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D e c e m b e r 2 0 1 7 • ` 1 5 0 • VO L . 6 I S S U E 6 • N AT G E O T R AV E L L ER . I N

GETTING INTO THE

SPIRIT Top of the

wine Portugal France Nashik Georgia

Scotland With a pinch of malt

Peru Why Pisco never sours

Switzerland The Resurrection of Absinthe

Booze Souvenirs Bringing back the tipple

Around the world in 10 bars


N AT I O N A L G E O G R A P H I C T R AV E L L E R I N D I A

december2017 VOL. 6 ISSUE 6

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48 FAITH MOVES THIS MOUNTAIN Soaking in the solitude and spirituality of Greece’s Ouranoupolis

THE ITINERARY

52 CHRISTCHURCH MAKES A SAD

22 WHERE’S MY PASSPORT? Good things happen when you drink just for the flavour

28 I SPY THE NORTH KOREAN SKY A secret glimpse into the nation ruled by Kim Jong-un from South Korea’s DMZ

Six years after an earthquake, New Zealand’s grittiest city is turning heartbreak to art

24 WAYFARING Even teetotallers will agree that journeys are more fun when you take the ‘high’ road

36 BENGAL BEYOND THE

58 FOR GOOD RESIN In Muscat, Frankincense permeates into everything

26 TRAVELLER’S CHECK Alcohol doesn’t just make lively our dull parties. It also plays a crucial role in strengthening our social ties

KOLKATA CLICHÉ

The chilly winter is the best time to step outside the capital and explore the state’s little-known sites. Here are five ways to start 44 THE GLOBE IS (NOT JUST)

SONG BETTER

60 COMING BACK TO THE FUTURE These 15 must-see museums from around the world have something unique to offer

A STAGE

64 ALWAYS TIME FOR A ROMAN

London’s Globe Theatre is where the bard once entertained nobility and everyday folk. The verve of that era is still captured well here

With thinning crowds and a pleasant chill in the air, winter can be a delight in Rome

HOLIDAY

ROBBIE JACK/CONTRIBUTOR/CORBIS ENTERTAINMENT/GETTY IMAGES

Voices


Regulars 20 Editor’s Note | 144 Travel Quiz 124

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66 STAY WELL AND PAMPERED The view is splendid and time languid at a luxury wellness resort in Vishakhapatnam

76 AROUND THE WORLD IN 10 BARS Trendy, classic, historic or quirky, there are watering holes for travellers of all stripes

68 ALL QUIET ON THE RIVERFRONT A new hotel and other venues are sculpting a neighbourhood that offers a more local experience of Bangkok

82 CHAMPAGNE: THE BOTTOMS-UP

THE ADDRESS

70 TAGORE LIVED NEXT DOOR Solitude and a perfect writer’s nook are the highlights of a stay in Ramgarh 72 PLAYING TO THE GALLERY Art peeks from every corner in a Chittorgarh hotel in Rajasthan 74 HISTORY MADE LIVEABLE Flowing ramparts and a touch of art at a fort-palace in Alwar

THE DESTINATION

APPROACH

Inside the atmospheric medieval cellars of Pannier House, an elite champagne maker in northern France 86 FRANCE THROUGH THE NASHIK

102 SWITZERLAND: ABSINTHE NOT ON THE ROCKS

Banned in the country until 2005, the drink patronised by Hemingway and van Gogh is experiencing a spirited revival 106 HOLDING THE PORT A peek into the Portuguese city where charm and port wine flow freely 112 SIX WAYS TO DRINK THROUGH VIENNA

In quest of her own wine vocabulary, one vineyard at a time

Fruity spritzers in the heart of the city, wine in a vineyard tavern, and ruminfused mocha in a café—there are many ways to drink in the Austrian capital

92 WHY PISCO NEVER SOURS The secret of Peru’s national drink lies deep in Ica valley, where the sun always shines and centuries-old distilleries are run like family

116 THE HOUSE THAT WHISKY BUILT Watching the centuries-old process of turning grain into a barrel of The Glenlivet at the 193-year-old distiller in Scotland

GRAPEVINE

ATLANTIDE PHOTOTRAVEL/CORBIS DOCUMENTARY/GETTY IMAGES

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98 SETTING THE BAR LOW Ten seedy drinking dens that should satisfy your thirst for cheap booze and snacks served under dim lighting


120 GEORGIA IN MY WINE Discovering a unique 8,000-year-old tradition of winemaking 124 BOOZE SOUVENIRS: BRINGING BACK THE TIPPLE

