June 2012: India’s wine aficionados are getting more discerning, and much of this is reflected in the new range of wines which are popping up on many a wine importer’s list. It was Bangalore’s turn to have its appetite whetted last month with a sneak peek of some highly-rated, unusual wines soon to hit the market, writes SI’s Bangalore correspondent, Ruma Singh. Imported by Vishal Kadakia’s Mumbai-based Wine Park, the handpicked selection of wines was unveiled to a small group of wine and beverage professionals from the hospitality industry at an exclusive wine tasting.
Each wine was accompanied with small snippets of interesting information from Kadakia on the boutique wineries and winemakers from where the wine came. Keeping prices realistic and passing on duty-free benefits to consumers was the best way forward to grow the burgeoning wine market in India, he added.
The tasting kicked off with Champagne Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve, from the much-lauded family-run boutique Champagne house. Known worldwide for its excellent rose, the Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve also has many fans, including Jancis Robinson MW, OBE, well known wine expert and Sommelier India columnist.
Tiny mousse, a long finish and distinctly toasty notes on the palate distinguish this Champagne with a very different flavour profile from most commercially-produced Champagnes.
Billecart-Salmon was followed by an Austrian white, the elegant Johann Donabaum Gruner Veltliner 2008 from Wachau (91 points, Wine Spectator). Fresh and crisp, it has found fans among discerning drinkers. Donanbaum is regarded as the Wunderkind of boutique Austrian wines. Vishal Kadakia spoke of the resurgence of Austrian wines after the laws were tightened following the diethylene glycol adulteration scandal of 1985. Gruner Veltliner is is a grape that has made its presence felt on international wine lists.
In conjunction with the Austrian Wine Marketing Board, Sommelier India has produced a booklet pairing Austrian wines with Indian cuisine. Write to us for a free copy. — Ed.
After this came Honig, a Loire-style medium bodied Sauvignon Blanc from Napa Valley (88 points, Wine Spectator) displaying the grape’s typical grassy, leafy notes with tropical fruit aromas, and drawing appreciative comments for its attractive see-through label as well.
Then it was the turn of the reds. Declaring that Spanish wines were going to be the next big thing in India, Kadakia introduced PRIMA, from Bodegas Maurodos, a blend of Tempranillo and Grenache from Toro Spain (88 points, Wine Spectator) drawing approving nods for its supple tannins, balanced structure and dark fruit notes.
Next came Novy 2009, a Napa Valley Syrah made by Diane and Adam Lee, a full-bodied red, with typical Syrah structure, flavours and strong tannins. Syrah, said Kadakia, has made strong inroads into the traditional Cabernet Sauvignon stronghold of Napa lately.
The final reds garnered maximum approval from the crowd: Boekenhoutkloof The Chocolate Block 2009, a stunning Rhône-style blend from Paarl, South Africa (Robert Parker 90 points) and winner of Wine of the Year 2012, with spicy, dark berry fruits, tobacco and pepper notes, combined with silky tannins and a long finish. The chocolate notes hit the nose right from the time of pouring. A very limited allocation from this top boutique winery has been kept aside for the Indian market.
Finally, another top-ranked South African red, Thelema 2008, a Cabernet Sauvignon from Stellenbosch, stunned with its complex richness, notes of black current and long velvety finish (Robert Parker 91 points).
These wines will be available in retail and in fine restaurants in Bangalore in 2012-13.