Tag Archives: Australia

Penfolds Bin 2 Shiraz-Mataro 2016, Australia

The Penfolds Collection Bin 2 Shiraz Mataro 2015 Screw Cap BottleBlend/Varietal: Shiraz, Mataro

Tasting note: Deep red colour. Mediterranean notes of savoury ratatouille, sundried tomato, olive tapenade, Moroccan spices and charcoal roasted game on the nose balanced by aromatic blueberries, exotic red fruits, perfumed cranberry and fresh pomegranate. A complex amalgam of savoury green olives, pepperoni with a hint of sweet/salty Dutch liquorice on the palate. Soft blue fruits to the fore with textured tannins providing grip.

William Hardy Shiraz 2015, Langhorne Creek, South Australia, Australia

William Hardy ShirazVarietal – Shiraz

Tasting note – Deep garnet colour with purple hues. Blackberries, plum, black cherries and dark chocolate on the nose supported by hints of liquorice and vanilla. A rich and vibrant wine showing fresh dark berry fruit flavours intermingled with characters of dark chocolate, liquorice and spice. Soft and subtle tannins provide length, structure and balance.

Decanter Asia Wine Awards 2017 – Winners of Asia’s most trusted wine competition announced

Winners of Asia’s most trusted wine competition announced


The list of results is complete with full wine details, stockist information and tasting notes – a trusted source of wine recommendations for wine consumers in Asia.

A total of 3,235 wines were tasted in the Decanter Asia Wine Awards 2017 (DAWA 2017), the most since the competition launched in 2012. Fifteen wines have been awarded the Platinum Best in Show medal – the highest accolade.

“The sole purpose of the DAWA is to recognise and award quality. Originality and terroir are the most important for a wine to win an award.”, said Steven Spurrier, DAWA 2017 Chair. A majority of judges are based in Asia and include top sommeliers and Masters of Wine from 11 countries.

The Results

Australia continued its success from last year’s competition by taking the lead with two Platinum Best in Show medals for the Best Single White-Varietal and Best Chardonnay, both won by McGuigan. Australia has won Best Chardonnay for the second year, plus seven Platinum Best in Category and 26 Gold medals.

Argentina performed extremely well this year with three Platinum Best in Show, including one for the Best Red Bordeaux Varietals, one Best in Category and four Gold medals.

China performed well too, with Shanxi’s Grace Vineyard winning the Best Red Single-Varietal

China won 142 medals in total at DAWA 2016, compared to 12 medals two years ago.

France remained a strong winner with Bordeaux, Champagne, and Rhône winning a Best in Show medal each.

Italy also received a top medal for Best Red Italian Varietals for a red wine from Campania.

Spain won a Platinum Best in Show for Best Red Spanish Varietals, while Germany won one for Best Dry Riesling.

South Africa shone amongst Old World contestants by winning a Platinum Best in Category for Best South African Red Bordeaux Varietals.

The USA also scooped two medals for Best USA Red Bordeaux Varietals and Best USA Sweet in Platinum Best in Category.

Decanters tasting director, Christelle Guibert, said: “We gather some of the best and most influential wine experts across Asia to join our judging panel to find the very best wines for consumers.”

Where to taste the DAWA winners

New winners will be promoted at both trade and consumer events this year.

Wine lovers will have the opportunity to taste a selection of 2017 winning wines in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Seoul this winter, including the Decanter Shanghai Fine Wine Encounter on Saturday 18 November. DAWA wines will also be featured at retail stores, restaurants and hotels across Asia.

About DAWA Judging Week

Over 50 top wine experts from across Asia joined our judging panel this year, led by Chair Steven Spurrier, Decanter’s consultant editor, and vice-chairs Ch’ng Poh Tiong, Shinya Tasaki, Gerard Basset MW MS OBE, Michael Hill Smith MW, Andrew Jefford and DecanterChina.com columnist Li Demei.

