Tag Archives: Indian Wines

Indian Wines Showcased at Winemakers Dinner at Pullman New Delhi Aerocity

Tristan Beau de Lomenie, the handsome and suave General Manager of Pullman New Delhi Aerocity made a telling statement while addressing the guests at “Taste of India”, a Winemakers Dinner at Pluck & Pling, the all-day fine dining restaurant at his hotel. He said, “This is not a competition but a collaboration among India’s top wine producers”.

He was referring to the winemakers from Sula, Grover Zampa, York and Charosa, who had flown down to Delhi, to present their wines at a well curated dinner at Pullman, the purpose of which was to highlight the tremendous progress made by the Indian wine industry, both in terms of quality and styles.

Tristan also made a little confession and admitted that four years ago, when he and his wife Isabel came to India, they were not very fond of Indian wine. However, over the years, he has been amazed by the improvement in the quality of Indian wines and now, not only has he become a fan, but is actively promoting them in his hotel.

This dinner was notable for several reasons. Four of India’s well known winemakers, Ajoy Shaw of Sula Vineyards, Karishma Grover of Grover Zampa, Ravi Gurnani from York and Ashok Patil from Charosa Vineyards had gathered together, taking time out from their busy schedules since it is harvest time at the wineries, to showcase their premium wines at the Pullman dinner.

While most wine lovers in Delhi are already familiar with established names like Sula, Grover Zampa and York, this was the first time that wines from Charosa (a winery located 55kms from Nashik in Maharashtra) were being presented in the capital. There has been a buzz around their Sauvignon Blanc and Reserve Tempranillo (India’s first 100% Tempranillo), and guests at the “Taste of India” dinner got a chance to try out both, along with Charosa Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. The presence of Ashok Patil, chief winemaker of Charosa, who spoke a little about his winery, made it special.

The four wines from Sula Vineyards, India’s biggest and most well known wine producer commanding the largest market share, were Brut Tropicale (my current favorite among Indian sparkling wines), Sula Riesling 2016, Rasa Shiraz 2014 and a lovely Late Harvest Chenin Blanc 2016 which had a good balance between sweetness and acidity and a touch of Muscat. Ajoy Shaw, chief winemaker of Sula Vineyards revealed that Rasa got its name after the initials (Ra Sa) of the founder of Sula, Rajeev Samat. I was not aware of this and it is always good to learn something new.

Karishma Grover, chief winemaker at Grover Vineyards Ltd, presented Zampa Brut Soirée 2014 and Grover Zampa Chêne Grande Reserve 2010 along with two house labels that she has collaborated with Pullman. “Blanc by Pullman” is a Sauvignon Blanc while “Rouge by Pullman” is a blend of oak aged Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz, both easy drinking styles.

Ravi Gurnani from York winery was the only person among the four, who is technically not a winemaker but takes care of sales & marketing. It is his brother Kailash, who is incharge of winemaking operations at York Winery, also situated in Nashik very close to Sula. The wines that he showcased at the dinner were York Sparkling Blanc de Blancs (100% Chenin), York Chenin Blanc 2016 and, York Arros, one of the best value for money premium Indian red wines in my opinion.

It goes to the credit of Tristan and his team of sommeliers and chefs, in particular Director Food & Beverage Vishrut Gupta and Assistant Director F&B Deepak Shettigar, that the event was a huge success.

The efforts of the sommelier of Pullman & Novotel New Delhi Aerocity, Kriti Malhotra, were recognised and praised by everyone present. Kriti is certified sommelier from Court of Master Sommeliers and it was she who had coordinated with the winemakers and persuaded them to participate. She is a passionate and dedicated sommelier who is making a mark on the wine scene and setting a great example which should encourage more and more Indian women to enter this field.

Taste of India Winemakers Dinner at Pullman New Delhi Aerocity
Taste of India Winemakers Dinner at Pullman New Delhi Aerocity

Taste of India wine dinner was also a fabulous opportunity for the chefs of Pullman to showcase “Farm-to-Table”, a concept that they so zealously advocate. In fact, quite a few ingredients used in the dishes were plucked from their in-house organic garden. No surprise that the Cafe is called “Pluck”. The miniature Chef’s Garden created for the dinner, complete with root vegetables which guests had to dig out from faux soil and the different types of fruit and vegetable caviar, came in for a lot of appreciation. There were some hits and misses in terms of wine and food pairing, but there is always an inherent risk while attempting something unconventional.

Tristan Beau de Lomenie and his team need to be applauded for promoting both the “Farm-to-Table” concept and Indian Wines at Pullman & Novotel New Delhi Aerocity.

