Wines of India, is a collective body set up by India’s leading wine brands in an initiative to support Indian wine in India and overseas. Wines chosen to be part of the Wines of India programme have been selected on the basis of merit only and represent only the best India has to offer. The programme is an amalgamation of pioneers like Sula Vineyards, Reveilo Vineyards, Grover Zampa Vineyards, Nine Hills, Fratelli Vineyards with more recently launched wineries like Myra Vineyards, Soma Vineyards, Charosa Vineyards, Vallonne Vineyards, Good Drop Cellars and York Winery.
Each winery in the Wines of India programme has introduced their own unique style of wine making, interesting grape varieties, technological innovation and marketing expertise. India, a budding wine nation, has made waves globally by winning awards at the renowned International Wine & Spirits Challenge and Decanter World Wine Awards. Indian consumers are now waking up to the true potential of Indian wine and recognizing that quality standards and wine making styles are now on par with countries that have been making wine for thousands of years.
Article from Food Hospitality World magazine by Sommelier Nikhil Agarwal.
To even write an article with this heading gives you some indication just how far we have come in such a short period of time. I am and have been an ardent supporter of the Indian wine industry for many years now having started my own journey almost 15 years ago with Sula Vineyards. Before I left I was in charge of Sula’s export market so I have been watching Indian wines grow overseas for sometime.
For anyone paying attention, the revolution-taking place in the wine industry is visible for all to see. To fairly summarize what’s happening with Indian wine internationally we first must first look at what’s happening with the industry domestically.
Things are not the same as when I joined the industry 15 years ago. At that time there were only three relevant wineries – Sula, Indage and Grovers. Three wineries do not make a market; as I remember Rajeev Samant stating that for the industry to grow we need to have more wineries with a focus on quality.
In the last seven odd years there has been a push on quality of wine due to many reasons. More wineries have been set up and therefore there is more competition. We now have a more aware consumer base that is getting to be more confident in judging a good wine from a bad one with conviction. They may not be aficionados or wine enthusiasts but are sure of what their likes or dislikes are without thinking that it’s them and not the wine which is the issue.
It’s only natural that quality a once abandoned virtue by now unsurprisingly defunct wineries is the buzz word of the handful of wineries looking to change things around.
Producers like Vallonne, a small winery with a mighty heart and an uncompromising stance of quality and Fratelli, with its deep pockets, business acumen and more importantly an understanding of wine making through its Italian partnership have created an array of quality wines in the midst of nowhere.
These wineries are now not only vying for consumer attention domestically but are aggressively looking at the international market. This is an interesting time for Indian wine.
All Things Nice hosted a dinner in Hong Kong with Eddie Mcdougal who I met when Discovery Travel & Living filmed the Indian leg of The Flying Wine Maker. The feedback I got both before and after the dinner was astonishing. Before the guests tasted the wine they confided in me that there were curious but had absolutely no expectations that Indian wine was just as much as a puzzle to them as India was.
But when the wines were served they could not believe it. The wines from Grovers, Sula, Fratelli, Charosa, Myra and Vallonne were all appreciated so much that two of the wineries found themselves on their way into the markets of Hong Kong and China through an importer who attended the dinner.
The fact is that India is making good wine but we haven’t managed to make an industry of it as yet. Indian wine requires itself to make giant strides in the international market to be distinguished as a category. Yes Sula, Grovers and now Fratelli continue to increase their presence internationally but lots more needs to be done. More wineries need to be out there creating Brand India.
So while those in the know have looked at India’s burgeoning wine market and understand its quality levels, the everyday wine consumer internationally has little knowledge that India even makes wine. Within the trade internationally there is a buzz that is beginning to develop. For example I have been invited to Shanghai to speak about the Indian wine industry at SIAL in May 2015, while Fratelli has been chosen as a showcase project at Hannover Messe 2015 with their wines being the official wine at the Indian pavilion. Recently Rajeev Samant spoke at the Masters of Wine symposium. It takes time to build a brand and as you can see, the efforts are on.
You also don’t need to have the wines available internationally to understand what foreign palates prefer. The number of people from all over the world coming to cities like Mumbai, Delhi/Gurgaon and Bangalore gives us enough of a pool to understand whether we measures up and the answer is yes because even our own Indian consumers who swear by the imported stuff wouldn’t necessarily be able to tell the difference between an Indian and imported in a blind tasting.
For an industry that did not exist more than 20 years ago to where we are today, the journey is quite impressive. There is yet a long way to go and perhaps we should take this question up again in the next 5 years. Perhaps we can be bolder and aggressive in our international approach collectively to get the ball rolling faster.
One thing is for sure, either we need to have one or two wineries that come up with break though quality that gets the worlds attention (like what Yamazaki has done for the Japanese whisky profile) or we need to raise the game collectively through all relevant Indian wineries. Indian wineries are adding awards left right and centre at global wine competitions and since wine enthusiasts tend to be inclined on discovering new wines and new regions I predict that Indian wine will slowly seep into international consumer mindsets as time goes on as long as we play our cards right.
We recently hosted the 3rd edition of ‘Celebrating India’s Finest’, an evening recognizing winners of the ‘Indian Wine Consumer Choice Awards’, 2015 at Le Pain Quotidien, Colaba on June 13, 2015.
This celebratory evening was in honour of the winners of the 3rd edition of the Indian Wine Consumer’s Choice Awards held at the Sofitel BKC earlier this year. A pool of over 100 wine enthusiasts came together to evaluate premium Indian wines and create a list of their favourites through an unbiased blind tasting technique.