Joining this year’s line-up is Sonal Holland, India’s first Master of Wine; Tan Ying Hsien, Singapore’s first Master of Wine; and Adrian Zhang, Director of Wine at the Park Hyatt Shanghai. Most judges work at top establishments in Asia.

Judges gathered together in Hong Kong on 5-8 September to blind taste wines through organised flights.

How the wines are tasted

Decanter gives every single wine tasted an individual score.

Wines that meet the required quality are given a seal of approval (commended), or a bronze, silver, or gold medal. All gold medal-winning wines within each category are re-tasted and a platinum medal is awarded to the best wine in each category.

Each platinum medal winner from around the world is then pitted against each other to win the Platinum


About the DAWA

  • Launched in 2012 by Decanter magazine, 2017 is the sixth edition of the competition
  • All wines are judged blind in the best possible tasting environment and each wine is discussed on an individual basis by the panel
  • Find and taste DAWA winning wines
  • Kindly sponsored by Riedel glasses and San Pellegrino and Acqua Panna water


DAWA 2017 Results

  • 15 Platinum Best in Show medals
  • 41 Platinum Best in Category medals
  • 55 Gold medals
  • 609 Silver medals
  • 1,656 Bronze medals

DAWA 2017 Platinum Best in Show winners:

  • Best Dry Aromatic: El Esteco, Don David Reserve Torrontés, Calchaquíes, Salta, Argentina 2017
  • Best Red Bordeaux Varietals: Bodega Norton, Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendoza, Argentina 2015
  • Best Red Blend: Miguel Escorihuela Gascón, 1884 The President’s Blend, Mendoza, Argentina 2015
  • Best Chardonnay: McGuigan, The Shortlist Chardonnay, Adelaide Hills, South Australia, Australia 2016
  • Best White Single-Varietal: McGuigan, Bin 9000, Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia 2007
  • Best Red Single-Varietal: Shanxi Grace Vineyard, Tasya’s Reserve Marselan, Shanxi, China 2015
  • Best Sweet: Château d’Arche, , Sauternes, Bordeaux, France 2010
  • Best Red Rhône Varietals: Grandes Serres , Carius , Cairanne, Rhône, France 2016
  • Best Sparkling: Piper-Heidsieck, Rare Brut, Champagne, Champagne, France 2002
  • Best Dry Riesling: Hans Wirsching, Iphöfer Julius-Echter-Berg Riesling, Grosses Gewächs, Franken, Germany 2015
  • Best Red Italian Varietals: Rossovermiglio, Aglianico, Sannio, Campania, Italy 2015
  • Best Sauvignon Blanc: Yealands Family Wines, Babydoll Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand 2017
  • Best Pinot Noir: Craggy Range, Te Muna Road Vineyard Pinot Noir, Martinborough, Wairarapa, New Zealand 2015
  • Best Sweet Fortified: Henriques & Henriques, Single Harvest Boal, Madeira, Portugal 2000
  • Best Red Spanish Varietals: Bodegas Olarra, Erudito, Rioja, Mainland Spain, Spain 2015

DAWA 2016 Platinum (Best in Category) winners:

