Tag Archives: Kailash Gurnani

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



York Winery : Raising the bar for the Indian Wine Industry

Last year I was introduced to York wines by the corporate sommelier of The Lalit Hotels, Charles Donnadieu, who had very innovatively paired York Chenin Blanc & York Sparkling Cuvée Brut Blanc de Blancs with “roti” breads at The Naanery (India’s first Bread Bar) at Baluchi, The Lalit New Delhi. The quality of both the still & sparkling impressed me and also the fact that wines from a relatively new Indian winery were listed in a leading 5 star hotel of the country. This spoke volumes about how far Indian wines had come not just in terms of quality but also in terms of gaining acceptability.

Very recently Kailash Gurnani, Chief Winemaker at York Winery, invited me to dinner where a few of his wines were being paired by sommelier Charles Donnadieu with some signature dishes of Baluchi, the pan-Indian speciality restaurant at The Lalit. Kailash was in the capital for a few days to promote his wines and also take stock of how they were doing across various retail outlets in Delhi. Those of you for whom the name does not ring a bell, Kailash Gurnani is someone who has the distinction of starting out as India’s youngest winemaker. He took over the reins of his family owned York winery in the middle of 2011 when he was just 23 years old. His older brother Ravi Gurnani, a mechanical engineer from Warwick University UK, looks after Sales & Marketing at York.

While I was prepared to meet a youngish wine-maker, I was a bit taken aback when we were formally introduced as he looked much younger than what his pictures suggested. Over a leisurely lunch prior to the York Wine Dinner the same evening, Kailash spoke about his journey and his wine making philosophy.

York Winery was founded in Nashik Maharashtra by his father Lilo Gurnani, a Nashik based entrepreneur who could not remain unaffected by the boom taking place in India’s wine valley and decided to plunge into the business of making wine in the year 2005. The winery became operational in 2008, at a time when Kailash was studying Oenology at University of Adelaide Wine School, Waite Campus Australia. Before taking charge Kailash Gurnani spent some time learning the ropes by working in wineries in Australia, Bulgaria & Cyprus.

York tasted success with their very first vintage when 2008 York Estate Reserve Shiraz won a Gold Medal at the Sommelier India Wine Competition. In 2012, which was Kailash’s first harvest, both the Chenin Blanc & the Sauvignon Blanc won Bronze Medals at Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Competition. Since then there has been a steady stream of awards & accolades, the latest, a Silver Medal at 2015 Indian Wine Consumer Choice Awards & a Commendation at 2015 Decanter Asia Wine Awards for York Cuvée Brut Blanc de Blancs NV.

At the York Wine Dinner at Baluchi on 29th April 2016, the guests got a chance to try out the Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, and Sparkling Brut Blanc de Blancs (100% Chenin Blanc) along with the flagship wine of York Winery, Arros, a reserve blend of Shiraz & Cabernet Sauvignon. What stood out was the paring of this delicious & well structured red wine with Dal Baluchi & Paan Biryani. It had everyone singing paeans both to the wine and to Dal Baluchi which most people agreed was as good, if not better than the famed “Dal Bukhara” of ITC Maurya. As for Arros, the general verdict was that it is probably the best Indian premium red at that price (Rs 850). Lightly oaked with a lot of fruit shining through, and a touch of spice, it had shades of a  Barossa Valley Shiraz.

York Wine Dinner at Baluchi , The Lalit New Delhi
York Wine Dinner at Baluchi , The Lalit New Delhi

York, a fairly new entrant in the vibrant Indian wine industry, has kept the pricing of its wines very competitive and marginally lower than the others in the same segment. However this does not in any way convey lower quality, contrary to the mind-set which most people have about wine. Offering quality Indian wines at affordable prices is the best way to motivate more & more people into making that switch from other alcoholic drinks to healthier options like wine. A young wine nation like India needs just this incentive.

So here’s wishing success to young Indian wine makers like Kailash Gurnani who are raising the bar on quality where Indian wines are concerned and showing to the world that passion, perseverance and innovation will take you places, even in a short time.

By: Lavina Kharkwal

Kailash Gurnani Chief Winemaker at York Winery Nashik Maharashtra
Kailash Gurnani Chief Winemaker at York Winery Nashik Maharashtra

Retail price of York Wines in Delhi (They are not listed in Gurgaon)

York Chenin Blanc Rs 570

York Sauvignon Blanc Rs 570

York Cabernet Sauvignon Rs 570

York Rosé Rs 650

York Shiraz Rs 650

York Cabernet Merlot Rs 650

Arros Rs 850

York Sparkling Cuvée Brut Blanc de Blancs Rs 900