Winning wineries of IWCCA 2015 showcased their portfolio of wine to an audience full of wine enthusiasts at Celebrating India’s Finest this year. Over a 175 guests enjoyed a free flow of India’s best wines in the company of other wine enthusiasts.
A large spread of gourmet cheese and charcuterie by Fortune Gourmet and a selection of delectable appetizers by Le Pain Quotidien, Colaba made the evening even more indulgent. Guests were also seen buying and discussing Rocky Patel cigars brought into India by Cigar Connexion. The night was a combination of fantastic wine, great food and fabulous company.
Titan conducted an auction of an immaculate piece of their Nebula watch brand which raised Rs 81,000 via a silent auction. The entire proceeds from the auction went to Atma, our Charity Partner for the event.
All our guests were treated to complimentary service vouchers from Jean Claude Biguine, Gourmet Jam Jars and vouchers from All Things Nice.
Wining Wineries That Participated
- Sula Vineyards
- Fratelli Vineyards
- Charosa Vineyards
- Vallonne Vineyards
- Reveilo Wines
- Nine Hills
- Myra Vineyards
- York Winery
- Chateau D’ori
- Grover Zampa
- Gooddrop Cellars
- Turning Point
I like women and women like me but that’s definitely not enough when you reach the dating-and-beyond stage. After spending a large part of my life in the company of some fine women, I have learnt to understand the art of detail. The thing being, who has the goddamn time??
The mounting workload, the clocking of incessant air miles and the perpetual deadlines leave little room for romance. However, in my journey to find the best wines and cheese located in different pockets of the world I had an epiphany, one that allows you to mix business with pleasure.
Wooing your partner with some fine wine and carefully paired cheese is a heady mix of detail and planning, couple that with a perfect location and you have a sure shot at whatever you are aiming for. Putty in your hands, so to speak.
Wine and Cheese is like Laurel & Hardy, Guns & Roses, Bill & Hillary, and other combinations that are frequently better than either independently. But be careful, you need to do the pairing properly to ensure maximum please and any cheese with any wine will not work. Regions or vineyards that produce fantastic wine usually have very high culinary standards and cheese is an integral part of the whole experience.
You don’t have to know a Cabernet Sauvignon from a Chardonnay to appreciate these destinations – they offer as much peace and scenery as they do great wines. Here’s a look at some destinations that are a winner every time.
We will start off with our very own Nasik. I would recommend making a trip to Sula Vineyards which has done an excellent job in creating a wonderful wine experience. Their tasting room with its breath taking view is one of the most perfect places on the planet in the evenings especially in the colder months. You could head to York Winery which is further down the road for more excellent wine and cheese with an even more dramatic view and then bring the evening to a close less than a km further down the road at Sula’s 21 room only hotel Beyond.
In Akluj, ahead of Pune is the state of the art Fratelli Vineyards with impressive accommodations literally in the middle of nowhere. Get them to hook up a scrumptious sun downer and dinner in their lookout point over the vineyards which are a little away from the winery/rooms for you and your partner. You will have never seen anything like it.
All the above wineries serve generous portions of assorted cheese as accompaniments ensuring that your taste buds are in heaven.
Away from India, if you are heading to the west coast in the United States, I suggest you make a trip to Napa Valley and its surrounding areas which are littered with wineries producing excellent wine. The wineries have tasting rooms, a restaurant or two and rooms that are perfect for some alone time. They even have spa’s so you have an opportunity to go completely all out in pampering her.
Bordeaux in France is another of my favourites; the city is mesmerizing with unbelievable architecture. If you are into wine, this is your mecca and every street corner has cafés and restaurants dishing out incredible cuisine, glorious French cheese with a wine list to match. You can also hire a car and drive into the adjoining vineyard regions, visit some grand Chateaux and carry a picnic basket to make a stop wherever your heart desires. Make sure you make a trip to Saint Emillion, a medieval town on the right of the river Gironde that produces top wines and is simply drop dead gorgeous.
One cannot talk about wine and cheese and of course romance and not bring Italy into the picture. Head to Tuscany, rent a villa or park yourself in the middle of a vineyard and take in the fantastic wines and gastronomy. Maybe after a glass or two you can tell her how much you love her in Italian? Try Castello di Quercetto, a legendary wine producing house with over a 100 years of history. I highly recommend renting one of their apartments and spending some quality time there. Open a bottle of two of their Super Tuscans and she will not be able to resist you. Additionally, your only 25 kilometers away from the lovely city of Florence ! Need I say more? Veneto is another region within Italy that produces fine wine, and with Venice one of the worlds most romantic spots as its main city you cannot go wrong.
In the southern hemisphere if you are travelling to Australia, especially the Southeast of Australia make a trip to the wonderful wine growing regions of Barossa and Mclaren Vale. Try their full bodied reds from the Shiraz grape varietal paired with some local delicacies. I highly recommend visiting the Woodstock Estate in Mclaren Vale for some fabulous hospitality and a charming setting. New Zealand is full of stunning beauty, wineries producing top class wines and world class cheese. Take a trip to Marlborough and visit the legendary Cloudy Bay winery. Also visit the charming Clos Henri winery for an old world kind of wine experience.
There is of course a lot more countries and regions to visit but this should keep you busy for a while and in your partners good books. There are thousands of cheese and endless wines and I hope that you spend a lifetime time taking in their pleasures along with your partner.
Cheers to good loving!
Nikhil Agarwal, Sommelier and Director at All Things Nice – www.allthingnice.in