"The more we care for the earth, the better our wine"- the philosophy of the Torres family reflects their historic association with winemaking, stretching back to the 17th century, a tradition that gave rise to the house of Torres in 1870. Spain's premiere winemakers, with extensive vineyards across the beautiful Iberian Peninsula, with a presence in Chile and California, who have successfully translated their love for the land into a number of impressive eco-friendly initiatives, and socially responsible projects (see www.torresearth.com) recently showcased quality wines as part of the Food Lovers Wine Maker's Series, at Olive Beach restaurant.
The pre-dinner conversation, which veered towards wine drinking trends in India, had Marc Perello, the Brand Ambassador for Torres India, waxing enthusiastic and optimistic. There was the inevitable discussion of crippling taxes, and the need for effective distributorship - one of the frustrations faced by wine lovers is drinking a good wine at a promotion, and then being unable to find it on the market. However, Marc Perello was at pains to emphasize the availability of Torres wines, reeling off the names of their local distributors with ease, reassuring us that they were well stocked with Torres and adding, with infectious optimism, that he hoped in time, even the taxes would be more favourably structured! Martha Delfa, the lively sommelier from Torres, introduced the wines, taking justifiable pride in the impressive number of awards they have won. The Torres expertise was well matched by Chef Manu Chandra, who has earned a formidable reputation for the quality of his creations, and presented a menu and pairings with his customary élan. The creative young chef brought to the table an unorthodox choice of dishes, the bold originality touching lightly on Spanish cuisine, threaded together with creations using local vegetables and ingredients, which both intrigued and delighted his guests.
The welcome drink, the De Casta Rosé 2010, a lively, pale raspberry rosé, appropriate for the late summer evening that Bangalore was experiencing, stretched into the appetizer course, paired with a classic tomato Tarte Tatin.
Chef Chandra's traditional opening course did not prepare diners for the surprising flavours of the delicate velouté of poached prawn, fish, lobster, calamari and sautéed clams, and the pulp of the very Indian drumstick. Served with the Viña Esmeralda 2010, evocatively named after the emerald shades of the Mediterranean, a blend of Moscatel and Gewürztraminer grapes, this voluptuous, exotically perfumed wine, with a dash of litchee, passion fruit and a hint of sweetness, was as widely appreciated as the velouté.
The Gran Coronas 2007, a combination of Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo, the intriguingly named 'hare's eye' grape traditional to Catalunya, rich with notes of cherry, blackcurrants, vanilla, and deeper notes of leather and liquorice, with a lasting finish, brought in the Veal with Chorizo, Serrano and Fig Chutney.
The famous Torres 'black label', a 2006 vintage of the multiple award-winning Mas La Plana, a Cabernet Sauvignon from 40 year old vines, with it's deep flavours of berries and truffles that expand on the palate was fittingly served with the most unusual and innovative creation to emerge from the Olive kitchen that evening. Pork belly, braised for eight hours with herbs and spices, using kachampuli, tart, dark vinegar indispensable in the cuisine of Coorg; the result – meltingly tender pork, infused with the flavours of this rare vinegar, combined with herbs and cumin.
Vegetarians were not disappointed with the Chef's offerings – Chandra had wasted no time in drawing on a Catalan cookbook, presented to him by Marc Perello, and there were a couple of Catalan inspired courses on the menu, such as the Escalivada with Spinach and Potato Timble. Catalan Bread Pudding, served with a toasted almond and caramel ice –cream, came to the table with the Moscatel Oro Floralis. A luscious dessert wine, made from the classic Muscat de Alejandria grape, full on the mouth, with heady waves of rose, geranium and lemon verbena, the Moscatel generated much discussion on dessert wines.
Torres have a number of Vinotecas, where it is possible to taste wines in convivial and elegant surroundings, created with the thought that, "To share good food and good wine is the best way of getting to know someone." With a lively mix of media and hospitality professionals, entrepreneurs, corporate heads and expatriates who gather to savour good wines over the best food in town, The Food Lovers Wine Maker's Series holds all the promise of such experiences.
This article appeared in Food Lovers Magazine Vol.5, issue 5, October/November 2011.
Image Credits: Courtesy Torres Wines