I like writing about Indian wine. I really do. I like it because it gives me an opportunity to share my passion for the Indian wine industry and to remove some of the misconceptions about it.
My fellow wine aficionados or beginners you should know that there has been no better time for Indian wine that now. Over the last couple of decades we’ve come very far. We have wineries that are producing high quality wine in Maharashtra and Karnataka with more on their way. The pace at which quality has improved is staggering. This has happened for a number of reasons, for one, us as customers have become more aware and therefore more demanding. Two, there are more wineries vying for customer attention thereby being forced to raise their quality and marketing games. And of course we have wineries that just simply want to produce the very best!
In fact there is a buzz about Indian wine happening in all corners of the world. So the next time you’re placing an order for a glass of your favourite grape variety perhaps you can choose one that’s made in our very own backyard. There are actually multiple wines from any given winery that deserve attention but to show you a range of styles and wineries I have selected one wine from each that I think are the best producers of wine in India at the moment.
Lets start off with some bubbly. Chandon Brut Rose NV with aromas of ripe cherries, pink grapefruit and rose petals and interplay of red fruit and subtle citrus notes on the palate is the best sparkling India makes at the moment. Another sparkling that’s made in a different style that I like is Casablanca Brut NV. A generous fruity nose of kiwi and grape fruit layered with lime and floral undertones. On the palate, this wine is light bodied with flavours reminiscent of pear and green apple with a predominant acidic structure. I’m imagining endless bottles of both of the above with a non-stop supply of oysters and for something from India I’d be just as happy with some artisanal Brie locally produced in Pondicherry.
In the whites Sula’s Riesling is fruity with hints of green apples, grapefruit, peach & honey. Supported with refreshing acid, lemon and notes of green apple. Perfectly balanced, this is a versatile wine which can be had with multiple cuisines, everything from something as simple as Tisriya (clams) in Indian masalas to a Chinese stir fry perhaps with a little spice. Another white that I particularly enjoy is Fratelli’s Vitae Tre a blend of Chenin Blanc, Gewurztraminer and Muller Thurgao. This is beautiful innovation that would be perfect with grilled Tiger Prawns or even prawns cooked in the tandoor. A wine I think exemplifies Indian Sauvignon Blanc is the one from York Winery. Light green hues with tropical fruit and vegetal characteristics. The last time I had this wine was at their winery along with some local Nasik fair however you could enjoy this with an Asparagus risotto. A wine that recently got my attention is Grover’s La Reserve Bianco; a beautiful nose of flowers and fruit, this wine is a lovely expression of Viognier. I’d do this with a cold watermelon salad with feta or pair it with something as simple as a curd and rice with a curry leaf. Hey, don’t knock it till you try the pairing.
You have to try Vallonne Vineyards Rose. The colour itself is beautiful and the wine displays notes of cherry, plum, melons and berries. It’s full bodied, crisp and lively. I’d love this with an aromatic biryani and I’d love it with some tempura. Honestly its hard not to love this wine.
In the reds the new kid on the block is Myra Misfit, a blend of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon that has spent over 16 months in French oak. I like this wine with something as simple as a hard cheese, say aged Parmigiano Reggiano or with Peking duck. Zampa Chene is a blend of Tempranillo and Shiraz. It is deep and intense ruby red. With dark fruit aromas of blackberry, currant and ripe plums, complemented by hints of spices and oak bouquets such as vanilla, chocolate and roasted coffee beans. Dark fruit flavours with nuances of vanilla and cinnamon on the palate. This wine has the ability to stand up to a hearty north Indian meal so go for heavy daals or a mutton Rogan Josh if you like or pair it with a steak that’s done medium well. Charossa Reserve Tempranillo displays rich coconut, vanilla, chocolate & raspberry. Medium-bodied with a concentration of warm red fruit flavours like raspberry, strawberry & plum are distinctly ripe and fleshy. I do like this wine a lot and if you give me a lamb stew to go along with it I’m a happy camper. With Indian food I’d go with raan just as happily. Krsma Estates Sangiovese is brilliant as well. This one hails from the Hampi Hills in Karntaka displays cherries, spice and oak and you could enjoy this wine creamy pasta dishes or even Indian kebabs.
Wait I can’t let you without ending on a sweet note. Reveilo’s Late Harvest Chenin Blanc with aromas of over ripe fruit, raisin grapes, dry figs and honey is a stunner. Try a chilled glass of this beauty with vanilla ice cream and fruits or perhaps even your everyday Rasgulla.
Folks, the world of Indian wine is getting larger and if you give it attention you would realize that there is just so much to discover, all you need to do is simply tastes what’s on offer to believe it for yourself.