If you are thinking of labelling India a New World winemaking country, stop right there! You’re missing some interesting excerpts from your own history. India has been making wines from even before when Jesus walked the face of Earth! Chanakya, the country’s first viticulturist and winemaker, produced his first cuvée as early as the 7th century BC. Later (much later) came the British and India by then had become quite the vinous hub, supplying to the neighbouring Commonwealth members. So respected were these wines that to boast their quality Calcutta, in 1883, hosted an international expo awarding wines made in these colonies. What they started as an indigenous culture was embraced by the modern day grape-grower to produce wines that are grabbing awards and accolades the world over. With only three in the 1970s, India today boasts over a hundred wineries.
BANKING ON INDIAN WINES
It’s undoubtedly the most exciting time to be in India and to be producing this beverage of the Gods. In the last year, India added some meticulously crafted delectable wines that are worth dedicating an evening to. With new varietals and styles crowding the shelves, it can be a tad challenging to pick the right one. Grab some of these commendable newbies on your next visit to the wine-store:
Fratelli Vineyards Sangiovese Bianco (Juben Wines, Mumbai – INR695)
Asia’s first varietal Sangiovese Bianco, now that’s a rarity! A light bodied wine with a good mix of floral and fruity notes backed with refreshing acidity. It’s a simple sipping wine as well as one to bring to the dinner table with dishes like vegetable Korma, grilled fish, white creamy pastas, and even some lightly tossed green salads to complement the personality of this funky one.
Charosa Viognier (Patel Wines, Mumbai – INR750)
Continuing India’s Viognier fetish. Vibrant floral and sweet-lime candy nose with hints of marigold, clove, honey-dew melon, pear, and a touch herbaceous. Well-rounded texture with a hint of oak at the back. A good accompaniment to creamy Indian curries, cheese raviolis, steamed white fish dishes, and Mediterranean kebab platters.
Seagram’s Nine Hills Rose (Leading Retail Stores, Delhi – INR575)
Not a new entrant but definitely a new style. Appointing new winemaking team that shows a fresh philosophy at work. Romantic watermelon shade with notes of strawberries, raspberries, sweet cherries, rhubarb, and vanilla, finishing with a hint of sweetness. An exciting turn-around with an impressive makeover.
Chandon Brut Rosé Sparkling (Juben Wines, Mumbai – INR1400)
Latest buzz-maker, not only locally but internationally. An exquisite palate with light, crisp mouthfeel and burst of delicate flavours of red fruits and berries, rhubarb candy, hint water cracker-like, and a gentle fizzy finish. A good food wine to accompany sushi dishes, light fish and white meat grills, cold cuts, and cheese raviolis.
KRSMA Cabernet Sauvignon (Madhuloka Wines, Bengaluru INR1500)
Possibly the next big icon in the Indian wine brigade. The company produces two templates from the varietal, one following the Bordeaux style, the other Californian. The latter has an alluring sense of style, elegance, and balance at par. Sweet oak front with ripe and concentrated raspberries, plums, dark cherries, violets, cassis, and toasted vanilla notes to follow. The heaviness and intense tannins of the wine makes way for heavier dishes like rustic pork chops, grilled lamb steaks, coq-au-vin, and even smoky Asian preparations.
Alpine Winery Vindiva Shiraz (Madhuloka Wines, Bengaluru INR685)
Based near Bangalore City, Vindiva is a promising setup. Medium-bodied wine showcasing varietal characteristics of black pepper and dark spices, blackberries, mashed red fruits, rounding up with a sweet cola note. The masculine tannic grip can be well matched with tandoori raan, mutton burra, beef tenderloin, and mushroom risotto.
Charosa Tempranillo Reserve (Patel Wines, Mumbai – INR1500)
Another first for India, a varietal Tempranillo wine. Made in a Spanish style, a lovely wine, showing minerality, notes of ripe raspberries and blueberries, cherries, plums, and an earthy character, well- integrated tannins, rounding with a mild layer of oak characters. Serve alongside chorizo skewers, seafood pallela, tandoori dishes, and Malabar chicken!
Vallonne Vineyards Malbec (Fun-Fair Wines, Mumbai – INR1190)
A heroic return after grabbing a recent international allocate, possibly the only Malbec varietal wine of repute in the country. Deep ruby shade with a bright appearance. Complex notes of floral, sweet spices, and fleshy blue fruits, backed with masculine tannins and a round finish. A good accompaniment to lamb stew, and spicy Indian meat curries.
Vallonne Vineyards Vin de Passerillage (375ml) (Kashmir Wines, Mumbai – INR810)
An orthodox style made dessert wine by sun-drying the grapes to concentrate the sweet nectar of these shrivelled berries. An appealing lush golden hue, with notes of white honey, sweet white fruits, sweetlime, and touch of Indian sweet spices. Think of Apple Halwa, Malpua, Pecan Pie, Almond Paraline Ice-cream, and even blue cheese to serve it with.