When shopping for alcohol abroad, let local taste buds guide your choices 76

129

THE JOURNEY 130 THERE IS NO PLEASURE WITHOUT SPAIN

Lunch in spain is a national ritual and siesta, locals argue, an urban legend. How then does one stagger through the sights and sounds of a country in a post-prandial haze? Tearing through the heart of Spain by train might be a good place to start 138 HIGH UP ON THE HOLY MOUNTAIN

A rare journey with Tibetan monks from Tuting monastery to the sacred Buddhist site in Pemasiri in Arunachal Pradesh

ON THE COVER Writer Christopher Hitchens once said that alcohol makes GETTING INTO THE SPIRIT other people less Top of the wine tedious and food less bland. We Switzerland AROUND THE agree, but would WORLD IN 10 bars add that no matter where we travel, booze remains our constant. James Bond gets his martini shaken, no matter which continent he might be raising hell in. With his cover image, Sergey Peterman makes clear he understands our sentiment. In this last month of the year, we are putting our money, issue and our glasses exactly where our mouths are. D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 7 • ` 1 5 0 • VO L . 6 I S S U E 6 • N AT G E O T R AV E L L E R . I N

SCOTLAND WITH A PINCH OF MALT

PORTUGAL FRANCE NASHIK GEORGIA

PERU

WHY PISCO NEVER SOURS

THE RESURRECTION OF ABSINTHE

BOOZE SOUVENIRS

BRINGING BACK THE TIPPLE

PHOTO COURTESY: INSTITUTO DE TURISMO DE ESPAÑA (BUILDINGS), DRAGHICICH/ISTOCK (ALCOHOL) SERGEY PETERMAN/SHUTTERSTOCK (COVER)

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EDITOR’S NOTE SHREEVATSA NEVATIA

ON BEING DUTY FREE

G

WE BRING OUT THE CORKSCREW ON OCCASION. THE END OF THE YEAR IS ONE SUCH PROMPT

rowing up in the ’80s, it was inevitable that Amitabh Bachchan sometimes came to be my life’s protagonist. His Amar Akbar Anthony, in particular, was an afternoon favourite. The bonhomie that long-lost brothers discover is of course special, but, for me, it was Bachchan’s clumsy, irreverent Anthony who became a lodestar. In a scene that has now become iconic, Anthony talks to himself while staring into a mirror. He has been in a fight. He is, quite clearly, drunk. Hearing Bachchan chastise himself for having one too many, I’d laugh uncontrollably. Alcohol, I learnt quickly, can make you funny. There was something endearing about Bachchan’s silliness—he bandaged the mirror instead of his face—and for a while at least, he seemed to have forgotten his pain. Used to travelling on my own, I often remember Anthony when ordering a drink. A spoonful of whisky does help the loneliness go down. The kindness of strangers, I have found, betters travel. The trouble with gratitude, however, is that it is a hard sentiment to convey. Buying my benefactors a drink or two has always helped ease my conscience. Tipsiness, on occasion, brings down their guard and affords a familiarity that can lay the foundation for a more lasting friendship. Steven Spielberg knew this. Much like travellers, aliens too are thirsty for a connection. When E.T. raids

Elliot’s fridge, he instinctively reaches for the beer. Even though he is sat in school, Elliot psychically shares his friend’s high. The distance booze shortens can be galactic too. As a team, we here at National Geographic Traveller India like to celebrate our achievements and anniversaries with a toast. We do not, it must be said, emulate the debauched advertising executives of Mad Men in any way. We only bring out the corkscrew when our day is done, and only when the occasion demands it. The end of the year, we believe, is one such prompt. Our parties may not be as raucous as Jay Gatsby’s, but we do like our bit of bubbly. Since we are diligent journalists who always go back to the source, we went to France to trace the roots of champagne. In Scotland, we were told secrets about the malt, and in Switzerland we saw how absinthe resurrected itself. The wine trails we went on stretched from Nashik and took us to France. Pisco, we felt, was surely worth visiting Peru for. Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, we discovered ten you must visit. Closer home, we compiled a list of dive bars that must be visited by those who love character and characters too. We also listed the spirit souvenirs you should bring back because this time, you see, we are having ours stirred. Disclaimer: We were careful. We ensured we were able to sit up straight in our office chairs when filing.

OUR MISSION National Geographic Traveller India is about immersive travel and authentic storytelling, inspiring readers to create their own journeys and return with amazing stories. Our distinctive yellow rectangle is a window into a world of unparalleled discovery.

