Blog Event | Visit to the Four Seasons Winery, Baramati, Pune, India

“Accept what life offers you and try to drink from every cup. All wines should be tasted; some should only be sipped, but with others, drink the whole bottle.”
Paulo Coelho

Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, IndiaFour Seasons flew a group of food bloggers down to Pune to experience their winery in Baramati, Western India. With the weather beginning to get warm, the vineyard was at the height of the harvest season, with crushing and fermentation underway. A short flight away from New Delhi, seamless organisation and good communication meant that the experience from word go was good.

Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India Four Seasons produces wines from grapes grown around Sahyadri valley in Maharashtra, India and at its state-of-the-art winery near Baramati, around 65 kms from Pune. The chateau on location boasts 14 rooms, a swimming pool, a spa and a party deck and terrace which can hold a 1000 people for anyone looking for an interesting holiday.

Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India To further their promise of wine tourism, they’ve planned a restaurant offering wine and food pairing, a wine merchandise store, a wine boutique, tasting rooms and of course vineyard trails for wine enthusiasts.

Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India 26At the beautiful 14 room chateau, we were welcomed with a crisp bubbly from Bouvet-Ladubay. That brought an instant cheer. A quick freshen up and we headed for a wine and food pairing lunch put together by Indian celebrity chef Nilesh Limaye. It was a homey, comforting menu from Maharashtra, well planned and beautifully paired. It was refreshing to note how well the wines paired with regional cuisine.

Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India The menu was paired with their international brand of wine ‘Ritu which means ‘season‘ in sanskrit. Styled to suit the international palette, it captures the colours and moods of each years’ changing seasons. Crafted under the expertise of India’s most experienced wine maker, Abhay Kewadkar, who kept us company throughout the visit. Ritu is an award winning wine which is beginning to get noticed across the globe.

Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India It’s made from French varieties of grapes grown in valley in Baramati and is currently exported to the UK, France and Japan. Four Seasons does plan to introduce this gourmet wine to the Indian market in the near future. We tested it at over lunch, and it exceeded our expectations, especially the range of premium Barrique reserve wines.

Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India We began lunch with a cooler, Sol Kadhi, a kokum extract laced with mildly spiced coconut milk. It was brilliant. Everyone enjoyed it tremendously, and seconds were asked for! The appetiser, a Spicy Yam {Suranachi kaap} and Crispy fried Bombay Duck {Bombil Rav Fry}, was paired with a Ritu Savignon Blanc 2012.

Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India The main course had king prawns tossed in white and black sesame seeds in a typical Konkani coconut gravy, Tilatli Kolambi. Served over rice, mildly spiced again, it went well with the signature Ritu Viognier 2012.

Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India The stand out pairing was with the main course which offered a beautifully done traditional Nagpur lab curry, Mutton Saoji, the lamb sourced locally. It was well cooked, tender, dropping off the bone, and the spices quite simple. I love the play of regional flavours with wine pairing, a concept which is fast catching the imagination in India.  Paired with a ‘Ritu’ Shiraz Barrique Reserve 2010, it was quite interesting!!

Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India Time for dessert and of course we were stuffed, yet a Rice Kheer with a black grape compote, Tandaichi Kheer, couldn’t be missed. It’s wonderful to see how creative Chef Nilesh gets with the local cuisine. Dessert was paired with Ritu Late Harvest Chenin Blanc 2012, a dessert wine … deep, fruity and enticing!

Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India It was a packed two days with a tour of the winery, and the impressive facilities at the property. Huge crushers, fermenters, state of the art machinery with a huge capacity and well informed staff, it was a little unreal at times! Led by Abhay, it was an eye opener at each pit stop!

Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India We went from the tank hall to the world class barrel room, saw a interesting cross section of the soil in the valley, then to the fermentation plant. The new oak barriques that allow for a nine month maturation for the wines were beautiful. For a wine virgin like me, it was a steep learning curve, so interesting!

Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India Of course we were on the wings of time, and soon headed for the sunset. A not to be missed affair over the valleys that lay behind the chateau, it was amazing!

Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India A quick shower and it was time for candlelit dinner on the terrace gardens by the pool. A beautiful setting, the barbeque laid out, anti pasti on oak barrels and a Ritu Blush that stayed with us all evening. This Blush is a deeper pink than the traditional French Rose, but I think it offered more character! Pretty!Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India Dinner was however a bit haphazard and the formality of the candle lit dinner got a little lost in the meal courses getting mixed up. The soup arrived somewhere after the main course, the grills a little under spiced, yet the company good! The roof top setting by the poolside with a beautiful summery breeze more than made up for the shortcomings!

Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India It’s a stunning location for the chateau even though it might take a year for the region to develop. Despite hitting the sack well after 1 am, a few of us were up early to catch sunrise! Beautiful as ever, the sun rose over the chateau which faces East. Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India We grabbed a cup of tea and followed a very enthusiastic Abhay for a trek into the valley! A fast paced trot with views of deer now and then, it was a well spent hour. We got back in time for breakfast!!Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India Another good meal with local cuisine like Misal Pav as well as a continental spread on offer. A few adventurous souls had a bubbly. Not me though. It was time for coffee, followed by a quick tour of the bottling and labeling facilities, all state of art stuff.

Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India Next was a trot down to the vineyards around to increase ‘vine and wine’ knowledge at the R & D vineyard that lies in front of the chateau. I did go to Baramati with visions of grape vines hanging heavy with bunches of picturesque grapes, yet that was not to beI

Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India I think I can be forgiven for my ignorance as the harvest season is short and ends just before the heat sets in the plains. With the temperatures touching 30C during the day, there wasn’t a single bunch to be found in the vineyard.Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India

It was a wonderful experience, a steep learning curve, and a hope that I will be able to enjoy wine in a deeper sense in the future. Once the facilities and surroundings around Baramati develop, it’s a wonderful stopover for wine enthusiasts. Thank you Abhay Kewadkar, Anandita, Nilesh and all the staff at the resort that made our stay memorable. Thank you for having us over!

Thank you also Saurish, Pawan, Ekta, Rekha, Sangeeta & Hemant for for your good company!

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India


Baking | Basque Lamb Stew … White Wine or Red? Surpisingly both!

“I cook with wine. Sometimes I even add it to the food.”
W.C. Fields

Basque Lamb Stew Hello November. Here already? ALREADY?? With winter almost here, the Basque Lamb Stew is a good way to warm up … robust, hearty, full of flavour. It’s the time of the year when comfort food tops the list. Apple crumbles, mushroom soup, lamb and chicken curries, warm chocolate puddings, risottos, brownies, creamy cheesy pasta, ratatouille,  fresh bread, stew …

Basque Lamb Stew The lamb was meant for an Indian Lamb Stew or Gosht do Piaza, a hearty traditional Indian main. Yet some sour dough meant a loaf of fresh baked bread. The lamb thus headed for a continental makeover. Two recently gifted  bottles of wine from Four Seasons had me wanting to further my culinary skills. Google took me to Simply Recipes which had an interesting lamb stew recipe.

Basque Lamb Stew My knowledge of wine is pretty limited. A wine tasting session with a wine connoisseur some time back was enlightening. I  would like to cook with wine but am an under-confident ’wine’ cook! I do however find wine glasses and goblets romantic, pretty too! 

Basque Lamb Stew Basque Lamb Stew was in the oven soon. Experimental cooking is always fun, and has been on the mind even more after our recent Ozzie MasterChef meeting. That rejuvenated us to think differently, creatively, out of the box, locally, internationally, responsibly … every virtual thought led to food!

Basque Lamb Stew Sangeeta’s Dark Chocolate Mousse, Parul’s Merluza en Salsa de Pinones, Ruchira’s Thai Eggplant Salad and Rekha’s Fresh Waterchestnuts, Arugula and Peach Salad reminded me of the lamb stew that was waiting in the wings! All these have the wine in common.

Basque Lamb StewThe Basque Lamb Stew was a huge step for someone like me who has always cooked traditional Indian lamb dishes. Making this dish, I thought often about the very talented Basque ex-pat Aran Goyoaga who writes on Basque country and her childhood. I heard of this beautiful region while reading her posts.

Basque Lamb StewThe stew was delicious, hearty, and an enticing red. There was something inspiring about it. Despite being cooked in a completely different manner, it still had slight undertones of my Indian stew or ‘ishtoo‘ as it is often called! Amazing! The wines gave very gentle flavour to the dish, while the roasted red peppers added most of the brilliant colour! {The sour dough bread is a tomato basil  one the recipe scraps of which I sadly misplaced!}

What keeps you warm in winter, dear reader? What is your favourite comfort food?

