The Indian Wine scene is an ever-changing, constantly evolving panorama. New houses find their way to the shelves on a regular basis, even as an even larger number shut shop and exit for good. Given how deplorable the quality of certain wines has been in the last few years, it’s a good thing that the process of natural selection and elimination is weeding out the bad crop of producers, who, hopefully, won’t return to leave a bad taste in our mouths. That said, here are a few houses, and some new wines from existing houses, that are the reason I still consider being a sommelier a worthwhile and tactile proposition.
One of the oldest houses and among the most consistent ones in the market, they released a good few new wines, including the Vijay Amritraj collection. My favourites remain the Grovers La Reserve white blend (to accompany the popular La Reserve red) and their flagship wine, Chêne, a red blend with unabashed dollops of oak to round it all off. The wine is bold and makes a strong statement, but it’s mostly a pleasing, stylish one.
Recently, Fratelli launched three new wines, of which two were white, thus making them one of the few wineries to have a premium white wine line-up — the oaked- Chardonnay based Vitae and the aromatic blend, Tre. While the wines didn’t speak much to me at the launch (surprising, since I had much enjoyed Vitae in a pre-launch tasting), time may tell a different story. In their defence, launches being the glitzy affairs that they are, it wasn’t the best setting to be judging wines for nuanced aromas. But the wines are definitely pioneers for the house and, with Sette, complete their exclusive range of offerings.
Ajay Shetty may not have a winery yet, but he has managed the logistics of making reliably good wine at very affordable prices rather well. His range of wines are definitely valuefor- money and, once the labels are redesigned (for they aren’t exactly inviting or eye-catching), can easily rub shoulders on the shelf with other popular brands.
A Nashik winery that is making unprecedented wines in the region. They managed to make Tempranillo on Indian soil that could give generic Spanish Rioja a run for its money. The vibrancy and the flavour profile are nothing short of exemplary, and the whites too have shown similar consistency in quality and delivery on the palate. But it is their reserve range that is most lauded, and the entrylevel segments variants are fairly acceptably generic.
This house remains the best of the lot, producing wines that are well ahead of their times, and most consumers will need time to raise their palates to the quality and finesse that these wines can afford. While not much has changed in their portfolio, the new vintage of Sauvignon and Cabernet Sauvignon need to be reiterated as among the bets out there. That said, I have it from reliable sources that they may be launching a new (red) addition to their gamut shortly, and going by past performance, I look forward to it.
While their wines have been around for a while, they recently launched some pre-mixed Sangria in colourful pint-sized bottles. The kitsch packaging and the affable taste explain their ready acceptability in the market. Best yet, they aren’t too sweet, so you can down more than a pint or two but beware, for they clock in at 12 per cent alcohol, so each pint is almost as potent as three beers! Pour it into a glass filled with freshly chopped fruits and maybe some ice, and you are good to go.