Tag Archives: Cabernet Sauvignon

Outlook Business

As a family we have always had a very healthy appetite for good food and good drink since the time that I can remember so I am not surprised that life has led me down this path. Getting into the wine business was pure chance. I was sitting next to someone who got a call from Sula asking her if she would like to join the sales team. All I heard was “wine company” from the person at my side when I grabbed the phone and said “I don’t know who you are but I would like to join”. I got the job the next day and what followed was a spate of vineyards visits, international trade shows and countless tastings, all of which got me so wrapped up in the world of wine that I could not think of doing anything else. The world of wine is enormous and fascinating;especially in India because if you pay attention you can see the industry and the culture for wine develop right in front of you. I wanted to be a conduit for change in the wine and spirits world.

To say that the quality of Indian wines have improved dramatically over the last few years would be a gross understatement. It’s not just one or two wineries that have raised the game, instead it’s the leading wineries of India that have somehow through a collective conscious decided that pushing levels of quality is the way forward. I am probably one of the biggest fans of the Indian wine industry. I have been lucky enough to be a part of it since the time I joined Sula Vineyards almost 15 years ago at the age of 22.

The Indian wine industry has had many reasons to go through this metamorphosis. For one they far are more wineries than before which has created a competitive market scenario forcing wineries to raise their game in order to succeed. The second and the most important in my opinion is that consumers in India have evolved. Not only are they more consumers of wine but also they are also more discerning consumers. You cannot put plonk in a bottle and expect it to sell. Wineries constantly need to innovate to keep consumers engaged.

Three, the wine industry in India is very young, we’re learning every year. We’re figuring out which parcels of land have better soils and climates for wine production and understanding which grape can succeed. We have also brought in or developed the right talent and infrastructure to produce world class wines. The use of oak barrels to add complexity to red wine and to some whites is now commonplace. I’m not saying the industry has got it together just yet; there are many improvements to be made at every stage of the business whether its grape growing, wine making, selling and marketing.

In a span of roughly three decades the Indian wine industry has achieved a lot. It isn’t easy to change the habits of a drinking population that can’t see beyond spirit. Every wine producer knows that it is not only about creating a brand but it’s also about creating a culture for wine in India.

It is common for people, even some of the savviest wine consumers to dismiss Indian wines for their imported counter parts. This generalization needs to stop. Indian wine is on par or certainly better than some of the wine produced out there.Sometimes people pay Rs 2000 or more for a bottle of imported wine thinking that the price or country of origin denotes quality. While the country of origin may, not everything produced in any part of the world is good or even comparable to Indian wine. The price in India for the imported stuff is made up largely of taxes, India applying the highest duties in the world on wine, so price cannot be a measure of quality. Consumers need to be more aware.

There are number of specific wines that deserve a mention, these are the finest examples of quality that India is producing as of now that are being appreciated not only in India but gaining recognition at Wine Competitions in India and across the globe. Yes, Indian wines are winning awards in competitions held in London, the US and in Asia and now the number of wines winning awards is increasing and it is becoming more frequent. Indian wines are also exported all over the world even to countries that produce large and high quality wines themselves.

Indian wine is dominated in terms of volume by two to three wineries with the rest of the wineries combined taking the rest of the pie. But in terms of quality the scenario is not so polarized. There are smaller brands that are producing exceptional quality wine but they have not been around long enough or don’t have the marketing muscle or marketing brilliance that the more established wine brands have. What’s also interesting is that exceptional quality is being achieved in all wine styles as well, it’s not just the use of barrel for example that are giving our reds finesse, there is more depth to wine making now than ever before.

For example Charossa owned by HCC has created an exceptional Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Reserve Tempranillo. The Tempranillo is a break through and this wine demonstrates just what experimentation with grape varieties can achieve.Grover’s and Zampa have joined forces and have launched a wine called Chene, which means oak in French. A blend of Tempranillo and Shiraz, which is phenomenal. Grover’s La Reserve has been a long-standingquality Indian wine that one can bet on safely. Myra Vineyards, a winery that I am closely associated with makes outstanding Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and Reserve Shiraz. Myra’s new wine called Misfit that’s about to be launched is even better.

