The wine park


May 20, 2013 12:35:52 PM

As another year draws to a close, it is fitting to talk not about the past but the future: Indian wines to watch out for next year.

FRATELLI: This joint venture between 3 sets of brothers (Fratelli means ‘brotherhood’) and winemaker Piero Masi at Akluj (near Pune, off the road to Solapur) continues to produce wines that keep improving in quality each vintage. In particular the Fratelli Chardonnay 2012 and Fratelli Chenin Blanc 2012 as well as the Fratelli Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 and Fratelli Sangiovese 2011 are all worth checking out.

KRSMA: Not yet launched and already making waves! This is a tiny boutique winery, located near the UN World Heritage Site of Hampi, and owned and run by Krishna Prasad and Uma Chigurupati -whose other passion is running marathons. Both their first (and only) wines - the KRSMA Sauvignon Blanc 2012 and the KRSMA Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 won high plaudits at the Sommelier India tasting last month, and are likely to be available soon – but only in Bangalore.

REVEILO: The wines from this Nashik-based producer continue to have a dedicated fan following – it helps that they are the only Indian wine listed by Starwood hotels (Sheraton, Westin, Le Meredien, Aloft) in their ‘Wines of the World’ (WOW) program. I think their Reveilo Chardonnay 2012 and Reveilo Grillo are both terrific wines, as is the Reveilo Sangiovese 2011.

ALPINE: Another new entrant whose wines were launched in Bangalore in early 2012, Alpine Winery has a single contiguous plot of 1,200 acres off the Bangalore-Mysore road that can be seen on google Earth! With an ultra-modern winery and winemaking by Stephane Derenoncourt they seem to be set to ‘rock the winemaking world’ in India – their VINDIVA Reserve Shiraz 2010 is very good indeed and well worth seeking out.

BIG BANYAN: A distinctive brand, coupled with good wines and excellent packaging has propelled this wine into the black in just 5 years. Winemaker Lucio Matricardi has most recently brought out the Big Banyan ‘Limited’ Shiraz 2008, a yummy blockbuster, while substantially improving the Big Banyan Sauvignon Blanc 2011.

SULA: the ‘100-kilo gorilla’ of the Indian wine scene and the clear market leader, whose high brand recall will only enable the company to pull even further ahead of what has become a crowded field. Consumers have yet to be afflicted with an ABS (“Anything But Sula”) syndrome, and the company’s consistent quality has lots going for it. While their Cabernet Shiraz and Chenin Blanc have the highest volumes, look out for the Sula Rasa Shiraz 2010, a lot more expensive than the regular-segment wines, but well worth the extra bucks.

Of course there are decent offerings from Grover (La Reserve), Four Seasons, and Nine Hills – but none of them are new, and as such less interesting than new wines.

There’s no doubt that Indian wines are improving in quality each year – witness the substantial progress made by some in finding markets overseas. It’s time we started to choose a good Indian wine over entry-level imports – whose price is higher due to taxes, not because they are better.

WINES I’VE BEEN DRINKING: Bad Boy 2009 is a fascinating wine from the original ‘Garagiste’ – rebel winemaker Jean-Luc Thunevin (Bordeaux) who eschewed the whole estate concept and produced his first wines literally in a garage. With 89 points from Wine Spectator (almost ‘Excellent’), a great aroma and lovely soft drinkable taste, this wine is sure to be a hit when available to Indian consumers.

Sante’, and Happy New Year.