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Blog: Leading Indian Producers making the Best Wines

Posted: Friday, 18 January 2013 17:26

Blog: Leading Indian Producers making the Best Wines

January 18 : In the absence of any advertising for wine promotion, Indian producers are leaning heavily on the PR agencies which have gone berserk in using superlatives like the leading producers, making best or outstanding wines, that do not make long term impact on the marketing unless they focus on better quality

‘Vinsura Vineyard is a leading wine producer which has made a mark on the Indian Wine Market, standing apart for its exquisite taste and quality,’ has been hitting my face ever since they won two ‘Silver Medals’ at the first Indian Wine Consumer’s Choice Awards 2012 last month for their two variants - Merlot &  Rose.

I am not going to look at the medals won or the quality of judging at the Awards except that it is not a bad idea. I am waiting for the day when Indian wines win Gold medals at the internationally recognized competitions. Small countries like Georgia, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Japan, Greece, Mexico and many countries not even present (Georgian wines are now being imported by Tabuni Wines) in India yet, are already in that bracket. Even Thailand boasts a better record than us! We won’t even talk about China which has been winning Golds now at several stiff competitions.

To say that Vinsura has made a mark on the Indian Wine Market,’ standing apart for its exquisite taste and quality’ seems to be a rather tall claim that would create a disconnect with the consumers who have even a fleeting knowledge of wine. Founded by the wine-passionate Prahlad Khadangale and a group of grape growing framers as Sankalp Winery, it followed closely on the heels of Sula, in 2002 to produce wines. It even poached away the winemaker late Shri M.P. Sharma from Sula. However, due to various problems, it could never join  the big league even in the last decade, despite changes in management and infusion of funds.

If they did make a mark on the Indian Wine Market, ‘standing apart for its exquisite taste and quality’, it ought to have broken the ‘psychological barrier’ of 20,000 cases a year sales by now. According to a survey conducted by the Indian Wine Academy, Vinsura sold 18,000 cases in 2011-12, followed closely by York at 16,000. However, there was Sula selling over 25 times their sales with Four Seasons, Grover, and Nine Hills producing at least twice as much or more.

So what do they mean by ‘Leading’? Having a position in the lead or being the number one, is the most commonly used and understood term - unless every Indian producer chooses to call himself the biggest producer. In fact, Sula, Grover, Four Seasons and Nine Hills have a right to sue the company for misleading the consumers by saying they are leading wine producers. I doubt they are interested in pursuing this path, however, and it is for Vinsura to be restrained in using the superlatives.

delWine goes out to 27,000 people every week in 40 countries. We could justifiably take credit for being the leading publisher of an online wine Newsletter in India. But we choose to stay from  such statistics and the PR boasts as there are tens of thousands more subscribers to be sought globally. But Sula is the acknowledged, one and only one leading wine producer-for premium wines. Of course, Golconda may claim to be the leading producer of the plonk and Vinícola and Tonia could fight  for the title of ‘leading producer’ of Goan Port- another category.

And try telling Brindco he is not the only leading importer!

Of course, ‘Best’, ‘exquisite’ and ‘outstanding’ are more nebulous terms and one can only debate  (in my book, when an Indian wine wins the first Gold Medal in a competition as above, it would earn the right of calling it the best wine for that variant). I remember the first Zampa vintage wines made from bought out grapes and rented wineries were claimed to be the best wines-not only in India but competing with the Best in the World! It is a matter of encouragement that they focused more on quality than rhetoric the following years and came to hold their own in different variants. One looks at Zampa with great interest as to how they match the Grover quality with the Grover wines for Maharashtra being made at this Nashik winery after the recent merger.

While there can be only one ‘Leading producer’ the jury is out on the best and most exquisite wine for which there may be different contenders in different categories and depending upon who the tasters are, the results could be different. We want to make sure that the ’Best’ and ‘Most Exquisite’ wines have such a wow factor that you may describe the wines spontaneously as ‘WOW!’

Subhash Arora

Tags: Vinsura Vineyard, Indian Wine Consumer’s Choice Awards 2012, Georgian wines, Tabuni Wines, Prahlad Khadangale, Sankalp Winery, Sula, Shri M.P. Sharma, Indian Wine Market, York, Four Seasons, Grover, Nine Hills, delWine, wine Newsletter, Golconda, Vinícola, Tonia , Goan Port, Brindco, Zampa, Grover


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