proposition to Indian wine lovers.
Pio Cesare Barbera d’Alba DOC 2013
Undoubtedly the best Red of the day, personally speaking as well as going by the audience reaction. Dr Martelli said that quite like Sicily and Puglia, Piemonte is also a red wine predominant region. Sub region Langhe, where this wine is produced, is also a protected UNESCO heritage site.
The wine had a light red ruby colour and a complex nose of blackberries, chocolate and other emerging layers which can well qualify it as delicious on the aromas front itself! The palate met the expectations with a dense character, berry compote and spice followed by a lingering finish.
Umani Ronchi Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC 2014
Made from another indigenous grape varietal that is cultivated mostly along the Adriatic coast, this was a ‘fresh’ red wine with a rounded yet powerful character. A well balanced acidity made it one of those reds that you can enjoy without food as well.
Towards the evening, the Ambassador, H.E. Lorenzo Angeloni hosted a warm reception at his residence where wine and Italian food was savoured by the guests amid lots of Indian-Italian bonhomie. The Ambassador informed that promotions like these will continue with an aim to achieve a win-win situation between the two countries where quality Italian produce will have access to the vastly promising Indian market.
Wine lovers in India will sincerely hope this vision to come true!