The Four Seasons Winery at Baramati – An Ode to Winemaking

The Four Seasons Winery at Baramati – An Ode to Winemaking

There is a beautiful French proverb which goes like this, “In water one sees one’s own face; but in wine, one beholds the heart of another”. The element of romance which beautifully entwines a bottle of wine, the warm, fuzzy feeling which fills your heart as you step inside a winery and the thrill of exploring a vineyard which has the freshness of nature and the essence of history and love in it; every aspect of wine and wine-making engulfs the inherent romantic in each person and that is precisely what I enjoy about wine.

So an invitation from Four Seasons for the launch of their highly anticipated 2011 signature wine, the Vintner’s Reserve Select Barrels, at their French styled palatial château in the picturesque Sahyadri Valley was nothing short of delightful. Four Seasons made the event appeasing right from the beginning with a team that took great measures to seamlessly organize every facet of the event and ensure everything was well-communicated.

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Four Seasons was established a decade ago, in 2006 after the acquisition of the French winery, Bouvet-Ladubay. The winery, whose architecture is greatly influenced by the designs of a Mediterranean French château, is approximately 65 km from Pune and is set up on a sprawling 55 acres area. Wine production is owed to the grapes grown around the Sahyadri Valley region in Maharashtra, India.

The winery occupies the ground floor and the basement while the rest of the premises are dedicated to a resort with 14 suites, a swimming pool and a lovely party deck & terrace which can host over a thousand guests at one time. To augment wine tourism to their Baramati property, Four Seasons also houses a restaurant on the first floor which offers wine and food pairing along with a wine boutique, a wine merchandise store, tasting rooms and exciting vineyard trails for wine enthusiasts.

I received a warm welcome upon reaching the chateau, which included a glass of Sparkling Rosé and a welcome note from Abhay Kewadkar who is the Chief Winemaker and Business Head at United Spirits Limited, a Diageo Group Company. Quite creatively, the rooms have been named after popular wineries and wine producing regions of the world. My stay was booked at the ‘Burgundy’ for this event. For the uninitiated, Burgundy is a renowned Pinot Noir wine making region located on the banks of Saône River in central France, and possesses the highest number of ‘appellation d’origine contrôlée’. Notable room names that caught my attention were Napa Valley, Barossa Valley and Barrique.

A quick freshen up to shake off the weariness of the travel before I made my way to the wine and food pairing lunch which was put together by celebrated Indian chef Sachin Joshi, from Vivanta-Taj Blue Diamond, Pune. From a wide range of cold meats, cheese and olives to mouth-watering hors d’oeuvres, main courses and desserts, the menu looked appetizing and the pairing of the wines with Signature Mediterranean cuisine was a refreshing change for me indicating that I still had a lot to explore when it came to wines and cuisines. All of us {guests, which included recognizable faces from Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore society} mingled, chatted, enjoyed the food and clapped as we were introduced to the portfolio of three wines: the Four Seasons Sauvignon Blanc 2016, the Four Seasons Vintner’s Reserve Select Barrels 2011 and the Four Seasons Sparkling Rosé Brut.

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The Menu

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Salad

Greek Salad with Local Grapes & Chia

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Traditional Greek salad with crisp iceberg, calamata olives & feta, dressed with olive oil and drizzled with chia.

Complimented with Four Seasons Sauvignon Blanc 2016

A lovely light sunny yellow coloured refreshingly aromatic wine with wonderfully intense notes of gooseberry, melons, green pepper and savoury herbs, and zesty acidity which carries the ripe taste of the fruit well on the palate.

Pairs best with green vegetables, salads and rich fish & seafood dishes. Also pairs well with tomato-based sauces and dishes cooked with herbs & vegetables.

The classic wine pairing for goat cheese {usually chèvre} is Sauvignon Blanc {originally from Sancerre in the upper Loire Valley} – there is a reason for this. Sauvignon Blanc is traditionally very clean, acid, and fruity – the predecessor of New Zealand style. When matched with a rich, creamy goat cheese, Sauvignon Blanc’s beauty is its ability to cut through the richness of the goat’s milk and prepare the palate for another bite.

 

Main Course

Wild Mushroom Ragout with Couscous

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Porcini, morels & fresh mushrooms cooked with cream & wine, served with couscous & preserved vine leaves.

New Zealand Lamb Chops with Wine Sauce

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Pan seared lamb chops with red wine sauce, served with sweet potato mash.

Complimented with Signature Four Seasons Vintner’s Reserve Select Barrels 2011

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Abhay Kewadkar addressing his guests

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The Four Seasons Vintner’s Reserve Select Barrels 2011 is an elegant, rich, ruby red wine characterized by rich autumn black fruits as top notes, and underlying notes of spice. Nicely blended oak gives it complexity, along with a well-rounded structure, and an exemplary finish. Vintner’s Reserve is a delight for the senses and undoubtedly exceeded my expectations as I tasted it over lunch.