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​Write to me at natgeoeditor@ack-media.com or Editor, National Geographic Traveller India, 7th Floor, AFL House, Lok Bharti Complex, Marol Maroshi Road, Andheri East, Mumbai- 400059.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELLER INDIA | DECEMBER 2017


THE ITINERARY SOUTH KOREA

I SPY THE NORTH KOREAN SKY GHOST TOWNS, LANDMINES, AND A SECRET GLIMPSE INTO THE NATION RULED BY KIM JONG-UN FROM THE DMZ IN SOUTH KOREA, THE WORLD’S MOST HEAVILY ARMED BORDER BY KAREENA GIANANI

A

coin drops into the binoculars, and a village comes into view, as if a projector has sputtered to life. Three- to five-storeyed mint green buildings peek from tree clusters on the right; vast fields and wooded mountains seem deserted, until I see men and women in twos and threes walking alongside crops. I wonder if they know somebody is stealthily watching them, after feeding 500 won coins into machines for minute-long, superficial glimpses into their lives. But then chances are that I too am being watched—by a North Korean peering into where I am in South Korea. This is the world’s most heavily guarded, volatile border: almost two 28

million troops on both sides guard the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) that divides South Koreans from North Korea, a country cloaked in the kind of suspicion and mystery that baffles Western media. ***** It is uncanny that 56 kilometres from Seoul, the city where fashion and tech trends spin as fast as K-Pop beats, the DMZ separates the city from a place whose dictatorial ‘Dear Leader’ has one

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELLER INDIA | DECEMBER 2017

finger on his nukes and a penchant for issuing threats of nuclear war. Stranger yet is how lakhs of tourists (including me) sign up for DMZ tours annually, picking a potentially apocalyptic site instead of, say, going to an amusement park. In Seoul, I see pamphlets of companies selling trips to the border (‘Paris has the Eiffel Tower! Germany has the Berlin Wall! We have the DMZ!’) as often as I am handed free samples of skin cream. The four-kilometre-wide, 240kilometre-long DMZ is the result of an armistice between the two Koreas after the end of the three-year Korean War in 1953. The agreement prohibits military activity in this buffer zone. At

NARVIKK/E+/GETTY IMAGES

The Dorasan Observatory affords visitors clear views of the Panmunjom flagpole in North Korea, the world’s fourth largest at 525 feet.


THE ITINERARY SOUTH KOREA

the centre of the DMZ lies the Military Demarcation Line (MDL), the political border between the Koreas. I Google these facts before my tour to glean insight on two nations technically still at war—an armistice is no peace treaty. Little wonder the internet is abuzz with dire warnings and advice for those who plan to see the DMZ. Tour operators require that guests “dress appropriately” and not wear ripped jeans, sleeveless tops/dresses and shorts “because North Korea uses footage from South Korea as propaganda to show its people how impoverished foreigners can be, unable to afford decent clothing.” A longer tour of the DMZ, which covers the Joint Security Area (JSA), includes taking tourists into a onestorey structure wherein they technically cross over into North Korea, under the watchful eyes of their soldiers. Entry to the JSA requires visitors to sign an agreement that they are subjecting themselves to the possibility of injury or death due to enemy action. As I scour 30

more information before my booking, I learn that the forthcoming JSA tour is cancelled because North Korea has just fired two missiles over Japan. I confirm my presence for the (tamer) DMZ tour. ***** Haeryong Han, the guide who greets about 50 of us in the tour bus, ticks visitors off his list: largely American, some from Japan, Australia, Spain. “Nobody from North Korea?” he looks up, amid chuckles from the group. As Han gets chatty, I begin to see the allure of tours like the DMZ: when he tells us life stories of some of the 30,000 North Koreans who defected to the South over the past 50-odd years, or how Kim Jong-un loves his wines, German cars, Swiss cheese even as much of the country faces brutal poverty; how we’d soon enter a tunnel that North Korea dug to attack Seoul. My curiosity, that feeling that I am getting under the skin of a zealously guarded secret, gets the better of the scepticism of dark tourism. The first stop on the DMZ tour is the

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELLER INDIA | DECEMBER 2017

Imjingak Park, an open-air site and a stark reminder of lives lost in the Korean War. I see people holding hands beside a steam locomotive with 1,020 bullet holes that was left in the DMZ after it was derailed by bombs during the war. Beside it, thousands of colourful ribbons flutter from barbed wire, carrying in miniscule handwriting the hopes of reunification of the two Koreas, or messages to families left behind in North Korea. In the distance, I see the Freedom Bridge stretched along fields, through which almost 13,000 South Korean POWs came home after the war. War tourism is a sobering experience. Being here means trying to understand—really understand—the domino effects of war, and what it means to constantly be on the brink of one. Just last month, at this very site, a North Korean soldier was severely wounded after he defected over to the South. DMZ tours may be commodified, but they also hold a mirror to a crisis that threatens to spiral out of control any day.

