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Delhi Wine Club
Vinsura also Enters Port Wine Business

Posted: Saturday, 13 October 2012 11:29

Vinsura also Enters Port Wine Business

October 13: While the Indian wine producers are climbing the quality and price ladder with fine wines like Sette and Rasa, there is also a distinct trend in catering to the faster growing, lower end of the price spectrum with wines costing under Rs.150 with or without fortification and generally being categorized as Port wine with Vinsura being the latest winery to throw the hat into the ring, and that is a dangerous trend, opines Subhash Arora

Click For Large View‘Vinsura 100% Premium Port Wine’ read the bold letters on the yellow background on the label of their latest avatar that claims the pedigree of Port (naturally from Porto in Portugal, the only city in the world allowed the privilege to make it, by Portugal and the European Union.)

Speaking on the occasion of the launch, Nitin Desai, Managing Director, Vinsura Wines Pvt Ltd, reportedly said “This is not simply another port wine to crowd the market racks with. Our wine has been developed after undertaking extensive research in the tastes, choices and preferences of wine connoisseurs. Our research revealed that a substantial number of wine lovers are fed up of drinking synthetic wines and have long been on a lookout for genuine port wines.”

One is not quite clear on what 'synthetic wines' means except that this may not auger well in the wine capital of Maharashtra, in the absence of any wine laws - ditto for the confusion on the ‘genuine port twines’. The genuine Port wines can be made only from the authorized grapes grown in Douro valley and aged according to the strict laws in Porto or the specified areas and aged accordingly.

Click For Large ViewWhereas Goa has taken the lead in making ‘ Goan Port’, it is a cottage industry where practically every shop has a label designed just for him so he can charge as much from the gullible tourist as he likes. The estimates of this Port vary from 200,000-300,000 cases, over 20% of the total wine consumption in India. 

Vinsura is not the only one producing natural fermented wine from the indigenous eating grapes. Sula came out with the Port three years ago and is already a leader in this category as well, by a mile; it started the Port Wine 1000 from grapes fermented in stainless steel tanks. Extremely popular in the South and West, it sells for Rs.137, as the website of the Bangalore based chain- Madhuloka Liquor Boutique indicates.  Of course, the pioneer for making Port was Indage which had more than one variant and no one really knew the ingredients.

Nirvana Bio-sys, makers of Luca wines came out with Mitra 2000 Port Wine, perhaps to create the impression of twice the effect of Sula’s Port Wine 1000. Mitra sells for Rs.220 in Delhi.

Click For Large ViewThere are still cheaper ‘Ports’- in fact the key word is not what is inside, but the price and higher amount of alcohol. ‘Goana’ by Big Banyan sells for Rs.100 in Goa. In fact, according to Mario Sequeira, the king producer of ‘Goan Port’  with the sales registers clocking over 120,000 cases of Port alone, there are several cottage and small industries producing and wholesaling it at Rs.70 which in turn retails for Rs.90-120. It helps that the tourists are attracted to the sweet and sugary concoction made with addition of neutral alcohol, taking the alcohol level to as high as 20% and making the consumers get more of a kick in a shorter time and at lower prices; Brand Goan Port helps.

But what is sadder is that the customers think they are drinking Port! (THE Port). However this situation may not last for long.

Ribeiro de Almeida, Head of the Legal Department of IVDP, the strong regulatory body of Porto and Douro wines, whom I met last year in Porto, informs delWine, ‘the Click For Large Viewappellation of origin Port in already protected in India. This protection was obtained through two ways: registration required by IVDP and international agreement with the European Union. Please see the documents attached (one of them is at the end of the article). Concerning the undue uses of the name Port, we are in close contact with our Foreign Affairs Ministry. They have done an important work in several countries in order to protect the appellation of origin Port and they are already working with India authorities in order to stop any undue use of the name Port.’

H.E. Mr Jorge Roza dei Oliveira, the Ambassador of Portugal, in India is well aware of the problem and is actively seeking a just solution. ‘As a matter of fact, this Embassy has been working for years with the IVDP legal services and the EU delegation in protecting Port Wine GI against counterfeiting and piracy practices,’ he informs delWine.

He also affirms that after a long and difficult procedure started in 2009, Port Wine was finally registered in the Indian National GI Register on 11 August 2011, and additional protections were conceded by the India authorities to the Portuguese GI in November 2011.

‘It is now up to the Indian authorities to adopt the necessary 'repressive' measures, in accordance with your internal IPR rules and international commitments taken. The EU delegation and this Embassy are closely cooperating to firmly encourage Indian authorities to do so,’ he says.

Click For Large ViewOne of the key issues is that India does not have any wine laws as of now. Perhaps, the laws which are reportedly under preparation under the tutelage of the Indian Grape Processing Board (IGPB) would address this issue. The IGPB would perhaps be hauled into the picture sooner or later and hopefully it would have the wisdom to ban the use of the word ‘port’.

It may be clarified that there is nothing illegal in making such wines which are nothing but table wines- especially since they are at very low price points and there is a good demand for them from a segment of the market. Current market of such wines is around 400,000-500,000 cases and is increasing at a faster pace making companies like Mitra and Vinsura take the plunge.

In an earlier article last year in delWine, we had predicted that the Days of the Indian Port Wine May Be Numbered. We continue to predict and hope that the Indian producers will put their heads together and come up with something more palatable before the government is obliged to force a ban on the usage of the terminology.

Subhash Arora

Certificate of GI Registration


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