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Delhi Wine Club

Posted: Friday, January 11 2008. 2:30 PM

Breaking News : Mama Mia, Sula Ne Diya DIA

Sula is using the Italian connection and bringing out a low cost, low alcohol new wine for mamas and calling it DIA. Costing Rs.180 ($4.5) a bottle, it will be released this week.

Sula has gone for a technical collaboration with Bosca, an italian wine making company with a big stable including the Asti Spumante sparkling wines from Piemonte.

One thousand cases have been already sold, according to Rajeev Samant, Director- Sula Vineyards. While talking to DelWine Rajeev affirmed, 'the price will be an attractive factor although the slightly sparkling and sweetish feeling will be pleasant too. The low alcohol content will be a unique factor. It is a beautiful entry level supermarket wine.'

Made from the eating grape variety, Sultana, grown aplenty in Maharashtra, the wine also features some herbal extracts from the collaborators, to make it slightly spicy. The low alcohol makes it a tad high in sugar; 60 gms residual/ liter compared to 15 gms/ liter for their off -dry Chenin Blanc. It will be interesting to see if there is enough acidity to balance the sugar. The wine needs to be polished off while young.

The wine sparkle is achieved by the tank method, confirmed Rajeev. The golden screw-cap on the bottle is sufficient to withstand the Frizzante level of low pressure.

' Bosca is already selling Verdi sparkling wine in countries like Russia and China and the millions of cases being sold are testimonials of its popularity. Though the grapes we use are different, it is styled after the Verdi,' says Rajeev. Verdi retails in the US as well for $5.

The Dia is no Nano (Tata's revolutionary low price car unveiled yesterday at the Auto Show in Delhi) and the launch will not be as grand as at the Expo, but is scheduled in early February, closer to the Valentine's Day so you may charm your lady love without burning a hole in the pocket.

Delhi girls will have to wait it out till April though- thanks to our strange excise policy where any wine label must be registered and paid for, for the full one year fiscal period even if registered in March. Sula may also consider exporting it with the help of its collaborators after bringing it out at the national level.

For that matter, Sula may also consider producing other wines from Bosca's portfolio.

Rajeev won't comment on the name selection motivation for Dia, though I suspect our Bollywood Beauty Dia Mirza might have given him food for thought. Day, the Spanish equivalent for Dia might have something to do if he figured the label would be suggestive enough for women to imbibe the drink every day.

My speculation is that it is a true Indo-Italian collaborative name. Dio means God in Italian. Some Devi (lady) in the ad agency must have figured that the feminine in Italian of Dio would be Dia…and what better way than call it the Goddess and also pre-empt active and pro-active protesters itching to get into an orbit!

' So how is the wine positioned in the market?' I asked. ' Does it compare it with Madera, Sante, Riviera, and Vino?' 'None of these,' says Rajeev. 'Although Figuera from Indage may be similar priced, ours is a different product, not as cheap as Vino either. It will have its own unique position, where the urban smart woman can pick up a beautifully labeled bottle for herself-to drink on any occasion.' He added, 'Please don't expect it to be a 5-star performer either. It is a nice, fruity, wine-cooler like, low alcohol wine a woman can drink whenever she wants.'

Bosca is known for making Asti Spumante, off dry sparkling wine in Asti, the heart of Piemonte. It had collaborated with UB to make domestic wines in India, over 35 years ago. Before Grover and Indage came on the scene, Bosca wine though cheap (in quality and price) was a household name. However, last February UB did not renew the collaboration as they did not think this 'under Rs.150 a bottle' wine fitted the brand image they wanted to create for their new project of domestic wines.

Sula sold 129,000 cases last fiscal and plans to achieve the target of 200,000 cases till March 2008. This will include 8,000 cases of Dia. Next year, they plan to sell 25,000 cases, which will be about 10% of their total production, in volume, though not in value.

So next time, don't say Mama Mia! Just yell Mama Dia!

Subhash Arora

January 11, 2008

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