The Grapes of Wrath

While the sale of wines is growth by leaps & bounds in India, knowledge about wines has not kept pace – most people still know of only one or two Indian wine brands (Sula, and perhaps Grover), and seem to think that all imported wines are better than Indian.

That’s a pity, because the quality of many Indian wines is also increasing by leaps & bounds, and I think it incumbent on Indian wine buffs to know about these wines  – so here’s a summary of the best India wines would include (apart from the aforementioned Sula & Grover):

Four Seasons: The wine foray by Vijay Mallya’s United Spirits Ltd (USL), which includes a Rs. 50 Crore investment in a 500 KL/year winery at Baramati (in Maharashtra) and brand-building and distribution all over India and even overseas (their export brand ‘Ritu’ has been listed by Waitrose, in the UK). I missed a trip to the winery end-February and tutored tastings with winemaker and business head Abhay Kewadkar, but can confidently say that their “Barrique Reserve” wines are well-worth trying, as is the Four Seasons Viognier and Rose’.

Fratelli Wines: A comparative newcomer who commenced production only 3 years back but is already making waves. The winery and vineyards are 3 hours south of Pune near the obscure village of Akluj, and are the result of a rather unique partnership between 3 sets of brothers (Fratelli means ‘brothers’ in Italian)  – the Secci brothers from Italy, Sekri from Delhi, Mohite-Patils of Maharashtra, and winemaker Piero Masi. Try any & all their wines and prepare to be pleasantly surprised.

Reveilo: Started in 2005 by Yatin and Kiran Patil at their ancestral land holding near Nashik. They were also the first Indian winery to start producing wines from Italian grapes (Sangiovese, Nero D’Avola, and Grillo) grown on their own vineyards, and one of the few making a genuine Chardonnay. Good wines all, particularly the reserves, all under the able stewardship of Andrea Valentinuzzi.

Big Banyan: The wine foray by John Distilleries who started in end-2007 with a fairly unique model that combines the best grapes from Maharashtra with innovative winemaking by Lucio Matricardi and outstanding packaging. Although the wines are (as yet) distributed in only South India and Goa, the brand has garnered a loyal following – and their Big Banyan LIMITED Shiraz 2008 (6,000 bottles produced) has already sold out!

Vindiva: Launched only in February 2012 and as yet available only in Bangalore, these wines from Alpine Wineries Karnataka are surprisingly good – proof enough of the massive Rs. 125 Crore investment in setting up a 240 acre vineyard near temple town Talakadu, 3 hours South south-west of Bangalore, and the effect of taking on internationally-renown winemaking consultant Stephane Derenoncourt right at the start of the project. Expect great things of this winery.

So what are you waiting for? Go try out some of these great new Indian wines!

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