KAREENA GIANANI (WIRE & TUNNEL), ELEANOR SCRIVEN/ROBERTHARDING/DINODIA PHOTO LIBRARY (BINOCULARS), LONELY PLANET/LONELY PLANET IMAGES /GETTY IMAGES(OFFICER)

The Third Infiltration Tunnel dug by North Korea to attack the South (bottom left), barbed wire ‘souvenirs’ from the DMZ (top left), and viewing decks to see across the border (top right), all under scrutiny of the South Korean army (bottom right) are indicators of tension in the region.


THE ADDRESS

Playing to the

gallery

Art peeks from every corner in this Chittorgarh hotel By Riddhi Doshi

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The hotel has an enviable collection of paintings; Facing page: The palatial hotel (top) stands in the middle of a vast man-made lake (bottom right) and is surrounded by the Aravalli Range; This setting makes it a perfect retreat for artists (bottom left).

is an immersive, reflective experience in the serene silence of Nahargarh. Rainbows are regular here: I see a second one right outside my room’s window. This one was more like a guest appearance, though, because soon enough, the sun slid behind the mammoth mountains that constitute the Aravalli Range. Photographers call this the magic hour, when the light is perfect—soft and romantic. Instinctively, this is when I grab my cell phone to frame my views—the mountains, the lake, and the solitary boat. Instagram feed. Check. Later in the evening, after some aimless strolling, I decide to sink into a chaise lounge by the infinity pool which overlooks the lake and the corn fields beyond it. Dunking pakoras in masala chai—or sipping champagne—couldn’t have found a better setting. I settle for chai, though. For two reasons: one, it’s still early in the day, and two, I’d rather preserve my appetite for a traditional Rajasthani meal I am about to dig into in a few hours. Gatte ki sabzi, mirchi ka saalan, and mix dal, all rustled up so well, make me eat more than I had prepped myself for. Non-vegetarians will love the lal maas here. Sluggish after the ghee-rich meal, I decide to walk some more. That is when I stumble upon my favourite artwork. It’s a collection of 10 contemporary miniatures by Kolkata artist Avijit Mukherjee. Inhering modern forms and colours, the paintings depict all things typical to Rajasthan. Turbaned, mustachioed men dressed in horse-costumes are engrossed

in a Kachchhi Ghodi folk dance. Ghagra choli-clad women, looking gorgeous in chunky neckpieces, go about their chores. I leave the corridor with a strong taste of Rajasthan in my mouth; the meal and miniatures were both abundantly flavourful.

ESSENTIALS

ACCOMODATION Lake Nahargarh Palace has 40 rooms (35 deluxe rooms and five suites), which cost `5,500 and `7,500 respectively for double occupancy and breakfast, excluding GST. The rooms can accommodate two floor mattresses, at an extra charge of `1,500 per person. The decently sized bathrooms come with tubs. The hotel is also suited for destination weddings because of its large lawn and an in-built stage. Rajasthani style windows, chhatris, and pastel drapes and curtains at the doors and entrances, add to the charm.

