In the vibrant culture of India, where the nightlife hums with vitality and warmth, my friends and I set off on a culinary exploration that wove together the traditional and the contemporary under one roof. But that roof was not in India. We were nestled in a cozy coastal home in Los Angeles, CA. Here, India came to us.
Embracing the fine art of homemade gastronomy, Indian wine (yes, you heard me right!), and soul-nourishing conversation, we went on an unforgettable journey into an evening that was as flavorful as a well-aged bottle of wine. This was thanks in part to Jean-Charles Boisset of Boisset Collection and Kapil Sekhri from Fratelli Vineyards whose visionary zeal and commitment to quality created a collection of world-class wines from India that put the subcontinent’s terroir firmly on the global wine map.
Their passionate creation — J’Noon –, a range of limited-edition red, white, and sparkling wines that are nothing short of a revelation. Drawing their essence from meticulously nurtured, handpicked grapes from the Fratelli estate in Akluj, Maharashtra, the wines encapsulate the terroir from the right bank of the Nira River and are subtly complex and intensely captivating, rather like India itself.
JCB No. 47 Brut
Our journey began with the JCB No. 47 Brut, a sparkling wine which pays homage to the momentous year (1947) when India gained its independence. Born from sandy soil, the characteristic green apple and tropical fruit flavors indulged our taste buds, while the rich, dry texture served as an excellent partner to the eclectic assortment of appetizers laid out before us – from the spicy punch of Golgappa to the subtle tang of Channa Chaat. Each morsel of Harabhara Kebabs, Chicken Samosas, and Chapli Kebabs with Naan complemented the effervescence of the Brut, creating a symphony of taste and texture.
2020 J’Noon White
As the evening progressed, so did our wine. We transitioned from the sparkler to the 2020 J’Noon White, a sublime blend of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. It brought forth the essence of the Indian terroir with its pronouncements of green apple, white pear, and vibrant notes of lime and lemongrass. Each sip was a delightful synergy of Indian soil and French winemaking elegance, making it the perfect suitor to the rich, hearty Butter Chicken and creamy Palak Paneer that followed.
2021 J’Noon Red
The crescendo of the night came with the 2021 J’Noon Red, a meticulously crafted blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Marselan, and Sangiovese. The wine extended its sturdy backbone in a sublime harmony with the silky Yellow Dal and refreshing Raita that I used to douse the aromatic Basmati Rice that filled my plate. The amalgamation of luscious black fruits, structured tannins, and a long, silky finish served as a touchstone to the right bank of Bordeaux, but with an unmistakable twang of Indian heritage in each sip.
Though all wines were young, they drank well beyond their years. These wines are made for sharing now. If you are fortunate enough to find J’Noon in the US, be ready to be pleasantly surprised. The soils of India produce a resonance in the soul of the wine quite like no other. Those wines were primarily distributed in the US by Boisset, and you might be able to find it again on their online wine store.
A special thanks to Pooja Ahluwalia of Indie Kitchen, whose dedication and culinary skills transformed humble ingredients into a feast for the senses. She masterfully created homemade dishes that could stand beside the wine as equals, enhancing every scent, flavor, and texture that the evening offered.
Beyond great food and wine, the evening was an embodiment of India and the age-old tradition of sharing meals and laughter with friends, old and new. As always, enjoy, savor, and toast to the incredible journey of flavors and life. Happy Hunting!
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