If you thought the best American wines came from California, you have another thought coming. Washington State Wine Commission representatives were recently in India to dispel any such notions that we might have harboured, writes Reva K.Singh. Seventy labels were introduced to the trade and wine journalists at a walk around wine tasting and buffet dinner on September 2011 at the Washington State’s first-ever wine event in India.
Pictured: Al Portney, Group international vice president, Château Ste Michelle Wine Estate
Organised by Wine Forays, the two-day event in Delhi saw 12 wineries represented at the tasting on the first day at the roof-top Connaught of The Oberoi, New Delhi followed by an exclusive wine dinner the next day at The Oberoi Nilgiri. True to form, The Oberoi produced an excellent Indian five-course meal at which we had the opportunity to enjoy six wines competently paired by Gaurav Anand of Wine Forays (and a Sommelier India contributor) who rose admirably to the challenge of matching Washington State Wines with Indian food.
The wines were Eroica Riesling 2010 paired with marinated palm hearts and tandoori cottage cheese, Château Ste. Michelle Chardonnay, Indian Wells 2007 and Seven Hills Viognier 2010 with a delicious Chicken and Morel Stew with appams. Also on the menu was a masterly Grilled Aubergine Steak (Aurbergine is such a versatile vegetable that it lends itself to multiple interpretations). Hedges Family Estate Red Mountain 2008 Bordeaux blend and Hedges ‘Descendant Legeois Dupont’ Syrah 2009 were served next with Chettinad spiced lamb chops or pan fried Jackfruit, with banana flower in a saffron and almond curry and onion kulchas. The Cheese Platter preceded the dessert in the French style paired with Château Ste. Michelle Merlot 2009. The two desserts were Apricot and Pistachio Kulfi, and Passion Fruit sandesh, although the Powers Muscat Canelli 2010 was dessert enough for me.
Situated at the same latitude as Bordeaux in the northwestern corner of the United States along the Pacific ocean and the Canadian border, Washington State is the second-largest wine region in America after California. With a near perfect climate for wines and rich natural resources, it is planted with over 17,000 hectares of vineyards, located mainly in the southeastern part of the State.
Warm, bright days and cool, clear nights combine with poor soils and low rainfall to create optimum conditions for planting vitis vinifera. The State’s 700 wineries extract top quality wines ranging from Riesling and Chardonnay to Cabernet, Merlot and Syrah varietals. Unusual for the State, at the trade tasting I enjoyed an excellent sparkling rosé made form 100% Pinot Noir.
Typically, Washington State produces big, bold, juicy, fruit forward reds and crisp, fruit forward whites with refreshing acidity. Out of the 12 wineries, four producers are already exporting their wines to India while the others are looking for importers.
Claar Cellars, a family owned estate winery, is distributed in India by Agnetta International, Brindco imports the wines of Château Ste Michelle and Columbia Crest including the superb Eroica Riesling produced in partnership with Germany’s Dr Loosen, and Col Solaire red wine with Piero Antinori from Italy. Pictured above: Madeline Dow, Marketing Director Washington State Wines
Al Portney, Group international vice president, who is well known in India, in addition, presented three new wineries looking for importers at the trade tasting – 14 Hands, North Star and Snoqualmie. (Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Other wineries seeking importers:
L’Ecole no. 41 (formerly with Sonarys) contact: email@example.com
Covey Run & Columbia Winery: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hedges Family Estate: email@example.com
Powers Winery: firstname.lastname@example.org
and Seven Hills Winery: email@example.com.
A highly regarded wine region that is getting to be well known, Washington State produces a greater percentage of 90+ rated red wines than Napa Valley California, Australia or Bordeaux, states a promotional report.