Australia Business Week in India (ABWI) , Australia’s largest ever trade mission to India just gave the much needed platform to the Australian Wine reps to come and showcase their wines in front of trade and media. In a soiree at the Sofitel Mumbai, wines from across Australia were tasted giving the audience a sneak peek into the diversity of Australian wines.
Wine Australian partnered with Austrade and Rajiv Singhal’s Group Ritu to host the wine tasting which saw Sommelier Magandeep Singh take the audience on a quick flight of 10 wines from Adelaide Hills, Mclaren Vale, Golburn valley, Victoria, New England, Coonawara and the Barossa. In 2014 Australia exported approximately 1million litres of wine to India (India’s total wine consumption is around 18 Mn litres) which was approx 25 % increase in volume and value y-o-y. Wine Australia’s General Manager of Market Development seemed positive and pleased with the response from the Indian trade and media. He said ‘Australian wine is exciting for a market like India where consumers are just starting to explore wine and discover what they like, because there is no such thing as a typical Aussie wine. We produce more grape varieties than anywhere in the world and the range of our wine is more diverse than Europe’s. ‘
Well the diversity and the 65 wine making regions are certainly a great asset for Wine Australia however there is a glut in the market and with increasing competition the prices have come down drastically to even an extent of a dollar for a wine bottle. Tapping newer markets is the way to go for Australia and India despite having a small base is seeing a double digit growth and is a market which cannot be ignored. And the good part about Australian wine is its fruit forwardness which suits the Indian palate to a great extent making it even better market. We hope this initiative sees a better push for Oz wines in the market, and we get to see more wines than just the two buck chucks. More Power to Wine Australia!!!
P.S: wines tasted at the tasting and Nova Vita was the star for us!
· Mcguigan Black label Rose 2012
· Pirramimma War Horse Shiraz 2010
· Topper’s Mountain Gewurztraminer 2013
· Brand’s Laira Cabernet Sauvignon Blanc 2012
· Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch 2012
· The Ironstone Pressings GSM 2009
· Nova Vita Shiraz 2009
· Ulupna special reserve Shiraz 2012
· Jacobs Creek Barossa Shiraz 2011
· Penfold’s Koonunga Hill Shiraz cabernet 2012
I was in Bengaluru recently and met a finance honcho at his home. Knowing my background, he instantly let me see his collection of wine bottles, all Indian which he had bought at a ‘shut down’ sale. The collection included everything from a shiraz to a merlot to a cabernet sauvignon, all grape varieties and even a Goan port wine which is overwhelmingly sweet unlike all others which were dry (not sweet).I asked him his favorites and he said he like them all, his said his work involved a lot of stress and the customary glass of wine with dinner gave him a good night sleep and he also cited the health benefits from the red. In this case the wine was more therapeutic and the finance man he was, he just spent wisely!!
Another therapeutic use of a wine I stumbled upon with good evidence was when businessman at a plush Delhi hotel ordered a 12 liter bottle of sparkling wine. This therapy was psychological, he asked the server to get the bottle with all pomp and show to his table and then take it to his car, yeah he did not open it since he knew he couldn’t finish it between two of them, all he got was the eyeballs from fellow diners and he left a happy man after paying close to a million rupees in cash!!
As most of you would think, I am trying to pass some judgement about the people in contention above!! No, what I am trying to do here is to demystify wines and want to tell you that people won’t be passing judgments about you when you did not know your wines!! Did you know about hops in a beer when you had your first or did you know about peat when you really liked your first Scotch whisky, you perhaps still do not know about them; then why does wine come with such a halo that people almost take wine drinking like an examination!!! Please stop believing that people around are sitting to test you on wine jargons, they are there to enjoy their tipples and so are you.
Your wine drinking should start with a random bottle of wine; the price would depend on your propensity to pay but ideally; start lower. Savour the wine and pass your judgement, you liked it or you didn’t; to begin with and as you gain more experience with them; you can create your own scale. Wine becomes complex as there are close to 5000 grape varieties and all are distinct in their flavor profiles, the more you taste the more you know. Hence making small notes of the wine you have had becomes imperative as it is easy to forget and you could someday go back and pick the same bottle of wine you did not like!! Wine expert reviews are only good to begin with as you would eventually understand if or not your tastes match. Lastly try to pick up a short course on wines, well it surely can help you impress people if that’s your agenda but importantly it will help you drink better. Like someone has said, life is too short to drink bad wine..
“ Give me a sweet wine’ asked a seemingly well heeled customer at a prominent South Mumbai wine store and the store associate handed him a bottle of ‘port no X’ without even a blink. The customer left happy but not before confirming, ‘Pakka meethi hai na’ he said. Well sweetness could be one of the factors that influences and perhaps the reason why a group of mid-management executives whom I ringed in the New Year with, drank sweet fizzy wine worth 350 a bottle and also declared their love for port. Is it that simple when it comes to people’s buying behavior in the country which consumes around 10 ml of wine per capita as opposed to France’ 40 litres!!
