The setting was a plane in Europe. There was an Indian gentleman sitting on it. He leaned over, handed a slip with a word of two scribbled on it to a neighbouring traveller and politely asked, “How would you pronounce this word? Is it easy for you to pronounce?” People, flabbergasted as they might have been by this, didn’t once deter our man Krishna from enduring with this exercise. His ‘market research’ continued relentless.
But, if you know the story behind the duo that is Krishna and Uma Chigurupati, you will conclude that this pronunciation play was only among the last few steps in the culmination of a long-cherished dream.
KRSMA is the amalgamation of Krishna and Uma, but the resulting product, like a diligent offspring, is more than the sum total of its parts, as the tasting showed. But first, let’s delve a bit further into history.
Flashback to Krishna’s days at school, when the neighbour was a Bishop who imported wines in barrel from the Vatican, bunged it with cork and wax to preserve it, and subsequently served it during mass. That was Krishna’s first taste of wine, surreptitious, secretive, and, as he recalled, pretty insipid.Late 70s saw him trying to make his own wines at home with some Bangalore Blue grapes he had managed to source. He also managed to make a bottle-fermented sparkling wine by reusing a gifted bottle of Champagne, and all that the Boots kit from London could provide for home-winemaking enthusiasts. The results weren’t entirely offensive, as he puts it.
He moved back to Hyderabad where he soon got married, and Uma was greeted in her new abode by a room that was converted into a winery, replete with bubbling demi-johns and other apparatus. But she took to it well and soon enough was tending to the whole set-up. The fact that she had qualifications in the field of plant pathology might have helped then, and sure enough helped later, when they acquired a vineyard and took their dream live.
Uma was happy that Krishna wouldn’t now wish to take off to South of France as was his initial retirement plan but only as far as Hampi, where the vineyards were. But they didn’t realise that in the beginning, in the absence of any form of comfort whatsoever, they would end up doing day trips with 6-hour drives each way to tend to the site! Even Hampi is about 70kms away so they had to bring everything to themselves: from the water (3kms away) to the equipment, and the labour. But they both shared the passion and that became their strength.
Among other common interests, they also have a passion for running marathons, having completed one in every continent in the last few years. The exercise is tough itself, but when combined with the pressure of overlooking firsts harvests in a newly-acquired-and-just-planted vineyard, the exercise is a feat unto itself.But all said and done, the vineyard yielded forth some lovely wines and the first vintage was 2010. The wine notes will follow but it is most interesting and enrapturing to hear of how Krishna and Uma put the whole thing together: from choosing the label and the paper it shall be printed on to the bottle shape and closure formats. All reds arebarrel-agedand the whites are clean and crisp.
Here are some tasting notes.
KRSMA Sauvignon Blanc 2010 – White:
Most unusual SB for this one has an almost a hint lively pink tinge. It’s barely there yet against a white background, can be seen, and nobody knows how it came about. The nose is aromatic, some pear drops, and minty toffee. The acidity is rife, juicy too, but never green or aggressive. The finish has grip that shows SB character. Upon aeration the wine showed more typicity, which is amazing for a young-vine SB.
KRSMA Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 – Red:
Very Bordeaux-esque (tight, grippy, astringent yet elegant tannins – possible whole-bunch ferment –with a held-back fruit) and shows good CS typicity. No Volatile Acidity which is great for a wine that was made in open tanks. Peppery and spiced, good violet and cassis fruit, great balance and complexity on the end. Quite a revelation!
KRSMA Cabernet Sauvignon 2011:
Encased in a heavy Sommelier-style bottle (wide shoulders and a tapering bottom), this showed rich creamy fruit (with cream), mellow already, with some lovely sweet oak that lingered through to finish. The tannins were gentle and the wine managed to be expressive without being jammy. A shift in winemaking philosophy is apparent with an obvious preference for fruitier yet structured wines.
I don’t think they will be cheap but, for what it’s worth, India now has two icons in the making!