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Spanish delegation from La Rioja & Navarra visits India

A Spanish delegation comprising of food and wine companies is on a visit to India. They are currently in Delhi and will be also visiting Mumbai. The visit has been organised by the Embassy of Spain through the Economic and Commercial Office and the Chambers of Commerce of La Rioja and Navarra.

The 8 wineries taking part in the delegation are:

Bodegas Enanzo, Murchante (Navarra)

Champdoré Distribuciones, Lardero (La Rioja)

Bodegas Dinastía Vivanco, Briones (La Rioja)

Bodegas Franco-Españolas, Logroño (La Rioja)

Luis Gurpegui Muga, San Adrian, (Navarra)

Marques de Reinosa, ANECOOP, Autol (Rioja)

Bodegas Roda, Haro, (La Rioja)

Viña Ijalba, Logroño (La Rioja)

Addressing the delegation, Subhash Arora, President of Indian Wine Academy gave some background information about the Indian market and tips to market. Although Torres is the face of Spanish wines in India , there is a tremendous scope for Spanish wines. But there is a lot of hard work ahead and only those companies who have passion for India , propensity to travel, price competitiveness, perseverance and patience are some of the tough qualities the producers must have for this market. Surely, there will be that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. 

The pot of gold was the first thing that the visiting 75+ importers, journalists, and F & B personnel were treated to at the Ambassador Rafael Condo's residence , in his beautifully manicured lawns in the evening. This was in the form of a sparkling wine with the real sparkle. Champdoré, not only has the local Mazuelo and Perelada grapes but also suspended particles of real gold floating inside.

Explaining the significance of this expensive sparkler, Patxi de Juan Orbañanos, CEO  said, 'ít is not a drink for everyday or everyone. Retailing at 130 Euros a bottle it is a wine for celebratory occasions.' I could have well advised him that the way several macho men in Punjab are supposedly lapping up a similar wine to increase their virility, could be another plus for his wine in the Indian market.

All the participating companies were presenting their wines for  tasting at the venue, where bull blood's red  seemed to be the theme. Ambassador, Conde is a past master in organising such evenings with class and élan in perfect surroundings and perfect weather. Tapas catered by Maurya Sheraton were also perfect for the wine tastings, if someone cared to try.

The only irritant was that the Pamphlet explaining all the wines being tasted with the tasting sheet was missing. And it is not as if they were not printed. I had collected my copy earlier in the day. Assuming I would find another pamphlet I did not carry mine  and felt quite disoriented without it.

Vintage of 2001 in Rioja was excellent. It showed in the Reservas of Vivanco (it has a fabulous wine museum in Briones- a must check out if you go to Bilbao ) and Franco Españolas. Later is a very old and respected winery I had visited last year and is considered one of the top 6 wineries of Rioja. Their 1956 Tempranillo, we had tasted during my visit is still singing!

Luis Gurpegui Muga is a cousin of Muga, another old winery in Haro (pronounced aarow), the oldest Riojan town with French connection. They showcased Navarra wines which are considered cheaper cousins of Rioja due to the lack of branding so far and usually offer good valu-for-money.

I was really impressed with a unique wine- a white Tempranillo from Ijalba. The acidity of this grape is well captured in the wine and slight tannins make it closer to Rose, except that the colour is white. Riojan whites are generally made from Viura and are dull. But this one was crisp, fruity and had personality.

Reinosa has some interesting entry level wines. I could not taste their highly rated wines from Valencia as I thought only wines from Navarra and Rioja were there. Perhaps I shall taste them when I am in Valencia next month at Vinoelite, the first-ever wine show supposedly showcasing premium wines only.

The best wines were from Roda. Known internationally for its Cirsion, selected as the best Spanish wines on many occasions and vintages, it is a wine fit for kings, bureaucrats and politicians. Retailing at US $ 160 in a wooden box and still under allocation, it offers a totally satisfying experience. I normally like to end my tastings with a glass of Cirsion and relax.

Even Roda 1 and Roda, the only other wines they produce are high end wines.  Olive oil which they produce in limited quantities in two locations is of top quality matched only by the high price.

Spanish wine producers have been active in the Indian market, of late and there is no reason why we should be deprived of some excellent wines this country has to offer.

Subhash Arora




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