Sikkim Diaries : Some Useful Travel Tips

My first blog post of the year and it is not about wine. That’s because Sikkim, a nature lover’s paradise, where I spent a fair amount of time in the month of December, is so much on my mind.

In any case, I have been wanting to write on travel for a long time. Since I am always on the move, it makes sense to share my travel experiences in India and across the world, with my readers.

What better way to begin with than write about this picturesque mountainous state Sikkim, situated in the North-East of India.

Photographs of the majestic Kangchenjunga (28,169ft), the third highest mountain in the world which lies partly in Sikkim India and partly in Nepal, have been enticing me since many years. But for some reasons Sikkim never figured on my travel itinerary, till my husband got posted there recently, as the Post Master General of the state.

Now was my opportunity to see this part of India. So I booked myself on an Air India flight from New Delhi to Bagdogra, the nearest airport to the capital of Sikkim, Gangtok and set out to explore this second smallest state, which become part of India as late as 15th May 1975.

Usually before setting foot in a new place, I try and  find out everything there is to know through the internet. But none of the websites on Sikkim gave me information which I am sharing through this article.

Breathtaking view of the Kanchenjunga Range from Raj Bhawan Road, Gangtok, Sikkim. All photographs in this blog taken by me.
Breathtaking view of the Kanchenjunga Range from Raj Bhawan Road, Gangtok, Sikkim. All photographs in this blog post taken by me.

The two and a half hour flight from Delhi glides along the mighty Himalayan range and on a clear day, you can get a glimpse of most ranges, including Mount Everest. Be sure to book a window seat (RowA) on the left side of the plane while flying towards the east. Internet search of the peaks prior to flying out will help you in identifying them from air. This will make your air plane ride quite interesting.

View of Mount Everest from 36,000 ft, high up in the sky. Picture is hazy as it is taken from the aircraft window.
View of Mount Everest from 36,000 ft, high up in the sky. Picture is hazy as it is taken from the aircraft window.

Though the distance from Bagdogra airport to Gangtok is just 125 kms, it takes four and a half hours or more to reach, due to perpetual traffic jams on NH31A and the hilly terrain. Since travel time is much more than what the distance suggests, plan ahead accordingly. This holds true for travel throughout Sikkim .

However, it is a beautiful up-hill and down-hill drive along the emerald green Teesta river and it is best to switch off from the traffic conditions, look out of the car window and enjoy the serene views. Water does have a calming effect on the senses.

Most of the four hour drive from Bagdogra airport to Gangtok is along the Teesta river.
Most of the four hour drive from Bagdogra airport to Gangtok is along the Teesta river.

There are two travel options from Bagdogra to Gangtok. Either a pre-paid private taxi from the airport or a shared taxi-jeep depending on your budget. But be prepared for some rash driving by the cabbies, which might cause a panic attack, if you are not used to traveling on hilly roads.

The entire North-East gets pitch dark by 5.30 pm during winters. In case you are traveling at this time of the year, choose your hotel wisely. If it is near MG Road, which is the throbbing heart of Gangtok and has some semblance of a night life, you may find things to do in the evening.

Otherwise, opt for a hotel which offers some activities and a meal plan (preferably dinner), so that you don’t have to go hunting for food at night. Most of the town wears a deserted look after 7.30 pm in winters.

However, the biggest advantage of visiting Sikkim during winters is the clear view of the mighty Kanchenjunga range on most days.

During summers visibility is not the best. Plus you will have to jostle for space with raucous hordes of tourists who will be arriving from all parts of India.

Monsoon (June-mid September) is not advisable either due to frequent landslides which cause road blocks and hamper travel. Plus no views.

Ideally the best time to visit Sikkim is end February to April, if you love snow. Most of the mountain lakes are frozen at this time and April end is the season for flowers. October to December is best for the views, though you will not find any snow, except on the distant peaks.

If you have limited time, I would say two days is enough for Gangtok, for local sight-seeing. You can look up any Sikkim tourism website and pick out the spots. Local taxis are the best option here. They operate on a point system (1 point = one tourist spot) and not by meter.

I would recommend walking if any of the tourist spots are within a few kilometres of your hotel or place of stay.

