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Top Ten Indian Wines for Cellaring

Posted: Monday, 05 Jan 2015 11:15

Top Ten Indian Wines for Cellaring

Jan 05: Ten years or even five years ago, it would have been practically impossible to identify domestic wines which were age-worthy but there has been a sea change during the last 5 years with several new wines entering the market using better quality of grapes and processing including barriques for maturing, making them age-worthy for several years, writes Subhash Arora who has selected Top Ten out of such wines

One variable by which the quality of wines in India may be judged is to see how complex and age worthy their wines are. Although the quality at all levels has seen a lot more variety, there has been discernible improvement in quality at all levels, partially because a majority of the new wave producers have been motivated by passionate palates and deep wallets.  

DelWine has been a pioneer in bring out Top Ten Importers, Top Ten Producers and Top Ten Women in Wine in India. We now bring you the Top Ten Wines for Cellaring. There may not be any appreciation in prices but one will see a marked improvement in cellaring these wines if stored properly. Once again we have refrained from giving ratings for the wines and have listed them alphabetically.

AlpineVindiva Reserve Valley of Dreams Shiraz 2012

As Alpine likes to call this wine, it is liquid luxury for the connoisseurs. Ruby red wine with strong aromas of red berries and spices. This is a very complex and homogenous wine that truly expresses the grape variety with fruity flavours, persistence and full mouthfeel on the palate, that follows through for the final journey through the gullet with a long and elegant finish. It is perfect with lamb and all other red meat dishes as well as lasagne, and red sauce pastas or mutton kebabs and sikandari raan.

For more details click  The Reserve and Premium Wines of India

Big Banyan Limited Spring Shiraz 2010

Shiraz is the biggest selling varietal for Bangalore-based John Paul Distilleries- owned Big Banyan winery in Goa. However, a very limited quantity of Big Banyan Limited Shiraz are made by the winery (about 500 cases) every year. With limited distribution it is possible to find it only in Bangalore at Rs. 1200 while it is much cheaper in Goa at Rs. 950 due to the tax structure. A fruity, juicy  and yet complex and concentrated wine with big, deep and bold flavours, this wine aged in French oak barrels for 12 months has a nice balance and  always makes me reach out for more during dinner. The wine is visibly improving in quality. 2008 is available in the market though I tasted 2010 a month ago, is in the bottle and will be released in a couple of months. It may be cellared for 5-6 years from the release. Thus 2010 will be good to store till 2019-2020.

Related article: Paul John: Bigg Boss of Big Banyan

Charosa Tempranillo Reserve 2012

The seemingly high price of Rs.1500 a bottle at the time of release last year notwithstanding, the wine is clean and well rounded with the use of one-year of American and French oak mix. With a soft, sweet vanilla front attack, it is a good expression of a pure Tempranillo made from vines planted in 2008. It may be consumed now or one can wait for 2-3 years It’s remarkable that such a fine quality was produced in the very first vintage.

Fratelli Sette 2011

Eyebrows were raised when Sette 2009 was released a couple of years ago at, At Rs. 1650 making it  the most expensive Indian wine. But it paved way for Rs. 1500 + wines to enter the market. Introduced in 2012, the winemaker Piero Masi has been experimenting with the blend and aging in the barriques for over 12 months. Due to shortage of barriques, half the 2009 wine was aged in stainless steel tanks. The composition of the blend has been changing. Starting with Cabernet Sauvignon- Sangiovese, he added Cabernet Franc in 2010 but increased Sangiovese to 70%, the balance being Cabernet Sauvignon in 2011. It is hard to tell which vintage would last longer but 2010 is ready to drink now and seems to be a better bet in the long run- with 6-8 year maturity likely. Thus Sette 2010 is drinking well but will age further till 2016 and is expected to last till 2018. Ditto with 2011.  Alc 13.5-14% Price Rs. 1650-Rs.1800 (Duty-free price $52 at Delhi Airport)

Useful article: Fratelli Wines: Sette pe Satta

Four Seasons Barrique Reserve Shiraz 2008

Distinctly an upper-class Barrique Reserve wine- the Four Seasons Barrique Reserve Shiraz (as also their Cabernet Sauvignon, in fact) 2008 has an accentuated aging of wines in the oak barriques. Priced at Rs. 800-1000 these wines are a notch above most of the non-reserve red wines in the market.  Because of the complexity and balance and better value-for-money-proposition this wine is quite popular. Toasty oak gives slightly smoky flavour that goes well on the palate. Till their recently developed Double Barrique Reserve range of wines is introduced to compete with the existing Top-of-the-heap Indian wines, this is an excellent buy for the price. Drink now or till 2016.