The launch of Chandon from Moet Hennessy has created a market place for sparkling wine in India like never before. A true game changer that has done wonders for getting people interested in drinking sparkling wine. Also with Chandon’s success I’m hoping that it will pave the way for more international brands to set up wineries in India bringing in with them their expertise. Another sparkling called Casablanca is one to watch out for, well priced, very crisp and delicious. York winery in Nasik produces a barrel fermented Chenin Blanc that gives this grape variety more weight, their newly launched sparkling wine with its low alcohol strength is a delight and their flagship red Arros is pure indulgence.

Fratelli’s Vitae, Sangiovese Bianco, Chardonnay and Sette are outstanding wines. Remember before Fratelli, no one made wine at Akluj, which again is a representation of the fruits of experimentation not only with grape varietals but regions for producing grapes for wine making as well. Vallonné Vineyards produces a world class Rose, a dessert wine that you cannot believe and a selection of super Reserve reds from grape varieties such as Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon.

A winery that has understood the Indian palate completely in Reveilo, their Sangiovese and Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and Reserve Shiraz have a steady following and their Late Harvest Chenin Blanc is sweet decadence. Oakwood a winery whose wines are yet to be made available produces an exceptional Sauvignon Blanc.

Sula constantly innovates and if I had to choose two from their massive portfolio it would be their Riesling and their solid Dindori Shiraz. Krsma a relatively new winery with an emphasis on small quantities and high quality is very exciting as well. Nine Hills from Pernod Ricard has changed things around to produce better quality wine in the last few years.

My apologies for what may seem like a barrage of wines and brands but I am truly excited, this Sommelier is watching wine become more important everyday. I’m happy that we can open bottles produced in India at prices that are within reach and that they are good and getting better. Remember we’ve only just begun, we’re babies on a global scale and we’ve reached this far in such a short period of time. And if India’s short vinous history has given us what we have today then the future looks very promising.

Sommelier and Founder, All Things Nice

Margaret River

It has been just 45 years since the first vines were planted, but near perfect growing conditions have enabled Margaret River to quickly become recognised as one of the world’s great fine wine regions. Celebrated as one of the world’s most conducive areas for producing Chardonnay, this region in South West Australia produces wines of great intensity, length and character.

Margaret River is possibly even more highly regarded for its Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet blends which are best known for their dense fruit flavours, complexity and cellaring potential. An appreciation for the pristine environment and a more healthy way of living among Australians has also led to an increase in the production of preservative free wine along with organic and biodynamic farming practices and wine making. The wineries are the true ambassadors for the region, and the wine industry pioneers have been responsible for putting the region on the map. With over 150 wine producers in the region you are spoilt for choice, with many of the cellar doors boasting restaurants, market gardens, inspiring architecture, art galleries and boutique giftware.

Leeuwin Estate Winery, Margaret River

The Ruffino Dinner at the Sahib Room, Palladium Hotel

I’ve had the pleasure of dining in the Sahib Room at the Palladium Hotel twice, the first time was when it launched and then again at the Ruffino dinner hosted by Sula last week.

Both times have been incredible and I think it is Chef Angad’s brilliance and Palladium’s hospitality that make it so special. Chef Angad specializes in North West Frontier cuisine with an expertise in Awadhi, Hyderabadi, and Kashmiri cuisines. He actually didn’t say much when I thanked him, but his colleagues who I spoke with the next day said they weren’t surprised, as he’d rather have his food do the talking. Well Amen to that!

Way back in my days with Sula, I had the opportunity of placing the first order for Ruffino to India, so I wasn’t going to miss this dinner for anything.  In my excitement, my guest and I were the first people to arrive. The dinner was hosted to welcome Joe Milner – Regional Director Asia and Jake Jacob, VP Asia of Constellation Brands. Ruffino is part of the Constellation Group – the world’s largest wine company.

