Wine dining so fine: The world’s top six wine restaurants
Grand goblets take KISHORE AND SMITA IYENGAR across the world’s most distinguished and reputed WINE dining restaurants where premium labels rule the palates.
AL MAHARA – BURJ AL ARAB, DUBAI, UAE
This distinguished wine and gourmet landmark rated among the top 10 award-wining fine wining and dining restaurants in the world is graced by its’ signature giant floor-to-ceiling aquarium, the stunning live backdrop for the ocean’s bounty mood. Our enchanting sensory stimulation begins with a chilled flute of ‘2006 Louis Roederer Champagne,’ as Michelin-star culinary creations and signature flavors enticed us along with premium fine world wines.
The exotic Burj Al Arab private label caviar beluga accompanied our Champagne, as we sailed on to a floral and citrusy‘2010 Lois Loimer Gruner Veltliner’ that charmed us. The exquisite Persian herb tart with poached egg yolk and saffron cardamom emulsion lived up its diverse flavors with a fine dry Austrian ‘2007 Weingut St. Urbans-Hof QbA Riesling’ leaving us speechless. The mains got more interesting, -Tortellini with asparagus emulsion and braised potato carrot, shaven Alba Truffles smeared with white wine jus. To crown this super dish was a peppery and smoked wood flavored ‘2009 New Zealand Ara Pinot Noir’ treating us to light tannins and mildly acidic flavors.
LUNA – THE ST.REGIS MUMBAI, INDIA
A dining soiree based on “making memories” crafted ingeniously by Chef de Cuisine Yogen Adep unfolds reimagined culinary Classics, highlighted with signature flourishes that whip up nostalgia on your palates. As we took in the dazzling evening city views from level 37 our classical wine dining commenced with a crisp Champagne Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial, Epernay with the perfect acidity and dryness, to toast with!
Luna’s eclectic wine dining spans its concept of strong gourmet recall of all-time favorites that have lapsed into history. The experience is exciting with the grand wine pairings we’d recommend with personal conviction.
A light and sprightly white Domaine Gobelsberg, Gruener Veltliner from Langenlois in Austria makes oenophilic magic with the beluga Lobster Thermidor, its valley floral bouquets, green apple and pear flavors adding zest to the grand seafood favorite. Ye olde faithfulls like Shepherd’s Pie, Meatballs, Carbonara Toretellini with Parma Ham , Fish & Chips and Classic Paella sing along splendidly with superb wines like Hugel and Fils Gentil, Alsace, France, -a delightfully sweet and honeysuckle flavored, aromatic teaser white.
As the noir tones change canvas across the sky, take in the superlative full bodied oakwood nose and peppery flavors of a fine red wine, –Torres Altos Ibericos, Tempranilo from Rioja, Spain or a uber grand Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California-USA with cigar and leather palate matched with Blackened Spiced Himalayan Trout and Truffle Roast Chicken. Their intriguing Cheese Fondue bubbling over with the liberal flavors of Swiss cheese pair well with a grandly fragrant Saint Clair, Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand.
The avant garde ambiance with vantage soft light spots add a touch of enchantment to the wine dining as you try out vegetarian specials like Morels and Asparagus Risotto; Burrata Tortellini with Shaved Asparagus & Truffle Froth going remarkably well on the taste buds. To size up these, flavors find favor with a Rolf Binder, HALLIWELL, Shiraz Grenache from Barossa Valley, Australia with assertive tannins and truffle hints in cigar box aromas or the award winning grand master among fine Indian reds –a Grover Zampa Chene Grande Reserve from Sanjegaon near Nashik.
Chef Yogen’ signature numbers like the Bombay Benedict (inspired from the original dish; Jack Daniel Spare Ribs), Chicken Cordon Bleu or Chilean Sea Bass En Papillote and Black Cod Aqua Pazza work culinary wonders with other top notch wine labels we’d selectively pick for culinary synergy. In order of preference –-Terras Do Sado Periquita, Alentejo, Portugal, Zonin Amarone della Valpolicela, DOCG, Veneto, Italy, MAN Family, Free-Run Steen, Chenin Blanc, Coastal, South Africa, all contrastingly robust and assertive.