Not to be missed are Enchey and Rumtek Monateries, Tsuklakhang Royal Chapel, Hanuman Tok Temple (for the best view of the Kanchenjunga). You can avoid the much hyped Tashi View Point (8 kms from Gangtok town) as the nearby Ganesh Tok temple has better views.

Clockwise from top left Rumtek, Tsuklakhang Royal Chapel & Enchey Monastery
Clockwise from top left Rumtek, Tsuklakhang Royal Chapel & Enchey Monastery

The most important thing to remember is that the best time to view the magnificent Himalayan ranges is early morning between 6 am-10.30 am. So plan your day accordingly.

Other than the picturesque views, what strikes you most in Gangtok, is the lack of incessant honking (horns are illegal within the city limits) and the cleanliness. There is a hefty fine of Rs 5000 for littering. This is a pleasant change from most Indian cities and I really wish it could be replicated in the rest of India too.

The people of Sikkim, a mix of India Gorkhas (Nepalese), Lepcha and Bhutias are very friendly, helpful and courteous. Since majority follow Buddhism, they are gentle by nature and non-aggressive. Another delightful change from North India.

Practically everyone who visits Gangtok makes a day trip to India’s Border Post with China, Nathu La, a mountain pass connecting Sikkim with China’s Tibet Autonomous Region. Situated at an altitude of 14,216 ft and just 55 kms from Gangtok, Nathu La forms part of the ancient Silk Road and is one of the three open trading border posts between India and China.

A dampener for foreign nationals is that only Indians are allowed to go till Nathu La and that too after applying for an Inner Line Permit. In fact, most places in Sikkim fall under restricted area requiring a permit to visit. So check before hand if the place you intend to visit requires a special permit or not and carry enough passport size photographs and photostat copies of your Aadhar or Election Card.

Nathu La is closed for all tourists on Mondays and Tuesdays. So keep that in mind too.

Nathu La India's border post with China's Tibet Autonomous Region and Baba Mandir
Nathu La India’s border post with China’s Tibet Autonomous Region and Baba Mandir

Tsomgo or Changu Lake (40 kms from Gangtok at an altitude of 12,700 feet) which is on the way to Nathu La is however open to all tourists, Indian and foreign. But you need a separate Permit for this, other than the one for Nathu La, though both fall on the same route.

Tsomgo or Changu Lake in East Sikkim on the way to Nathu La and Baba Mandir.
Tsomgo or Changu Lake in East Sikkim on the way to Nathu La and Baba Mandir.

It is a spectacular drive on dizzying mountain roads. However, since you will be climbing from 5200 ft to 14,000, in just a matter of two hours without acclimatization, you are bound to suffer from high altitude sickness, like I did. Symptoms are a blinding headache and nausea and the only cure is slow descent and adequate rest.

Drive from Gangtok to Nathu La
Drive from Gangtok to Nathu La

One place which should be a must on your itinerary if you are traveling to Sikkim is Pelling (7,200ft) in West Sikkim. Though just 115 kms away from Gangtok, it takes more than fours hours to reach as the road is non-existent. It is practically a dirt track.

But then again, switch off from the horrendous road conditions, concentrate on the beautiful poinsettias and numerous waterfalls along the way and take in the magnificent views. If only Sikkim had better roads was my constant lament throughout my travels.

Do stop at the picturesque tourist town, Ravangla in South Sikkim, about 65 kms from Gangtok, on the way to Pelling and visit Tathagata Tsal or Buddha Park as it is known as.

Buddha Park at Ravangla, a small tourist town situated at an elevation of 7000ft in South Sikkim. It lies between Pelling and Gangtok (65 kms from Gangtok)
Buddha Park at Ravangla, a small tourist town situated at an elevation of 7000ft in South Sikkim. It lies between Pelling and Gangtok (65 kms from Gangtok)

In my opinion, the best place to stay in Pelling, is the  beautiful heritage resort, Elgin Mount Pandim, which is within walking distance of Pemayangstse Monastery and about 8kms from Pelling town. You get spectacular views of Kanchenjunga range from here, provided the mountain wants to reveal itself to you. Most times it is shrouded in clouds.

The Elgin Mount Pandim, Pemayangtse, Pelling
The Elgin Mount Pandim, Pemayangtse, Pelling

Must see place situated very close to Pelling is Rabdenste Ruins, the second capital of the Chogyals (temporal and religious rulers of Sikkim from 1642-1975).

