If all you want for Christmas (or New Year, or your birthday or Valentine’s Day, you name it ) is a good bottle of wine, preferably Indian, here are a few reccos for you.
People often ask me: would you suggest a really nice wine to drink?
Now that’s a little bit like asking someone, what food I should eat? Because the answer usually is, “Drink/eat what you really enjoy.” Each person’s taste is different, and one man’s red might well be another woman’s sparkling. Oh well. What I mean is that it is okay to like what you honestly like, never mind what the pundits tell you is good.
But a little guidance to navigate through our ever-brimming wine shelves never hurt anyone. And since I’ve tasted some really good ’uns recently, I thought I’d pass a few of those on to you, so you can buy for your New Year’s party. (Or just gift for Christmas. Much better than plum cake, I’d say.)
Let’s start with Indian red wine.
With international and domestic awards and some recognition happening, you don’t need the media to tell you that Indian wine, generally speaking, is on an upward trajectory, quality-wise. There are plenty of very well-made Indian wines, especially red wines, which aren’t getting sufficient time in the limelight.
Here are a few Indian red wines I’ve tasted recently, and a few reasons why you might want to check them out.
KRSMA Sangiovese 2016
KRSMA Estates, that small but quality-rich boutique wine producer based out of Hampi Hills, has been producing limited quantities of wines which have been receiving critical acclaim in India and internationally ever since their launch in 2014. They have two red wines: their flagship Cabernet Sauvignon and a Sangiovese, and two whites, a Sauvignon Blanc and a Chardonnay, plus their second wine, the K2.
While most people rave about their Cabernet Sauvignon for good reason, I’m going to pick their ‘other’ red – the Sangiovese just this time. This Italian grape is growing very nicely in Indian climes, thank you. KRSMA’s Sangiovese vintages have been small so far, but of very good quality and every bottle has been swept off the shelves before you can say ‘Salute’. Even though it is not the cheapest buy on the shelf, if you can get your hands on one, you have a very pleasant surprise in store.
Fermented in French oak, the wine has a good structure, an aromatic nose with red berries and a hint of spice. Very food friendly.
Where and how much: Available in Bangalore. Rs 1800 (€24)
Second pick: I always love their fairly majestic Cabernet Sauvignon and have tasted every vintage thus far. The KRSMA Estates Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 has just been released and with 15 months in French oak, promises to be a big strong wine as it matures and grows. If you’re a Cabernet fan, buy and stash for a while. Your patience will be rewarded. be aware, stocks tend to run out soon.
Rs 2000 (€26) in Bangalore, Rs 2640 (€35) in Hyderabad.
SDU Winemaker’s Selection 2014
This is the only vintage of the SDU Winery‘s Winemaker’s Selection made to date. I’ve recently blogged about this one (read here), that it had developed nicely and was drinking at its peak. There are only a few hundred bottles left out of the original 999 made, sold only from the winery and not available in retail stores. A luscious but elegantly balanced blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese, it’s a perfect example of what the winemaker, Andrea Valentinuzzi calls a ‘meditation’ wine. (Translation – don’t use for your party sangria). Great bang for your buck wine. Again, one you would be lucky to get your hands on. Elegant boxed packaging, great for gifting to that wine connoisseur friend you want to impress.
Tasting notes: Ruby red and very rich, this is a delicious wine, not made for casual aperitif quaffing. Sip a glass post-prandial as you contemplate life’s meanings or pour it to drink with that perfect rack of barbecued lamb. The tannins are silky and well-integrated. The winemaker refers to it as “the nectar of his dreams” and if you want to see if he is right, you better be quick before stocks disappear.
Where and how much: Available in Bangalore ex-winery on request (see details here) Rs1500 (€20)
Second pick: The SDU portfolio has several goodies at the upper end, but I really like the SDU Riserva Chardonnay 2013. It is also drinking very well right now, very creamy and satisfying, especially with a shellfish meal.
York Arros 2016
York wines are made a young team at their Nashik-based York winery. Arros is their flagship red wine and is quickly growing in popularity. So much so that winemaker Kailash Gurnani tells me he’s scaling up production – up to 13,000 bottles for this vintage. Arros is made in years when the fruit is considered worthy (there’s no 2014), and the blend is tweaked each time. This vintage is dominated by 41% Shiraz, 59% Cabernet Sauvignon and is fermented in both French and American oak barrels – 61% French oak, 39% American oak. This is because, explains Gurnani, “Our climate doesn’t produce the level of fruit to take on 100% French oak. American oak elevates the fruit (flavours) and gives it more life in the short term.” However, the Arros is good for ageing too, he says. Buy to drink right away or keep for a later date.
Tasting notes: Bright red and some black fruit, accentuated with hints of vanilla from the American oak, and a long finish. Food friendly, young and raring to go. Based on the winemaker’s recco, this is a vintage worth catching, as it is the best one yet.
Where and how much: Rs 1200 (€15) in Maharashtra, Rs 1000 (€13) in Delhi.