  • Best Chilean Red Bordeaux Varietals: Viña Casablanca, Nimbus Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipó Valley, Chile 2015
  • Best Chilean Red Rhône Varietals : MontGras, ANTU Syrah, Colchagua, Chile 2015
  • Best Chilean Red Blend : Santa Alba, Grand Reserve Syrah-Cabernet Sauvignon, Curicó, Chile 2014
  • Best Chilean Red Single-Varietal: Apaltagua, Envero Grand Reserva Carmenere, Apalta, Colchagua, Chile 2015
  • Best USA Red Bordeaux Varietals: Rocca Family Vineyards, Grigsby Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Yountville, California, USA 2013
  • Best South African Red Bordeaux Varietals : Leopard’s Leap, Culinaria Collection Grand Vin, Western Cape, South Africa 2015
  • Best New Zealand White: Paddy Borthwick, Pinot Gris, Wairarapa, New Zealand 2016
  • Best Australian Sparkling : House of Arras, EJ Carr Late Disgorged, Tasmania, Australia 2003
  • Best Australian Red Blend : Tyrrell’s Wines, Vat 8 Shiraz-Cabernet, Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia 2014
  • Best Bordeaux Right Bank: Château Cantenac, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, Bordeaux, France 2015
  • Best Bordeaux Left Bank: Excellence de Belliard, Margaux, Bordeaux, France 2015
  • Best Australian Red Rhône Varietals: Ulithorne , Frux Frugis Shiraz, McLaren Vale, South Australia, Australia 2014
  • Best Australian Red Bordeaux Varietals: Wolf Blass, Gold Label Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra, South Australia, Australia 2015
  • Best Barolo: Casa Vinicola Fratelli Casetta, Nicolello, Barolo Riserva, Piedmont, Italy 2009
  • Best Sweet Regional Italy: Gemma di Luna, Moscato, Vino Spumante di Qualità di Tipo Aromatico, Italy NV
  • Best White Languedoc-Roussillon : Bernard Magrez, Passion Blanche, IGP Côtes Catalanes, Languedoc-Roussillon, France 2013
  • Best Châteauneuf-du-Pape: Domaine de Nalys, , Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Rhône, France 2015
  • Best Northern Rhône Red: Delas, Domaine des Tourettes, Hermitage, Rhône, France 2015
  • Best Argentinian Red Blend: Bodega Norton, Privada, Mendoza, Argentina 2015
  • Best Central & Eastern Europe Red: Georgian Wines, Saperavi, Kindzmarauli, Kakheti, Georgia 2015
  • Best Central & Eastern Europe White: Vaziani Company, Makashvili Wine Cellar Khikhvi, Kakheti, Georgia 2016
  • Best German Sweet : Nik Weis St. Urbans-Hof, Goldtröpfchen Riesling, Trockenbeerenauslese, Mosel, Germany 2013
  • Best Central & Eastern Europe Sweet : Szent Tamás, Aszú, Tokaj, Hungary 2013
  • Best Fortified Portugal : Bacalhôa, 10 Anos, Moscatel Roxo de Setúbal, Setúbal, Portugal 2003
  • Best Red Rioja Reserva : Bodegas Ondarre, , Rioja Reserva, Mainland Spain, Spain 2014
  • Best Red Rioja Gran Reserva : Bodegas Corral, Don Jacobo, Rioja Gran Reserva, Mainland Spain, Spain 2004
  • Best Ribera del Duero : Condado de Haza, Alenza , Ribera del Duero Gran Reserva, Mainland Spain, Spain 2006
  • Best Red Portugal : Fundação Eugénio de Almeida, Cartuxa EA Reserva, Alentejano, Portugal 2015
  • Best Sweet Loire : Château La Variere, Les Guerches, Quarts de Chaume Grand Cru, Loire, France 2015
  • Best Red Languedoc-Roussillon: Château de Lascaux, Les Nobles Pierres, Languedoc Pic Saint Loup, Languedoc-Roussillon, France 2013
  • Best Regional Italian White: La Canosa, Servator Passerina, Offida, Le Marche, Italy 2016
  • Best Southern Italian White: Quintodecimo, Exultet, Fiano di Avellino, Campania, Italy 2016
  • Best Chianti : Rocca di Castagnoli, Poggio a’Frati, Chianti Classico Riserva, Tuscany, Italy 2013
  • Best Red Tuscany : Caccia Al Piano 1868, Ruit Hora, Bolgheri, Tuscany, Italy 2014
  • Best Amarone: Cesari, Il Bosco, Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, Veneto, Italy 2011
  • Best Sweet Southern Italy : Ferruccio Deiana, Oirad, Isola dei Nuraghi, Sardinia, Italy 2015
  • Best Australian Riesling: McGuigan, The Shortlist Riesling, Eden Valley, South Australia, Australia 2009
  • Best Barbera: Poderi Elia, Vi Veje, Barbera d’ Alba Superiore, Piedmont, Italy 2012
  • Best Australian Pinot Noir: Curly Flat, Pinot Noir, Macedon Ranges, Victoria, Australia 2014
  • Best Australian Sweet: De Bortoli, Black Noble, Cross-Regional Blend, Australia NV
  • Best USA Sweet: Dr. Loosen, Riesling Ice Wine, Washington State, USA 2013

