Surprises from the Bush

Sourish Bhattacharyya        Print Edition: May 13, 2012

The other evening I was at yet another Delhi Wine Club dinner in the Capital's newest fine-dining destination, On The Waterfront, at the Aman. It was such a full house that the buzz almost drowned the music.

The food we dug into was Indian - a mix of new-age kebabs and traditional curries - paired with the most unusually named wine I have drunk in a long time. It was called Two in the Bush. I can tell you it was clearly better than 'A Bird in Hand'; which incidentally is the more evolved label from the South Australian winery Adelaide Hills.

My interest in unusual wine names was first piqued by the popular South African label Goats Do Roam. This was a clear dig at both the Cotes du Rhone and the way the French take their wine so seriously. For the rest of the world, wine is liquid nourishment for happy souls, not a provocation to produce a doctoral dissertation.

When Goats Do Roam was launched in the United States, the French were livid. But the controversy it triggered ensured yards of publicity for the South African brand, and the labels got funnier. Take for example, the Goatfather; a work of genius!

Two in the Bush has less tongue-incheek origins. It takes its name from a gold mine (as does Bird in Hand and the eldest sibling of the trio, Nest Egg). Adelaide Hills was gold prospecting territory in the 1800s. It saw hopes soar only to get buried in despair once the mines ran out. The names however have been granted immortality by Andrew Nugent, founder of the winery.

Still, the label comes with a story and the wine leaves behind memorable flavours on the palate. I was amazed by the ease with which it got along with the food.

The Semillon Sauvignon Blanc was the perfect match for the delectable rendition of the traditional gobhi ke phool on the menu. The slivers of cauliflower florets were lightly fried in a quilt of white flour batter.

The Pinot Noir paired seamlessly with the fish coated in a patrani machchi marinade and then crumb fried. But the star of the show was the Shiraz - peppery with a lightly sweet aftertaste, a brilliant balance of soft tannins and fruit, it did a tango on the palate with the nihari gosht. I'd always believed you can't match any wine with this spicy, greasy dish.

The Two in the Bush Shiraz put that theory to rest.

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