Masi Levarie Soave Classico DOC 2014, Veneto, Italy
Pale straw yellow colour with greenish reflections. Good intensity on the nose with hints of flowers and tropical fruit, particularly pineapple. On the palate, a refreshing acidity is well balanced by creaminess with melon and ripe pear flavours. Ideally served as an aperitif or with hors d’oeuvres, soups, pasta or simple rice dishes with Mediterranean flavours or with fish dishes.
Chateau de Parenchere Superieur Bordeaux Blanc 2015, Bordeaux, France
This blend contributes directly to the balance of the wine. The Sauvignon produces aromatic strength and freshness, while the Semillon complements this with a certain degree of roundness on the palate. The Muscadelle adds intense white flower notes to the aromatic range of the finished wine. A white wine with intense white and citrus fruit aromas, which is both fresh and round on the palate.
Selbach ‘Incline’ Riesling 2015, Mosel, Germany
Vinified in stainless steel, with just a hint of residual sugar, this wine vividly represents all that Mosel wine should be – Fruity with vibrant acidity, clarity, and precision; all highlighted by intense slate-driven minerality. Fresh-tasting, with snappy green apple and ripe citrus flavours flanked by plenty of savoury and herbal notes. Lemon drop accents show on the finish
Allan Scott ‘Hound’ Pinot Noir 2015, Marlborough, New Zealand
Hints of cherries, black plums and a maple on the nose. The ripe and sumptuous concentrated fruit is supported by subtle notes of oak. The wine finishes very smoothly with refined ripe, light tannins providing structure and a smooth silky long flavourful finish. Aged for 12 months in new French Oak.
Torres Altos Ibericos Tempranillo 2013, Rioja, Spain
Opaque cherry red. Rich cherry, black plum jam aromas with spicy green peppercorn and smoky notes. Intense, warm, with firm tannins nicely structured by oak aging and a backbone of subtle fruit acidity. Excellent with all kinds of tapas prepared with fresh ingredients; red meat, oil-rich fish and cheeses. Exquisite with cured pork.
Rolf Binder ‘Halliwell’ Shiraz Grenache 2013, Barossa Valley, Australia
The bouquet of this wine is filled with the abundance of berry fruit. The subtle use of both old and new oak combined with soft tannins comes through on the palate. Strong full bodied characters last right through to the back of the palate and linger. The wine boasts of ripe fruit characters.
The Business of Wine & Spirits in India
Authored by Sommelier Nikhil Agarwal for Black Book India
The Business of Wine and Spirits in India is like an intensedrama movie. There is little success for some and a lot of success for a few; lot of plot twists and equal amount of pain and suffering. Actually I think the business of wine and spirits in India is unlike the wine and spirits business anywhere else in the world.
I don’t think anyone getting into the alcohol business in India ever imagined that it would be so complicated. However, here lies the secret that all of us in the business know; because it is complicated and ruthless it will keep a lot of people out and if we hold on with all our might we will see fruition of our efforts.
Things have changed very dramatically in the last decade or so, more so than the decade before but then a lot of things haven’t changed at all.
The beverage trade in India faces every problem you can imagine. We have a hostile business environment, some states are dry while some have recently become dryandmany are threatening to do so..
In Gujarat for example, the old saying that more bottles of Johnnie are sold there than produced is probably true. In the legal sense,Gujarat has about 30 to 35 license holders. These license holders can purchase stock and sell to consumers who themselves have permits. The permits to consumers are given to those who need alcohol for maintaining their health. Maintaining their health….just genius.
The Courtyard Marriott in Ahmedabad holds such a license for example. They can sell to these health minded locals or international tourist, business travellers and of course the celebrated NRI’s because they have an international passport and are notgoverned by the same laws as we are. Dry states actually make for very good alcohol trade but not for the likes of us.
Besides custom duties on a central level for the imports and each individual state has its on own take on excise duties, VAT, octroi and other taxes.
Each state with a different tax regime means multiple cost cards, multiple prices for the same product, different strategies on schemes and marketing, different marketing budgets and in some cases like in the state of Karnataka convoluted methods to get the right discounts to our trade partners.
Also, just to make things more fun, the rules are often changed and without too much warning either. There you go, younew craft beer producer you, we’re not going to let you live your dream of being the next beer baron come true so easy. You have got to suffer just like the rest of us crabs despite your hard work and once in a lifetime idea.
I mean, some states have 70% VAT. That sort of VAT component has forced locals of that state to imagine that their glass of average red is Cru Classe Bordeaux.
What else can I share with you? Oh yes, imagine a world with all of the above,it’s not too hard. You’ve spent crores creating your product and countless hours fine tuning it to be right but you cannot let the world know you have a product to sell.
