Some years ago, I was introduced to a beauty from the South. She wore a deep ruby red cloak with the aromas of ripe plums, dark cassis, black pepper and minerals, had well balanced acidity and smooth tannins – hard to find in a local gal; the local vineyards being more than capable with the heat often giving the wine maker a run for his money. I was hooked on the Fratelli Cabernet Sauvignon. So it was a no-brainer when Sid called, saying Fratelli and lunch in the same sentence. I was game!
The setting for a glass of wine and good food shared with friends doesn’t get any better. The word ‘Fratelli’ means ‘brothers’ in Italian. Close enough description for the company that afternoon. I had heard good things about Set’z and was looking forward to what was in store. I’m happy to announce, no one left disappointed.
Chenin Blanc is something that is a ‘must get right’ wine for any Indian vineyard. It is that one varietal that fits best with our cuisine, weather et. al., and the Fratelli Chenin Blanc 2012 was perfect. Very fruity, very citrusy with a good balance of acidity and a crisp finish, the Chenin 2012 was just the thing to begin the day with. Did I mention it won the bronze medal at the prestigious IWC 2013?
The Sauvignon Blanc was poured next. A hint of melon, dry grassy notes and lime on the nose with a citrusy, well balanced acidic palette alongside hints of guava and minerals makes this a signature Fratelli. I’ve had a few wines from Fratelli, and what makes them stand out is the hint of minerals on the palate, something I’ve enjoyed thoroughly. The minerals from the terroir lend the wines a signature that is not present in the produce of any other Indian vineyard.
Next in line, the Chardonnay. Chardonnay has to be the most exploited word in the world of wines. A good Chardonnay has a pale yellow color with a creamy texture on the finish, very smooth, balanced off by good acidity, very fruity on the nose with hints of grapefruit, apricots, lemon and green apple. The Fratelli Chardonnay, a pure varietal, no blends, comes with that typical note of minerals.
The Chenin Blanc might have brought home an award, but it was the reds that had more panache. First, a dark ruby red with a violet rim Cabernet Franc-Shiraz, a 50-50 blend of Cabernet Franc and Shiraz; very fruity with notes of dark plums and cherries on the nose and hints of pepper and cinnamon. The tannins were rounded well with a hint of rusticity at the end of a medium finish, and rife acidity made for good pairing with our meal. I wasn’t paying much attention to food; there was wine on the table and gentlemen never, ever take attention off the ladies, especially ones as beautiful as these!
When Italians are involved, there’s always Sangiovese. One of the best grapes from Italy, Sangiovese is hard to find anywhere else. It is one of those very native to Italy grapes that has not had much luck growing roots elsewhere – until it came to Akhluj, I guess! The Fratelli Sangiovese, with its bright deep red color carries an unmistakable nose of violets, vanilla, blueberries and a hint of coffee at the end. The palate is superbly matched with fruity notes, rounded, smooth tannins and a longish finish with an undertone of vanilla, coffee and minerals. I haven’t had too many Sangiovese from Italy, preferring Barbaresco and Barolo. But the Fratelli Sangiovese sets a certain benchmark when it comes to this varietal.
I don’t really get it when people say they don’t like Merlot. But then, it is a matter of personal choice, especially when it comes to wine. The Merlot from Fratelli has the distinct long nose of dark fruits, plums and cherries, and the typical black pepper–cinnamon duet. The palette is fruity with hints of vanilla, cinnamon and dark chocolate and smooth tannins with a rich note of oak.
The star, or rather superstar of the afternoon was, however, the Sette. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese, aged in an oak barrel for 14 months, its the best of both grapes in a single bottle; the body of Cabernet Sauvignon and the floral notes of Sangiovese. The nose is long and smooth with hints of vanilla, dark chocolate and overripe dark fruits. The beautifully rounded tannins complemented by a fruity-floral palette with undertones of dark chocolate and hint of minerals lend that note of élan that the Sette is all about.
Seven wines down, there was a lot of giggling around the table. But then, that’s what a good wine lunch with friends is all about. Alla salute!