Grover La Reserve 2012

This is the oldest signature label of Grover or any other winery in India. Barring a couple of vintages when the quality went astray, this Cabernet Sauvignon-Shiraz blend has been every wine lover’s delight. Until Brindco took over as their national distributor and increased the price by Rs. 100 it used to sell for Rs. 440 and was decidedly the Best Red Wine of India. About 7-8 years ago we had a DWC dinner with Grover when Abhay Kewadkar, their then chief winemaker brought a few bottles of their first vintage 1997 that had not been sold. After about 9 years, it still tasted fresh and drinkable and more complex (barring a few bottles that were corked!). This should explain about the wine which is smooth, balanced and delicious and sells for Rs. 980 in Delhi.

Grover Zampa Chêne Grand Reserve 2012 is a blend of Tempranillo and Syrah grapes grown in their own vineyard in Nashik. Aged for 15 months in French oak barrels. It has spicy notes in its aromas with hint of berries and plums. There is oak vanilla and coffee bean flavour with spicy finish. Price about Rs. 1700-1800. Drink now till 2018-2020 Wine has an abundance of dark fruit and nuances of vanilla and cinnamon on the palate, with a great structure, well-balanced tannins, acidity and an elegant finish.

Krsma Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
His penchant for top quality opulent California Cabernets and his super collection of top Growth Bordeaux reds perhaps motivated Krishna Kumar of Hyderabad to buy land and set up a winery to make the world-class, high quality age-worthy Cabs and that’s what you taste in this wine. The powerful wine with ripe tannins and good structure will be alive and kicking in 2020 and beyond. No wonder the winery is launching its wines in New York after Bangalore. Keep a watch on future vintages when the vines get older and the wine even more complex. Price Rs. 1500. Drink in 2015 to 2022

Sula Rasa Shiraz 2013
Sula Rasa Shiraz is the finest red wine to be produced so far from the estate vineyards of Sula (The mother of all top quality red wines-a Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is in the offing). It is a complex and powerful, well-structured medium bodied spicy wine with elegance and finesse. Rasa is produced in limited quantities in the best vintage years and is worth cellaring for 3-8 years. Due to the erratic and limited availability it may be conveniently stored away for a few years. A perfect gift for your friends abroad, whom you want to show-off the quality of fine Indian wines. It needs to be served cool at around 16°C to get the flavours right.

SDU Reserva Shiraz 2012
SDU planted the vines in 2003 and sold grapes to other wineries till it started its own bottling in 2012. The Reserve range was released this year and with 2-3 tonnes yield/acre shows in the wine. The wine is concentrated, with silky tannins, full of berry flavours. It’s a beautiful balance of oak, tannins and fruit. A complex wine with good structure and persistent taste it is not meant to age for many years but a couple of years will make the tannins mellower with plenty of fruit. It is truly a bottled poetry and would give heightened sensuous and olfactory experience as a match with the lamb, goat meat and pork. Price of Rs. 800-900 makes it a genuinely value-for-money wine.
Rise of SDU Boutique Winery

Interestingly, most of these Top Ten wines selected use cork as the closure and cost from Rs. 800-1800. They are worth experimenting for the ageing potential. Do let us know if our assessment comes true. It’s not possible to precisely guess the cellaring potential of wines since it also depends upon the storage temperature (constant 13-15°C) and humidity inside the cellar (ideally 70% but you might keep a bowl of water in the wine cooler to have humidity level up) but can only be estimated at the time of tasting, depending upon the structure, tannins, acidity and the tannin-fruit relationship, besides the style of oak barrels used for cellaring.

There are a few wines which have narrowly missed the cut to be on the list. Vintages might be off by a year since they were tasted (not blind) at different times during the last two years and the current vintage released may be different. But what is important is that we have Indian wines coming out of the cellar doors that will get better with age and show that the quality of wines is on the increase.

Happy Cellaring!
Subhash Arora

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