THE MOST EXPENSIVE INDIAN WINES


Time was when there was a clear price line between Indian and imported wines: all Indian wines were below Rs. 500/bottle, and all imported wines above that ‘Laxman Rekha’.

No more. While the bulk of decent wines made here are still at around the Rs. 500 – 700 per bottle price range, a very few wines are breaking out of the straitjacket and making stuff that is far better (and of course more expensive) than the herd. Two wines that lead the trend are:

SULA RASA SHIRAZ 2007

Only 600 cases were produced from very selected parcels of mature Shiraz vines from their Dindori vineyards in 2007, matured in imported French oak casks for 12 months, then in bottle for another 12 months before release in early 2010.

Rasa is priced at Rs. 1,080 per bottle and is available only in Mumbai. The brand could be an acronym for the name of Rajeev Samant, the founder and Managing Director of Sula (Nashik Vintners), the largest Indian wine company (350,000 cases in 2010-11).

The wine itself is deep, dark red, with a pronounced aroma of peppery red fruit and a complex and full-bodied taste, with strong tannins and a long finish. I would keep the wine for another few years before drinking, and would in any case decant and allow to breathe for at least 30 minutes before drinking.

BASSO CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2008

At Rs. 1,450 per bottle, this is certainly the most expensive Indian wine.

Produced at York winery outside Nasik (next door to Sula’s winery) by winemaker Rajesh Risal for Girish Mhatre of GoodEarth, the wine is made from “hand-selected grapes and nurtured in the finest oak barrels for a year”. GoodEarth is a ‘virtual’ winery and don’t actually own the winery where their wines are produced, instead preferring to devote time and money to marketing and distributing their brands.

Medium-bodied, ruby red in colour, Basso hints of blackcurrants and pepper. A pleasant whiff of burnt toast gives way to touches of plum and blackberry. Oak and fruit find an equitable and pleasing balance.

The wine (along with others in its brood: Antara Cabernet Shiraz, Brio Shiraz, and Arohi Sauvignon Blanc) are available in Mumbai and Pune at selected retail outlets (check out their website www.goodearthwinery.com ).

The quality of both wines is far superior to imported wines at similar prices as the latter have to suffer a 160% customs duty (in addition to high state taxes in Maharashtra), so next time you want to splurge and impress, pick up a few bottles of either.

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