Rabdentse Ruins, on the south east side of Pemayangtse Monastery. Rabdentse was the second capital of of the former kingdom of Sikkim from 1670 to 1814.
Rabdentse Ruins, on the south east side of Pemayangtse Monastery. Rabdentse was the second capital of of the former kingdom of Sikkim from 1670 to 1814.

If you don’t have much time, avoid going to Yuksom (40 kms from Pelling), the starting point for Dzongri and Goecha La Treks to Kanchenjunga Base Camp. There is nothing much to this town except Norbugang, the coronation site of Phuntsog Namgyal, the first Chogyal of Sikkim. Yuksom was the first capital of Sikkim established in 1642 AD.

Yuksom in West Sikkim
Yuksom in West Sikkim which literally means the “meeting place of the three learned monks”. It is the starting points of treks going to Kanchenjunga Base Camp.

I was also disappointed by the much revered Khecheopalri Lake (34 kms to the northwest of Pelling) as the scenery was not inspiring. So unless you have a religious bent of mind, save some precious hours and spend more time in Pelling. The drive to and from Pelling to Khecheopalri takes nearly two hours on narrow hilly roads.

Khecheopalri Lake, sacred to both Buddhists & Hindus, located 34 kms to the northwest of Pelling town and at a distance of 147 kms west of Gangtok
Khecheopalri Lake, sacred to both Buddhists & Hindus, located 34 kms to the northwest of Pelling town and at a distance of 147 kms west of Gangtok

My staple diet during my stay in Sikkim was local Tibetan dishes momos and thukpa which you find everywhere, from roadside stalls to restaurants. I also tried Nepali cuisine at Thakali on MG Road Gangtok, which has many good restaurants and bars.

Thukpa, Momos, Shaphaley and Thakali Thali (Nepalese cuisine)
Thukpa, Momos, Shaphaley and Thakali Thali (Nepalese cuisine)

Sikkim is an organic state and most local produce like fruits and vegetables is sold along the highways. You must try the fruits especially oranges and kiwis.

Also don’t forget to carry back some Dalle Chili Pickle and Chilli Paste with you. Though not as potent as Bhut Jolokia (ghost pepper), world’s hottest chilli, it does pack quite a punch.

Oranges, Dalle Khursani (round chilli) & Vegetables, all grown organically, available along highways throughout Sikkim
Oranges, Dalle Khursani (round chilli), Vegetables & Lentils, all grown organically, available along highways throughout Sikkim

Meanwhile, I am still in a Sikkim state of mind and dream of exploring other parts of this beautiful heavenly state. Would love to see Yumthang Valley, Lachung, Lachen & Gurudongmar Lake in North Sikkim,  if I get a chance to visit again.

By: Lavina Kharkwal

All photos posted here are clicked by me except the ones in which I am there.

On a Sangiovese Trail with Fratelli Wines

Talk about a Sangiovese Trail and the mind immediately takes you to the beautiful Tuscan countryside and its lush wines, Chianti, Chianti Classico, Brunello di Montalcino, Rosso di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Super Tuscans. This is only natural as Sangiovese is a grape, so firmly rooted in the Central Italian landscape, that it is difficult to picture it in any other scenario.

So imagine someone taking this fussy little fella outside its natural environment, planting it far far away in a remote village in rural Maharashtra, India and producing not one, not two, but five different styles featuring this temperamental Italian superstar, Sangiovese, which literally means “Blood of Jove” referring to the Roman god Jupiter.

Had anyone told me this five years ago, I would have probably scoffed in disbelief and asked them what they were smoking. But this was before Fratelli Wines and Piero Masi happened to India.

It took a maverick Italian winemaker, Piero Masi, from Tavarnelle di Pesa, a small town in Chianti Florence, creator of the famous “Chianti Classico Casa Sola”, someone with a deep cultural connect with Tuscany and enough experience with this Italian varietal, to hero the Sangiovese in his wines at Fratelli Vineyards in Akluj Maharastra.

After months of extensive research Fratelli’s Chief Winemaker, Masi, chose a clone of Sangiovese, most suited to the mineral and limestone rich arid Akluj soil, nurturing and tending it, till it took roots and began yielding good quality fruit. He managed to tame the asperity of this highly acidic light coloured grape and produce wines with a distinct character.

