Rendezvous With Mr. Abhay Kewadkar: Winemaker, UB Wines

Abhay Kewadkar the man behind the Four Seasons brand has been around in the Indian wine industry for quite some time, so much so that his association with a product could itself contribute a lot to its commercial success.I recently caught up with Abhay in the capital where he was present to grace the first ever Wine Conference of the Indian Grape Processing Board. That went, well, err, ummm, how shall I put it, well. I just wish the people who spoke could leave their emotions at home next time so that our honourable Union Minister could actually get some relevant meat to chew on and process for future decisions. More on that elsewhere.Abhay was also here to introduce his new rose to the capital. In one word: nice. Made from Zinfandel, Abhay romanticised about his passion for wines and how, when he tasted the Zin, he wasn’t convinced to do a red wine with it. And so, instead, he chose to make a rosé, a nice fruit-dominant friendly, not-too-heavy-on-the-residual-sugar rosé. It works. The wine is a nice easy number, not to invoke too much thought but definitely to introduce fun into any evening setting.So much for a tasting note. This apart, the Wi-Not team also got to taste the Barrique Reserve range and the combined tasting notes follow.

2008 Four Seasons Barrique Reserve Cabernet SauvignonMAGAN: Nice rich robe, promising for sure. The nose plays with fruit, extracted jammy kind, and the first note I get is tomatoes. Think pulp, just before ketchup. Well, it is a fruit! The taste is very Nasik, oak has helped in masking it well. Fruit plays all through and even with strong powdery tannins, the wine shows a juicy side. Appreciable but not at 18 degrees as the back label prescribes, perhaps a little cooler at say 16 tops.GURJIT: Deep ruby red robe, notes of dried apples on the nose, chalky & musty, may be needs some breathing. Definitely dry, medium to high tannins, medium in body. Decent Indian Cabernet with typical Indian flavours of aam papar especially the dark one and with a hint of oak. The wine has a pleasant spicy finish.  Khatha flavours of rich Indian terroir. I think a true Indian wine.GAGAN: Deep purple rims. Though the wine bottle looks tad European but the smell of the wine brings you back to the Indian backyards. Spicy nose with beetle leaf, nutmeg, mint pulp, and blueberry notes, slipping under green unmatured oak aging. Powerful taste with in-your-face spicy notes, young edgy tannins, and ever-better alcohol. A food-yelling wine with oak, plums, black fruits, eucalyptus, coffee, black pepper, and dark chocolate notes lingering for long combined with some hints of residual sugar. The finish leaves you with a typical (Indian wine) flavor of concentrated cola. Though a reserve wine it still needs time and food to bring justice to the effort.2008 Four Seasons Barrique Reserve ShirazMAGAN: Almost-purple rims, shows youth in spite of the time in oak. A hue similar to the Cabernet and a nose not too apart either surprisingly. But the taste differs, showing more layered oak and a touch of vanilla, also a lot less zesty or tomato-ey. The wine seems less extracted than its sibling but at the same time has smoother richness and a longer finish. Definitely the more elegant one, at least this vintage around.GURJIT: Ruby red in colour with a hint of purplish tinge. Not much pronounced nose but hints of dark red cherries. Medium in taste & tannins, the alcohol seems to b a bit off balanced but warm and well rounded. Full of dark red fruits, blackberries & prunes.GAGAN:  Similar colour with some black hint. Tobacco and leafy notes dominates. Oak is more elegant and refreshing. The notes are almost identical however more pronounced. Spiciness is less intense but the finesse (as compared) makes up for it. Both, wine and tannins, are smoother this time. All in all the wine is commendable but sweeter than the typical Shiraz from Down Under and Sud de France styles

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