World famous French wines are already present in the Indian market and have found unanimous appreciation by wine enthusiasts over the years. The aim of this event was mainly to enable small to mid-size boutique companies looking to make a foray into the Indian market. The spacious ballroom venue saw the presence of six companies that are well-reputed in France for their quality wines and spirits.
With 17 properties in Languedoc and 3 Chateaux in Bordeaux, and 1400 hectares of vineyards, the Bonfils are considered a high-end winery in these parts with a production of 35 million bottles a year. This family of winemakers embarked on their journey of wine in 1870 and are now considered one of the pioneers of the Languedoc region.
Special attention is paid to the vines, ecosystem and soil, and their production capacity boasts of high-end technology including high performance bottling facilities and a unique wine maturing cellar with a capacity of more than 2 million bottles.
While six wines were showcased here, the two that stood out were:-
Chateau Beausoleil – AOP Cremant de Limoux - White :
Comprised of 90% Chardonnay and 10% Mouzac, this wine has a tangy taste to it, with a well-defined crispness on the palate. The aromas are fruity and nutty, giving it a certain edge over other French white wines in the market. A perfect quaffing wine, the delicate nature of this white would also pair well with salads, chicken gravies and seafood. Alcohol level is at 13.5%.
Chateau Milegrand – AOP Minervois – Red 2011 :
Awarded a Gold Medal at the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles 2012, this wine is a blend of four grapes – Syrah 45%, Carignan 25%, Grenache 15%, and Mourvedre 15%. This wine is deep red in colour and displays perfect elegance and smooth tannins, with various aromas including those of cocoa, flowers, mint, and a hint of fruits. With a good structure and medium-bodied character, this wine would pair well with mutton curries and spicy vegetable curries. Alcohol level is at 13%.
Ms. Aniko Szedlak, Export Area Manager, was there to represent these wines. She strongly believes that these six Bonfil wines would find a market in India. “Our wines are already doing well in China, Europe, and Russia. We feel that this is a good time to enter the Indian market as our wines pair very well with Indian food. Besides, our wines are not aggressive, but elegant and fruity, which would suit the Indian palate.”
CHAMPAGNE LOUISE BRISON
In its’ fourth generation, the winery focuses on an ecologically balanced approach in growing its grapes. Says Francis Brulez, Owner/Manager, “Unlike other champagnes, ours are for gastronomy (more to be enjoyed with food). Though our price points are high, we are certain that people in India will take to our champagnes.”
The two champagnes brought in by Brulez were:-
Champagne Louise Brison – Champagne Brut – White, Vintage 2007 :
This champagne comprises of 50% Chardonnay (vinified and matured in oak) and 50% Pinot Noir (matured in vats). A little toasty with good mouth-feel, this champagne exudes complexity. An apt pairing was difficult to determine.
Champagne Louise Brison – Champagne brut blanc de blancs – White Vintage 2005 (Tendresse) :
100% Chardonnay and fine heavy bubbles, this champagne would accompany Indian dishes really well, especially tandoori fish or chicken, and flavoured Indian curries.
Stephanie Dondain (Co-owner and Export Manager, Asia) says, “Our wines can be found all over, including in world class Michelin and famous restaurants along with luxury hotel chains. After the tremendous response we have received in China, Taiwan, and Vietnam, we feel that wine consumers in India will appreciate our wines. Our products are new wines from the old world.”
Chateau Cabezac is located in the Languedoc Roussillon region and takes pride in its sustainable farming techniques. Moreover, each wine is handcrafted right from the vineyard to the winery.
All four wines were exquisite. The following two wines stood out for perfect possible pairing with spicy Indian cuisine:-
Chateau Cabezac/Cuvee Arthur – Minervois – Red – 2007:
A blend of 70% Mourvedre, 20% Syrah, and 10% Grenache, this wine is deep red in colour with purple highlights. With aromas of dark berries and coffee, this wine exudes elegance and smooth tannins. Alcohol is at 14.5%.
Chateau Cabezac/Grande Cuvee Belveze – Minervois – Red – 2008 :
A blend of 70% Syrah, 20% Grenache, and 10% Mourvedre, this wine is deep red in colour with aromas of fruits and vanilla. Silky tannins make it comfortable on the palate and its lingering finish adds to its appeal. Alcohol is at 14.5%.
VINS FINS DU PERIGORD – SOCAV
Frederic Maurin (Export Manager) says, “Our wines are all easy to drink, and not sophisticated. We feel that of all our wines, these six will appeal to Indian consumers as most wines here are drunk outside meals and these wines are perfect for that.”
Of the fabulous six wines, two wines worthy of mention are:-
Galion – AOC Bergerac Sec – White (dry) – 2012 :
A dry white comprising of 70% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Semillon, this wine is a perfect quaffing wine. With a fruity taste and juicy finish, this wine would pair well with salads and both white meat and vegetarian starters.