A winemaker’s expertise lies in how well he can use one grape to show its many different expressions and this is what Piero Masi has done with the Sangiovese in Akluj.

However it takes a couple of vintages even for the best in the business to make good wine and now Fratelli Vineyards can proudly display what it has achieved with the Sangiovese, by showcasing it in a manner like it did at a recent seven course “Modern Indian Dinner” held at Pluck, Pullman New Delhi Aerocity, where five styles of Sangiovese were paired with some excellent dishes.

Magandeep Singh, India’s most well known sommelier, wine educator and host of countless television shows on wine and spirits along with Craig Wedge, Brand Director Fratelli Wines, explained the story behind each of the labels.

The trail began with Fratelli Vineyards Sangiovese Bianco. This crisp refreshing white wine with a smokey mineral thread running through is made from 100% Sangiovese which is a red grape. A technique which requires great expertise indeed.

Next was Fratelli Vineyards newest label Fratelli Vineyards M/S Red Sangiovese, a blend of 60% Sangiovese, 20% Cabernet Franc and 20% Syrah. M stands for Piero Masi while S is for Steven Spurrier, a man whose exploits relating to Judgement of Paris have been well documented in the film Bottle Shock.

A couple of months back when I had tasted M/S Red, I found it had a few rough edges. But now the oak and the fruits seem better integrated and the tannins felt smoother. Fruit showed well and the wine had a spicy lingering finish.

Third was Fratelli Vineyards Classico Sangiovese, a simple straightforward crowd-pleaser with a nice juicy vibrancy. This wine is a great introduction to Sangiovese for those who are not familiar with this grape. Since there is no oak used, the fruit shines in all its glory.

Fratelli Vineyards Vitae Sangiovese was next. This is a single vineyard wine and comes from Plot C in Garwar. Keeping up with growing trend world-wide towards single vineyard bottlings, Fratelli has come up with another first in India. Their endeavour is to make a Burgundy style Pinot Noir from low yields, low extraction and use of new french oak.

Some of the greatest wines of the world like Burgundy grand crus and premier crus come from single vineyards and the most revered name is Domaine de la Romanée-Conti.

The last wine of the evening was Fratelli Vineyard’s flagship Sette, a wine which hardly needs an introduction. A blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and tiny bit of Cabernet Franc, fashioned after Super Tuscans, this wine created a benchmark, by showing the world that India was capable of producing age worthy premium quality wines. The 2012 vintage of Sette is their best yet as it the most balanced.

Sangiovese Trail by Fratelli Vineyards at Pluck & Pling, Pullman New Delhi Aerocity
Sangiovese Trail by Fratelli Vineyards at Pluck & Pling, Pullman New Delhi Aerocity

All the wines at the Sangiovese Trail were paired with dishes made with a lot of creativity, keeping in mind the flavor profile of each wine. Tristan Beau de Lomenie, the suave French General Manager of Pullman New Delhi Aerocity is a wine lover and a proponent of “Farm to Table “concept. A lot of ingredients which went into the meal that evening at Pluck came from his hotel in-house farm.

Meanwhile the House of Fratelli India is ready to come out with more firsts. I will not be surprised if we have a Brunello style 100% Sangiovese from them in the near future.

By: Lavina Kharkwal

Sangiovese Trial by Fratelli Wines. In the photographs Craig Wedge Brand Director Fratelli Wines, Reva Singh Editor Sommelier India, Isabel & Tristan Beau de Lomenie, Chefs of Pullman New Delhi Aerocity.
Sangiovese Trial by Fratelli Wines. In the photographs Craig Wedge Brand Director Fratelli Wines, Reva Singh Editor Sommelier India, Magandeep Singh, Isabel & Tristan Beau de Lomenie, Chefs of Pullman New Delhi Aerocity.

Read more on Fratelli Wines here

https://highonwines.com/2015/06/02/fratelli-wines-making-a-splash-in-india-abroad/

 

 

Maltese Wines : Not an Enigma Anymore

The first time I heard about Maltese wine was from a fellow participant during the 8th International Wine Tourism Conference (IWINETC) held in Barcelona in April 2016.

Marco Micallef, a Maltese national and I happened to share a table during lunch and as usual got talking about wine. What else does one talk about during a wine conference ? He was as surprised to hear that India produced wine as much as I was about Malta.

