January 2011 - Posts
Hand-crafted wines from a variety of fruit sources, including grapes
Alok Chandra walks us through the craft wines of India...
Fruit wines have also been available in Himachal Pradesh for a number of
years, where local rules allow for easy licensing, and any retailer can
sell the locally-produced wines with low one-time duty and no further
involvement of the state excise machinery. What used to be Sutter Home
is now sold under the “Waterfall Wines” label. At Rs 150-250/bottle,
peach, pear, plum, strawberry and rhododendron are some of the more
In Shillong, where a ‘Wine Festival’ has been organised every
October/November by Michael Syiem of the Forever Young Club for the past
seven years. By all accounts this is a delightful affair, set around a
pool, with gaily-coloured stalls dishing out wines made from pineapple,
cherries, passion fruit, flowers, and a little-known local plum called
In Bangalore, such (Port-style wines from table grapes or raisins) wines were even sold in selected retail stores (at Rs
50-100 per bottle) right up to the mid-1990s, until some excise
official decided to declare this practice illegal. Now, with the easy
availability of “Wine Boutique” and wine production licences in
Karnataka, perhaps some home wine-makers may venture forth once again.
Of course, it was in Goa that Port-style wines were first produced.
While most of the brands now available are “ad-mix” wines
(slightly-fermented grape juice, with spirit, colour, sugar and flavour
added to taste), a few stalwarts still produce their wines in the old
style. Foremost in this area are Vinicola (whose winery is behind
octogenarian Dr D’Costa’s beautiful 100 year-old bungalow) and Madame
Rosa (from the Vaz family, better known for their spirits, packed in
bottles shaped like violins and oak casks). Unfortunately, due to high
inter-state taxes, few Goan wines are available outside any more.
Govt. takes interest in craft wines
However, the ministry of food processing industries (under whom wines
come), together with industry associations, is looking to rationalise
inter-state tariff barriers to wines, on the grounds that the product is
not injurious to health, and as such must be treated differently from
More: Business Standard
A women's organization's petition to President of India to stop the sale of liquor on government premises at Inox and during IFFI has been referred by her secretariat in Delhi to the Goa chief secretary.
"Action taken on the petition may please be communicated directly to
the petitioner under intimation to this secretariat," K C Jayarajan,
additional comptroller, wrote in the letter to the CS Sanjay Srivastava.
had sought the president's intervention to stop the sale of alcohol on
government premises during IFFI and also the holding of the wine
festival at Inox, a government establishment.
While they had
also appealed to the president during her visit to Goa, women's
organizations Bailancho Saad, all India women's conference and Bailancho
Ekvott had also petitioned the excise commissioner not to issue
licences for the sale of alcohol for Grape Escapade.
"We were not against holding cultural programmes or food court without
alcohol, but only opposed to sale of liquor on government premises,"
Sabina Martins of Bailancho Saad said.
Chief minister Digambar Kamat,
who was scheduled to inaugurate the event on Thursday, was not present.
However, the sale of liquor has not been stopped, sources said.
More: The Times of India
India's rapidly growing wine industry has brought into focus the need for qualified wine professionals in the business. In an effort to bridge this gap, Sonal Holland Wine Academy offers globally certified courses for professionals as well as the cognoscenti who want to know more about their favourite subject.
The two courses run by Sonal Holland Wine Academy have accreditation from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), which is one of the foremost institutions in the world for wine education and where she herself got trained.
Currently the academy conducts two types of courses – the foundation level and the intermediate level.
These are short-termed certificate course targeted towards anybody wanting to make a career in the wine industry, whether it is production, sales, service or marketing. The foundation level course is just a day course followed by an examination in the evening. It is almost like a crash course but very well structured that runs the students through basic introduction to wine, the different wine styles, sales of wine, service of wines, service temperature, the hospitality of wine and a section on food and wine pairing.
The intermediate level course is more indepth covering key grape varieties, where do they grow, regions, climate, etc. There is also a bit of revision about food and wine pairing. This is a three-day course followed by examination.
An increasing number of Indians are sipping on wine. Or maybe the same
lot of us are just guzzling more of it. Either way, wine sales have
risen 217 percent in 2010 over sales in 2009 according to Myles Mayall,
wine advisor to The Wine Society of India.
Sula Vineyards, for instance, sold 2.6 lakh cases in 2010 and is looking
at pushing that figure to 3.5 lakh in the next year, mostly in the
premium segment. Sula, however, predicts that there will be about 50
percent rise in the growth of imported wines.
