by: Judd Anthony Labarda
I have a habit of getting stuck in a wine rut. When I start exploring wines of a particular region, I obsess over them, and the next thing I know, I’m only drinking Northern Italian vino for a month.
Around the time I realised this, I was knee deep in a California red wine phase. I knew I badly needed to get out of it and luckily, I found out Gran Hacienda Wines was having a wine dinner. It featured a new range of Chilean wines from Villard Fine Wines, presented by French-Chilean winemaker Jean-Charles Villard in Ricksha Streetside Tandoor.
Naturally, this excited me, because 1) I haven’t done South American wines in the longest time, and 2) I knew it was going to be a treat experiencing how these wines were going to interact with Indian cuisine. What better way to break out of a rut (and inevitably get stuck in a new one), right?
Villard “Expresion Reserve” Sauvignon Blanc 2018
An excellent way to kick off the night’s festivities, the Expresion Reserve Sauvignon Blanc showed fleshy ripeness, but also beautiful high acid on the palate. This lent itself well to helping those notes of gooseberry, citrus, and white peach really pop out alongside subtle jalapeño. And with extended lees contact, this wine had a more textured feel to it.
My favourite pairs with this wine were the Paneer Skewers and the Mushroom Fritters; the former accentuating the fresh greenness of the wine, and the latter’s fatty elements working well with this wine’s high acid. At the same time, the acidic elements in the Aloo Chat heightened the fruitier characteristics of the Sauvignon Blanc.
Villard “Expresion Reserve” Syrah 2017
Both fresh but complex thanks to a combination of fermentation in steel vats and a mix of French and American oak barrels, the Expresion Reserve Syrah showed juicy notes of blackberry and cranberry with a tickle of white pepper and anise. Because of the cool coastal climate of Casablanca Valley, the wine had high acidity that balanced out its supple tannins.
People who are fans of a having little heat (read: spicy!) in their food would love this with the chicken and pork belly Tandoori, which elevated the peppery notes in the wine. My personal favourite food pairing involved the Butter Chicken and the Dum Biryani, where the spices went perfectly with the Syrah.
JCV Charlie Villard Ramato Pinot Grigio 2016
When I was told that there was going to be an orange wine*, the wine geek in me started flailing around (internally, of course!). Orange wines are difficult to come by, and when one gets to find them, they’re a little on the pricier side (and in some cases, rightly so, partly because of the difficult winemaking process). This one, however, was reasonably priced. It’s an acquired taste, but I think everyone should try an orange wine at least once. This wine was fermented with its skin for three months, giving it a gorgeous, slightly hazy medium salmon hue.
I was initially very confused about what I was experiencing in my glass, but with a little guidance, I found myself really enjoying the wine. On the nose, I got intense notes of bold signature jackfruit, bruised apple, and what I can only describe as Tutti-Fruitti jelly beans (my favourite growing up). This was echoed on the palate and then capped off with grapefruit rind on the finish. Big, full-bodied, high-acid with noticeable tannin, this wine was made for the menu. And paired with the Coconut Ladoo for dessert, it was a fitting way to end the evening.
I also highly recommend visiting Ricksha Streetside Tandoor at 23 East Capitol Drive, Brgy. Kapitolyo, Pasig. Run by Pierre and Cyril Addison, they serve flavourful, budget-friendly Indian street food.
*Sometimes referred to as skin-contact white wines, they are made by fermenting white grapes with their skin from as little to a few hours to upwards of over a year.