PHOTO COURTESY: JÜSTA LAKE NAHARGARH PALACE

see a rainbow sprawled across the canvas of the clear blue sky through my car’s windscreen. Stretched out in all its glory, it perks me up instantaneously. I am on my way to jüSTa Lake Nahargarh Palace, in Rajasthan's Chittorgarh district, and the sevencoloured band seems like a good start to the journey. As I enter the narrow bypass on the Chittorgarh highway, my surroundings turn increasingly tranquil. I feel like I am leaving the world behind, one kilometre at a time. The raspy grind of speeding cars faints, making room for the shrill calls of birds. Gliding with practised routine, they put up a stupendous aerial show. Little children, eating corn straight from the fields, wave at me gleefully, trying to race with my car as I inch closer to my destination. Finally, I see the hotel’s pristine white facade. It stands in the middle of an expansive man-made lake in which bobs a solo boat, waiting to ferry guests. I hop on. The hotel's high-ceilinged lobby, though not as grand as the facade, doesn’t fail to impress. A gargantuan glass chandelier commands attention, as does a painting of Chittorgarh Fort mounted on the main wall in the reception. What catches my eye, though, are two chairs, carved out of silver and wood, one is placed in the lobby's centre and the other to its right. Almond-eyed, sharp-beaked, the “antique bird-chairs”, owner Ashish Vohra tells me, were sourced from Gujarat. Marvelling here, I realise, can become a norm, because there is plenty to ogle at. Rajputana rifles, six of them, are arranged neatly on one wall; silver daggers occupy another. Then there are antique-looking wooden almirahs, and sculptures of peacocks, horses and that of a purposeful-looking eagle, its metal wings ready to take flight any moment. The walk between the lobby and my room throws up more art. In the five years since its opening, the hotel has amassed an enviable collection—a total of 500 paintings, from both Indian and international artists. “They are all signed works,” Vohra remarks, walking beside me. “We have made a conscious effort to support artists... it gives an interesting character to our hotels. Plus, our customers are very happy to engage with art.” I agree. Viewing a range of paintings, from local architecture to landscapes and portraits, with some abstracts thrown in,

GETTING THERE Lake Nahargarh Palace is a 45-minute drive from Chittorgarh city, in Parsoli village, on the Chittorgarh-Kota highway. Chittorgarh is well connected by train from both Mumbai and Delhi. The nearest airport is Udaipur, 150 kilometres away. Taxis are easily available from the airport. The hotel also provides pick-ups.

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THE DESTINATION

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The bars on this list are an eclectic assortment, from one which offers a serial killer-inspired cocktail to another that has hidden passages.

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Trendy, classic, historic or quirky, there are watering holes here for travellers of all stripes By Shivani Kagti

Around the World in

10

GRUIZZA/ISTOCK

Bars

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THE DESTINATION

The Clumsies 105, 61 Praxitelous 30, Athens

Dandelyan Mondrian London, 20 Upper Ground, London Voted the World’s Best Bar in 2017, this botany-inspired cocktail bar at the Mondrian Hotel in London is known for its unusual plant and root-infused concoctions such as tomato wine, cucumber honey, pine nut vermouth and cedar sap. Their latest cocktail menu, Vices of Botany, is divided into four parts: Faith, Lust, Currency and Rock ‘n’ Roll. Sample this: Lonely Heart Killers, a plantation rum concoction with tonka and lily, is inspired by voodoo-practising American serial killer Raymond Fernandez.

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese Wine Office Court, 145 Fleet Street, London London is home to some of the trendiest bars, but for pure historic value, none of them can measure up to this Fleet Street landmark. One of the oldest pubs in the city (it was rebuilt after the Great Fire of 1666), it is filled with a series of interconnected small rooms (some with fireplaces), weather-beaten ceiling rafters and furniture and a long line of literary connections (the bar was once patronised by Charles Dickens, Mark Twain and P.G. Wodehouse among others). Grab a pint here next time you are in London. 78

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PHOTO COURTESY: THE CLUMSIES (THE CLUMSIES), PHOTO COURTESY: DANDELYAN (DANDELYAN), CARL COURT/STAFF/GETTY IMAGES NEWS/GETTY IMAGES (YE OLDE CHESHIRE CHEESE)

The Greek capital is home to this chic yet playful bar with a cocktail menu that changes every year, where each cocktail is handcrafted by the owner-bartenders in their ‘kitchen lab.’ Their current menu called Genesis is inspired by art and Greek words. From syrups and cordials made from vegetable or fruit water to fermented or preserved ingredients, there’s immense attention to detail. Take, for instance, Chaos, which features craft buckwheat vodka, Samos Vin Doux dessert wine, caper leaves, beeswax and hops-infused olive oil. Bigger parties can also book the private ‘Room’ with a pool table and a personal bartender.


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Museum Hr Giger Bar Château St. Germain, Gruyères

The Aviary 955 W Fulton Market, Chicago The brainchild of renowned chef Grant Achatz, this revolutionary cocktail bar has an “ice chef” who is responsible for sculpting 39 flavours, shapes and sizes of crystal-clear, no-bubble ice. Cut on hoists by saws or sculpted by ice pick, the role of the ice is not just to cool, but also to impart an evolving flavour to your drink. Plus, there’s no bar. Drinks are made in a fencedin ‘cocktail kitchen.’ Try their signature In the Rocks—whisky housed in a sphere of ice, released by the strike of a hammer. But be prepared to shell out $20/`1,300 as a deposit when you book a table. DECEMBER 2017 | NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELLER INDIA