All Things Nice at Gourmet Escape 2016

The Bell Tower, home of the Swan Bells Perth.
The Bell Tower, home of the Swan Bells Perth.
Buildings located at the corner of Barrack Street and the Hay Street Mall.
Buildings located at the corner of Barrack Street and the Hay Street Mall.

A visit to Australia for anyone is almost certain to be about food and wine.  And it should be, Australia offers a diverse range of wine styles and culinary experiences that will render you speechless in awe inspiring natural beauty. Luckily for me, I have been on a wine scholarship before where I travelled through out Australia discovering their wine and this time for Gourmet Escape in Margaret River in Western Australia.

I’m actually trying hard to critic the region but just can’t come up with anything. It’s yet to be discovered by the throngs of people who come from all over the world to Australia and as I write, part of me doesn’t want to reveal all its hidden secrets. Imagine that if you were to head south from Margaret River you would reach Antarctica, if west you would hit South Africa. Nothing would come in between you and those destinations. A five-hour flight eastwards would get you to Melbourne. This is how secluded the region is.

To get there I flew Business Class courtesy Qantas from Singapore to Perth.  The 5-hour flight went by in a luxurious jiffy as I drank glass after glass of Penfolds Bin 28, a full bodied indulgent wine from a Australia’s most iconic producer and ate multiple courses for dinner before nodding off to kingly sleep.

Northbridge an area in Perth where I stayed is causal and relaxed with enough wine bars, microbreweries and restaurants to keep you busy for a few days and nights. I particularly liked Shadow Wine Bar and the always-busy Northbridge Brewing Co. Their Al Fresco area is perfect specially just before an hour or two before sunset. The Central Business District and Northbridge area offer a lot of dining and drinking options in a pretty relaxed environment and the city almost always has some festival or event happening somewhere or the other.

The relatively new Como The Treasury Hotel at AUD 500 a night is  the place to stay not just because of the luxury of the rooms but also because of its myriad beverage and dining options. The Wild Flower, their flagship restaurant will give you a dose of just how innovative and hedonistic Australian Chefs are getting.  Here the menu changes as per the indigenous six seasons and Executive Chef Jed Gerrard creates magic with his farmer and forager driven menu.  The view, if you manage to get your eyes of the food is spectacular too. Also super is the Petition Wine Bar downstairs.

From Perth I finally headed down to Margaret River, which is about a three hour drive away to attend Gourmet Escape. (http://www.gourmetescape.com.au/). Gourmet Escape has become one of the world’s biggest food and beverage festivals attracting people from all over Australia and the world.

Held in mid November the festival not only takes place in one location – the Gourmet Village at the famous Leeuwin Estate but also has numerous events at wineries, breweries, gardens and beaches for a period of three days. These smaller happenings, termed satellite and fringe events, are all ticketed. Chef’s from Australia’s best restaurants and celebrity Chefs from around the world fly in to host pop up dinners, tasting and master classes in collaboration with the regions best wineries and microbreweries bringing together international and home grown talent. There are just too many to do them all but if you book early enough you can get what you want. Rates per event differ depending on what Chef, which winery etc. They can range from AUD 180 to AUD 300 and more per person per lunch or dinner. The full Gourmet Escape experience itself is going to cost you over AUD 1500-2000 per person. Gourmet Escape doesn’t come cheap by any standards but well worth it. Gourmet Escape is big. Voted as one of the top international wine and spirits festivals in the world kind of big.

