June 19: Vallonne in Igatpuri, 20 kms short of Nashik, is a boutique winery that produces around 13 labels and has a restaurant, guest rooms and an ambience that makes it an ideal wine tourism and get-away destination for a complete wine experience, writes Sheetal Kadam whose first visit to Vallonne boutique winery before the lockdown was incredible, as she is still figuring out the merits of the winery
Vallonne is located at Kavnai village in Igatpuri near Nashik. The classique boutique winery is a very convenient and highly rated holiday destination to reach out, from the nearby cities such as Mumbai and Nashik.
Visiting the winery
After meeting the founder Shailendra Pai and his associates at the appointed hour, I accompanied the winemaker Sanket Gawand for a winery tour. The passionate young winemaker has been associated with Vallonne since its inception and knows ‘every stone, every step and every vine’ of the vineyard.
“We start making wines right in our vineyards by ensuring the highest quality yield first”, says Sanket. Smart selection of International grape varieties in accordance with the local climate with high diurnal range, cool breezes from the nearby water bodies and light sandy soils, was quite expedient in the primitive stages of Vallonne.
Shailendra Pai, the man behind Vallonne was the one who dreamt of curating a boutique winery on the undulated rocky land. He manicured the raving land to exquisite boutique winery. Over a decade now Vallonne is known for rendering holistic wine experiences like winery tours, cosy and comfortable stay at their hotel and fine dine at their restaurant. Malaka Spice faces the vineyard and is a perfect place for wine and dine, looking over the Mukhne lake. It was an amazing experience to understand the terroir in which the red and white vines thrive.
Then it was time to dive deep into the cellar for tasting wine:
Wine Tasting at the cellar
Vallonne offers a wide range of almost 13 different wine styles; as a boutique winery it’s a great achievement. This boutique winery produces fine wines and serves the guests in an artistic way, blissful indeed. Matchless offerings such as Malbec, Rose, Vin De Passerillage and Anokhee Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah are Vallonne’s privileged award winning wines.
Vallonne Viognier Reserve is very crisp and refreshing, aromatic wine with a blow of passion fruit, peach, elderflower, apricot, lime candy and a hint of minerality on the palate. As it undergoes barrel aging, the wine develops deep yellow colour, toasty and nutty flavours, extremely balanced with fair texture.
Their light bodied Chenin Blanc is quite refreshing, with tropical fruit and floral notes with hints of honey. The duo grape varieties Syrah and Merlot contribute towards a unique combo giving a strong punch of aromas and flavours on the palate. The fruity, spicy flavour profile of Syrah is a perfect match with soft, elegant tannins of merlot.
Merlot responsibly renders complexity and richness to this blend. One won’t regret tasting Vallonne Malbec Reserve, harmonious, well balanced wine with higher complexity. Truly a limited edition with just 973 bottles derived from the 2013 vintage! Vallonne Rose is a purely romantic wine with enticing notes of ripe cherries, crisp and light aromatic. Award winning wine at the Indian Wine Consumers Choice Awards 2014 and 2016.
Another Grand Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon named as Anokhee is the result of barrel and bottle ageing over 5 years; 2009 was the best of the vintages. Vin De Passerillage is Vallonne’s dessert wine, a limited edition wine made by careful selection of handpicked grapes, deliberately dried to achieve the concentration of aromas and sugars. Aromatic wine embedded with primary, secondary and tertiary flavours.
Syrah Reserve displays smooth tannins with over ripe berry flavours, a hint of sweet spices on the palate. The oak balances the flavour profile giving a long finish. Vallonne’s selection of red wines can be largely paired with Indian Cuisine such as Grilled chicken, lightly spiced red meat, coconut based curries, grilled meats, robust meat curries and biryani, spicy kebabs, whereas the selection of white wines can be paired with seafood, light curries and pulao.
At Malaka Spice restaurant we tasted Cabernet Sauvignon Premium Reserve with South-East Asian cuisine. The medium bodied wine has smooth tannins, opulent flavours and aromas of dried cherries, blackberries, raspberries, dark chocolate, mushrooms with a bit of nuttiness with well-balanced alcohol and immense complexity. It was indeed a perfect food and wine pairing with an overtly lingering chat with the founder and the winemaker.
While the pandemic is badly hitting the economies across the world, Indian wine industry also gets bashed up intrinsically. Since the lockdown has evoked wineries are stagnant with zero sales, waiting for the hotels, restaurants and retail shops to start functioning, for a gradual change. “We all are trying to survive and sustain our businesses in the current situation, but we’ll be soon back with doubled zeal”, mentions Shailendra Pai. I think especially a boutique winery like Vallonne who specialise in offering wine experiences to their guests or visitors will soon surpass this phase too as tourism scales up.
For a few of the earlier related Articles, you may want to also visit:
Visit to Nashik Wineries by an MW from Bordeaux
Wine Tourism: Sula Sprints ahead in the Marathon
Bronzes Rain for Indian Wines at Decanter HK Awards
Vah Vah Vallonne Vineyards!
Mumbai-based Sheetal Kadam is a graduate in Agriculture with an MBA in International Business. She is also a Certified Level 3 in WSET and a Certified Cultore by Alfiere Italico- Wine, a certified wine course designed and organised internationally by Indo-Italian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IICCI) outside Italy, in Mumbai. She has worked with Indian wine producers in marketing in Pune for a year. She was part of the delegation organised by IICCI as a member of Italics Wine Club- Mumbai Chapter.
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