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Vinisud 2014: An Indian in Pink Paradise of Provence

Posted: Thursday, 06 March 2014 18:16

Vinisud 2014: An Indian in Pink Paradise of Provence

Mar 06: One often hears about the Chinese buying Chateaux in Bordeaux these days; one also reads about Indians starting their own wineries in the US, Australia or Europe, but one may not have heard about the first Indian perhaps buying a winery in Provence, France over 40 years ago in 1973, writes Subhash Arora who so discovered by visiting the stand of Château du Galoupet at the recently concluded Vinisud in Montpellier where he discovered a few other wineries of interest for India as well

Click For Large ViewVisiting the Provence pavilion is always an interesting part of visiting the biennial wine show, Vinisud in Montpellier. You see so much of pink all around you, in so many shapes and sizes that your head starts to spin. The surrealist feeling of heaven being pink comes in front of your eyes. A fascinated me was clicking away when I was startled outside the stand of one Chateau du Galoupet where I was taking pictures of a couple of 3-liter bottles and magnums, when I heard a Frenchman  say, ’would you like to taste our wines-we are an Indian-owned company.’ Before I recovered, I could hear him say ,’’It’s true, Sheev-dé-ssani  from India is the owner!’

A Rosé from an Indian in the sea of Provence Pink wines was a fascinating thought. So I entered the stand for a minute and left after chatting with several people and tasting - an hour later!

Chateau du Galoupet is one of the important vineyards in the Côtes de Provence appellation, dating back to King Louis XIV period in the 17th century. I was told by a staffer that It was one of the 19 existing estates enjoying the Grand Cru status awarded to 19 estates in 1955. In 1973, the estate was bought by a Sindhi gentleman, Indoo Shivdasani. That was 40 years ago!

Unfortunately, he died in 1979. But his sons Sonu and Azad and the daughter of their sister Bina (who had married an Italian and died in 2006), are looking after this business. Research on the Net later showed fascinating family history. The third generation of Indians is into the wine business now, the brothers live outside India though they visit Mumbai often. Indoo had made his millions through businesses running from Nigeria to London. Though the younger son Sonu runs  the main business of hospitality and Spa under Soneva Corporation, the elder son Azad is directly involved in the wine business, asserted Fernand Luciani, General Manager of the company.

Wines of Galoupet

Click For Large ViewThe company owns over 407 acres land, 170 of which is used for vines. It is officially mentioned on the first map of France during the reign of Louis XIV. It produces about 480,000 bottles (40,000 cases) and earns revenue of 2.35 million Euros. About 60% of the production is Rosé.

The Cru Classé Rose wines are made in sizes of 375 mL, 500 mL, 750 mL (standard bottle size), 1.5 Liters and 3 liters Exports of 30% of their wines to 33 countries with 3000 customers around the world, is quite impressive. The balance 70% is sold in the domestic market with 98% being in the restaurants. They use synthetic corks for the exports to maintain freshness of the liquid. All red wines use regular corks.

Luciani tells me that the French do not like screwcaps. More and more women are taking to Rose wines because they are avoiding red wines as they spoil the look of their teeth. He also explains that more and more people prefer the pale pink colour unlike 20 years ago when darker colour was more visible. ‘The trend started 3 years ago in the US.  Besides, our wine is clearer and fruitier these days. The wines are also dry but not bone dry- 4gms/liter makes them just right on the palate. AOC rules do not allow the use of extra sugar except for IGP wines. We do not add any sugar,’ he says.

Improved processing techniques have helped them make better quality wines. Earlier, oxidation used to be a problem. One way they have solved the problem is by harvesting by night. ‘We can harvest during the day but fruit can be fresh this way,’ he says. They grow 10 of the 15 grape varieties prevalent in Provence: Grenache (28%), Cinsault (24%), Syrah(11.5%), Cabernet Sauvignon (6%), Mourvedre (8%), Rolle (Vermentino) (10%), Carignan (3%), Tibouren (5%), Semillon (1.5%) and Chardonnay (3%)

Wines Galoupet -

Provence in Perspective

Click For Large ViewBordered on one side by the Mediterranean Sea and on the other by the Alps, Provence’s wine-growing region stretches some 200 kilometers from east to west, spanning three departments (administratively France is divided into 101 departments like Paris, Loire, Vosges, Rhone and Gironde): Bouches-du-Rhône, the Var and a small section of the Alpes-Maritimes.

There are three appellations - Côtes de Provence, Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence and Coteaux Varois en Provence. Côtes de Provence has now been further subdivided into smaller, more precise terroirs - Côtes de Provence Sainte-Victoire, Côtes de Provence Fréjus and Côtes de Provence La Londe where Chateau Galoupet is located.

Provence’s vineyards are home to 15 different grape varieties. The wines themselves are produced using a traditional blending technique that consists of vinifying each grape variety separately then blending them in order to create balanced wines that combine the individual qualities of each variety. Provence is considered the oldest vineyard of France with history going back 2600 years.

Pinks of Provence are pale, dry, aromatic, elegant wines. The region produces about 6% of total French AOC wines, 88% of which are Rose. It supplies about half the amount of Rose consumed in France. Total of 13.5 million cases are produced. 8% of all Roses consumed in the world are produced in Provence.

120 ml cases Cotes, 26 mil d’Aix 15 Varoix

There are 608 producers- 546 are small estates, 62 are co-operatives and 72 are négociant producers.

Interestingly, Galoupet is not very keen on the Indian market for two reasons, says Luciani. ‘The owners believe that the Indian consumer is not yet ready for these wines and secondly marketing wines is very difficult in India today.’ He is right but with the changing scenario, who knows!  For more info he can be approached directly at

Subhash Arora

The winery was a part of the Cotes de Provence pavilion at Vinisud, the Biennial international exhibition of Mediterranean Wines and Spirits held in Montpellier on 24-26 February, 2014. The Show Vinisud Asia moves to Shanghai on 29-31 October, 2014 for its second edition-editor

Pink Paradise in different Shapes and Sizes

Tags: Château du Galoupet, Vinisud, Montpellier, Côtes de Provence, Soneva Corporation, Provence  


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