The international names included the likes of Celebrity Chef Nigella Lawson and Ashley Palmer Watts of Dinner by Heston Blumenthal to name a few. Honestly the numbers of events are far too many to attend them all and I would recommend booking early to get ticket to the ones you want to go to.

Gourmet Escape’s launch party at Castle Bay Beach was quite an evening. Star chefs from Australia, winery owners and wine and food media descended for an evening of revelry. I had it easy – cool sand, crystal clear water in astonishing colours of blue and green, teepee tents on the beach lit with warm lights and the temperature kept dropping as the evening went on. With an array of food being cooked on a barbeque right in front of you by some of Australia’s best Chefs and wines from some of the best wineries of the region in free flow it was just impossible to not have a great time. The beach itself could be from one of Tourism Australia’s TV commercials.

The Gourmet Village in Leeuwin Estate will baffle you with its sheer enormity. The space is filled with large tents that house multiple producers of food, wine, craft beer and cheese. The list of what you can consumer is endless. Once you’re in, you walk around and eat and drink your way throughout the day. There are live bands playing music in various nooks and corners. I particularly liked the idea of setting up a picnic spot next to the vineyards adjacent to where the village was set up. I had access to the platinum lounge (you can buy access at AUD 250) and my ticket got me two glasses of Leeuwin Estate wine that I washed down with copious amounts of oysters that were being shucked on the spot.

One of the satellite events I attended was called The Long Lunch at Fraser Gallop Estate., priced at AUD 305. It reminded me of a grand Bordeaux Chateau luncheon experience, Chateau and all. They produce excellent Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay from their vineyards in Wilyapabrup, which were paired with a four-course grand lunch. Chef Guillaume Brahimi of the eponymous Guilaume in Sydney and Bistro Guillaume in multiple cities in Australia created a brilliant menu for the afternoon.  The menu included King fish and eel paired with Chardonnay, Wagyu beef paired with three vintages of Cabernet Sauvignon and dessert comprising of Raspberry, pistachio, white chocolate and blackcurrant paired with ice-pressed Chardonnay, all of which put me into a very gentle food-and-wine coma.

One highlight of the trip would have to be the tasting I attended at the historical Vase Felix. I sampled their full range with their Head Sommelier who knew the wines from the estate inside out. I was blown away, especially with their sparkling, the Cabernet Sauvignon from their premier range and the icon Heytesbury blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Petite Verdot.  These along with a host of other wineries like Mosswood, Cullen, Howard Park, Woodlands, Leeuwin and Voyageur and so many more produce head turning Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay and I would put them along side the worlds very best any day.

I would recommend staying in Margaret River town if you like some action. The town centre is small but has a few great restaurants, bars and even a microbrewery and is a great place to spend your evening.  On this trip however I stayed at the luxurious Bunker Bay Resorts by Pullman, which is right on Bunker Bay beach. I didn’t see any, but I was told that at select times of the year you can see whales going past the resort at regular intervals as they come up for air from the sea.  I would recommend it highly to anyone who is looking to have a peaceful and luxurious stay. At night I’d come back from the festivities and enjoy a glass of wine or three at the bar terrace watching a million stars in the night sky and the sea below. I even saw the largest moon in seventy years rising from the sea, moon rise from the sea, what a spectacle! I’d take a flight all the way to Margaret River just to see that again.

You would need to rent a car and assign a designated driver since distances between venues can be large and a taxi ride will be eye wateringly expensive. Not that there would be too many taxi’s going around either. This is not a hail a taxi sort of place. Visit the regions winery cellar doors and their fantastic restaurants or head to the beach and set up a barbeque or just simply enjoy a glass of vino or two as the sunsets. Margaret River is a beautiful part of the world and the region should be on your list of must visit places for food and wine especially during Gourmet Escape.

Head Chef Dany Angove at Leeuwin Estate, Margaret River
Head Chef Dany Angove at Leeuwin Estate, Margaret River









Food & Wine – Gourmet Escape by Nikhil Agarwal

Mans World Magazine

Article featured in Mans World Magazine by Sommelier Nikhil Agarwal.