You can’t advertise wine and spirits brands in India. Sure, if you got the money you do mineral water with the same logo and brand name or even bettersell “cd’s and cassettes’ sort of surrogate branding but you cannot say hey, have you tried my wine on a mass scale. Honestly when truly was the last time you bought a cassette or a CD for that matter?
Then you have your route to market to contend with. The average wine shop might look like it’s a dead zone with a guy half asleep at the counter. But I got to tell you; they are not easy. They will squeeze you to a point where in some cases you actually pay them to sell your product. And if your product is wine, you’vegot it even tougher. Some restaurants and hotels will make your mind numb with their requests for listing fees and discounts.
Another case in point that recently created some havoc (there’s always something going on here) is that sales of wine were stopped in a particular state for about a month. Yes a month because they were debating changing some tax component that wouldchange the price of a bottle to the effect of Rs 1 per bottle. Can you imagine what the loss on sale is for a month for a brand?
State excise authorities will ask us to do label registration for wine and spirit brands once a year, this process takes some time. Some states are faster than the others and some take what feels like eons. Effectively you are not allowed to sell anything that is not already in the market till the process is complete. This could take more than a month sometimes. A month is 8.3% percent of our business year but no worries; our businesses only just support our lives.
The biggest challenge however, more than anything else is awareness. We just don’t know enough or anything on the larger scale. I have always believed that we in the trade have to look beyond supplying to an existing market but in fact we have to create a market. Like someone told me many moons ago, you cannot always preach to the converted. Therefore in the absence of advertising opportunities we rely heavily on experiential marketing and concepts that allow people to taste and experience. If they like it they will buy. At All Things Nice we pioneered the Indian Wine Consumer’s Choice Awards, Wine Week and Celebrating India’s Finest. We do whisky tastings and cognac evenings with ferocious intensity in numbers. We show people through experience the joys of pairing wine or even spirit with food. Conduct master classes on beer and in general constantly push the envelope on getting you to try different beverages.
I want to go on but I got to switch sides now and talk about the good stuff. There is a lot of it and a lot more of it to come. So much so that a lot of the troubles mentioned above are even accepted.
India’s 1.2 billion is thirsty for the most part. At every level of society you’ve got some serious thirst going on and it’s the beverage the industry’s job to quench it. Well someone’s got to do it, and that Ferrari is not going to paying for itself right?
More money in our pockets, many more people having travelled, people willing to try new cuisines and beverages and the Gods at Masterchef Australia have turned India’s upwardly mobile middle class into bastions of consumption. Single malt sales have gone through the roof,luxury vodka brands are increasing in numbers. Whisky and brandy sales will make your mouth water. Locally brewed craft beer sales have outfoxed any sort of projections and have attracted serious funding. Indian wine producers are seeing a steady increase in sales and so is wine tourism. With the quality levels of Indian wine at an all time high, I predict millions of people will get onto the Indian bandwagon very soon.
India will have another 100 million legal drinkers (age limit wise) in the next 5 years. 100 million is roughly 3 Australia’s my fellowpeople so the market potential is ridiculous. True a tiny percent of the current and the new 100 million people will be drinking the good stuff but that doesn’t mean that eventually they won’t.
It isn’t only about Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore anymore. Kolkatta has a fascinating wine scene that’s developing (all that maroo money), Hyderabad is taking to single malts and Gurgaon with its low taxes and duties is seeing incredible growth figures. Even sleepy Pune is throwing in some descent numbers.
Despite all the troubles, the wine and spirits industry in India is booming and once you know the rules and understand that they will be changed frequently and that you will have to adapt and you are able to see through all the complicated taxation policies you will find that there is a huge pot of gold at the end of the booze rainbow.
So go on take that sip, we really want you to. And now that you have heard a little about just how much trouble we go through to get it to you perhaps you will appreciate it just a tiny bit more
Grillo is a widely grown white-wine grape variety native to Sicily. It produces a still dry white wine with good acidity.
The Reveilo Grillo greets you with a bouquet of citrus, lemon, orange and grapefruit. It is a medium bodied with crisp acidity and a long mineral after taste. This particular wine has won a Silver Medal at the Indian Wine Consumers Choice Awards 2015.
We met with Kiran Patil of Reveilo Wines and asked her why Reveilo chose to create this beautiful, unique wine to add to their portfolio.