ATELIER – HOTEL BAYERISCHER HOF – MUNICH, GERMANY
At Munich’s renowned and celebrated Michelin Star address, fine wines and innovative cuisine create an endless symphony in earthy, raw facades ambience. The primal touch, earthy décor adds authenticity as our ‘Smoked Eel with beetroot, pear and foie gras’ blended perfect with a 2009 Trittenheimer Apotheke Riesling Kabinett Dry, Cluesserath Winery-Mosel. Wonderfully mellow on the palates with lily and white rose bouquets.
Our ‘Grey Patridge with Rouennais sauce and white cabbage’ matched a young 2010 Gruener Veltliner “Senfrenburger Pin” Vintage dry, Martin Nigl winery from Kremstal, Austria. Outstanding combo that accentuated the moist grass and green bamboo fragrances, adding verve to lemony peach flavors.
It was seamless co-ordination of ‘Raw milk cheese from Maitre Affineur Waltmann’ with a truly special 1999 Chateau Rieussec 1er Cru Classe from Sauternes, France. It sailed along with their ‘Monte Carlo 2011 with Dulce de Leche and sour cream’, complemented with a glass of a stunningly light and floral 2008 Late-harvest Welschriesling & Chardonnay from Kracher winery in Burgenland, Austria.
BOTTICINO – THE TRIDENT BANDRA KURLA MUMBAI, INDIA
An elevated all glass dedicated dining alcove in this classy rotunda shaped fine wine dining landmark uplifts your evening sojourn. A floor-to-ceiling Enoteca and Grappa Bar are signature elements in an appealing minimalistic space that offers world class contemporary Italian dining, conducted by ace Chef Sivakumar.
The cuisine opens out the wine matches with symphonic harmony here as we opened our exploration with cheery floral Sauvignon Blanc,Vina Tarapaca, Maipo Valley, Santiago, Chile. The outstanding Goat Cheese Mousse, beetroot sponge and orange spheres was mouth melting.
Chef Sivakumar’s innovation scores international excellence with San Danielle Prosciutto and red wine poached pear, homemade Ricotta, celery and Piadina bread. This paired dynamically with an exhilarating Viognier, Grovers Art Collection, Nandi Hills, Karnataka, India. On the feather soft pasta spread, we had a superb Butternut Squash Tortellini, Parmesan Fondue, candied orange and morrels, paired with a refreshingly perfumed, white floral Arneis, Roero, Marchesi di Barolo, DOCG, Piemonte, Italy.
Two eclectic dishes stand out for their creative incarnations and distinct flavors that we find worth recommending, -Ricotta Strangolapreti –asparagus, sweet peppers and saffron cream in a marvelous blend and Squid Ink Linguine –crab ragout, tomatoes and herb crumbs offering a fascinating smorgasbord of subtle tastes. Matching their zest are two fine wine lables, -a Chinkara Pavillion Chardonnay from Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, Australia and a vintage grand dad Burgundy Pinot Noir from Nuit-St-Georges, Louis Jadot 2011 with light driftwood and berry flavors on the back palate.
A medium bodied red wonder -Torres, Mas a Plana with black currant and mushroom on our palate offered great company with Whole wheat Torchiette with pulled chicken, herb and onion crumble, star anise and cinnamon. Buono!
Another fine, handsome red vintage –A fine Merlot from Duckhorn, Napa Valley, USA made it’s outstanding mark on New Zealand Lamb Rack, garbanzo beans, confit tomatoes and kale. The expansive nose of moist earth, cinnamon, clove and tobacco all synergized with this super signature dish.
