I don’t believe in celebrating International Women’s Day. Women’s contribution in the world and society is well recognized, what is needed is a fight for equality. But I digress. The reason I mentioned International Women’s Day was because it turned out to be a surprisingly good day. Wines played a major role.
There is a group of us who try and meet up on a Wednesday almost every month for a blind tasting of wines. Everyone gets their own bottle; these are wrapped in foil so as not to reveal details and then numbered. Everyone then is handed a glass and the tasting begins. Our blind tasting is a fun activity where 50 per cent of the time we deliberate on the wine while the rest of the time we catch up on everything else. And however snooty this entire exercise may seem, but it has been a great way to hone my skills in appreciating and recognizing wines just by its aromas and taste. It takes years of practice to master this, and every small effort makes a big difference.
Coming back to the Wednesday of International Women’s Day this year, our motley crew got together to taste a range of wines from across the world – Chile to Greece. Disclaimer: It wasn’t a blind tasting. Chenab Impex, a gourmet food importer got the wind of our monthly activities and graciously hosted this evening. They have very recently gotten into the wine importing space and has quite a collection in their kitty–11 wines from five countries– Finca Vieja, Spain; Cape Dreams, South Africa; Mancura Etnia, Chile; Cavino, Greece and Sirente, Italy. What makes all of these wines special are the fact that they are all priced under Rs 2000, except for the French Cotes du Rhone (Rs 2120 isn’t a bad deal either).
The highlight for me that evening were the Greek wines. To say that these the two indigenous Greek varietals came as a surprise would be an understatement. This was the first time I tried Xynomavro and Agiorgitiko wines. While there were a lot of similarities to Cabernet Sauvignons, Shiraz and the likes, they had an individuality of their terrain, much like the Greeks themselves.
Cavino Naoussa (the region) Xynomavro has a very Mediterranean profile reminiscent of warm spices, local herbs and a sense of leatheriness. The savouriness of the wine is balanced by brilliant and expressive vanilla notes. There is abundance of red fruit notes which helps add bit of sweetness to the wine. The other wine, Cavino Nemea Agiorgitko, was something I felt was bit of an acquired taste. There was a distinctive acidity in the wine which reminded me of a nail polish remover on the nose (and that can’t be considered a positive attribute.) But all fears were allayed with the first sip of the wine. Such a dramatic palate with over ripe red fruits and good oak finish. This is a wine which opens up slowly and steadily in the glass, and hence decanting the wine 1-2 hours before serving is a must. The wine pairs beautifully with food, I was very surprised at how well it went with the tomato based gravy that evening.
I am pretty sure, I am going to pick the Xynomavro often; priced at Rs 1420, it is quite a deal and I did develop a soft spot for it. Do give it a try, if you come across it.