The Wines from Sula, Grover Zampa, York and Charosa ; Chef's Garden at Pluck; Caviar and Dessert
The Wines from Sula, Grover Zampa, York and Charosa ; Chef’s Garden at Pluck; Caviar and Dessert

Tristan’s concluding words at the “Taste of India” wine dinner were that Indian wines are becoming a force to reckon with and can now complete with the best in the New World. Coming from a Frenchman whose wife Isabel, owns a vineyard in Barsac Bordauex, this is quite an endorsement.

By : Lavina Kharkwal

 

 

Four Seasons Wines launches its limited edition Vintner’s Reserve Select Barrels 2011

Diageo seems to be as serious about its recently acquired wine division as it is about its spirits business. The grand launch of Vintner’s Reserve Select Barrels 2011 by Four Seasons Wines Ltd (FSWL), now under Diageo’s control after the liquor giant bought UB Group’s United Spirits Limited (USL) of which Four Seasons is a subsidiary, makes their intent quite clear, along with laying to rest rumours about the demise of the Four Seasons wine brand.

Given the growing popularity of wine in India, it makes Diageo’s portfolio even more attractive and the liquor conglomerate is doing all it can to push the sales of Four Seasons wines. Which is great news really for the Indian wine consumers as they get more wines to choose from and healthy competition never hurt anybody, certainly not the Indian wine industry.

Vintner’s Reserve Select Barrels 2011 was unveiled on 16th July 2016 at the French chateau styled Four Seasons Winery, located just over an hour’s drive from Pune at Roti village in Maharashtra’s Baramati district.  A delicious full-bodied spicy blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz chosen from the best parcels, this Rioja meets Amarone with dark fruits, sweet vanilla  and smooth ripe velvety tannins has been aged two years in French oak barrels and another two in the bottle. In terms of intensity, depth and flavour this wine is right up there among the best Indian reds in the super-premium category. Though price wise at just Rs 1500 a bottle, it is the most reasonable.

However it is a limited edition wine with only 700 cases (1200 bottles for each region) produced for seven markets, Bangalore, Mumbai, Pune, Kolkatta, Arunachal Pradesh & Andaman & Nicobar Islands. So grab that bottle before the stocks run out. And decant it for an hour to enjoy its full aromas and flavors.

Wine lovers in Delhi will have to wait a wee bit longer to get their hands on this beauty as Mr Kejriwal’s government is yet to announce the new excise policy for Delhi, much to the consternation of Wine & Liquor companies, importers and the hospitality industry.

Four Seasons latest launch Vintner's Reserve Select Barrels 2011
Four Seasons latest launch Vintner’s Reserve Select Barrels 2011

Four Season’s Vintner’s Reserve Select Barrels 2011 is a feather in the cap of FSWL’s Chief Winemaker and Director Abhay Kewadkar. After the launch of two fantastic reserve wines a few years back, Four Seasons Barrique Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon & Four Seasons Barrique Reserve Shiraz, this latest addition to the Four Seasons Wines portfolio took a while coming but was certainly worth the wait.

It strongly confirms Abhay Kewadkar’s expertise as a wine maker. In fact, he is India’s most experienced winemaker having been involved in the implementation of path-breaking wine projects in India, Indage India’s first Indian sparkling wine “Marquis de Pompadour” in 1988 and Grover Vineyards “La Reserve”, which till date remains India’s most well-known red wine.

Four Season’s Wines Ltd has been Abhay Kewadkar’s baby right from the start. He had his task cut out when he joined FSWL in 2006 after parting with Grovers with whom he worked for 16 long years. From selecting the land for setting up the winery, planting the grapes, making the wine to marketing it, this has been his project all the way.

Since its inception the winery has won 48 international awards in the wine circuit. The classic Four Seasons range which only had single varietals in its portfolio is now venturing into blends and the Vintner’s Reserve Select Barrels 2011, is a foray in this direction.

Four Seasons Winery at Roti Village Baramati Maharashtra, just an hour and a half drive from Pune
Four Seasons Winery at Roti Village Baramati Maharashtra, just an hour and a half drive from Pune

The launch function at the winery was very impressive and the pool-side setting could not have been more perfect. An elaborate three course sit down lunch catered by the team from Taj Vivanta Pune led by Chef Sachin Joshi was just one of the many moments to remember from my first visit to the Four Seasons winery. Right from the time one entered the palatial chateau and was welcomed with a glass of the yet to be released Rosé bubbly, a delicious barbeque dinner, an early morning walk around the property with Abhay Kewadkar and his three adorable Dobermans Caesar, Lucy and Max, a Maharashtrian breakfast where the sparkling rosé was paired with “misal paav”, to a dip in the swimming pool, it was a memorable visit indeed. The wine just did not stop flowing and the generous hospitality of Four Seasons left a lasting impression.