The evening started off with Ruffino’s Orvietto Classico served as an aperitif. This easy drinking wine with lovely fresh, fruity and floral notes was served at the Sahib Rooms bar area. After a few glasses we were ushered into the restaurant’s plush dining space.

What followed was Chef Angad’s magic, a slew of dishes that included avocado and bamboo shoot tikkis, smoked spring lamb, grilled tiger prawns all of which paired really well with Ruffino’s Chianti – a blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. I had not tasted this wine in about 13 years and was pleasantly surprised by how well the wine worked with the food.

For the main course we had an indulgent black dal that I devoured along with the Kashmiri hand pulled lamb and biryani. This was served with a more serious wine, Ruffino’s Riserva Ducale, a Chianti Classico Riserva. By then I was completely satiated but pure greed made me ask for another glass. I really do like this wine and the label is just stunning. Dessert was delicious with the now fabled Kolkatta paan ice cream. You’ve got to try it. If you had to switch off the lights and have that served to you without disclosure you probably wouldn’t be able to tell that it wasn’t actually paan.

The wines and the company at my table were great and the Sahib Room managed to put me into a Sahib like food coma once again. With a number of great restaurants attempting to modernize Indian food springing up across the country, I am actually very glad that the Sahib Room has chosen to stick to tradition and I think that we can all raise a glass or two of Ruffino’s Riserva Ducale to that.

By Sommelier Nikhil Agarwal, Director at All Things Nice

Palladium Hotel's Chef Angad
Palladium Hotel’s Chef Angad
Ruffino's Riserva Ducale pairs perfectly
Ruffino’s Riserva Ducale pairs perfectly
Jake Jacob,Vice President Constellation Brands Asia
Jake Jacob,Vice President Constellation Brands Asia

Image 4 Blog

Joe Milner, Regional Sales Director, Constellation Brands Asia
Joe Milner, Regional Sales Director, Constellation Brands Asia

Notes from Chile

Notes from Chile - Dennis Murray of Montes

Montes have been a great ambassador for Chile, and a benchmark for many new Chilean wineries. This month we get into conversation with Dennis Murray of this iconic Chilean brand.

Your wines have been selling in India for some time now. Tell us how the Indian wine market has changed from your perspective?

With Indians having travelled and studied abroad they now embrace wine even more as they have seen its importance to their colleagues in other countries. I think Indians are much more knowledgeable about wine now since companies like All Things Nice and the Indian Wine Academy have helped to introduce, teach and sophisticate wine in India.

Is there a variety that has specifically done better in India over the others?

Cabernet Sauvignon has always been a favorite, followed by Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

Where do you see India in the Chilean wine story in the future?

People are surprised by how important China is today to wine producers worldwide, the next country to surprise everyone will definitely be India. In Chile we see great potential, as more people are introduced to wine and have started pairing wine with food on a regular basis.

The spiciness and black pepper hints of the Carmenere red grape variety almost unique to Chile are a perfect match for Indian cuisine. We see opportunity in complementing local cuisines with Chilean wine.

Indians are travelling all over the world to discover wine regions, what can one look forward to on their visit to Chile?

In Colchagua, where we are based, you can find more that 30 wineries.  There are many hotels and restaurants nearby so people can enjoy the beautiful scenery, the vineyards and wines at leisure.

Tell us more about Taita, your flagship wine?

Montes Taita was a long sought dream come true. It is a big challenge to produce a Grand Cru Chilean wine to top our family of icon: M, Folly and Purple Angel. Taita grapes are dry farmed in a small vineyard in Marchigue. The wine is kept in new French oak barrels for two years and then four years in bottle before release. The first vintage (2007) was released last year to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the winery. Only 3,000 bottles are made every 2 or 3 years.

People often talk about tradition sometimes being the opposite of innovation. What are the three “legacies” of the tradition that you would like to last for many decades to come?

