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Vintage Wines: Fine Wine Banao-World mein Naam Kamao

Posted: Thursday, 17 March 2011 11:44

Vintage Wines: Fine Wine Banao-World mein Naam Kamao

There are several small wineries in Italy, who have earned a name in the wonderful world of wine for high quality, even though they may not make millions made by the big brand producers selling volumes. Subhash Arora cites the example of Fuligni, a boutique Montalcino winery and compares it with Vintage Wines of Nashik, both proud producers of quality wine, even though the quantity is small.

Barrel Tasting of Brunello di Montalcino 2006 with Maria Fuligni in 2008
As I was being driven from Montalcino (the Brunello di Montalcino and Rosso country) to Florence (nearest to the Chianti Classico area) airport after finishing my Tuscan Tastings last month, I passed by a small winery Fuligni and in a flashback remembered an earlier visit to the estate on way to the same airport three years ago.

Fuligni is a boutique winery, with a historical background of the estate that makes one turn green with envy about the family. The mother and co-owner Maria Fuligni, (she could pass as one of the pleasant middle class women in India) who did not speak a word of anything but Italian, had proudly taken us down to the cellar in the basement and had us taste several wines, including a couple of vintages that were still maturing in barrels, including the 2006; Brunello has to be aged for a total of over 48 months in barrels and bottles- the 2006 was legally allowed to be sold only on January 1, 2011. Similarly the latest 2010 vintage may be sold only on or after 1 January, 2015.

The winery made less than 2000 cases of Brunello di Montalcino 2006. But anyone with knowledge of high quality wines from Montalcino would advise you to go and taste their wines because of the superlative quality (I checked up my rating sheet after I decided to write this feature- I had awarded 4.5/5 for a very well balanced, long and perfumed wine that would age for years, my notes read).

Vintage vs. Vintage Wine

I saw an abstract connection between Fuligni which produced an excellent vintage among others, in 2004, 2006 and hopefully 2007 to be ready next year, with a Maharashtra winery, Vintage Wines which I visited last month. Driving about 40 kms from Nashik towards Aurangabad, near a town of Niphad is a small village Kundewadi where this winery is located. The winery is owned by the father and family of son-of-the-soil Yatin Patil. They have been producing since 2005, small quantity of wines with mystical sounding Reveilo labels most of which are high quality wines made from the grapes from there own vineyards. The winery has not yet breached the boutique status due to its low production levels.

The Italian Connection

Kiran and Yatin Patil of fine Vintage
Managed by the husband-wife team of the handsome, polished and soft speaking couple- Yatin and Kiran Patil, the winery has a strong Italian connection. The wine making efforts are directed by the consultant winemaker Andrea Valentinuzzi since 2005, the year the company was founded, when they hired consultancy services from a Verona-based company for winemaking.

Not only is the wine making equipment from Italy, even the wine bottles and corks are also imported from there, even though more expensive, to maintain the quality. Vintage is the first winery in India to have commercialized the Sicilian indigenous grapes Grillo and Nero d’Avola. Apparently, it’s also the only Indian winery that has an insulated, properly chilled wine storage room for the finished product-to keep the wines fresh and un-bruised and to enable them to retain the flavours, says Yatin.

Patils planted the grafted Sangiovese grapes in 2010 and might become the first Indian winery to produce wine from the Chianti grape varietal; the result would be keenly awaited as this Italian varietal has not done as well outside as on its home soil so far. They have also planted 5 acres of their 100- acre vineyards with the Italian Chardonnay clone to augment the already existing 4 acres of the varietal that helps them produce ostensibly the best Reserve white wine in India. 

Mystical Reveilo label

Part of 100 acres of Reveilo Vineyards with the farmhouse at the far end
Even their label has the Italian connection, although seemingly contrived. One always wonders about the genesis of a label which is tough to pronounce and tough to write-‘Reveilo’. I almost solved the mystery after I talked to Yatin who claimed it sprang from an Italian word that meant ‘reveal’ and thus signified ‘revealing the mystery’.