Wine dining here is pronounced with premium world wine labels that find contrasting melody with diverse dishes. Try out the signature Wild Mushroom and whipped potato, shaved black truffles, Parmesan foam with a mellow and svelte Pinot Noir from Kendall- Jackson, Vintner’s Reserve, Sonoma County, Napa Valley, USA. Or for that matter, an interesting signature nugget –The 21 days aged duck breast, red cabbage, sweet potato, liquorice sauce married with an excellent Chardonnay from The Olive Grove, McLaren Vale, d’Arenberg, Australia with green grass, lime and grapefruit notes, lingering onto a thrilling melony palate.
The signature desserts here entice you to a sparkling grand finale. The coconut flavored Tiramisu is exceptionally silky with a chilled, nectarine finish French Mouton cadet Sauternes, Baron Philipe de Rothschild. The uniquely marvelous Afogato –Espresso, vanilla and coffee gelato make a fantastic combo with a crisp Grappa Moscato. That called for a hearty Grazie Mille!
KAMINSTUBE –HOTEL ZUR TENNE – KITZBUEHEL, TYROL, AUSTRIA
At this exclusive playground of the rich and wealthy -Kitzbuehel in the lap of the Tyrolean Alps, is the world’s most exclusive ski destination. Heritage Hotel Zur Tenne’s reputed contemporary Tyrolean dining landmark packs in Alpine specialties that enraptured our taste buds.
Mozart’s violin concerto commenced our wine dining with a prized Tyrolean offering, ‘Tafelspitz -prime boiled Tyrolean beef with roast potatoes, creamy spinach, apple, horse radish and chive sauce’. A select vintage Austrian wine, Lagler Gruener Veltliner 2009 from Spitz was a suave match. The fireplace warmth urged us on to ‘Weiner Schnitzel-breaded veal cutlet served with parsley potatoes and cranberries’, aptly synched with the award winning ‘The Legend’ by Scheibelhofer red 2009 Burgenland with dusky oak wood flavors and medium tannins. Their ‘Chocolate mousse pastries and hot chocolate sauce’ was a fine conclusion with a crisp red wine with cigar box and dry hay palate – 2006 Weingut Reumann’s Vinum Sine Nomine blend of Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon from Burgenland. For tasting pleasure we quaffed a smart ‘Ewald Diem’s 2006 Blauberger Exclusiv. “Danke Schoen”, we smiled.
THE BISTROT – AU COEUR DES NEIGES – COURMAYEUR MONTE BIANCO –VALLE D’AOSTA, ITALY
Italy’s best kept Alpine secret is the fabled petite, fairytale town of Courmayeur right under the canopy of the nighty Monte Bianco (Mont Blanc). Here, at this pretty garden fringed five star Alpine resort par excellence, the little known Valdostan cuisine specialties thrilled us to the hilt with top, boutique cold climate wines.
In Alpine timber wood cladded warmth kindled by a great fireplace and quaint period artefacts that added Chalet charm and comfort, our Tastings “Au Coeur des Neiges” took off with raclette Mignon, beef carpaccio, polenta and wild valley mushrooms. The wine was a winner – a chilled peony and lily flavored Prie Blanc, Blanc du Blanc, Cave Mont Blanc de Morgex Et La Salle, Aosta, Italy.
The Homemade whole wheat crepes with Broccoli, Toma cheese and Bleu D’Aoste sauce sang magic on our tongues as we relished another outstanding Alpine white wine Rayon Blanc, Cave Mont Blanc de Morgex Et La Salle, Aosta, Italy.
Musical Alpine horn symphony added romance to our wine and dine as a boutique Torrette, Maison Anselmet, Valle D’Aosta, Italy created red marvel with it’s spicy palate, woody and smoky nose, going onto a lingering truffle finish.
To match our wholesome mains –The Carbonade of local beef marinated with spices, slowly cooked with red wine and served with Polenta, we chose two award winning red wines of unmatched recognition. 2010 San Felice, Pugnitello IGT, Toscana, Italy and Barbaresco Gaja 2014. Gourmet magnificence was highlighted with each quaff, the Alpine experience a never-before food and wine nostalgia for us.