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India



Food Event | Wine Tasting … a wine for every season at Four Seasons!

“If your heart is warm with happiness, you’ll need a glass – if sorrow chills your heart, have two!”
Hannu Lehmusvuori

Four Seasons Wine & Food Pairing, New DelhiPut together a bunch of food and lifestyle bloggers {read  eight ladies and a lad} with a few bottles of good wine, a connoisseur who is surprisingly refreshing and great company … and suddenly a searingly HOT afternoon quite unbearable at 45C becomes animated FUN! We were hosted by Four Seasons for a Wine & Food Pairing session at the quaint and charming Fres Co in the heart of New Delhi.Four Seasons Wine & Food Pairing, Fres Co, New DelhiFour Seasons Wine & Food Pairing, New Delhi

Whether it is the sprightliness of a fresh spring morning, the joyous warmth of a glorious summer afternoon, the tingling nip of a crisp autumn twilight or the biting chill of an icy winter night, to everything there is a season. And to every season, there is an experience. An experience captured by Four Seasons selection of the finest Indian wines.

Four Seasons Wine & Food Pairing

Photo courtesy Sangeeta

We walked in hot and bothered, complaining about the unbearable Indian summer. Purba, the lady with the funny bone, had us in splits, her one liners completely justifying her humor and satire blog A-musing. With her came the only ‘cat’ among the pigeons, Prateik aka Snow Leopard …  it was the pigeons day out as the sweet fellow lent us his ear and we chattered voraciously!Four Seasons Wine & Food PairingThe lovely Shamita Sinha, Miss Earth Universe and a wine connoisseur, a truly passionate wine lover, held our rapt attention for the next two hours. What followed was animated discussions, unraveling the magic of Four Seasons, understanding their philosophy, exploring Baramati virtually where they host their vineyards, and how FS is inspired by French wines  … all this through swirls and sips of different wines from the Four Seasons range paired perfectly with delicious grub.Four Seasons Wine & Food Pairing, Fres Co, New DelhiWe began with a still Rosé wine, Mr PABs favourite summer wine, Blush as the attractive salmon pink wine is aptly called. It was crisp, light and refreshing, a beautiful accompaniment for light summer fare … perfect! We’ve been looking for a good Rosé after the fabulous one that Mr PAB got back from France. After a couple of really disappointing local ones, Blush really stood out.Four Seasons Wine & Food PairingShamita Sinha, Miss Earth Universe and Wine ConnoisseurNext up was a still white wine Chenin Blanc, then a still red wine Merlot. We missed tasting the Barrique Reserve, but that was OK. Forks were beginning to fall every now and then, the happy gathering cheered on! Shamita talked us through the old school of thought, wine at room temperature and how the concept came to be in temperatures of 13-14C Europe of the past … and how that just didn’t work especially here at 40C! Times have changed so the rules have to go, basic guidelines lead the way, fusion cuisine is in … ultimately your palette is your guide and best friend.Four Seasons Wine & Food PairingDry vs Sweet, Red vs White, food pairings and fusion food pairings, the richness of the cuisine and the intensity of the wine, light summer fare with light summer wine, Indian cuisine and wine pairings, the tanins, the blush, colours from red to straw to white, the health benefits of drinking wine in moderation, antioxidants and also the ‘yeast’ monster at play here too … yes we talked!Sushmita & Sangeeta

Four Seasons, Wine & Food Pairing, New Delhi

Four Seasons Wine & Food Pairing

Photo courtesy Sangeeta

Four Seasons Wine & Food Pairing

Photo courtesy Anupama

It was wonderful to meet Sushmita, Sangeeta and Anupama for the first time, bloggers who loved the wine as much as the company. Rekha and Rituparna were there too in fine form, enthusiastic and bubbly as ever. It was a wonderful afternoon get together of high spirited women and a lad; we had a giggly good time. We got a heads up on the nuances of everything wine we could ask for from the very unassuming, down to Earth, warm and affable Shamita.Four Seasons Wine & Food Pairing, Fres Co, New DelhiThank you Four Seasons for having us over, for introducing us that hot afternoon to your beautiful range of wines and the inspired story behind it. Our incessant chatter and involved conversation might have told you that we enjoyed the afternoon immensely, wines and all, right down to the last drop!

Four Seasons Wine & Food Pairing

Thank you Ashu for organising the meet, and Jyoti for co-ordinating it this end.

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India


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