Feni, an indegenious aloholic beverage of India
Feni is the first Indian alcoholic beverage to possess a Geographical Indication (GI) registration, a sign that authentic Feni can only be sourced from Goa, catapulting it to the same league as Scotch, Champagne, Cognac and, closer home (and obviously non-alcoholic), Darjeeling Tea.
“There will not be a quantum leap in exports because of the GI status,
but the certification will push Feni into the limelight of the global
wine and spirits industry,” says Mac Vaz, president of the Goa Cashew
Feni Distillers and Bottlers Association.
By turns considered an aphrodisiac, a diuretic, a curative, a laxative
and, finally, a must-try local product in Goa, Feni has indeed come a
long way. With a base of cashew apples or coconut and bottled at 42.8
percent alcohol, Feni production is more elaborate than other indigenous
alcohols’, with a fermentation time of up to four days and a double
“Feni is a versatile drink. It’s aromatic and pungent, and so a bit
powerful on the palate, but it works fabulously as a cocktail mix,” says
bartender Shawn D’Souza.
Travelability: High. As a distilled product, what you drink in Calangute is essentially what you can drink in Cuttack.
Delhi-based Kapil Sekhri, co-promoter and director of Fratelli Wines, a Indo-Italian venture, says wine is slowly becoming a lifestyle product in India.
"We have 600 million people in the age group between 20 and 35. It's the youngest nation and so even if 10 percent of that convert, that is almost a country in Europe converting to wine," said Sekhri.
"That's what the potential holds and that's why all the wine labels are rushing to India even with such heavy duty structures," Sekhri, whose company's vineyard is at Akluj in Solapur district of Maharashtra, about 105 km south of Pune, told IANS.
While 41 percent of the wine quaffed in India is consumed in the western
states, north follows next with 29 percent. The report also said demand
for wine is rising in emerging Tier-II and Tier-III cities thanks to
working professionals and the younger generation.
"Growth can be faster in smaller cities but enough efforts are not
being made. Pune is an example of how wine culture has taken off in a
short time. There are dozens of cities like Pune waiting to be
explored," said Subhash Arora.
More: South Asia Mail
It is wines from the famous Bipin cellar that’s going under the hammer
in Hong Kong later this month. The Acker auction catalog lists 648 lots
for day one and 555 lots on day 2 that are expected to bring in
potentially HK$70 Million (around US $ 9 million) into the coffers of
Acker Merrall and Condit (Asia) Ltd, world’s leading wine auctioneers in
Hong Kong. The auction starts with the outstanding collection of Dr.
Bipin Desai. The lot is appropriately titled ‘Another Stellar
Collection from the Incredible Collection of Dr. Bipin Desai’ in the
official catalogue. “Every time we have featured wines from this world
famous collection, they have been snapped up by savvy collectors who
realize what remarkable provenance Bipin’s cellar constitutes,” says
John Kapone, President and Auction Director.
Dr Bipin Desai: The Person and his journey as a Wine Collector
The 75-year-old Bipin, wine connoisseur, looks younger than his age,
perhaps a testimonial to the top quality red wines he has been drinking
for over 40 years. Bipin was a vegetarian and a teetotaller when he left
India. It was in 1970 when he went to Geneva and began to drink wine.
Perhaps the ability to judge and enjoy fine wines was latent in Bipin.
“I could tell good wine from bad wine almost from the beginning; I
understood certain aspects easily. Moreover, I started to like, and
continued to do so, more of French wines because of their elegance and
The quest for knowledge grabbed him like it does all connoisseurs. “I
started studying about wine on my own. I bought many books written by
In 1973 Bipin attended an event by Les Amis du Vin, the local chapter
of the American wine group, that was organizing a wine tasting and that
changed his life forever. “All the wines at the tasting were from
Bordeaux and included a ‘66 Latour. The ‘61 Palmer was an incredible
wine that really turned me on. Those vintages were not easy to find.
But I found out I could buy them in auctions and I started bidding,”
As he got more and more wines in his cellar, Bipin started thinking
of sharing them with his friends and thus started the Bipin Tastings for
which he has become famous in the US and Europe. His first such Tasting
was in 1983. Between 30-40 people came for the tasting. The average
cost was around $1000 per person for 4 sessions, which included a
complete dinner- it was a ‘61 Bordeaux dinner and each session meant
around a bottle a person, which has become pretty much a standard at all
More: Bangalore Mirror
Founded by Mumbai-born, New York-based Girish Mhatre, Good Earth Winery
is a new entrant into India's wine manufacturing market, commercially
operational only since December 2009. Sankaranarayanan, who has a
decade-worth of experience in India's alcohol-beverage business,
explains that Good Earth uses contract farming and rented wine-making
facilities, all under highly controlled circumstances. It is a “virtual”
wine company, or, somewhat more poetically, follows in the tradition of
the French négociant.