My travels started with some pretty bizarre backpacking trips through Europe, North America and India when I was in my late teens. At that time I didn’t want to spend money on fancy restaurants, or clothes or gizmos and had actually never even had a sip of wine. I ate packets of chips for breakfast, lunch and sometimes-even dinner, visited the sites and museums I wanted to visit and then in the early eveningsI would unleash myself at the city’s coolest bars with a day’s travel savings all meant to be blown on Guinness and whisky – that too in some pretty impressive quantities, if I do say so myself. Now only one thing has changed – I eat well while there is still a lot consumed!

I now seem to travel more often that not with the intention ofeating and drinking and the decision on where to go is directly based on how good the drink and food scene is.

As a Sommelier,I’m fortunate that I do what I do and it’sbecause of what I do what I that I get to travel all over the globe regularly, scoping out the food and wines scenes.

Some of the greatest wine experiences I have enjoyed are in Australia. For one they produce a lot of truly high quality wine and yet it’s all very casual. The food in Australia is off the charts and the general level of quality of what’s on offer is very high even if you don’t go to the top end restaurants. The beauty about Australia when it comes to food is that it’s just so diverse. You have people from all over the world who have made Australia their home bringing with them their own regional cuisines and flavours. In a nutshell you are spoilt for choice and no matter which city you go to there is almost always a great wine producing region close by for you to visit.

I’d go to Melbourne and the surrounding wine regions of Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsulafor some Pinot Noir and definitely to Adelaide with Adelaide Hills, Barossa Valley, Eden and Claire Valley and McLaren Vale a few hours away. Barossa has the grand Yalumba winery and also the small and charming Rockford Winery, which you will fall in love with instantly because it seems to be stuck in a world that is long gone.

In McLaren Vale a gastropub called Victory Pub really got my attention. They have a stunning view of the sea, a phenomenal menu and a vast array of wine ranging from great to the worlds very best and most sought after. Drink a couple of pints early evening and then move on to the food and wine. I can’t tell you enough how I wish that pub were close to my home.On the west of Australia, a full day drive away from Perth you have the Margaret River wine region which producers exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.  All of these regions are very wine tourist friendly with great hotels and excellent restaurants.

One of my favourite wine places in the world would have to be Bordeaux in France. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage site and as you would imagine is drop dead gorgeous. I go during the month of June for Vinexpo, one of the world’s largest wine shows. This is a great time to visit because they are a few festivals like Fete de la music on at the time as well. Bordeaux is responsible for some of the worlds most sought after wines, a trip here and the surrounding area is guaranteed to give you a hedonistic dose of pure wine pleasure. Besides the Chateaux in the surrounding regions you have to visit Magnum Vin a wine bar in the building where all the chateaux pay their taxes in the centre of town.They offer a selection of about 30 wines, which keep changing every couple of weeks. You get to drink the very best at Euro 1.50 to 3 a glass!

When in Bordeaux you don’t necessarily have to be at a wine bar, just about any restaurant has a great wine list. I landed up spending a lot of my time at a restaurant called Le Petite Commerce on Rue Du Parliament. This is a restaurant with a lot of energy, great food and a lot of chatter. The wines are great, reasonably priced and the food is great.  Please visit Saint Emilion on the other side of the river. A charming hamletthat is beyond comparison and is full of small Chateaux producing some of the world’s best.Walk around, stop and sip on some wine, walk around, stop and sip on some more wine, you get the idea.

Don’t limit yourself to Bordeaux when in France. Travelling from one wine region to another is really simple. I’d take the TGV and take in the scenery as you go wine region hopping. I would go to the Champagne region, not too far from Paris and then the Rhone Valley personally.  You could head down towards Spain from Bordeaux and visit wine regions like Priorate, relatively close to Barcelona. I will admit that I seem to have the very best times in Spain, their style of wine making is what I like, their food is now globally renowned and the folks are friendly. A glass or two of Rioja and some Iberico along with an assortment of tapas in the company of the friendly Spanish, how can you go wrong!

