Despite a wine industry of barely two decades, India has been struggling to create a place for itself on the international wine map. Wineries have been increasing their offerings in an attempt to lure consumers with their lower priced wines against the consistent onslaught of higher priced imports. But in terms of quality, India still has some way to go before its wines are comparable among similar offerings by other new world wine producing nations.
However, that may all change with the arrival of Charosa Wines. This winery has not only invested substantial funds but also expertise in trying to get their wines right. For starters, they brought on an esteemed New World International Wine Consultant, Ian McEnzie, in 2011 to its 230 acre vineyard in Charosa (55 kms from Nashik) to get their winery and vineyards in place. Once McKenzie got the processes in motion, the reins were passed onto winemaker Ashok Patil (who has trained under McKenzie in New Zealand) to maintain the high quality standards that will soon become synonymous with Charosa Winery.
Two years later, they are set to make a splash in the Indian market with three series of fruit-forward fine wines:-
The Reserve Series consists of the Charosa Reserve Tempranillo (India’s first 100% Tempranillo wine) and Charosa Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. These wines are priced at Rs. 1,500.
The Selection series has three wines in its range – Charosa Selections Shiraz (priced at Rs. 800) and two whites, Charosa Selections Sauvignon Blanc and Charosa Selections Viognier (both priced at Rs. 750).
The third range, the Pleasure Series, offers Charosa Pleasures Cabernet Shiraz (Rs. 550) and Charosa Pleasures Sauvignon Blanc (Rs. 500). Each range is aged differently to reach a perfect balance that serves well both as a quaffing wine or if paired with food. For tasting notes please refer to a previous article in delWine
The wines rolled out in Mumbai and Pune late last year and have been received tremendously well. However, despite a production capacity of 5 lakh litres, COO Parag Kamat says that they plan to come out with only 10,000 – 15,000 cases in the first year. He explains, “We took our time in investing in quality and want our wines to reach our consumers by word of mouth. We have a ten-year strategy for our wines and plan to hit pan India only in 2015-2016. Our price point may be a little higher than other Indian wineries, but they are truly commiserate with quality.”
I tasted most of the wines and was pleasantly surprised to come across Indian wines that, for a change, are fruit-forward and perfectly balanced. The efforts made by Charosa, in reaching the highest level of quality of international standards, was evident in all the wines presented. Above all, Charosa has made a significant effort in creating both high quality and attractive wine bottles and labels.
The bottles are from Saint-Gobain in France, one of the world’s leading manufacturers in wine bottles. The labels are of 25% paper and 75% cotton, giving them an easy texture that doesn’t peel off with the slightest hint of moisture. The capsule is imported from Germany and offers the best of both screw caps and wine corks.
Apart from the above, Clive Castelino, Manager-Training & Corporate Sales, went onto explain the various points of differentiation that sets these wines apart from other counterparts in the Indian market. He says, “Firstly, all wines are aged in French oak barrels. Secondly, the grapes are grown on untouched land and the topography hasn’t been altered which enables us to attain the highest quality level. Thirdly, the grapes are grown on high altitude soils which are rich in minerals.” The list simply goes on.
The evening saw an excellent spread of starters, main courses, and desserts, prepared by Pali Village Café. But all in all, it was the wine that was truly the star of the evening.
Never before have I tasted such fine wines produced in India. Charosa seems to have got it right and their ten-year strategy could well propel them to the forefront of the Indian wine industry, purely on quality alone. Wine consumers already seem to know their favourite wine varietals, but after tasting Charosa wines, they could well find their favourite Indian wine among Charosa’s three series itself! I know I have!
Rishi Vohra, CSW
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,’ is a bestseller and was recently awarded an honorable mention in the General Fiction category at the Hollywood Book Festival, and was the only book from India to be awarded at the festival. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tags: Launch, Charosa, Ian McEnzie, Ashok Patil, Parag Kamat, Pali Village Café