SITP’s top three wines of the tasting in the white, red and rosé category were Fratelli Chardonnay, Grover Cabernet Sauvignon and Sula Zinfandel. The surprise of the evening was a new kid on the block, KRSMA, which scored very high in the Sauvignon Blanc and the Cabernet Sauvignon flights. The objective of this tasting was to identify the best Indian wines so that consumers can make an informed choice.
Unlike the Sommelier India Wine Competition 2009, (www.siwc.in) which was the first ever wine competition for Indians by Indians, this was not a Competition but a special session of the Sommelier India Tasting Panel (SITP). The Panel meets regularly to taste wines and make recommendations for the benefit of the consumer.
As the buzz about The Great Indian Wine Tasting spread, Sommelier India was inundated with requests from winemakers for their wines to be included in the tasting. Eight of the country’s foremost producers, including one whose wines are not yet on the market, participated.
Wines continued to arrive till the very end but unfortunately some were too late. Three producers’ wines could not be tasted because of logistical reasons. Each producer was asked to provide a minimum of two and a maximum of four of their best wines for the tasting.
Members of the SITP spent more than four hours assessing 31 Indian wines from the major wine producers in India. The tasting was conducted blind which means the bottles were masked and the names of the wines were only revealed after the tasting.
Before the tasting began, the sommeliers had a discussion on whether the wines should be tasted keeping “Indian” wines in mind or whether it should be done irrespective of origin, on the basis of how true the wine is to its typicity. It was agreed to go with the latter suggestion.
At the end of a long session of sniffing, swirling and spitting wine, the overall impression formed by the tasters was that Indian white wines were close to international standards but the reds fell a little short. However, the Panel was impressed with the quality of Indian rosés.
A major issue that needs to be addressed according to the SITP is wine storage. One or two wines showed signs of heat damage which is endemic in India as people (retailers and distributors included) do not store the wines as they should.
The Sommelier India Tasting Panel consists of some of the best palates in the country. Chairing the tasting was Reva K Singh, editor and publisher of Sommelier India. The other members, in no particular order were, Rukn Luthra, MD, Remy Cointreau India, Delhi; Craig Wedge, COO, Fine Wines & More, Mumbai; Harshal Shah, Sydney based consultant sommelier, writer and MW student; Marketa Sitarova, head sommelier at Taj Mahal Hotel, New Delhi; Gagan Sharma, sommelier, writer & wine educator, Delhi; Magandeep Singh, sommelier, writer and entrepreneur, Wi-Not Beverage Solutions, Pvt Ltd, New Delhi; and Gaurav Anand, sommelier, blogger & owner of Wine Forays, Delhi.
Apart from their professional credentials, members of the tasting panel have
the distinction of being regular contributors to Sommelier India Wine Magazine.
“The Great Indian Wine Tasting was a triumph for the Indian wine consumer,” said Reva K. Singh. “The results clearly indicated that the Indian wine industry is headed in the right direction.”
The fact that The Great Indian Wine Tasting was successful is due in no small measure to the unstinted support we received from The Claridges Hotel, New Delhi. The arrangements were flawless – the stemware was appropriate, the glasses were removed quietly and deftly and the wines appeared on cue, chilled at the ideal temperature.
Reva K. Singh and The SI Tasting Panel acknowledges the professionalism displayed and thanks the Regional GM, Oliver C. Martin and his team, F&B Director, Tarun Seth, Priyanka Singh, Senate Private Dining Room in-charge, and Ankush Gupta, Restaurant Manager at Sevilla, where we dined after the tasting.