Besides winning accolades worldwide, Indian wines are being increasingly celebrated in their own country with wine challenges and competitions proliferating, pioneered by the first Indian organised wine competition by Sommelier India way back in 2009 (www.siwc.in). Here, SI correspondent Alok Chandra reports on a recent landmark wine tasting conducted in Mumbai.
Curated by Rojita Tiwari and organised by Pratap Arora as a curtain-raiser for the Mumbai Wine Festival (which is holding four events in Mumbai between December 2014 and March 2015), the tasting was called “Celebrating India’s Finest Wines”.
All wines were tasted blind, with the judges only aware of the type of wine and the grape varietals used; scoring was on a 20-point scale, along the lines of what is used by international experts like Jancis Robinson or the University of California, Davis.
The tasting was conducted at the Yacht Club, Gateway of India by a jury of eight including Alok Chandra (Gryphon Brands Inc), Craig Wedge (FineWinesnMore & SITP member), Rojita Tiwari (Journalist), Sanjay Menon (Sonarys Co-op), Shatbhi Basu (Beverage expert), Sonal Holland (ITC Welcomgroup & SITP member), Subhash Arora (Indian Wine Academy), and Vishal Kadakia (Wine Park).
The top wines (cut-off taken at 14.5 points) out of the 81 wines tasted were:
Sparkling Chandon Brut Rose’ – Domaine Chandon India 14.6
White Seagram’s Nine Hills Chenin Blanc 15.6
KRSMA Estates Chardonnay 15.4
SDU Deva Chardonnay Reserva 15.3
Seagram’s Nine Hills Viognier 14.9
Grover Zampa Sauvignon Blanc 14.6
Sula Vineyards – Riesling 14.53
Sula Viognier 14.5
Sweet White Vallonné Vineyards Vin de Passerillage 14.9
Sula Late harvest Chenin Blanc 14.7
Rosé Sula Roé Zinfandel 14.75
Vallonne Rosé Cabernet Sauvignon 14.7
Red SDU Syrah Reserve 16.2
Vallonné Cabernet Sauvignon Classique 15.5
Grover La Reserve 15.3
York Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 15.15
Fratelli Sangiovese 15.1
Reveilo Sangiovese 14.7
SDU Cabernet Sauvignon 14.6
Apart from the presence of the industry leader Sula and old favourite Grover (now Grover-Zampa), the surprising winners of the exercise were SDU Winery (Karnataka) which launched in early 2013; their wines are available only in Bangalore as yet. And Vallonne Vineyards from Igatpuri, near Nashik, which is clearly doing many things right, as also the resurgent quality of the white wines from Seagram’s Nine Hills.
There is no doubt that the quality of Indian wines is improving every year. One looks forward to such tastings (with vintages included) becoming an annual exercise and proving to be an invaluable guide to consumers and the trade alike.
In addition to this, in Mumbai the Indian Wine Consumer’s Choice Awards (IWCCA) has been gaining ground for some years now, while the Bangalore Wine Club organised a Wine Village at the ITC Gardenia Bangalore in August and conducted an informal poll of the best Indian wines. The Sommelier India Tasting Panel (SITP) meets regularly to assess and recommend Indian, as well international, wines to consumers.
Two issues ago SI wrote about Relishing India’s Reds and earlier this month SITP tasted the new vintages of Indian wines, including Fratelli’s flagship Sette 2011 and two whites from their new brand, Vitae, along with Grover Zampa’s latest award winners, to name but a few.
Read more about SITP recommendations and the current state of India’s wine industry in the next edition of Sommelier India WINE – December 2014/January 2015 issue.