The Bangalore Wine Club organised its annual “Indian Wine Village” last Saturday at the Taj West End. Ten Indian wineries set up stalls and one could walk around and sample any or all the wines on display.
“So what’s new?” you might well ask. “This is how wine marketing is done all over the world — what’s so special about this event?”
For one, this was a privately organised tasting and while restricted to BWC members and their guests (about 80 people came for the afternoon event), it attracted a fairly high net-worth crowd, one which is likely to ask for the wines they liked when they next shop or dine.
And two, such events in Bengaluru attract participation by wineries both from Karnataka and Maharashtra (and even Goa, in the form of Big Banyan wines), unlike similar shows in Mumbai where the only wine from outside would be Grover Vineyards. Witness the list of participants (clockwise round the room):
Old favourites, the second-oldest winery in India (1992), with the largest-selling premium wine (La Reserve), now with a new name post-merger with Vallée de Vin. Quality is as good as it ever was, and the new Vijay Amritraj wine (a Viognier blend) is showing well.
New boutique winery from near Hampi, North Karnataka (launched 2014), promoted by marathon man Krishna Prasad and run by wife Uma Chigurupati. I recently did the first-ever vertical tasting of their flagship Cabernet Sauvignon; their new K2 (also a Cab) wine is worth a try (Rs 815 in Bengaluru).
Needs no introduction — it’s the clear market leader and at over 800,000 cases in 2014-15, its sales were larger than the next 10 Indian wineries put together. Its Dindori Reserve used to be very good, but tasted a bit tired as compared to some of the other reserves.
Promoted by United Spirits (formerly owned by Vijay Mallya), its wines seem to have an image problem if the lack of people wanting to taste them was any indication. The Barrique Reserves (Rs 900) seemed a bit acidic and lacking in complexity and softness.
The name means “Brotherhood”. It’s an Indo-Italian concern with seven partners based near Pune at Akluj who launched their wines in 2010; now also produced at Hampi Heritage winery near Bijapur. Its Fratelli Sangiovese (Rs 850) was showing really well, and it was a pity it did not offer its flagship label, Sette (Rs 1,650), for tasting.
Set up by former banker Ajay Shetty in 2013, Myra is produced at Nisarga Vineyards near Bijapur, with its premium “Misfit Cabernet Shiraz” (Rs 1,100) being a very interesting new wine.
A new boutique winery near Bengaluru that launched in 2013, SDU’s Reserve Syrah (Rs 800) and Reserve Cab (Rs 900) are simply terrific — to my mind these are among the best Indian red wines available.
A lovely 250-acre property north of Nashik that launched in 2012, with some very interesting wines — although its Tempranillo (Rs 1,500) was somewhat disappointing, with off-notes.
Started by John Distilleries at its Goa unit in 2008 with some unique label graphics and good wines — particularly the Limited Reserve Shiraz 2008 (Rs 1,200), which is a perennial favourite.
Who can not like the sparkling wines from the Indian plant of Moët Hennessy launched in 2013 — the Brut (Rs 1,200) and the Brut Rosé (Rs 1,400) are good for all events.
Try out some of the new wines — their quality will surprise old-timers.
Alok Chandra is a Bengaluru-based wine consultant