Viva, Jonty! Viva, wine!

They say cricket is a religion in India, and cricketers are found everywhere – on ramps, in ads and just about everywhere else. Maybe it was just a matter of time before cricket entered the exclusive indian wine scene too, says Ruma Singh . And so the wine tasting held at the Grand Ashok, Bangalore on Monday, 20 October was certainly different. jontyrodes1.jpg

Besides the elegant bottle photos seen on the screen were also some of South African cricketing legend Jonty Rhodes– airborne as usual! Because Jonty was in town to launch South Africa’s 10 Chapters wines in India.
Jonty, a director of South Africa’s 10 Chapters wines, was making a whistle stop tour of India to promote the wines with 10 Chapters’ founder and winemaker, 26-year-old Stefan Gerber. And the wines they were showcasing in association with United Vintners’ Ltd included the fresh, fruity (and very popular with those present) Gervino Blanc, the unusual, best-selling 10 Chapters’ Sauvignon Blanc, the creamy Montestell Chardonnay, the intense, fruity Montestell Pinotage, the complex and spicy 10 Chapters’ Shiraz, and the pleasant, smooth Gervino Rouge.
As wine aficionados moved from one table to the next, sipping, swirling, enjoying the wines and nibbling on canapes and dips, Stefan Gerber introduced himself and his wines in a short speech laced with humour. “Indian and South Africa have a lot in common,’ he said, “We’ve both been under British rule… and got rid of them. We both also have two of the world’s most famous statesmen, Gandhi and Mandela.” Those who think South Africa wines mean just Stellenbosch, should know that there are many more excellent, value-for-money wines that the country has to offer, he added, ending with, “When most people say ‘cheers’, in South Sfrica we say Viva!”
Viva, echoed the guests as they welcomed Jonty Rhodes with a loud round of applause. Jonty who said he had become a wine drinker only in the last four years, added, “As a cricketer, you travel the world, meet people and think it can’t get better than this — but it does!” India’s intense love for cricket meant they like to do most things with passion, and he hoped they would take to the 10 Chapters bouquet of wines with equal intensity of feeling.
In an exclusive chat, Jonty revealed that it was his wife who was responsible for his own introduction to wine, along with his friend and former South African captain, Hansie Cronje, who was a passionate wine lover, as was his wife. “When Hansie died tragically, his wife lost not just her husband, but a wine-drinking partner. So my wife and I decided I would keep her company when she would open a bottle of wine.”
Today, Jonty, who claims to have “a very sweet tooth,”, enjoys his glass of Shiraz in the evening. “I met Stefan (Gerber) about 4 years ago at a wine farm and he asked me about my Indian connections as he was consulting with winemakers in Nasik at the time.” And that is how his professional association with wine began. South Africa, with its 3,500 estates, has huge potential to develop into one of the world’s top wine making countries. He adds. “We have so much to offer.”
And with such a colourful brand ambassador to sell their wines, we just have to agree!

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