Mr Abhay Kewadkar, Chief Winemaker & Director FSWL with his team at the launch of Vintner's Reserve Select Barrels 2011
Mr Abhay Kewadkar, Chief Winemaker & Director FSWL with his team at the launch of Vintner’s Reserve Select Barrels 2011

Four Seasons Winery is a gorgeous property recently opened to public giving a great fillip to wine tourism in India. It makes the most beautiful “grape escape destination” with its ten well decorated rooms and four suites, all equipped with modern amenities and a tasting room to try out the wines. There is a swimming pool, outdoor jacuzzi, mountain bikes to explore the vineyards and a pool side deck to throw parties. To find out about Four Seasons Wine Tour you may click here and the link for booking a tour is this.

The successful launch of Vintner’s Reserve Select Barrels 2011 augurs well for Four Seasons Wines Ltd and one looks forward to many more new wines from their stable. As for me, I am eagerly awaiting the release of their sparkling rosé which I was fortunate to taste.

By: Lavina Kharkwal

Following are the Four Seasons Brands available in Delhi & Haryana

  1. Four Seasons Barrique Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (Rs 1000) Only Delhi
  2. Four Seasons Classic Barrique Reserve Shiraz (Rs 900) Only Haryana
  3. Four Seasons Classic Sauvignon Blanc (Rs 650) Both Delhi & Haryana
  4. Four Seasons Classic Shiraz (Rs 650) Both Delhi & Haryana
  5. Four Seasons Classic Cabernet Sauvignon (Rs 650) Only Haryana
  6. Four Seasons Classic Chenin Blanc (Rs 650) Only Haryana

Fratelli Wines : Making a splash in India & Abroad

For a country whose per capita consumption of wine is a mere 9 milliliters per annum compared to the global average of 4 litres, India has a thriving wine industry. There is a constant refrain one hears even from Indians that our wines are not good which is a far cry from the truth. In fact a lot of Indian wines are superior in taste and are better value for money than some of the entry level low quality fare, both from the Old & New World, which is flooding the Indian market. Many Indian wineries are producing good quality premium wines and one of them is Fratelli. I got a chance to visit Fratelli Wines in Akluj, 170 kms from Pune in Solapur district of Maharashtra and see for myself the state of the art winery, beautiful vineyards and taste some of their premium wines.

Fratelli Wines has come a long way within a short span of time, a little over four years to be precise, as it was only in October 2010 when its first vintage was launched in the Indian market with just three wine labels. That number has now gone up to 28 labels (of which 6 include the imported range) encompassing twelve varietals like Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Shiraz and all major international styles.

It isn’t merely a matter of numbers. Fratelli has managed to carve a niche for itself in the Indian wine industry and is now catching the attention of the world because of the quality of its wines.  An Indo-Italian collaboration, it was the first to experiment with growing the Italian varietal Sangiovese on Indian soil, under the aegis of Piero Masi, the famed Tuscan viticulturist and winemaker. Not content with making just a regular red wine Sangiovese, Piero Masi experimented with making a still white wine Sangiovese Bianco from a red grape varietal, a process which requires great expertise.

Fratelli is also a pioneer in making a zero dosage sparkling wine Gran Cuvée Brut from 100% Chenin Blanc, putting to rest the general misconception that most Indian sparkling wines are excessively sweet. While zero dosage is a popular trend abroad, no winery in India has tried it before Fratelli. Dosage or “liquer d’expedition” is basically additional sugar added to champagne and sparking wines after disgorgement and before final corking to balance the acidity. Sparkling wines sans dosage or undosed are said to have better minerality and are supposed to be more expressive of the terroir as they reveal the complexities of the wine without masking it with sugar, though the last word is still not out on this one.

It is the only winery to plant Gewürztraminer in India. This and another cool climate varietal Muller-Thurgau is used along with Chenin Blanc to produce a single vineyard blend VITAE TRE. Then there is a barrel fermented Chardonnay VITAE, the usage of oak resulting in a wine with a firm structure and a creamier, rounder finish.

Coming to their flagship and most prized wine SETTE,  a blend of Sangiovese & Cabernet Sauvignon with a small percentage of Cabernet Franc. It is matured in French oak for 14 months and is an Indian wine with good ageing potential. With three vintages released so far 2009, 2010 & 2011 SETTE is garnering appreciation both from customers and critics alike. Alessio Secci, one of the co-owners of Fratelli wines goes so far as calling it a “Super Indian” on the lines of a Super Tuscan on which SETTE is modelled.