I was recently in in Germany and visited Weisbaden in the Rhienghauwine region. Stay there a couple of days and visit the wineries in the nearby distance. Visit Baden or Franken a short distance away. This is Riesling country but do try their fabulous Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris.

If you get up to Mainz please visit Juliusspital, a winery in the heart of Mainz, walking distance from the bridge that cuts across the river, very Prague Charles bridge like. I was mesmerized by this place. For one, the revenue from the sale of their wines is used tosustain the hospital they run in the same complex. This is a state of the art winery with ajaw-dropping cellar that makes me want to go back to Mainz just to visit this place again.

Now you might not associate wine regions with a mega polis like Shanghai but it is worth a visit. I was invited to China to give a talk at SIAL, Asia’s largest food and wine showin Shanghai on the Indian wine industry recently and was completely blown away. For one the food, I’d probably go as far as to say their cuisine is probably one of my favourites and then to have a plethora of wine bars and wine savvy restaurants to go along with the food is fantastic. I have always liked Asian cities that are modern; they have this energy that I love. Millions of people, serious local food culture and western influences when it comes to lifestyle make these cities so exciting when it comes to food and drink. Hong Kong for example does food and wine so well along with Shanghai.

We can’t talk about wine and gastronomy and not pay a visit to Italy. I know all of us visit Florence and Venice etc but perhaps you should visit Alba in the Piedmonte region which is in the north west of Italy. For one you will have the fabulous wines of Barolo and Barbaresco to keep you company. Two, they can’t have some of the worlds best wines and not the cuisine to match them. I thoroughly enjoyed two dining experiences in Alba, one at Bovio in La Morra, the view is phenomenal and the other at Eno Club in the centre of Alba. With snow capped mountains as your backdrop, ancient architecture, some very fine wine produced in the most charming of wineries and food (I still remember my risotto), truffles, it really is a gourmands and wine aficionados dream come true.

Last but not least by any means a wine destination you need to go to is in our very own backyard. Indian wine has truly come of age and Nasik is scattered with some wonderful wineries that are pushing the quality frontier. A large number of you may have already visited Sula Vineyards, but please visit the others as well.  If you have not visited Sula yet, I suggest you go on a weekday rather than a weekend and enjoy this complete winery experience at your leisure. They have great restaurants and of course Beyond their hotel where you can sleep in heavenly peace. York winery is close to Sula and the Gurnani brothers that own the winery and run the show have got some excellent wines for you try. Their newly launched sparkling, barrel fermented Chenin Blanc and Arros are some of my personal favourites. The view is stunning and the food is more local in nature in comparison to Sula, which is what I really like about their tasting room.

By the time this article is out Vallonné Vineyards will have launched their rooms and café. Vallonné is pretty close to Grover Zampa so you could visit there as well. In a completely different direction, Akluj houses Fratelli Vineyards. They have created a top class winery with a few rooms. There is nothing in the surrounding area, which is what I like most about this spot. Pack a couple of bottles of their fabulous wines, go to their tasting point on top of their vineyards and breathe it all in.

As for me – the next stop is Sicily! Perhaps you may hear some more of my fine food, drink and travel adventures but till then bon voyage and salute!

Man's World, Authored article - Page 54, July, 2015

Man's World, Authored article - Page 55, July, 2015

Article by Nikhil Agarwal for Mumbai Touch Down

I like women and women like me but that’s definitely not enough when you reach the dating-and-beyond stage. After spending a large part of my life in the company of some fine women, I have learnt to understand the art of detail. The thing being, who has the goddamn time??

The mounting workload, the clocking of incessant air miles and the perpetual deadlines leave little room for romance. However, in my journey to find the best wines and cheese located in different pockets of the world I had an epiphany, one that allows you to mix business with pleasure.