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OSCITY/SHUTTERSTOCK (MUSEUM HR GIGER BAR), TASOS KATOPODIS/STRINGER/GETTY IMAGES ENTERTAINMENT/GETTY IMAGES (THE AVIARY)

There are bars under the sea, inside caves and baobab trees. Then there’s this alien masterpiece designed by the late Swiss artist H.R. Giger, best known for his Oscar-winning designs for Ridley Scott’s 1980 classic, Alien. While the museum in this 400-year-old medieval château houses the most comprehensive display of Giger’s works, the eye-popping bar is covered by double arches of vertebrae that criss-cross the vaulted ceiling. Bone-coloured chairs with alien spines and floor plates engraved with strange hieroglyphs complete the decor. Their standard bar menu may not be quite as out-of-this-world, but if you are a sci-fi fan, it’s worth a visit.


In France, grapes are usually harvested in September, but harvest season can also begin in August and end as late as October, depending on the ripeness of the grapes and the region.

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GEORGE STEINMETZ/CORBIS DOCUMENTARY/GETTY IMAGES

THE DESTINATION


INDIA/FRANCE

France

PUNIT PARANJPE/STRINGER/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

THROUGH THE

Nashik GRAPEVINE

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THE DESTINATION

IN QUEST OF MY OWN WINE VOCABULARY, ONE VINEYARD AT A TIME

—Blackberry Wine by Joanne Harris

Such glorious prose in praise of wine, and yet the fermented spirit had never ‘talked’ to me. The only wine-related chuckling I have been privy to has been unleashed by friends who’d had too much. The literary embellishments, then, always seemed indulgent at best, at least up until this August, before I took two trips. First was a work visit to Nashik’s lush green vineyards. The second was a leisurely holiday across France’s Bordeaux and Loire Valley. Continents apart, the two destinations, both major wine hubs, taught me to savour and decode my whites, reds and rosés in ways that I never have, or have never deemed worthy of. But the multiple wine tastings and vineyard visits I signed up for during these breaks have helped me discover and 88

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appreciate—as I still continue to do—the sweet notes hidden within this acrid, vinegary spirit. ***** Nashik is a four-to-five-hour drive from Mumbai (165 kilometres) and Pune (160 kilometres), and the route passes through the Sahyadris' lush teak and sal forests, and bustling towns that are transitioning into gritty urban centres. In the outskirts of Nashik, a patchwork of trellises and tangles stretches far into the horizon—this rain-shadow From Sula Vineyards' restaurant, visitors can see grapevines stretching towards the Gangapur reservoir (left); Visitors can buy wine (right) at the end of Soma Vine Village's tour.

PUNIT PARANJPE/STRINGER/AFP/GETTY IMAGES (VINEYARD), PHOTO COURTESY: SOMA VINE VILLAGE (WINE TASTING)

Wine talks; ask anyone... It shouts, rants, whispers. It speaks of great plans, tragic loves, and terrible betrayals. It screams with laughter. It chuckles softly to itself.” ­


INDIA/FRANCE

region is where India’s wine industry took root. Nashik’s tryst with winemaking began 16 years ago when Rajeev Samant, a Stanford-educated engineer, decided to plant a few wine varietals in the rich, black soil of Nashik where table grapes thrived. In 1999, he set up Sula Vineyards and started off India’s wine industry. To encourage wine production, the Maharashtra government issued a policy in 2001, whereby wines produced from state-grown grapes were exempted from excise duties. Other grape farmers in the area soon followed suit, learned winemaking from each other and roped in master winemakers from France, California and Australia to guide them along. Today, the ‘Nashik Valley Wines’ is a registered Geographical Indication (GI) that can be featured on the labels of over 29 vineyards. To retrace the region’s history, I began at Sula, followed by Soma, Grover Zampa and Vallonne. At each vineyard, I started with a tour of the factory, learned about their varietals and the journey from grape to glass, followed by wine tasting. At Sula, that included a selection of two white wines, one rosé, two red wines, and ended with a Chenin Blanc dessert wine. Since the harvest season was still a month away, I couldn’t watch the actual process of winemaking. A trip to Nashik between January and March would be better suited for that.

At Grover Zampa, following competent practices, wooden barrels are used for red wines, which lend a woody, smoky flavour (top); Soma Vine Village's (bottom) 29 well-annointed rooms are perfect for a getaway.