Chennai is coming up on the Indian wine market radar
Chennai is only the fourth Indian city where the wines have been
launched. This could be an indication of how seriously the market is
taking Chennai's growing interest in the grape. As Karan Berry, General
Manager, Courtyard by Marriott, adds: “Perhaps the most interesting
development, in addition to wine replacing beer as Chennai's favourite
beverage, is that red wine has outpaced white wine.”
On offer during the Chennai dinner were three of its four brands: Arohi
(made of Sauvignon Blanc grapes) opened the meal, followed by Basso
(made with Cabernet Sauvignon grapes), and finally Antara, a blend of
Cabernet Sauvignon with 25 per cent Shiraz matured in French oak
barrels. The guests tasted the winery's debut vintage — 2008 — which did
taste rather young with hints of vegetal notes.
The company seeks to do things “right” — from hiring Rajesh Rasal,
India's first PhD in oenology from an Indian university, to not making
the mistake of over-cropping, which reduces quality. Good Earth Winery
works at 3.5 tonnes per acre on reds, and 4 tonnes per acre on whites.
More: The Hindu
India's contribution to the Australian wine industry's growth in 2010 acknowledged in recently released The Wine Australia Annual Wine Export Report
The Wine Australia annual wine export report released yesterday said
national wine exports were up 2 per cent to 781 million litres, worth
$2.1 billion last year, a 9 per cent fall.
Wine Australia Knowledge Development Unit senior analyst Peter Bailey
said the volume to China was up 14 million litres to 51 million litres
and the value up $34 million to $164 million.
Other bright spots in Asia include India up 55 per cent to 599,558
litres, Vietnam up 67 per cent to 1.14 million litres and Myanmar up 760
per cent to 4104 litres.
The report said the volume growth in exports was driven by bulk wine exports offsetting a smaller decline in bottled exports.
that contributed to this include adjustments to the excess supply
position, shipping branded wine in bulk for packaging offshore, the
growing presence of buyers-own brands, and the on-going strong
Australian dollar," it said.
Mr Bailey said one positive of the past year was a gradual increase in bottled wine prices.
More: Daily Telegraph
Tripti Lahiri in her review of the new food book 'Highway on my plate' published by Random House makes an intersting observation about Chateau Indage's tasting room and eatery:
Chateau Indage, Narayangaon, NH50, Maharashtra.
For a more democratic wine-drinking experience than is usually
available, the writers recommend this tasting center. The prices are
reasonable enough (they sampled six wines for 150 rupees) that villagers
from the region come here to try the Italian food and Indian wine
Alok Mathur and Melvin D'Souza are taking Indian wine to curry-loving Britons
Dining at an Indian restaurant, Alok Mathur and Melvin D'Souza
wondered why they were drinking French wine when the beer served would
invariably be Cobra or Kingfisher. As Mathur explains, they spotted a
business opportunity in producing a wine designed to be consumed with
Indian cuisine. "Melvin is from Nasik, which is where Indian wine comes
from, and we knew that India had started producing really good wine. In
spite of all the curry consumed in the UK, and £180m worth of wine sold
in Indian restaurants, Indian wine wasn't available. The opportunity was
India's domestic wine industry has been growing at over 35 per
cent annually. Soul Tree Wine wants to bring Indian wine into the
mainstream, but it knows there are sceptics. "People don't necessarily
want to invest in a wine that they're unsure about," says Mathur. "Some
may have had an 'experience' with Indian wine. But I've tasted awful
French wine. Almost every person who's tried our wine has liked it."The pair supply wine to 40 restaurants and have a target of £10m
worth of sales by year five. Before then, they're looking to raise bank
debt to grow the business.
As we already know, top Indian wine producers are also on track in
taking the Indian restaurant route to selling Indian wine in Britain.
2011 brings a new hope for Indian wineries as Maharashtra state govt. gives permission to wineries to open their retail shops! At present, there is a stock of about 2 crore litres
of wine that is still lying unsold in tanks and this move could help
winemakers release the excess stock through such wine shops.
According to a report in The Financial Express, the
decision comes in the wake of a meeting held by the wine industry with
Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar to look for ways and means to
promote the sale of wine. With this move, winemakers can do away with
middlemen and directly sell their brands to the customers.
According to Jagdish Holkar, president, All-India
Wine Producers Association, this decision would not only remove
marketing barriers but also bring prices down by Rs 150-300 per bottle.
Wineries such as Sula Wines already have wine tasting rooms in their
vineyards. Others like UB’s Four Seasons Wines and Zampa Wines have
plans to start wine bars across the state.
More: FB News