‘The choice of this grapes essentially emanated from our personal liking of the varietal. My husband Yatin was presented with a bottle of Catarratto Grillo on his visit to Italy in 2003. Back home in Mumbai, when we had the wine, we were pleasantly surprised. We were contemplating the plantation of the new varietals with the vision of providing the Indian consumer with an authentic Italian experience. This motivated us to stride the untreaded path. Our winemaker Andrea suggested planting this varietal in India, as this variety can withstand high temperatures and could respond well to the Indian climatic conditions. Subsequently, we imported the root stocks from Italy and planted it on the Indian soil in Nashik in 2006, the first vintage of which has been in 2009’
By Nikhil Agarwal, Sommelier & CEO at All Things Nice
Chef Sergi Arola hosted a small group of people including me to celebrate the third anniversary of Arola at Mumbai’s JW Marriott. The group was made up largely of fellow wine writers, chefs and bloggers invited by the Food Bloggers Association of India.
Arola is Chef Sergi’s India outpost. For the uninitiated, Sergi specializes in cuisine from Catalunya, Spain with multiple Michelin stars at various establishments across the globe. The excellent Chef Manuel is at the helm of the restaurant in Mumbai and an all around star in general. Sergi spends his time globetrotting and looking over his restaurants in Istanbul, Spain, Portugal and other parts of the world.
The dinner started off a little quiet with my fellow diners more interested in tweeting about their food and drink rather than actually eating and drinking. Things seemed to find some balance eventually over endless Martini’s interrupted by Gin and tonics (we were after all at a gin bar) and the night unfolded into conversations about food and music. We had the resident DJ playing Led Zeplin as we chowed down on some delicious food.
Here’s the menu for the evening
Iberian Ham served with Pan-Tomato
Salmon Ahumado, Queso de Cabra, Esparagos Blancos
Smoked Salmon, Goat Cheese, White Asparagus
‘Bravas de AROLA’, Fried Potatoes, Filled with a Spicy Tomato Sauce
Pollo de Corral
Chicken Wings, Deboned and Lacquered with Spices
Gambas al Ajillo
Prawns, Garlic, Fresh Red Chili, Fresh Parsley
Coca de Pollo Moruno
Moruno Chicken, American Corn, Coca
Coca de Verduras
Sauteed Vegetables and Bocconcini Coca
Arola Special Seafood Paella
Arola Style Vegetable Paella
Huevos y Canela
Caramelized Eggs, Cinnamon”Crema Catalana”, Mandarin Sorbet
Baileys Truffle with Coconut Mousse
Arola is Mumbai’s only Spanish restaurant, well there could be one more but I don’t think they are in the same league. I actually love the vibe of the place; they have a beautiful lounge section at the far end ahead of the bar that opens out to the JW pool below and the sea. The bar itself is probably one of the coolest bars in Mumbai, the food is super and the wine selection is good. On a personal note I have always loved Spanish cuisine and wine. I do hope that we see an influx of standalone Spanish restaurants that are accessible to everyone. Until then, thank you for being around Arola.
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!
“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”
All Things Nice and Chandon India hosted an iconic dinner with Cloudy Bay, New Zealand’s most famous winery, at the Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai. Over 35 guests enjoyed an evening of fabulous wine paired with an outstanding menu by Chef Chaitanya Sharma at The Kitchen, a quaint little space that allowed everyone to be in close quarters to the live action in the kitchen.
The wines served were stars from the Cloudy Bay portfolio – Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and finally Te Koko, a unique style of Sauvignon Blanc. Some of Chef Sharma’s creations included the Sous Vide Tiger Prawns, Truffled Potato Gnocchi and the Roast Lamb Loin in Butternut Squash Puree. In our opinion Cloudy Bay offers super high quality wines that arefull of freshness and finesse and you cannot but help fall in love with them. We weren’t surprised that this evening turned out to be such a great success!
Here is a look at the outstanding menu we enjoyed
Pass Around Canapés
Asparagus Fricassee In Mini Bouchees (V)
Goat Cheese And Walnut With California Grape (V)
Home Cured Salmon In Rye Baguette
Smoked Chicken And Green Apple On Whole Wheat Crisp
Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2012, Marlborough, New Zealand
Roasted Baby Beets With Arugula, Shaved Fennel, Pommery Honey Dressing (V)
Sous Vide Tiger Prawns With Cauliflower Puree And Pickled Root Vegetables
Cloudy Bay Chardonnay 2012, Marlborough, New Zealand
Truffled Potato Gnocchi, Toasted Pinenuts, BeurreNoisette (V)
Roast Lamb Loin, Butternut Squash Puree, Glazed Confit Carrots, Thyme Jus
Cloroudy Bay Pinot Noir 2012, Marlborough, New Zealand
Platter of Brie, gruyere and chevre with wheat crisps
Cloudy Bay Te Koko 2011, Marlborough, New Zealand