Here, I learned about the processes of harvesting, crushing, fermentation, clarification, ageing, and bottling. Wines are usually aged for over two years, and the storage receptacle— metal containers, concrete tanks or oak barrels—subtly affects the flavours of the finished product. During the ‘swirl, smell, sip and spit’ method of wine tasting, it was interesting to hear how the curvature and narrow mouth of a wine glass retain the aromas and compel you to experience the wine, first with your nose and then the palate. At Soma Vine Village, I uncorked the flavours associated with different wines—the fruity, flowery hints in white wines; the woody, oaky notes of red wines; the bubbly, frothy fizz of sparkling wines—and the terminology employed to describe each. The exotic names of grape varietals grown in the region rolled off my tongue like music—Cabernet Sauvignon, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Chardonnay, Malbec, Tempranillo, Shiraz—adding to the heady sensation of perhaps too many sips. In the Grover Zampa factory, two-year-old wines were undergoing the fascinating mechanised bottling and labelling DECEMBER 2017 | NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELLER INDIA

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PHOTO COURTESY: GROVER ZAMPA VINEYARDS (BARRELS), PHOTO COURTESY: SOMA VINE VILLAGE (BUILDING)

BY DEVAYANI KHARE


{

THE DESTINATION

BY

SHIVANI KAGTI 116

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THE

House Whisky THAT

BUILT

ROBERT HOLMES/CORBIS DOCUMENTARY/GETTY IMAGES

Watching the centuries-old process of turning grain into a barrel of The Glenlivet at the 193-yearold distillery in Scotland

{

When visiting The Glenlivet distillery, pick up a map from the visitor’s centre for the ‘Smugglers’ Trails’ which traces back routes followed by illicit whisky makers of yore.


SCOTLAND

Towards the end of a five-hour-long drive from Edinburgh, the GPS has taken us off the A95 highway and onto a narrower, winding road that’s even more scenic than the last 250 kilometres that we’ve covered. We are in Speyside’s

famous whisky district, driving past one historic Scottish distillery after another—the goosebumps have less to do with the lovely nip in the air than the thought of getting closer to that golden dram of Scotch. There’s not a soul (or car) in sight in this largely pastoral setting—rolling green hills dotted with woolly sheep and cows juxtaposed against a blue sky. As we turn into the driveway leading up to stone-and-glass structure of The Glenlivet distillery, it’s hard to imagine that the idyllic stone brick-walled structure houses one of the world’s largest whisky production centres. There’s no rush of men or machines to disturb the quiet. Stepping out of our rented sedan, my companion and I walk quickly towards the visitor centre. It is almost 4 p.m. and the last distillery tour is at 4.30 p.m. Since we haven’t pre-booked a tour (recommended in the high season), we join a group of visitors waiting for the tour to start. As one of the larger distilleries in the area, the 193-year-old Glenlivet offers round-the-clock guided tours and has a wellstocked gift centre with everything from whisky shortbreads to tartan souvenirs as well as a café. A tall spiral installation lined with (presumably, empty) bottles of their whisky is the centrepiece of the visitor’s centre, and rows of photographs and information about the brand’s evolution and the Speyside region are displayed on the walls. Our guide arrives in 15

minutes, and we troop behind him to the first stop on our tour, the milling room. It is a small space and we huddle around our guide as he talks about the room’s traditional malt mill through which the dried malt is run to form coarse flour called grist. Interestingly, the first step of making Scotch does not take place here but outside the distillery walls. Professional maltsters soak locally grown barley in water for several days, allowing it to germinate. Once the shoots appear, the barley is heated and dried, to create malt. The Glenlivet’s maltsters don’t use peat during the drying process which is why the whisky doesn’t have that smoky aftertaste associated with many Highland malts. One of the members of our group wonders aloud how fascinating it is that prized single malts are the product of three humble ingredients: barley, yeast and water. As we chew on this, the guide leads us upstairs where—judging by the strong aroma—some interesting stuff happens. He explains that here, the grist goes through a mashing process where the starch in the malt is turned into a clear sugary liquid which is later transferred to giant wooden tubs or washbacks. At this point, yeast is added to the mix and voila, after two days, there’s alcohol. At least some form of it. Known as the wash, it is like a frothy beer with alcohol strength of eight to nine per cent. Even though the distillery is shut for maintenance during our visit, DECEMBER 2017 | NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELLER INDIA

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PHOTO COURTESY: THE GLENLIVET DISTILLERY (WELL & PORTRAIT), ROSN123/SHUTTERSTOCK (BARRELS)

Josie's Well (left), a natural spring outside the distillery, was one of the reasons why founder George Smith (middle) chose to build the distillery here. Smith, born in 1792 in the parish of Glenlivet, came from a long line of illicit distillers, and in 1824 he became the first licensed distiller in the parish; It is estimated that The Glenlivet sold 56,800 cases in India last year, each containing 12 bottles or nine litres of whisky (right).


