You know that Indian wines have come of age when India’s most well-known and internationally recognized tennis player, Vijay Amritraj, launches his own premium wine collection, with one of India’s top most wine producers, Grover Zampa Vineyards, and not with some wine producer in Napa Valley. It was not just his long standing friendship with Kapil Grover, the founder owner of Grover Zampa, which prompted him in making this decision, but the fact Grover Zampa are making quality wines, which are winning awards the world over and gaining recognition in international markets. The latest award won by Grover Zampa was at the recent DAWA (Decanter Asia Wine Awards) where its Art Collection Sauvignon Blanc 2014 won the International Trophy for the best Sauvignon Blanc.
Vijay Amritraj flew down from his home in Los Angeles California for the Delhi launch of V/A Reserve Collection White and Red at The Leela Palace New Delhi where he along the founder owner Kapil Grover, the company’s CEO Sumedh Singh Mandala and others from the team Grover Zampa pulled out all the stops into making this one of the most talked about launches in a long time.
However the proof of the pudding is in the eating or in this case shall we say drinking. Let’s come to the white first. The VA Reserve Collection White is a barrel fermented and barrique aged Viognier with a 30% oaked component giving it a fuller body. Interestingly the choice of the varietal was made by Vijay Amritraj himself, who is passionate about wine and professes to not having touched any hard liquor since many years now. Viognier, which has an extraordinary combination of perfume and body, is often described as a vintner’s headache, as it is a varietal which requires great technique and is a difficult grape to grow. If picked too early, the grape fails to develop the full extent of its aromas and tastes, and when picked late it produces wine that is oily and lacks perfume.
The tasting notes on the bottle of VA Collection White say “Straw colour aromas of white flowers & stone fruit. Fruity with pleasing acidity and mild spiciness. A versatile wine that could be enjoyed as an aperitif or with food”.
While I found the nose to be delicately perfumed, the wine lacked a little in acidity, but then Viognier traditionally has low acidity. It is a little high in alcohol at 13.5%abv so my advice would be to pair it with food and I can see it doing well with delicately spiced chicken dishes, mushrooms, and mildly spiced Asian dishes. It is a cleverly made wine with an elegant finish and should do well in the international markets too.
Coming to the VA Reserve Collection Red now, this is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Viognier and the tasting notes describe it as “an elegant nose with lingering aroma of dark fruits, spice, pepper, blackberry jam and violets. The palate is rich in fruit and supple in texture juxtaposed with a fine grain French oak and the powerful flavours of blackberry and blackcurrant. Pairs well with medium spicy Asian cuisine, good cuts of red meat, game and strong cheese”.
I found the red to be reminiscent of a Northern Rhône style red. The touch of international wine consultant Michel Rolland is quite discernible. The co-fermenting of the white grape Viognier (though only 5%) with the red blend adds bouquet to the wine besides stabilizing the colour and also softens its character keeping in mind the Indian palate. The red is very expressive of the warm and sunny Indian terroir.
Though the concept of celebrity wine labels is popular internationally, this is the first time that it has been launched in India and it is quite apparent that Vijay Amritraj is deeply committed to the label. Team Grover Zampa has worked hard on this label and one wishes them success both in the Indian and international markets.
To read more on Grover Zampa click on this link
Both the VA Collection Red and the White are available in Delhi, Gurgaon, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Goa and are priced at Rs 1200 in the Indian market while in UK it is selling for £14.99.