Chateau de Montalbret – AOC Montagne Saint Emilion – Red – 2011 :
A combination of 90% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, this velvety red wine is sure to take consumers by surprise with its full-bodied and good acidity, and its aggressiveness on the palate. Reminiscent of berries, cocoa, among many other flavours, this wine has good aging potential. It stands out as a very versatile wine, which would pair well not only with Indian food, but also many other cuisines.
On being asked as to what prompted her to bring her wines to India, Marie-France Dugoua (Owner and Manager/Sales Director) says, “We had some Indian guests visit our winery and they were delighted by our wines. That encouraged us to look into the Indian market and we saw good potential here. We already have a strong presence in Japan, U.S., China, Europe, among other countries. Moreover our wines provide good value for money.”
Of the three delicious red wines and one white, the following two stood out for their elegant and well-balanced characters:-
Chateau GRAND ABORD PASSION – Graves – Red – 2010 :
Comprised of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine has notes of leather and tobacco, accentuated by pepper. This wine didn’t seem to have much tannins, which gives it a perfect pairing with paneer and potato dishes, along with chicken starters and gravies, and mutton kababs.
Chateau GRAND ABORD – Graves – White – 2012 :
A combination of 75% Semillon and 25% Sauvignon Blanc makes this wine full-bodied and elegant. It provides a steady taste of citrus and lime on the palate, highlighted by an aroma of freshness. A perfect quaffing wine, this one would pair well with Indian vegetarian food, mainly green vegetables and potato dishes, along with seafood.
COGNAC DE LUZE
Louise Viero (Export Manager) was present with four exquisite cognacs that are sure to enthrall Indian spirit drinkers. All four cognacs differed in their texture and complexity and are sure to find an appreciation in the Indian market. After having entered the Japanese and Chinese Market two years ago, Viero has now set sights on India as she feels that their handcrafted quality and elegant tastes will find definitely find an appeal here.
The four Cognacs were:-
De Luze VS Fine Cognac – AOC Cognac – Ambre dore – Qualite VS :
Bright gold in colour, this cognac displayed aromas of citrus notes and delicate spice. With a fine texture on the palate and a somewhat fruity finish, this spirit is the least complex and has a tasting age of 3-5 years.
De Luze VSOP Fine Champagne – Cognac Fine Champagne – Vieil – Qualite VSOP :
The VSOP is a darker gold with aromas of vanilla and rose petals. The texture is well-rounded, making it smooth with a lengthy finish on the palate. The tasting age is 6-10 years. An award winning Cognac, this one was unique in every way.
De Luze XO Fine Champagne – Cognac Fine Champagne – Ambre Brilliant – Qualite XO :
The XO is an orangish gold and is housed in what seems like an over-sized elegant cologne bottle, which is sure to catch one’s attention from even across the room. The aromas convey flowery and fruity notes, with a hint of oak. With a prolonged yet delicate finish, this one has a tasting age of 20 years and is also an award winning Cognac internationally.
De Luze Extra Delight Fine Champagne – Cognac Fine Champagne – Or profond – Qualite XO Extra :
The XO Extra is in a similar bottle as the XO, but the orangish gold colour has coppery glints to it. A bouquet of aromas reveals – floral, citrus, almond, cigar and oak notes, among others. The texture is lighter and smoother, but develops a somewhat aggressive and lingering character to the finish. The tasting age is 35 years.
On being asked as to what prompted this first-time event, Nisha Joglekar (Trade Officer – Ubifrance) says, “We were getting queries from French companies who wished to make inroads into the Indian market. We thought it would be a good idea to bring a small group who wished to showcase their products, with the aim of finding business partners here.”
The event was well-attended and seemed to be a huge hit among all present. Joglekar says, “The event served its purpose. Most of these companies have come to India for the first time. The companies were not only able to interact with potential partners, but also received invaluable feedback as to which of their products had good potential and the best way to approach the market here.”
The true effectiveness of this first French Wine Spirits tour will be clear only after a couple of months once business tie-ups are forged between these French companies and Indian importers/distributors. However, going by the effective organization and fabulous wines and spirits at this event, delWine hopes that the French Wine Spirits tour becomes an annual occurrence in India.
Rishi Vohra, CSW (Certified Specialist of Wine), USA
Rishi Vohra is the Mumbai Correspondent of delWine and is a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) from the Society of Wine Educators - USA. He has done an MBA in Sustainable Business from San Francisco State University and a Masters Diploma in Environmental Law from WWF-India. His debut fiction novel, ‘Once Upon the Tracks of Mumbai,’ was released recently in bookstores and is already a bestseller.