India Wine Challenge Results! Nine Hills & Sula lead Indian wines

winechallenge.jpg Hot off the press are the India Wine Challenge results. 350 wines participated of which 140 won medals. According to Robert Joseph, this is standard and not overly generous in comparison to other competitions.
But only 35 Indian wines from 10 wineries participated in the competition. As Mr. Joseph mentioned to us in an earlier interview, this was a very small number. Most of these wines faired poorly but Indus Winery and Vin & Vouloir showed promise as newcomers. Sula stood out for its Sauvignon Blanc. Grover which had submitted its 2005s did not do well.

The Indian winners included Sula Sauvignon Blanc 2007 (Silver Medal), Vin & Vouloir Rose 2007 (Bronze Medal), Sula Dindori Shiraz Reserve 2006 (Bronze Medal), Sula Blush Zinfandel 2007 (Bronze Medal), Seagrams Nine Hills Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (Bronze Medal) and Reveilo Chenin Blanc 2005 (Bronze Medal).
The Top Indian Red was Seagrams Nine Hills Cabernet Sauvignon 2007. The Top Pink was Sula’s Blush Zinfandel 2007 and the Marquise de Pompadour was the top fizz.

The Top Red Wine was the Forrest Estate, Forrest Estate Marlborough Pinot Noir 2005, the Top White Wine was the Gebruder Loosen, Dr Loosen Mosel Riesling 2006 and the Top Sweet Wine was the Royal Tokaji Zrt, Royal Tokaji Azsú Essencia 1996. View the complete results.
Please share your thoughts on the winners, the judging process and whether you think wine competitions like this one is good for India. You can do so by clicking the add your comments link below.


  1. Hi great to hear these results. But i am not sure so many award will really help the cause. What were the parameters for various categories. like seal of approval. By the response of Indian wines it looks like not many wineries were interested in participating in this event. It was good to see some small new rising players to come and win some awards as it will do them a world of good.
    Indus winery , Vin & Vouloir really stood out as a new player and also Seagrams Nine hill as they had sent only their red for the entry.
    One more thing you have written ” sula brut blush zinfandel” i dont think brut word is written on their label. it is just a querry i can be wrong. I thought they were using this word for their sparkling wine.
    Anyways kudos to the begining of this event .

  2. definately tells about the competition being so rigged, between Sula and Grover, Grover all their wines stand out far superior to Sula and all other wines i have tried in India, India should be careful trying to get an image like that, as in wines the country sell first then regions and then individual wineries, if this rigged competition continues it will be detrimental to Indian wines in general, just like Indage has damaged the reputation of Indian wines abroad Sula is bent on killing it for immediate gain as INDIA good word abroad today. you can have competition in India but any thing like this in international will destroy Indias reputation for years to come.The Wine Board should should be careful as it will reflect on the farmers of India. suggest that your magazine do a tasting side by side with Sula, Grover and some good french wines and know for your self. Sula is good for Indian palate, which is quite amatuer, but not for International PLEASE.

  3. 300 USD per wine to be submitted is very expensive. Also, the results are not a true reflection, I have tasted Grovers several times particularly the La Reserve in top London dining establishments, and each time it has been something to remember. Also, were all the tastings done in a transparent manner? Who were the judges and were these blind tastings?