A peek into the baroque-style belfry of Santa Catalina, one of Valencia’s oldest churches.

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THE JOURNEY


SPAIN

Lunch in Spain is a national ritual and siesta, locals argue, an urban legend. How then does one stagger through the sights and sounds of a country in a post-prandial haze? Tearing through the heart of Spain by train might be a good place to start

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By BHAVYA DORE


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NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELLER INDIA | DECEMBER 2017

upwards dramatically. Except, unlike most European cathedrals, this one was built during Muslim rule in the 1100s as a mosque. The old structure was transformed under Catholic conquest, except for the Giralda, a single minaret which was repurposed for its new role as a bell tower. Across from the cathedral is the Alcázar, the royal palace—built again and again over itself, a dizzying canvas of styles, patterns and designs. The gardens alone, are worth it. But aside from being defined by these two attractions, Seville is the kind of Spanish city that unspools in the streets—the pedestrian-friendly, carrestricted streets. I entered several of the churches and found mass in progress on a Sunday, worshippers crowding at chapels. The alleyways were thick with people over

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SEVILLE O

n a hot autumn day, at the end of a long tour, my guide Manuel Moraleda Malagón paused. We were in front of the tomb of Christopher Columbus. The body of Columbus— Spain’s most famous son (or Italy’s, depending on how you estimate it)—had resting places around the world before it finally stopped here. “He was a great navigator during his lifetime and remained one after he died,” said Malagón, a genial, bearded man, proudly delivering his punchline. “He got a round tour of the world for free.” We are inside the Seville Cathedral—the world’s largest such Gothic structure—which like most European cathedrals is designed to overwhelm. Renaissance paintings crowd the chapels on either side. The organ alone, the second largest in the world, is a piece of art. The Gothic spires arch


SPAIN

The light seems to be particularly kind to Spain and most so here in Seville, where buildings and streets glowed. It was Spain red in tooth and claw, and to go through its streets was to experience the distilled concentrate of Spain-ness, whatever that might be

the weekend—a marathon was in progress here, a loud march over there. Seville wasn’t just a pretty picture for visitors, it was a city that felt alive and relevant in and of itself. And Malagón was sure to inform me that Seville really was the heart and soul of the country. “The two things you think about when you think about Spain are flamenco and the bullfight,” he said. “And both are from here.” Flamenco was a form that grew and was honed by the gypsy population that settled here after centuries of nomadic journeys from South through West Asia and North Africa. The bullfight has been around since the Romans, continued by the Arabs and adapted to its current form sometime in the 1700s. The fight season ends before October, but the ring, Plaza de toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballería, is open through the year. The audio guide talked it up as a “cathedral” and one of the “loveliest bullrings in the world”. Still, the tradition is plagued by controversy and has been banned in some other parts of

the country, with increasing opposition from younger people. Walking through the plaza’s art gallery, museum and chapel gave an insight into bullfighting’s centrality to cultural life. Walking through the narrow passage into the bullring itself, surrounded by 12,000 empty seats, the clear sky above, the oval ground opening up on all sides, provided a sense of Gladiatorthrough-the-eyes-of-Russell-Crowe. The light seems to be particularly kind to Spain and most so here in Seville, where buildings and streets glowed. It was Spain red in tooth and claw, and to go through its streets was to experience the distilled concentrate of Spain-ness, whatever that might be. More than anything the city was infected by all shades of orange: burnished, pale, burnt sienna, gaudy. Oh, and there was one more. Malagón pointed to the sky during the course of the afternoon, a sheet of plain, unadorned blue. “That,” he said, “is why we called it Sevillean indigo.” DECEMBER 2017 | NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELLER INDIA

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IMAGINING DREAMS/GETTYIMAGES

The Alcázar (right) is a complex of different architectural styles, from Moorish to Gothic; The Tomb of Christopher Columbus (left) is one of the biggest attractions in the Seville Cathedral.

National Geographic Traveller India December 2017  

Preview of the December 2017 issue of the Indian edition of National Geographic Traveller.

National Geographic Traveller India December 2017  

Preview of the December 2017 issue of the Indian edition of National Geographic Traveller.

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