The private dining room at Riwaz at the Ritz Carlton was set-up to co-host this #happyhigh wine tasting held in association with the Food Lovers Magazine. All of us were excited for this exclusive tasting because this was unheard of!! The tasting comprised 4 sparklings, 2 reds and a white and what made them special was that they were stored in the Bengaluru weather for over 6 years and many of them were meant for drinking young!!
Le Chablisienne, Chablis 2001
Made from Chardonnay grapes, this wine is known to be lean and crisp with citrus, green fruit and mineral aromas, more importantly Chablis of this stature is meant to be drunk young. 2001 vintage should have been drunk latest by 2006 if not younger, we had no hope but this wine surprised us! It was bright gold and complex on the nose with some bready notes to begin with, followed by honey and apricot. The palate did not confirm the nose however it had an amazing long toasty finish. The wine continued to evolve in the glass with time and ended up with aromas almost reminiscent of a Riesling. As Ruma put it ‘Couldn’t have judged it to be Chablis if it were to be tasted blind’. This wines behavior certainly brings in hope to those who have some old stock up their cellar!!
Present for the tasting were Ruma Singh – Journalist and Wine writer, Kripal Amanna – Editor; Food Lovers Magazine, Heemanshu Ashar – Ex- President; Bangalore Wine Club, Mohit Nischol –Business Head; SDU wines, Nilesh Singh – Food and Beverage Manager; Ritz Carlton, Manu Manikandan – Beverage Manager; Ritz Carlton, two consumers; both IT professionals, Sandesh Kamat and MK Kulandhaisamy and lastly Ajit Balgi – Founder; The Happy High who led the tasting. Kulandhaisamy who owned the wines was noble enough to store them and then let them be uncorked for this; one of its kind wine experiment!
The wines weren’t tasted blind and every member on the panel cited their opinions freely and discussed the wine and its nuances. So following were the wines:
Chapel Down, Non Vintage, English Sparkling
This produce from Kent in Southern England with its bracing acidity and fruit is slated to be a worthy competitor to the French heavy weight Champagne. Again meant for early drinking and this one gave away in 6 years or may be much earlier, however the aromas were hinting of cork contamination and had little to do with age. Naphthalene, Moth balls, wet rug, wet socks etc were some of the descriptors used by the panel. One thing that was noteworthy was the mousse; it was the finest amongst all and very persistent. It went on for more than an hour!!
Oudinot NV Champagne
The label said ‘consume within a year of purchase’, we managed just to break some rules here and it did not pay off. The panel unanimously declared the wine oxidized and it was flat on the palate too.
Moet Chandon NV Champagne
This needs no introduction, but you may not have tasted a one aged in the cool Bangalore climate for 6 years. This one stood the test of time and came out clean. It had a youthful colour was pleasant to drink. A younger one would have been more exuberant though. Nonetheless this was a thumbs up!!
Gerard Seguin Gevrey Chambertin 2002
A village wine from Burgundy and made of Pinot Noir grapes,this one has the potential to age and it proved to be right. We decanted the wine an hour before and it had very fine sedimentation. Pale Garnet in colour, this pour was a treat on the nose with notes of Coffee, Cocoa, Spice, leather with little underlying fruit. On the palate it was easy with mature tannins and bursting with flavours just like it did on the nose. The wine with a medium finish was the highlight of the tasting.
Domaine Dubois Nuits St Georges 1er Cru 2002
One of the 3500 bottles from the vintage and with a premier cru classification, we expected a mouthful. We decanted it and it was heavily sedimented. It however struggled on the nose and ditto on the palate; it had big tannins and was drinkable as a wine but maybe we could have got the better of it a few years earlier. The Gevrey Chambertin would come at a much lesser price than this one thus giving us a good evidence to reinstate that price and quality cannot be equated.
Dom Perignon 1995
We saved this big daddy of Champagnes for the end. This one takes 7 years to be released post harvest and this must have been in 2002. It was deep gold in colour with heavy oxidative; honey and nut aromas and was lackluster on the palate. This again came as a surprise since this wine has an ageing potential of a couple of decades at least. At the moment hotels in the country would be selling you a 2002 or a 2004 vintage of the wine.
This wine tasting may not have been a delight for ones palate but for a couple of wines, what it surely did was give a perspective on aging with samples that were meant to age and those that weren’t. It was a well spent Saturday afternoon indeed! Now go back to your wine collection and see if you can make anything interesting out of it....