Wooing your partner with some fine wine and carefully paired cheese is a heady mix of detail and planning, couple that with a perfect location and you have a sure shot at whatever you are aiming for. Putty in your hands, so to speak.

Wine and Cheese is like Laurel & Hardy, Guns & Roses, Bill & Hillary, and other combinations that are frequently better than either independently. But be careful, you need to do the pairing properly to ensure maximum please and any cheese with any wine will not work. Regions or vineyards that produce fantastic wine usually have very high culinary standards and cheese is an integral part of the whole experience.

You don’t have to know a Cabernet Sauvignon from a Chardonnay to appreciate these destinations – they offer as much peace and scenery as they do great wines. Here’s a look at some destinations that are a winner every time.

We will start off with our very own Nasik. I would recommend making a trip to Sula Vineyards which has done an excellent job in creating a wonderful wine experience. Their tasting room with its breath taking view is one of the most perfect places on the planet in the evenings especially in the colder months. You could head to York Winery which is further down the road for more excellent wine and cheese with an even more dramatic view and then bring the evening to a close less than a km further down the road at Sula’s 21 room only hotel Beyond.

In Akluj, ahead of Pune is the state of the art Fratelli Vineyards with impressive accommodations literally in the middle of nowhere. Get them to hook up a scrumptious sun downer and dinner in their lookout point over the vineyards which are a little away from the winery/rooms for you and your partner. You will have never seen anything like it.

All the above wineries serve generous portions of assorted cheese as accompaniments ensuring that your taste buds are in heaven.

Away from India, if you are heading to the west coast in the United States, I suggest you make a trip to Napa Valley and its surrounding areas which are littered with wineries producing excellent wine. The wineries have tasting rooms, a restaurant or two and rooms that are perfect for some alone time. They even have spa’s so you have an opportunity to go completely all out in pampering her.

Bordeaux in France is another of my favourites; the city is mesmerizing with unbelievable architecture. If you are into wine, this is your mecca and every street corner has cafés and restaurants dishing out incredible cuisine, glorious French cheese with a wine list to match. You can also hire a car and drive into the adjoining vineyard regions, visit some grand Chateaux and carry a picnic basket to make a stop wherever your heart desires. Make sure you make a trip to Saint Emillion, a medieval town on the right of the river Gironde that produces top wines and is simply drop dead gorgeous.

One cannot talk about wine and cheese and of course romance and not bring Italy into the picture. Head to Tuscany, rent a villa or park yourself in the middle of a vineyard and take in the fantastic wines and gastronomy. Maybe after a glass or two you can tell her how much you love her in Italian? Try Castello di Quercetto, a legendary wine producing house with over a 100 years of history. I highly recommend renting one of their apartments and spending some quality time there. Open a bottle of two of their Super Tuscans and she will not be able to resist you. Additionally, your only 25 kilometers away from the lovely city of Florence ! Need I say more? Veneto is another region within Italy that produces fine wine, and with Venice one of the worlds most romantic spots as its main city you cannot go wrong.

In the southern hemisphere if you are travelling to Australia, especially the Southeast of Australia make a trip to the wonderful wine growing regions of Barossa and Mclaren Vale. Try their full bodied reds from the Shiraz grape varietal paired with some local delicacies. I highly recommend visiting the Woodstock Estate in Mclaren Vale for some fabulous hospitality and a charming setting. New Zealand is full of stunning beauty, wineries producing top class wines and world class cheese. Take a trip to Marlborough and visit the legendary Cloudy Bay winery. Also visit the charming Clos Henri winery for an old world kind of wine experience.

There is of course a lot more countries and regions to visit but this should keep you busy for a while and in your partners good books. There are thousands of cheese and endless wines and I hope that you spend a lifetime time taking in their pleasures along with your partner.

Cheers to good loving!

Nikhil Agarwal, Sommelier and Director at All Things Nice – www.allthingnice.in