I put that conversation behind me thinking where will I ever get a chance to try out Maltese wine. Unless of course I visited this beautiful Southern European Mediterranean island nation situated approximately 50 miles off the coast of Sicily. Marco mentioned that most of the country’s small production of wines was consumed within and hardly any was exported outside, same as with several smaller wine producing countries in Europe like Slovenia.

Then a few days back I found myself seated on the same table as the High Commissioner of Malta to India, H.E Stephan Borg, at a dinner thrown by the Greek Ambassador where some lovely Greek wines were served.

On hearing that I was a wine writer, the Maltese High Commissioner extended me an invitation to join him for a wine tasting at his High Commission, where a function was organised by Blue Marble Destination Services to promote Malta as a destination for weddings and corporate conferences.

The wines served at this event were from Meridiana, an estate situated in Malta’s agricultural heartland at Ta’Qali. It was founded in 1987 by a local businessman, Mark Miceli-Farrugia, who in 1992 collaborated with the Antinori family of Tuscany (of Tignanello fame) to produce “World class wines of Maltese character”. Now the winery is wholly owned by Antinori.

Tasting wines from Meridiana Wine Estate Ta' Qali Malta with the High Commissioner of Malta H.E. Stephen Borg
Tasting wines from Meridiana Wine Estate Ta’Qali Malta with the High Commissioner of Malta H.E. Stephen Borg

The High Commissioner informed me that though Malta’s wine making tradition dates back over two thousand years to the time of the Phoenicians, it was only from 1970’s onwards that a serious attempt was made to revive the local wine industry by planting several French and Italian vitis vinifera varieties like Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Trebbiano, Vermentino etc. Vitis Vinifera are grape varieties that are turned into wines.

Earlier wines in Malta were produced mostly from table grapes or from imported grapes or “must” (freshly pressed grape juice that contains the skin, seeds and stem of the fruit).

The two native indigenous vitis vinefera varieties found in Malta and its sister island Gozo, Girgentina (white) and Gellewza (red), I was told make rather decent wines, aromatic and juicy reds, fruity rosé wines and some crisp floral whites. The earliest two wineries established in Malta were Marsovin and Emmanuel Delicata.

With the addition of Meridiana, Camilleri and Montekristo the total number of wineries has gone up to five. Actually four to be precise as Marsovin and Camilleri merged together a few years ago. It may sound like a very small number but please remember that Malta is not a big nation and even though the boom in tourism fuelled the demand for wine, it also limited agricultural land available for planting vineyards. Hence there are only a handful of wineries producing wine.

The biggest push to the domestic wine industry came when Malta joined the EU in 2004. With the lifting of levies on imported wines, Maltese winemakers were forced to improve quality due to increased competition. The EU even funded 1,000 hectares of new vineyards to make the island’s wine industry self-sufficient.

A system of regulation similar to Italy’s came into place in 2007 when Malta introduced its DOK (same as EU’s PDO Protected Designation of Origin where 100% of the grapes have to come from a specified region and IGT same as PGI or Protected Geographical Indication where 85% of the grapes come from a demarcated geographical area and 15% can come from outside areas but within the country).

The three Merdiana Estate wines which I tasted that evening were Astarte Vermentino 2015, Fenici Rose 2015 and Bel Syrah Superior 2013. These boutique style wines were clearly some of the better Maltese wines.

Astarte Vermentino had a nice lemony zest and pronounced floral aftertaste with a hint of saltiness from the sea, very similar to what you find in most Greek white wines.

Fenici Rosé made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah was vibrant with pronounced red berry flavours and a slight spiciness from the Syrah. Both wines were dry with a freshness and finely tuned acidity.

Bel Syrah was a nice fleshy red with spice accents and a touch of oak. The name Bel actually recalls the Phoenician god of fertility.

One could clearly see the Antinori stamp on these wines.

I am hoping that next time I taste Maltese wines will be somewhere on this sun-kissed island watching a spectacular sunset sipping a glass of crisp Girgentina.

By: Lavina Kharkwal

Reference: The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson

 

 

Singaporean Food Festival at The Leela Ambience Gurgaon

The other day I received an invitation to attend the Opening Cocktail Party of the ten day long Singaporean Food Festival “Singapore Surprise”, currently on at Spectra, The Leela Ambience Gurgaon till the 23rd of Oct 2016.