I believe that wine production has to be a family business and not run by big companies. Wine needs to be made by people who love what they do. Since they make it for decades or generations they will take better care of the wines produced. Sustainable wine-growing is of great importance as we need to continue producing quality products using the less energy and water possible. Taking care of your land is not new, so I believe should be in the top list of priorities for decades to come.

Charosa Wineries

Charosa wineries

 

 

I had visited Charosa winery a couple of years ago in July 2011 (when the winery wasn’t completely ready) on an invitation from Milind Pandit, their National Sales & Marketing Head.  I was blown away with the size of their operation and knew immediately that when they launched they would create a stir.

I remember the weekend I was there they were rolling in brand new barrels that had just arrived the same day.  You could feel their excitement and passion for what they were doing.

Situated in the Dindori Taluka of Nasik, Charosa has its own vineyards and also sources fruit from contracted farmers that they supervise closely. The winery is state of the art and its location is absolutely stunning; you can climb to the top of that hill in the picture and take in a 360-degree view of the surroundings. Not open to visitors just yet but it is going to be a great place to spend the weekend once they have their hospitality infrastructure in place.

The current portfolio launched in late 2013 includes a New Zealand style Sauvignon Blanc that is absolutely stunning and one of India’s best.  A classy crisp Viognier made in an oxidative style, which I really enjoyed, a Shiraz that has spent some time in oak and a Reserve Tempranillo, which is brilliant. The Tempranillo grape variety has proven itself to thrive in Indian climatic conditions and we will see a lot more wineries launching their versions using this variety soon. They also have a Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon that didn’t impress as much as the others but I think the next vintage will be much better. What I really like about Charosa is that they are making efforts to be different. For example they haven’t included a Chenin Blanc in their portfolio, a gutsy move that I respect. All wines are bottled in screw cap, which in India makes complete sense.

My only grouse is that they too have become part of this new trend for wineries in India to price one or two of their wines at around the Rs 1500 and above mark, a trend I don’t support.

Charosa is a great example of the level of wine quality India can produce when we put in the right effort and investment. Milind and the team have set high standards right from the get-go and we look forward to seeing what else this winery will offer in the future.

Tasting Notes: (Provided by Charosa Wineries)

Charosa Vineyards Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon: Dark ruby red with complex aromas of ripe fruits, black olive, vanilla, eucalyptus, chocolate, with hint of sweet spice.    On palate wine is rich and soft, expressing ripe fruits like plum, raspberry.     Full bodied this wine finishes with well balanced tannins. MRP Rs.1500/-

Charosa Vineyards Reserve Tempranillo: Dark Ruby-red in color, the nose is filled with rich coconut, vanilla, chocolate & raspberry aromas.   Medium-bodied with excellent concentration of warm red fruit flavors like raspberry, strawberry & plum are distinctly ripe and fleshy.  Round and soft finish is an endless display of well balanced wine. MRP Rs.1500/-

Charosa Vineyards Selections Shiraz: Ruby red , bright, fresh dark fruits on the nose with some vivid raspberry, strawberry, cherry, vanilla and toasty aroma notes. The mid palate expresses ripe red fruit and mature tannins. Great spicy finish with a hint of oak. MRP Rs.800/-

Charosa Vineyards Selections Sauvignon Blanc: Bright straw yellow. Lively intense flavors of tropical fruits with gooseberry and orange flavors on mid palate The palate is broad, balanced and quite rich with tropical fruit and a grassy mineral freshness. MRP Rs.750/-

Charosa Vineyards Selections Viognier: Bright straw yellow. Very rich, fruity floral nose, luscious edge displaying sweet spices like cinnamon and delicate apricot aromas. On the palate this is full, and soft silky texture imparted by short ageing in new French oak barrel. MRP Rs.750/-

Viognier  Shiraz Sauvignon Blanc Cabernet Sauvignon Tempranillo

By Nikhil Agarwal