Seldom is it enquired whether Delhi is geared up for a sustainable culinary culture? Would the greasy food and whisky-loving metropolis be ready to accept fine dinner with accompanying discerning wines? From the recent turn of events it would seem that not only are Delhiites ready for it, but they also know how to enjoy such.Recently, Mr. Justin Nugent, winemaker at the popular Aussie brand ‘Bird in Hand, Two in Bush’ was in the capital. Hotel Hilton, Janakpuri, hosted a wine dinner showcasing his wines at their fine dining Mughlai and Kashmiri restaurant, Zune, on the 7th of January 2011. Justin’s wines were delicately paired with Chef Iqbal Ahamad’s traditional preparations. The modest gathering included media, diplomats, aficionados, and wine professionals. What was thought to be a serious wine dinner soon transformed into a fun and amicable dining experience with Justin’s wines acting as a healthy social ointment. The combination of Chef Iqbal’s culinary expertise, Justin’s liquid passions, Magan’s witty-for-some-incorrigible-for-others style of dispensing gyan, and the hotel’s warm and meticulous hospitality, marked the evening a successful endeavour.
Bird in Hand winery is the brainchild of Justin’s brother, Mr. Andrew Nugent, who started the winery in 1997. The Adelaide Hills’ brother-duo today stands proud with their wines being regarded as one of Australia’s top produces. They make wines using local varieties like Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Riesling, and Chardonnay for whites and Shiraz, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Noir amongst the reds. The wines are marketed under three labels: Nest Egg, Bird in Hand, and Two in the Bush. While Two in the Bush range has early easy-drinking wines, Bird in Hand is a more serious range with wines coming from limited yields. Nest Egg range is their premium quality produce released only in the best of years. ‘Joy’, the sparkling Pinot Noir wine from the Nest Egg range is also the name of the Nugent brothers’ mother.These wines are brought to India by the Mumbai-based importers Aspri Spirits Pvt Ltd.These fun and approachable wines were put to Wi-Not’s trained palate and this is our review:Bird in Hand Non Vintage Sparkling Wine – White – Adelaide HillsThe wine’s colour is eye-catching and certainly raises some eye-brows, all for the right reasons. Tiny lazily rising bubbles from a copper hued wine, a different start already! The completely creamy fruit dominant nose with notes of raspberry cream, fruit tart, strawberries, and finishing with a floral touch of orchids. A light wine with a smooth mouthfeel and a caramel-like candied finish. The mouse was tad coarse adding structure to the wine. A great party starter and a perfect summer wine.2008 Two In The Bush Semillon Sauvignon Blanc – White – Adelaide HillsA fresh young wine with no signs of aging. Refreshing aromas of sweet white fruits, mainly honey dew melon and pears, with citrus and minerally afternotes and a touch of asparagus. An off-dry easy drinking wine with crisp acidity to provide balance. Notes of honey-dew melon, peardrop, kiwi, golden apples, and lettuce compliment the light body of the wine well. Well-balanced youthful and expressive wine. Won’t get better with cellaring.2007 Bird in Hand Non Merlot– White – Mt Lofty RangesDeep ruby coloured with signs of aging visible at the rims. Expressive nose with hint of oak, not too dominant, plums, sour cherry, pomegranate, and spices. The nose is creamy indicating Malolactic Fermentation. Dry palate with fine developing tannins, creamy mouthfeel, and notes of roasted vanilla, plums, berry jam, raspberries, and earthy tones. The alcohol is high thus making wine even smoother. A medium-bodied, food-worthy, approachable red that can handle another few years of cellaring.2007 Two In The Bush Shiraz – Red – Mt Lofty RangesDeep ruby wine with tinge of purple and little aged rims. Intense and expressive nose with spicy and earthy notes. Amongst others were black olives, touch of blueberries, cranberry juice, dusty oak, pepper, cloves, and teakwood. Dry fruity palate with some jammy and some concentrated notes along with those of dark cherries, blackberries, beetroot coulis, grape syrup, and black currants. Alcohol seemed high at 14.5% but the wine was in balance. The tannins are soft and can easily be chewed upon. The wine needs heavy meaty flavoured dish to be justified.Australia has placed itself as one of the strongest New World winemaking country. Not only it has been successful at altering the orthodox winemaking procedures in the past, it has always been looked up for introducing novel exciting offerings. With this perfect marriage of Australian wines and authentic Indian cuisine, this might just be the horizon of what they have to offer next. Who knows they might just turn the Indian vinos in to habitual indulgent.