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Rendezvous with Sula Winemakers

Posted: Saturday, 24 December 2011 14:30

Rendezvous with Sula Winemakers

Dec 24: The consultant winemaker of Sula, Kerry Damskey was in India recently on his regular visit when Rishi Vohra CSW of delWine had an opportunity to interact with him and the Chief Winemaker Ajoy Shaw along with the producer Rajeev Samant at an exclusive dinner organised at JW Marriott by their Chief Sommelier and Head of International Business, Cecilia Oldne.

Photos By:: Rishi Vohra

The 5-course Italian cuisine dinner at Mezzo Mezzo on14th December with exclusive dishes paired with Sula premium wines was an opportunity to taste the finest that Sula has to offer and to learn why the brand is now synonymous with Indian premium wines, the world over.

The first wine served was a delicious aperitif – the Sula Brut Rose NV.  Sparkling Wine is usually not sweet, but the Brut with shades of sweetness was refreshing and a perfect opener to the evening and as Kerry mentioned “festive.”  This pink bubbly was released by Sula a couple of years ago and since then is counted amongst India’s chosen sparkling wines.

 Kerry explained, “Sparkling wine was something we wanted to have and we make it using the traditional French method.  To make a rose, we add a little but of Zinfandel, to give the wine a proper pink colour.”  The unique aspect of this wine was that it was very fresh and elegant, and not a fruit bomb.  Interestingly, Sula was the first winery to grow Zinfandel in India – one of the company’s many firsts! As the story goes, Rajeev had hand carried the vines from California

The antipasto was perfectly complemented by Sula Sauvignon Blanc, 2011- aromatic white wine with high acidity. Sauvignon is known for its sharply etched flavor profile and crisp nature but surprisingly, Sula Sauvignon Blanc was light-bodied.  Ajoy Show explains, “New Zealand and South African Sauvignon Blanc are very overpowering, but ours is more green fruit.  So we are not trying to copy the NZ or South African style but trying to reflect what’s good in Nasik.”  Sula Sauvignon Blanc ‘10 was awarded a Silver Medal by Decanter, he told me.

The pastas (Conchiglioni Chanterelle/Fusilli Amatriciana), were served with Sula Dindori Reserve Viognier ‘11. Whereas Riesling, Chenin Blanc and Gewürztraminer are hallmarked by aromatic high notes, great Viognier is profoundly aromatic.  Sula Viognier was heavily scented as well with traces of dry apricots, and nuts.  The spice of the wine was a perfect combination with the cream of the pasta providing the taster with a very luscious mouth-feel.  It had a good amount of punch to it and 14% alcohol content.  Rajeev commented in his usual good-humored style that it would make a perfect date wine.  Everyone on the table agreed with Kerry in that “this wine stands well in a world class manner.”

The next course, Verdure e Carne, was served with Sula’s prized Rasa Shiraz 2010.  Priced at Rs. 1100 this could easily be one of India’s most expensive wines.  The company’s first Rasa Shiraz was introduced in 2007, and won the esteemed Syrah du Monde competition, an international honour recognizing the world’s best Syrah/Shiraz wines.  Apparently, this was the only Shiraz from India to win a medal at that competition.  The 2010 vintage is Sula’s second year of Rasa, without any being produced in 2008 and 2009.  Usually Shiraz has two modes of expression – fruit and spice.  But Sula’s Shiraz had more of a unique cocoa flavour with a great rich texture, making it somewhat unique.

The dessert, Tiramasu, was perfectly paired with Sula’s Late Harvest Chenin Blanc 2011.  Ajoy pointed out that Sula’s Chenin Blanc was without the noble rot (typical of many world-class Chenin Blancs) because Nasik is much drier. 

The evening was initially slated to be a wine event with close friends and invited guests.  But the hospitality of Sula soon morphed the event into a fun and relaxed evening with everyone present swapping stories and sharing tasting notes.  In the end, one left the table enriched with further wine knowledge – the mark of a perfect wine get-together.

Having lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for the past six years, this was my first real initiation into Indian Wines.  And I’m happy to have embarked on this new journey of taste with a name that is considered amongst India’s finest.  After having tasted five of Sula’s best wines, I am beginning to understand why.

Rishi Vohra CSW

       

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