Indians are xenophiles – we love things foreign, and seem to discover value in home-grown items only once they’ve been ‘discovered’ by the west: remember how Ravi Shankar became famous after his association with the Beatles? This trait extends even to wine: people are willing to pay more for an entry-level wine from, say, Australia than a much better Indian wine.
Thankfully that is changing, with a few Indian wine companies breaking the foreign mania barrier for their wares. Try the following:
Sula Rasa Shiraz 2007
Named after founder & owner Rajeev Samant, this limited-edition wine is produced from grapes sourced from selected blocks in the companies’ own vineyard at Dindori, near Nasik, and are matured in French oak barrels for 12 months. Priced @ Rs. 1,250 (Bangalore), this is a complex wine with power and finesse: loads of fruit and spice, and tannins that will keep the wine drinkable for at least another 5 years.
Big Banyan LIMITED, Spring 2008, Reserve Shiraz
The ‘Limited’ refers to the fact that only 6,000 bottles of this wine were produced, with each bottle bearing a numbered leather tag. This is a big and bold wine, with an intense aroma of red fruits and a full-bodied taste whit the fruit coming through nicely – and remaining there for a long finish. Well worth the Rs. 1,200 per bottle price in Bangalore.
Sette means ‘Seven’ – which refers to the 7 partners involved with the winery project set up in 2006 by Fratelli Wines at Akluj village, about 150 km south of Pune. This wine was winemaker Piero Masi’s pet project: the wine itself is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese grapes from their own vineyards, and has 14 months in French oak. Priced @ Rs. 1,642 per bottle in Bangalore, this is the most expensive Indian wine, and has all the power and concentration of a super-Tuscan.
KRSMA Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
The youngest wine on the block, still to be launched at the time of writing and produced at the eponymous winery near Hampi, in North Karnataka, this is a true labour of love: owners Krishna Prasad and Uma Chigurupati have created a marvel in the middle of the stony environs of the Tungabhadra river and reservoir. With 12 months in French oak and Priced @ Rs. 1,500 in Bangalore for the bottle (and Rs. 3,250 for the Magnum) this is a real blockbuster: expressive, luscious, full-bodied, with soft tannins and a long finish.
So forget run-of-the-mill Chenin Blanc, Shiraz, or Rose’, guys – move on to the blockbuster Indian wines, better in both quality and price to most imported wines.