By Alok Chandra
Fratelli Wines is possibly the most exciting and interesting new wine in India. A joint venture between three sets of brothers,the Sekri bothers of Delhi, the Secci brothers of Italy, and the Mohite-Patil brothers of Maharashtra, their logo is, appropriately enough, a circle of seven components – with the seventh link being the Italian winemaker Piero Masi.
Only the second joint venture winemaking company in India (the first was ‘Howling Wolves’, also in Maharashtra), the company has invested Rs. 20 crore in planting wine grapes across 240 acres of area and setting up a 600 KL state-of-the-art winery.
The vineyards and winery are located at Akluj, 170 km south of Pune in the Solapur district – this is where the Mohite-Patil brothers come from. The winery rises like a spacecraft from its rural surroundings: a gleaming vista of white chrome and glass, with the wine tanks clearly visible through the floor-to-ceiling glass wall. This cutting-edge design presages the quality of wines being produced here.
Fratelli’s vineyards were planted in 2005, and their 2011 harvest was only their second – but what development in quality! Since they control yields as required, they get the best possible grapes, which in turn allows Piero to produce some stunning wines.
Like most other vintners they started with conventional varietals: Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, and Cabernet Sauvignon. I had tasted wines from their first vintage in Mumbai a year back, and was not impressed. Then came a visit to the winery in March 2011, when I tasted samples of the 2011 vintage from the tanks, and I thought, “That’s interesting”. They recently sent me samples of the finished 2011 wines and I’ve been blown away by the improvement in quality – particularly the Cabernet Sauvignon, which is showing terrific complexity and depth. If that’s what has happened in just two vintages, I wonder where they will go in the years to come!
Ultimately there’s no substitute to doing things right, and luckily the company can afford to do so. Winemaking takes time and money, and the wines produced take even more money to distribute. Here’s one company that is worth watching, and whose wines are well worth searching and trying out. The wines are all priced at Rs. 500 – 600/bottle, and are available in Mumbai, Pune, and Goa.