It’s true that lamb is one of the most wine-friendly of meats, as at home with red Bordeaux and Rioja as it is with the fruitier wines of the new world. But if you’re looking for a spot-on match it’s worth thinking just how beautifully the bold and high tannin red wine paired with the lamb’s delicate texture and flavour.

The Vintner’s Reserve limited edition wine is an intricate assemblage of the Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz varieties grown in the Sahyadri valley, meticulously nurtured and aged over two years in barrels, followed by further aging in bottles for two years. The wine has been crafted for an international palette and it embodies the changing colours and exquisite moods of the changing seasons. It has been created under the proficient expertise of Abhay Kewadkar, who is known to be the country’s most experienced wine maker. Only 1,200 bottles of this exquisite wine have been crafted for each city, and will be available in Bangalore, Mumbai, Pune, Kolkata, Arunachal Pradesh, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

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“The Four Seasons Vintner’s Reserve is a wine that is very dear to my heart, a wine crafted with care and artistry, and combining the highest quality with an aura of exclusivity. This limited release red wine is a one-of-a-kind, beautifully layered, complex wine, brimming with rich notes of autumn black fruits as top notes, and underlying notes of spice. It is an outstanding wine that will impress you with its rich color and deep aromas,” said Abhay Kewadkar.

Four Seasons already has a superb range of wines to its credit which includes Merlot, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc and Blush. I personally enjoy the Four Seasons Shiraz which enchants me with its ruby-red classic shade and the exquisite blend of violets and raspberries with the perfect infusion of spices. Four Seasons has won accolades and has already started garnering the attention of wine connoisseurs around the world.

 

Dessert

Baked Grape and Rosemary Cheesecake

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Philadelphia cheesecake flavoured with fresh rosemary and stewed grapes.

Blueberry Cheesecake

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Complimented with Four Seasons Sparkling Rosé Brut

Made in ‘Méthode Traditionelle’, this sparkling wine has a vibrant, pink salmon hue, offering layered aromas of fresh strawberries, raspberries, and rose petals with a light toasty finish. The extended contact of 18 months with the yeast gives the wine a creamy and full texture. Fine bubbles bring out the finesse of the wine.

Cheesecakes are cream-enriched and lovingly likened to whipped butter that you’re entitled to eat with your fingers. The rosé offers fresh red fruit and creamy bubbles that offset the cheesecake’s earthy finish.The idea here is that especially fatty and generally salty-sweet cheesecake is cut by the wine’s effervescence, essentially scrubbing your palate clean for more cheese.

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Tanya Dhar with Abhay Kewadkar, Chief Winemaker and Business Head at United Spirits Ltd.

 

Later, a tour of the winery indicated that the evening had just begun to unfold for me and the breath-taking facilities of the property had me amazed. Massive crushers along with advanced machinery and an impressively well-informed staff made the entire experience a bit surreal at times.

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The tour led from the tank hall to the barrel room, and I also got to see a cross-section of the soil used for growing the grapes in the valley before we reached the fermentation plant. With Abhay leading as I gasped and awed at the beauty and grandeur of the place; the heady smells of wine and the beauty of the new oak barrels where the wines are allowed to mature for nine months were engulfing me with a feeling that made it hard for me to step away from the winery when the time came to leave. With the sun setting in the valley, my tour came to an end but my excitement levels were yet to go down as I relished the beauty of the setting sun from the château.

A relaxing shower and a quick change had me ready for the candle-lit dinner organized on the terrace gardens by the pool. The entire setting was splendid with barbeque laid out for the guests and antipasto served on oak barrels along with the wonderful Four Seasons Rosé which accompanied us for the entire evening. The Sparkling Rosé was a deeper shade than the French Rosé but I found that it added to the character of the wine.

 

The chateau is located in a mesmerizing background offering the property a stunning setting even though the region may need time to develop. We headed to our rooms by 1 am but that was hardly an excuse for not getting up early enough to enjoy the views offered by the rising sun.

The excitement of the tour, the thrill of the views Baramati offered and the promise of romanticism that the wines infused my spirits with, made this trip one of the most impressive ones yet. As development will make it easier for wine enthusiasts to reach Baramati, it is bound to turn into one of the most popular stopovers for wine lovers. I thank my hosts, Abhay Kewadkar, Mrigopriya and Anindita along with the extremely pleasant staff of Four Seasons for making my stay memorable.

Shatbi, Sayoni, Bhisham, Rojita, Astha, Aneesh, Antoine and Lyle – Thank you for the great company!

 

*Disclaimer: This review was done on an invitation from the winery. Due judgement and care has been applied by the author to remain objective and unbiased in the review.

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* I love bringing together a bunch of conflicting items and weaving my own sense of one-ness to them. *

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