An evening of wine with Indian food

This was an event in Edinburgh organised by Bibendum wines and the Far Pavilions restaurant. A bit of a busman’s holiday for me as I also present food and wine evenings, but a very welcome one at that. The food at the far Pavillions is truly excellent – made with fresh ingredients, painstaking care and considerable imagination. The wine choices for the night were first class too – some complementing, others contrasting with the spice of the dishes.

Valdivieso (Chile) Brut Methode Traditionelle 1997 – £6.95
Steady stream of small bubbles and a fine, creamy mousse. Nose is quite herbaceous and nettly, but clean apple fruit too. Very dry, with good citrus flavours. Quite long, elegant, and very decent stuff – excellent at the price.

Mumbai Fish Masala
Deakin Estate (Australia) Sauvignon Blanc 1997 – £4.95
The dish consisted of fillets of John Dory marinated in lemon, garlic and turmeric and cooked in a tamarind puree sauce. The wine has a very pungent, oily, green-bean and asparagus nose. Very distinctive. There are fine, ripe fruit flavours on the palate of apple, melon and gooseberry. The wine has low acidity but good length and avoids being flabby as the soft acidity persists into the finish. A low-key but very tasty style that married very well with the fish and didn’t clash with the sweet tamarind sauce, but rather formed a “pillow” of fruit flavours beneath the spice.

Sabzi Ke Samosa
Morgan Winery (Monterey, California) Malvasia Bianco 1996 – £9.95
This dish was little potato and pea parcels cooked with chilli, mango, coriander and mint. The wine has a wonderful nose, soaring from the glass with musky, flower-scented and lime aromas. On the palate a powerful mouthful of bone-dry grapefruit flavour, lush and round with some softer, peachy fruit and good acidity in the finish. Very Alsacien in style, and really very good. Worked tremendously well again providing a weighty contrast to the food.

Murg Tikka Makhani
Tortoise Creek (France, Languedoc) Syrah/Mourvedre 1997 – £4.95
For the dish pieces of chicken were marinated in cinammon, ground cardamom, cloves, chilli, white peppercorns and cooked in a tandoor, then finished with a butter, saffron and almond sauce. The wine is very soft, with pastille fruit on the nose and palate and little notes of violets and cream. There is plenty of cool, lissom fruit on the palate, reasonable length and noteable acidity. Though not a hugely profound wine, it really worked in providing a creamy, fruity partner to the sauce. Possibly my stand-out combination of the evening.

Adraki Chaampen
Nicholas Catena (Argentina) Agrelo Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 1995 – £8.95
A Punjabi dish. Pieces of lamb were marinated for 24 hours in garlic, ginger, peshweri masala and coriander then grilled. It was served with delicious potato cakes. This single vineyard wine is very serious stuff, with a warm, rich, berry-scented nose with notes of earth, spice and vanillin. Quite firm on the palate with grippy tannins, oak and a leathery quality to the wine. Pure blackcurrant fruit is there, but subdominant to big, dry tannins. However, this is a structured and complex wine of real quality. With the lamb (a twist on the classic lamb/claret combination) there was sufficiently bold fruit to complement the spicy coating on the meat.

Gulab Jamin and Ice-cream
Domaine de Fenouillet (France) Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise 1997 – £9.95
Gulab Jamin are little rose-scented puddings served in a sweet syrup. The Muscat is very delicate and honeyed with lovely aromas of nectarine and orange blossom. Quite light and fragrant on the palate with mandarin fruit. Medium bodied, but still dense and luscious, the sweet flavours stay pure into a long finish. A superior Muscat de Beaumes de Venise that avoids tasting too alcoholic (like many other examples) and which worked in harmony with the syrup. Very good.