Vishal KADAKIA started his wine import business as a wine enthusiast first, a philosophy which has guided him in his journey and defining the types of wines he wishes to bring to India. Today, Wine Park is among the nation’s most respected of import houses and it’s only growing stronger. His passion has helped launch many careers and we have been honoured to have him as a judge at previous ISC finals. Here is a tête-à-tête that we engaged in with the man himself.
What inspired you to import wines in India?
I was already smitten by the wine bug during my stay in Boston from 1997 to 2005. I did my WSET level 2 in 2002 which opened up a whole new world of wines. Post that my travel to burgundy in 2003 was the turning point where I decided to do something in wines. When I returned back to India, I started looking at the selection of wines available. What I saw was disappointing. Also there were so many regions/countries that were missing or under represented. Representation of small independent boutique producers was non existing. Big names ruled the wine list. Passion was missing. With all the above factors I decided to dive in. My goal was simple, bring wines that I love to drink from small independent producers. Mantra that I still follow till date when I choose new wines.
What has been your best wine tasting / gastronomy experience?
I had taken a small group of clients to Mosel Germany. Mosel for me is the most beautiful wine region in the world. The Riesling from Mosel is as terroir centric as a wine can get. The owners of kesselstatt (Annegret who is no more), St. Urbans-Hof (Nik Weis) and Fritz Haag (Oliver Haag) all came together to host a dinner for us at Nik Weis brother in law’s 1 michelin star restaurant Russel’s Landhaus. A super 7 course meal was cooked with venison being hunted the very morning. The theme was to show 1 old vintage of mosel with the same vintage of Bordeaux. The vintages went back to 1990’s It was a dinner like no other where the best of winemakers from mosel showing the vintages and comparing the same with the Bordeaux. The passion of each wine maker and the love for their land was electric and so were the wines.
During the same trip Nik Weis took us on a boat ride on the Mosel and made us try wines from all his vineyards along the mosel overlooking them from the boat. This is by far the most memorable and unique wine tasting experience till date.
Which is the most unique wine you have ever tasted or want to taste?
What are the struggles you face importing wines and how you overcome them?
If you are an importer in India, struggles are there in every step. This includes convincing the wineries to put a special back label by stripping of the existing one, to getting all wines check by FSSAI minutely for any back label mishaps (which happens more often than not), inventory management (1 year bonded warehouse rule) so that you don’t run out of wine and convincing client to try new stuff and to put it on the menu.
According to you which wine style India should drink more of?
Aromatic and fruity whites, reds, rose from a good producer with some underlying tone of secondary aromas/taste. So we are just not drinking cheap plonk. A good wine from good producers will over all improve the taste profile of all wine enthusiast. Like a Susana Balbo Torrontes or a Tenuta Sant Antonio Scaia Corvina or a Saint Cosme Little James Basket Press Red.
What is your favourite tipple at the end of a busy day?
Wine of course. Can be anything (red/white/rose/sparkling) which is made by a good producer.
What is your advice to young professionals seeking a career in the wine space?
Reading, tasting and time are the 3 essentials of wine knowledge. There is no instant gratification.