Chateau D’Ori brings a drift of Bordeaux to India. The first to produce French wines, right from scratch on terra India. “Our first crush of red and white wines, a hundred thousand bottles will be available in November,” announces Ranjit Dhuru (picture on right side), the man behind it all, in an exclusive chat with IndianWine.com.
We already have French wines being imported to India, why the fuss about home production? First, imports come at a price; second Ranjit has always been one to set standards in optimal affordability. Aftek Infosys www.aftek.com, the IT bigwig that he also heads, “stands for Affordable Technology,” he explains. And so the business principle translates to Chateau D’Ori…
The Chateau itself, nestled at the base of Nera Dori hill in Dindori, Nashik, has everything it takes for a quality first approach to wine-making. Dhuru takes pride in his team, including partner Deepak Thakur, enologist Kailash Dhuru and viticulturist Subhash Ranade to name a few, who share his passion for creating good wine.
Ranjit confesses his affair began two decades ago as he took his software to foreign shores, and “conversation over business dinners inevitably focusing on wine, fascinated me.” Fortunately for him, Munich where his office was based offered a direct flight to Bordeaux. It’s been love all the way since then, and now he comes up with India’s first French styled wine estate, Chateau D’Ori.
“Eight years ago, the property was bought,” he discloses, and it’s been preparation all the way since then. The 485 acre estate grows its own grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay… Not to mention the care that has gone into getting the, “right clones from amongst over 200 variants,” reveals Dhuru. It is the grape that makes the wine, he reasons.
The grapes, themselves are grown using European viticulture practices, a first in India. “Single curtain growing allows for mechanization later on,” shares the foresighted Dhuru. “Also, we are using organic fertilizers and will have organic viticulture as the vines mature,” he adds. Enjoying every bit of the wine-making process, Dhuru gushes, “Enology is the basis behind every method that we employ at Chateau D’Ori. The size of vats, the sorting conveyer belts, the requirement to work top to bottom, well, everything is ruled by best enology practices.”
No wonder the winery itself is architecturally designed as per enology too. Placed on the undulating hillock, the winery is perfect. Grapes are fermented at the top level and brought to a lower level for cellaring. The estate, itself is very scenic, with three lakes on the property and an unending horizon of sun-kissed vines. Could be looking at wine tourism in the near future? Hmm…
While talking about Inida’s ancient connection to wine or Sura or Somras, as it was then called, Dhuru relates that the origin of wine is still an unanswered question. It is generally believed that Georgia (Russia), China, Tibet and India have a connection out there. Now who discovered the ambrosia, actually is not known. Well, what matters is that wine is back in vogue in India!
Dhuru is not unduly optimistic about the market response, knowing that, “it is the quality of the vines and the grapes that determines who rules the market.” D’Ori wines will be first launched in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Goa and Delhi. Chateau D’Ori has a capacity for producing one million bottles per year.
“It is backend integration to the vineyards that accounts for great wine,” observes Dhuru as he notices, bemused, that players who rushed in earlier are now reviewing their practices to plug the holes in quality, whereas Chateau D’Ori has done all the groundwork beforehand.
With the quality of grapes under strict control, the Chateau’s consulting winemaker from wine country Bordeaux, Michelle Rolland’s protégé Anthony Fakaroli takes over the next step of wine-making. And bottles of Cabernet Shiraz and Sauvignon Blanc, among others are ready to make it to wine-lovers’ glasses. The launch though with a hundred thousand bottles, will surely set the stage for home grown French wine in India. We have good reason to believe so, as long as quality is king at Chateau D’Ori!
Chateau D’Ori’s list of firsts
Home grown French grapes, from “right” clones
Winery designed as per enology
European viticulture practices
Special reporter Anisha Sharma for indianwine.com