Tag Archives: Indian Wine

Meet the winners of the Indian Wine Consumer Choice Awards 2016 – HT

On a winter afternoon in January, about a hundred wine enthusiasts gathered at Sofitel, Bandra-Kurla Complex. Over hundred wine bottles, covered in aluminum foil to hide their labels, waited on a large table.

Each judge was given wine glasses and a sheet of paper. This was the setting at the tasting session before the fourth edition of the Indian Wine Consumer’s Choice Awards (IWCCA) 2016, in association with HT48Hours. This year, the IWCCA, which is the only Indian accreditation that focusses on Indian vintage wines and new launches in the market, received the maximum number of participants yet – 136 wines from 21 labels.

The wines were scored on three criteria: colour (1 to 3 points), aroma (1 to 7 points) and palate (1 to 10 points). The IWCCA invited opinions of consumers, the people who ultimately buy the wine, unlike international wine awards that invite professional wine tasters to judge their entries. “The awards should reflect the choice and preferences of the drinker in India. The event is also a platform for generating feedback for the wine producers in the country”, says Nikhil Agarwal, sommelier and CEO of All Things Nice, a wine and spirits consultancy that organises the awards.

The participating wines were picked and segregated into different categories on the basis of their style: sparkling, white, red and dessert. “The whites and reds were further divided on the basis of the grape varieties such as chardonnay, shiraz, merlot, chenin blanc and cabernet sauvignon,” says Agarwal. Total points for each wine were tallied and the top three wines, in each category, were segregated into gold, silver, and bronze winner categories.

A consumer tasting wine at the event. (Photo courtesy: All Things Nice )

And the awards go to…

GOLD

• Soma Brut Cuvée 2014

• Casablanca Rosé Spumante 2015

• Nine Hills Chenin Blanc 2015

• Sula Riesling 2015

• Myra Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

• Charosa Pleasures Cabernet Shiraz NV

• Oakwood Reisha Grand Cru Reserve 2013

• Charosa Pleasures Sauvignon Blanc NV

• Sula Sauvignon Blanc 2015

• York Rosé 2015

• York Shiraz 2013

• Reveilo Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2012

• Charosa Selections Viognier 2015

• Reveilo Chardonnay Reserve 2015

• Charosa Reserve Tempranillo 2013

• Reveilo Nero D’Avola 2015

• Reveilo Merlot 2015

• Vallonné Reserve Merlot 2013

• Myra Reserve Shiraz 2014

• SDU Trilogy 2015

• Big Banyan Bellissima NV

SILVER

• Good Drop Frizzano Semi-dry 2015

• Reveilo Chenin Blanc 2015

• Reveilo Grillo 2015

• Big Banyan Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

• SDU Deva 2014

• Myra Misfit 2013

• York Arros 2013

• Soma Sauvignon Blanc Gold 2014

• Vallonné Rosé 2014

• Reveilo Syrah 2015

• SDU Deva Syrah 2014

• Good Earth Basso 2014

• Vallonné Viognier 2015

• Reveilo Chardonnay 2015

• Reveilo Sangiovese 2015

• Big Banyan Merlot 2014

• SDU Reserva Syrah 2012

• Vallonné Syrah Merlot 2014

• Sula Late Harvest Chenin Blanc 2015

BRONZE

• Sula Brut Tropicale NV

• Myra Chenin Blanc 2014

• Reveilo Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

• Big Banyan Sauvignon Blanc 2014

• Myra Shiraz 2014

• Myra Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

• Reveilo Syrah Reserve 2012

• Vallonné Crimson Glory 2013

• Reveilo Late Harvest Chenin Blanc 2013\

Log On: To know more about the winners visit allthingsnice.in/iwcca.php

http://www.hindustantimes.com/health-and-fitness/meet-the-winners-of-the-indian-wine-consumer-choice-awards-2016/story-rBBO0lCZK4Cxf21HWlh0cN.html

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

‘How are Indian Wines perceived by other countries’- Food Hospitality World

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.

IWCCA & CIF Recognized by Winemaker Andrea Valentinuzzi

Reveilo’s Chief Winemaker Andrea Valentinuzzi has some very positive feedback on the Indian Wine Consumer’s Choice Awards and Celebrating India’s Finest. We couldn’t be more proud!

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Reveilo’s Andrea Valentinuzzi

 

“The Indian Wine Consumer’s Choice Awards (IWCCA) and Celebrating India’s Finest (CIF) are excellent platforms to showcase the best wines that India has to offer. The consumers get to taste the wines blind and vote for  their favorite wines relying on their senses rather than any external influence which should be the ideal way since the preference of a wine is such a subjective topic.

It is beneficial for the brands to participate, as they get to interact with the consumers and get an instant feedback about the wines which is so important to ensure consumer satisfaction and converting new consumers to their brand.

It is also effective when different outlet owners or decision makers visit the event and see the consumer response towards various wines and in turn help them select appropriate wines for their outlets. The IWCCA and CIF indeed have been a boon to the Indian wine industry since it is the one of the few events that the consumers, the buyers of the wines choose what they like without any bias. We believe more people/organizations should encourage these activities for the benefit of the industry as a whole”