Just the name Singapore was enough to evoke memories of the sweet and tangy Singapore Chilli Crab that I had tried many years back at one of Singapore’s numerous Hawker Centres or open air food courts which define Singaporean food culture so well.

In fact when I read that two of Singapore’s hawker stalls, Chen Hon Meng’s “Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodles” and “Hill Street Tai Hua Pork Noodle” had been awarded one Michelin Star, I was hardly surprised as Singapore has the most delicious and hygienic street food in the world. And the Michelin guide just validated what the world has known all along. These are probably the cheapest Michelin starred eateries  that you will find anywhere in the world.

So impressed was I with this island nation’s lively culinary scene, predominantly Chinese with influences from Malaysia, India, Indonesia, Thailand  and several others nations and a true reflection of its multi-ethnic culture, that I promised myself I would revisit very soon.

However this did not happen though the craving and longing for Singaporean culinary delights resurfaced from time to time whenever the country’s name was mentioned.

Finally this particular food craving got addressed not by catching a flight to Singapore, but by going to Spectra, The Leela Ambience Gurgaon where a Singaporean food festival is currently going on.

Singapore Chilli Crab, Chicken Satay, Char Kuey Teow & Fish Curry at Spectra Leela Ambience Gurgaon
Singapore Chilli Crab, Chicken Satay, Char Kuey Teow & Fish Curry at Spectra Leela Ambience Gurgaon

To make the experience as an authentic as possible Michel Koopman, the General Manager of The Leela Ambience Gurgaon has invited three acclaimed chefs from The Fullerton Hotel Singapore, Richard Ng, Kelvin Wong and Kevin Wong Soon Wah and their star mixologist Naveen Balakrishnan, to prepare about 20-25 dishes along with classic drinks like “Singapore Sling”.

Three of the four Singaporean dishes that were included in the 2015 list of “World’s 50 Most Delicious Foods” are part of Singapore Surprise at Spectra. These are Hainanese Chicken Rice, Chilli Crab and Singaporean Laksa, which is a little different from the Penang or Malaysian Laska as it has more coconut and is slightly sweeter.

The other quintessential dishes which dominate Singaporean cuisine featured at the Food Festival at Spectra are Rojak (a salad of fruits, fried dough, bean sprouts, cucumber topped off with crushed peanuts), Char Kuey Teow (sweet smokey and sinful stir-fried rice cake strips with prawns & Chinese sausage), Sambal Stingray, Chicken Satay (the Singaporean version has more turmeric than the Thai one), the popular Prawn Kueh Pie Tee (bite size crispy pastry shell filled with a delicious fragrant mix of prawns and other condiments) , Nasi Lemak and many other delicacies.

Malaysian Masterchef of The Leela Ambience Gurgaon Chef Anthony Tuh with his team at the Singaporean Food Festival at Spectra The Leela Ambience Gurgaon
Malaysian Masterchef of The Leela Ambience Gurgaon Chef Anthony Tuh with his team at the Singaporean Food Festival at Spectra The Leela Ambience Gurgaon

The chefs from The Fullerton Hotel Singapore are assisted by the triumvirate of The Leela Ambience kitchen also called “The Three Musketeers of Leela”, Executive Chef Neeraj Rawoot, Executive Pastry Chef Anurag Bhartwal and Malaysian Master Chef Anthony Tuh Yit Yu.

Executive Sous Chef of The Fullerton Hotel Singapore, Richarg Ng with Executive Chef Neeraj Rawoot, Executive Pastry Chef Anurag Bhartwal & Executive Sous Chef Amit Wadhera of The Leela Ambience Gurgaon at the Opening Cocktail Party of Singapore Surprise
Executive Sous Chef of The Fullerton Hotel Singapore, Richarg Ng with Executive Chef Neeraj Rawoot, Executive Pastry Chef Anurag Bhartwal & Executive Sous Chef Amit Wadhera of The Leela Ambience Gurgaon at the Opening Cocktail Party of Singapore Surprise

There are lucky draws and exciting prizes to be won sponsored by The Leela Ambience Gurgaon, The Fullerton Hotel, Singapore Airlines & Vistara.

