What wines do the vast majority of Indians drink? Indian wines, naturally. Wine drinkers are curious and interested in the numerous international wines available for the adventurous, who are willing to spend a little extra, but their staple tipple is Indian wine, says Reva K. Singh The SI Tasting Panel spotlights some refreshing Indian white wines.
The Sommelier India Tasting Panel (SITP) recently tasted a range of Indian white wines in flights of two and three across different varietals – Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc, a lone Viognier and a unique Sangiovese Blanc. The samples we received for tasting came from Fratelli, Grover Zampa, KRSMA, Nine Hills, Reveilo and York. All the wines were tasted and scored “blind” with the bottles covered, followed by a discussion.
The tasters were Bunny Suraiya, author and SI chief copy editor, Gagan Sharma, certified sommelier and SITP coordinator, Jug Suraiya, author and SITP member, Rukn Luthra, managing director, Indian subcontinent & Gulf, Rémy Cointreau India and SITP founding member, and Reva K Singh, SI Editor in Chief.
Our top runner was 2013 KRSMA Sauvignon Blanc at 17 points on a 20 point scale followed by 2013 York Sauvignon Blanc with 16.5 points. KRSMA is produced on virgin soil in the Hampi Hills and is available exclusively in Bangalore at present. (For more on KRSMA Estate’s boutique winery, see “Method in their Madness”, page 20). York’s wine comes from six acres of estate-grown grapes in their Nashik Valley vineyard adjacent to Sula’s winery. York has recently become available in Delhi.
Tasting Notes by SITP coordinator Gagan Sharma
SANGIOVESE BIANCO – FRATELLI
Pale straw appearance with a tinge of green. Husky aromas of straw, hay, and touche of yellow fruit skins, intensely oily with a layer of stony minerality. Fruit forward palate with array of notes of straw, warm baking spices, lemon-lime candy, oily undertones, with a finish of smoke, husk, and white and black pepper. Very drinkable and amicable, brings body and complexity to the palate. 14.5
VIOGNIER – GROVER
Water-pale appearance, with a hint of straw. Vibrant aromatic nose with ripe notes of passion fruit, jasmine and elderflower, peach marmalade, mint chewing gum and mint candy, honeydew melon and apricot pulp. Surprisingly dry, with mild flavour intensity, tad short on acidity but an admirable round mouthfeel. Persistent dry finish with stoned fruits, stoney minerality, marmalade, and a tinge of lemon acid. Shows typicity of the grape well and can be a benchmark for other wineries to achieve. Tasted privately by Gagan and not rated.
SAUVIGNON BLANC – KRSMA
Clean, medium straw colour. Aromas of green and yellow fruits, lemon and lime peels with generous minerality, with underlying green tinge, and sweetness of tropical fruit skins. Gentle and round mouthfeel backed by sweet white fruit flavours. Well balanced, very refreshing, and has an impressive appeal. A clean and acidic finish with delicious notes of fresh mango, pineapple, and passion fruit. 17
CHARDONNAY – KRSMA
Deep lemon shade with touch of green, showing signs of ageing with a tinge of gold. Soft round and a playful note of buttered popcorn with a spicy crème nose. Smokey aromas through charred oak barrels, white and golden fruits, hint of rock melon, yellow apples, and a bit of white pepper. Round yet crisp balance of textures indicating the youth of the wine with a promise to age. 15
SAUVIGNON BLANC – NINE HILLS
Clear, dull pale straw appearance with hints of green. The wine has a youthful aromatic nose. These highly intense aromas
recall under-ripe gooseberries, guava, asparagus, and intense notes of capsicums, overall impression utterly herbaceous. Highly mineral, almost on the verge of flinty. Disturbing and unappealing note of wet chalk. Even though it delivers acidic, crisp, and mouth-watering limey flavours resembling a typical Sauvignon Blanc. 15.5
CHENIN BLANC – NINE HILLS
Pale lemon tones with a hint of green. Clean nose with notes of musty yellow fruit skins, wet chalk, sweet white fruits, pear, peaches, banana, muskmelon, yellow apples, marmalade, ending with a subtle hint of minerality. Off-dry flavours. Lack acidity thus the wine cloys on the palate. It almost tastes candied, sugar candy sweet, ending with an abrupt bitterness. Tad unpleasant on the palate, needs some more vintages to bring the best out of the grapes. 14.5
CHARDONNAY – REVEILO
Dense lemon colour, with hints of gold, indicating definitive oak ageing. Over aged flavours marked the fruitiness of the wine. Marzipan, ripe yellow fruit hidden under hint of sweet caramelised oak from the elongated barrel contact, finishing on a crispy mouthfeel with notes of fresh husk and straw, ripe pear, and honeydew melon. Yet something felt tainted or chemical. 14.5
SAUVIGNON BLANC – YORK
Youthful, pale straw appearance with touches of green. Green and yellow fruit aromas with pulpy sweet white fruits, crushed fresh florals and aromatic lift. Clean, creamy, stoned fruit on the front palate with a crisp, follow through of gooseberry, capsicum, eucalyptus, and sweet fruit notes. The precisely balanced acidity with sweet flavours makes it impressive, amicable, and joyous. 16.5
CHENIN BLANC – YORK
Bright medium lemon shade with a touch of green indicating youth. Clean florally lifted scent with sweet aromas of white pulpy fruits, hint of lime zest and pear skin, touch of stony minerality, with a finish of peach marmalade, apricot puree, diligently balanced with gentle sweetlime acidity. The aftertaste of melon candy and crushed citrus fruits lingers for long. 15
This article is extracted from Sommelier India Issue 3, June-July 2014. Subscribe to read the whole magazine