There is in fact, an Italian word ‘revelare’ which means ‘to reveal’. ‘I reveal’ is translated into ‘revelo’. One wonders if Reveilo reveals the Indo-Italian synthesis in a contrived manner. Perhaps, ‘Revelo’ would have been a simpler label. But the wine industry world-wide is known to have an abundance of corny and kinky labels which are ahead of this label by miles.

The winery does not buy any grapes from outside-in fact the excess grapes are sold off. The estimated production of 10,000 cases and sale of 6,000 cases in 2010-11 would imply a growth of 50% over the previous year, a very difficult year financially for the company, as Yatin frankly admits. Things are looking up now and he and his wife, Kiran who looks after promotional and marketing activities hope to breach the 5-figure volume mark next year.

Reveilo wines from Vintage Wines may not be as expensive but they may not be much cheaper than the ex-cellar price of Fuligni which makes both Brunello and Rosso di Montalcino. The wines start at Rs.505 for Chenin Blanc and go up to Rs. 1345 for the Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. Chardonnay Reserve at Rs.1145 can compete with several quality imported wines of the same varietal. It has managed a niche market all the same.

World may Naam Kamao

Vintage Wines has the potential of being recognised by the wine-loving world as a fine wine boutique producer just like Fuligni. Valentinuzzi and Patil are both dedicated to quality with a common mission of making the best quality, higher priced wines for a niche market.

One of the positive factors guiding them towards their objective is their insistence on low yield which Yatin says is possible because they grow their own grapes. A yield of 4-5 tons for Shiraz and Chenin Blanc, 3 tons each for Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon and 2-2.5 tons of Chardonnay may be too-low for most farmers or vintners, but Yatin claims they follow this norm very strictly since they are aware quality wines can be made only when the yields are very low.

Complete Range of vintage Reveilo wines
One feels the concentration on the palate, be it Chardonnay or Merlot. I was able to taste 10 out of the 11 labels-my favourite Chardonnay Reserve was not available for taste at the winery. Barring their Late Harvest Chenin Blanc, all the wines are impressive with Shiraz Reserve 2008 with mellowed tannins, great complexity and balance and a long after taste made this my top favourite of the tasting during the visit.

Patils plan to open a Restaurant and Tasting Room, which got pushed back by a couple of years because of recession. If they are ready during the next couple of years, Vintage is bound to find a place on the wine tourism map, like Sula. Wine professionals, including journalists who spread the good word about wineries, appreciate Reveilo wines and make occasional visits even now.

But it is wineries like Fuligni and Vintage Wines that banao* fine wines and then earn the distinction to kamao naam by wine aficionados throughout the world.

*Banao- to produce, make
Naam- name
Kamao- earn
Mein- in

Subhash Arora 

Tag : Montalcino, Brunello, Fuligni, Vintage, Reveilo  




Dear Subhash Arora, Thank you very much for your article. Since we are not present in your counrty, and we are very interested in, I am writing in order to ask you if you can suggest us the name of some importer or distributor. Kind regards, Daniela Perino. EREDI FULIGNI s.s.,Via Saloni, 33, 53024 Montalcino (SI)

Posted @ March 22, 2011 12:32


Yatin & Kiran Says:

Dear Mr. Arora,Thank you for the excellent coverage of Reveilo. A very well written article which encapsulates the entire philosophy and essence of the brand, appropriately highlighting all the aspects. Also, loved the comparison drawn to the boutique Italian winery. It feels extremely re-assuring, and motivates us to snowball our efforts in the right direction. Yatin & Kiran.

Posted @ March 22, 2011 09:55


Subhash Arora Says:

Thanks Rajesh. But I must clarify. I have been only nominated as the Best International Wine Journalist and not won the award though I must say this in itself is a big honour not only for me but also India. Subhash Arora

Posted @ March 19, 2011 10:115


Rajesh Kumar Parihari Says:

: Dear Mr.Arora. First of all lots of Thanx to you and your team for providing lots of material on Wines and the industry. As I read in the last issue that you have won the Internationl award so lots of Congratulation to you and your team, You are the only personality who is earning name and fame internationally. Keep it up. Hoping for the Best, R.K.Parihar.

Posted @ March 19, 2011 10:10



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