If you wish to contribute to a noble cause then there is a Charity Dinner at The Royal Ballroom at The Leela on 20thOct 2016 where a five-course dinner is paired with classic Singaporean cocktails along with Chardonnay, Chablis and Italian sparkling wine.

So go ahead and indulge your taste buds like I did at “Singapore Surprise”

By : Lavina Kharkwal

For more information on Singaporean Lunch & Dinner Buffet please call 01244771255 or email at fnb.marketing.com

 

 

The Fine Wine Affair : Oberoi Gurgaon & La Cave bring you a Luxury Wine Experience

wine-cheese-platter-the-fine-wine-affair-the-oberoi-gurgaon-02
Photo courtesy The Oberoi, Gurgaon

If you are a wine lover who keeps lamenting the fact that not enough exciting events are happening where you can taste good wines, learn about them or simply enjoy them with your friends then Bacchus has just answered your prayers.

This weekend Oct 14th 15th & 16th 2016, there is a wine extravaganza coming your way organised by “Madame La Cave” Madhulika Bhattacharya Dhall, proprietor of La Cave, the finest Wine and Liquor store in the country and The Oberoi Gurgaon, a luxury hotel and a fabulous wine destination well-known for its champagne brunches, wine dinners and various wine promotions organised by their knowledgeable resident sommelier Rakesh Awaghade.

The Fine Wine Affair is an event of a scale never before attempted in India just in terms of the sheer number of high-end premium wines being served under one roof. Nearly 100 labels from countries like Italy, France, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina will be on offer, from big renowned producers as well as artisan growers.

Top end champagnes, bold Italian reds like Brunellos, Barolos, Supertuscans and easy drinking Chiantis, refreshing Italian and Chilean whites, exquisite Burgundy whites & reds, fruity Napa Valley cabernets, juicy and spicy shiraz dominant Australian blends, delightful pinot noirs and sauvignon blancs from New Zealand, you name them and they are there.

Imagine getting a chance to taste wines from some of the biggest names in the wine world like Champagne Bollinger, Louis Roederer of Cristal fame, Gaja, Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi, Marchesi di Barolo, Castello Banfi, Allegrini, Tenuta San Guido (who produce the famous Suerptuscan Sassicaia), Louis Jadot, Louis Latour, Baron Phillippe de Rothschild, Tarapaca, Bodega Norton, Cakebread Cellars, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Penfolds, Lindeman’s, D’Arenberg, Chateau Ste. Mitchelle, Kendall Jackson, Livio Felluga (an outstanding producer whose wines I tasted in Verona during Vinitaly 2016) and several others. Just writing about these is making my mouth salivate.

The best part is the unbelievably low prices at which they are available. Ten pours for Rs 1500 if you book the afternoon slot 12-2pm & 2.30-4.30 pm or Rs 2000 for the evening slot 5-7pm & 7.30-9.30pm. And you can select these ten from any of the hundred labels on offer. So do your homework in advance and choose wisely. At any restaurant in the city you will end up paying five times the amount just for one glass of some of these high-end wine labels.

What gets even better is that the wines come paired with gourmet offerings from The Oberoi Gurgaon Patisserie and Kitchen at no additional cost. There is plenty of choice from antipasti, premium olives, ham, assorted cheeses, breads, ceviche of Chilean sea bass, alfajores (cookies from South America) to macarons and other delights.

Apart from guided wine tasting sessions there will be masterclasses and interactive learning sessions on wine evaluations and ideal gourmet pairings at a minuscule extra cost of Rs 500 per person, conducted by experts who have flown in from various countries. If you are a wine novice there is no better opportunity than this to expand your horizons.

The venue for The Fine Wine Affair is the Art Concourse at The Oberoi Gurgaon which has been converted into a wine theatre for the three day extravaganza. So get ready to indulge and book those tickets fast before the limited slots fill up.

As for me, I know how I will begin my weekend. With a glass of Bollinger Champagne repeating this famous quote from the late Lily Bollinger.

“I drink champagne when I’m happy and when I’m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and I drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it, unless I’m thirty”.

By : Lavina Kharkwal

Tickets for The Fine Wine Show are available at Book My Show and you can book them here .

Date : 14th -16th October, 2016 | Time : 1200 hrs to 2130 hrs | Place : The Art Concourse at The Oberoi, Gurgaon

For wine masterclass passes you can contact mallika.dasgupta@oberoihotels.com