SETTE tasting at the cellar of Fratelli Wines at Akluj
SETTE tasting at the cellar of Fratelli Wines at Akluj

One of the reasons why Fratelli is producing wines of such good quality and consistency is that all its 240 acres of vineyards at Akluj,  spread over three sites Motewadi (where the winery is located) Nimgaon & Garwad are estate owned. The advantage of using grapes sourced only from their own vineyards is that since they can directly supervise cultivation, strict quality control is maintained, harvesting is done at optimum ripeness and grapes are picked, transported and crushed in the shortest possible time. They say that “wine can be no better than the grapes from which it is made”. Hence estate wineries always produce the finest wines.

Vrushal Kedari, Assistant wine maker at Fratelli Wines, a graduate of oenology from Napa, whose passion for wine is matched by his knowledge.
Vrushal Kedari, Assistant wine maker at Fratelli Wines, a graduate of oenology from Napa, whose passion for wine is matched by his knowledge.

In the field of wine tourism too, Fratelli Wines is making a mark as it is one of the few wineries which offers accommodation in a vineyard setting, even though it is only limited to four aesthetically decorated rooms. There are various packages like day visits, weekend getaways, Rejuvenation and Rent-a-vineyard packages. Meals are provided on prior order and guests staying at the facility can even try their hand at cooking in the open kitchen which offers a panoramic view of the vineyards.

Guest Rooms at Fratelli Wines, Akluj Maharashtra
Guest Rooms at Fratelli Wines, Akluj Maharashtra

There are two tasting rooms, one modern facing the imposing winery and the other more traditional located in the cellar room amidst oak barrels. Wines can be purchased at discounted prices and there are souvenirs like wine glasses, wine openers, carry bags and coasters which can be bought.

Tasting Room at Fratelli Wines
Tasting Room at Fratelli Wines

A short 15 minute drive from the winery at Motewadi is Syrah Hut which overlooks the vineyards at Garwad. Wine tasting option is offered at this breathtakingly beautiful and serene locale.

Wine tasting at Syrah Hill overlooking the vineyards at Garwad
Wine tasting at Syrah Hill overlooking the vineyards at Garwad

It is really encouraging  to see Indian wines making inroads into foreign markets and Fratelli is no exception. It has a presence in USA, UK, Japan, Hong Kong, Italy and Netherlands. Just last week Abhishek Haryson, Senior Manager Corporate Communication and Marketing conducted an exclusive tasting session of Fratelli wines for top Swedish business and travel community members at India Unlimited in Stockholm Sweden at the behest of Indian Ambassador in Sweden, Banashri Bose Harrison.

Abhishek Haryson, Senior Manager Corporate Communication & Marketing, Fratelli Wines showcasing the wines at Sheraton Stockholm during India Unlimited
Abhishek Haryson, Senior Manager Corporate Communication & Marketing, Fratelli Wines showcasing the wines at Sheraton Stockholm during India Unlimited

At the end of the day it is all a question of changing the mindset about Indian wines, first among our own people and then abroad, that wines from India can match international standards in terms of quality and pricing. Fratelli Wines is doing just that.

By : Lavina Kharkwal

To read more on Fratelli Wines

https://highonwines.com/2014/11/13/fratelli-wines-launches-three-new-labels-vitae-vitae-tre-sette-2011-and-makes-forays-into-imported-wines/

https://highonwines.com/2016/03/13/a-day-at-fratelli-winery-during-harvest/

Since I keep getting queries and requests from readers to mention the prices of the wines here they are: The prices in Delhi of 750ml size bottles of some the wines are Vero Sauvignon Blanc & Vero Cabernet Sauvignon (Rs 460) ; Shiraz Rose (Rs 650); Fratelli Chenin Blanc (660) Cabernet Sauvignon & Cabernet Franc-Shiraz (Rs 740);  Chardonnay (Rs 850); Sangiovese Bianco (Rs 880) Sangiovese (Rs 930); ; Gran Cuvee Brut (Rs 1120)   Vitae  Chardonnay (Rs 1600)  Vitae Tre (Rs 1600)  &  Sette (Rs 1800)

Select wines are also available  in pint size bottles (375ml) They range from Rs 265 to Rs 420

Grover Zampa Launches Vijay Amritraj Reserve Collection Wines

 

 

Team Grover Zampa Vineyards
Team Grover Zampa Vineyards

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.

 

VA Reserve Collection
VA Reserve Collection

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.

With the legend himself

To read more on Grover Zampa click on this link

https://highonwines.com/2015/05/15/wine-tourism-in-india-grover-zampa-vineyards-nandi-hills-bangalore/

 

 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.