  4. I was naturally interested to read some of the comments about the first India Wine challenge – of which I was chairman. I would like to deal with all of the points that have been made. Firstly and unsurprisingly, I’d like to respond to the accusation that the competition was “rigged”. I launched the UK International Wine Challenge in 1984 and oversaw its growth to a current state of being the biggest wine competition in the world, with over 9,000 wines. I have also run wine challenges in Japan, China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Russia, Vietnam and Thailand and am chairman of the Swiss Intl Wine Competition in South Africa and the Tri Nations Cup in Australia. In all of these over 50 competitions I have never been accused of “rigging” a contest and resent the accusation here. The wines were tasted blind in London and Delhi (at the Hyatt) by a panel of expert Indian and international palates.
    These were Subhash Arora (London and Delhi); Ronnie Lobo (London); Abhay Kewadkar (London and Delhi); Sourish Bhattacharya (Delhi); Alok Chandra (Delhi); and from Europe, Stephane Soret, Sommelier of the Imperial, Delhi (Delhi); Bill Marchetti (Delhi); Steve Daniel, former buyer for the Oddbins wine chain in the UK (London); Cyrus Rustom Todiwala MBE
    Executive Chef, Cafe Spice Namaste (London); Keith Isaacs Master of Wine (London); Bill Rolfe former buyer of the UK Unwins wine chain (London). All of these people will confirm the rectitude of the procedures adopted at every stage.
    But Santosh A is fair in expressing his surprise at the poor showing of the Grover wines in this competition. I expected them to do better myself. However, I carefully retasted the bottles following the competition and concluded that they were not nearly as impressive as the ones I had previously experienced in India and the UK.
    It will be interesting to see whether the Grover Reserve (of the same 2005 vintage) fares better in other competitions.
    This is an essential point. One of the reasons I run as many wine competitions as I do is because I do not believe in the absolute validity of ANY individual competition or encounter between a critic and a wine. As in the sporting arena, consistency is all: the difference between Tiger Woods and the flash in the pan golfer who wins a single tournament.
    I do not understand Santosh A’s comment that “Sula is good for Indian palate, which is quite amatuer [sic], but not for International” – for the simple reason that Sula’s wines are currently being poured in several London restaurants (more, I believe than Grover).
    It was also interesting that the low marks given to the majority of the Indian wines were given by a panel which was largely made up of Indian judges.
    With regard to the figure of an entry fee of $300 per wine, this is in fact inaccurate. The fee was $150, which compares favourably to other international competitions. It should be noted that our costs included the flying to the UK and accommodation for three Indian judges (Subhash Arora, Ronnie Lobo ad Ahbay Awakhdar) as well as the shipping from London (and duty and excise) to Delhi of 200 samples for retasting and presentation.
    (We reluctantly decided to run part of the competition in London [with Indian judges] because of the nightmare [excise and duty] costs and difficulties of getting samples into India. If we can overcome this next year I will be delighted)
    Ajay asks about what the medals mean in numerical terms. The answer is simple: wines with 18.5/20 or more get a Gold; 17-18.4 get Silver; 15.5-16.9 get Bronze and 14-15.4 get a Seal of Approval. These criteria are in line with the ones used in Australian and New Zealand competitions and the International Wine Challenge and Decanter Awards, but are stricter than those of some other competitions. In other words, a Seal of Approval here might have won a Bronze elsewhere.
    The Indian results in this competition (mostly No Awards and Seals of Approval, with four Bronzes and a single Silver) were very much in line with what I might have expected from previous tastings, but it was encouraging to see new wineries enter the fray. As it was to see the quantum leap in quality that has been made by Nine Hills between its (very poor) first and second vintages (following, it should be said, visits by the Australian chief winemaker of Pernod Ricard, Nine Hills’s owners)
    Quality control remains a problem with Indian wines: one winery in particular submitted several bottles of wine that were oxidised (prematurely aged) indicating problems at the winemaking or storage or transport stages.
    I also believe that there is considerable work to be done in the vineyards to improve the way the vines are being grown. Switching from growing grapes for eating to winegrowing is not a straightforward process, and far too many wines (most) show a “green” character belying a lack of fundamental ripeness – even in the case of wines with significant alcohol levels.
    I wish the Indian wine industry well – as well as the Indian market for good imported wines. And it is with this wish that I will begin work on the 2008 India Wine Challenge. Any positive suggestions for what we can do to further improve that event will be very welcome

  5. As one of the judges on the panel, I would like to supplement Robert Joseph’s posting with my own comments and observations on the exercise.
    The whole tasting was conducted in an impartial and transparent manner; there were two panels of 3 people each, and wines being presented were bagged so that we did not even see the shape – the scoring sheet mentioned the grape, country and vintage of each wine.
    Each panel had to agree among itself when scoring a wine for a medal or award; all awards for silver or gold were referred to the other panel for a cross check. In case of a disagreement, the wine was referred (still blind) to Robert for his opinion. The gold medal wines and the indian medal winners were re-tasted by 5 of the six panellists and Robert (at 10 pm at night!), blind, and scored individually to arrive at the winners.
    There’s no question of any scores being ‘rigged’
    Alok Chandra

  6. Rajesh Swarnakar on

    Dear sir,
    Great to know about the results of India Wine Challenge 2007. I hope similar kinds of events do takes place in the coming days.Recently i have conducted a wine appreciation session cum dinner in Hotel Pinewood at Shillong. The wine for the evening was sponsored by Champagne Indage.It was a good turn out and quite a number of eminent gentry of Shillong made their presence felt.The popularity of wine is growing very fast in this part of the country and i would request the authorities to conduct similar challenges in the future in this part of India.

  7. To
    The Sommelier team,
    I have been an avid follower of all recent happenings on Sommelier for varied reasons. It gives me great pleasure to interact with you and introduce myself & our company which hails from Italy. We at Agre Advisory Services Pvt. Ltd., Pune are keen to see the progress being made by the Indian Wine Industry as we plan to introduce the premier Italian wine brand “La Scolca” to India. La Scolca hails from Gavi in North Western Italy. As La Scolca’s local representatives, we would like to know the FDI restriction in the Indian Wine segment. We appreciate your great knowledge bank and hope that you would prove to be a beacon of guidance for future perusals.
    Thank you,
    Satish Tadinada
    Project Manager
    Agre International

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