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Posted: Sunday, 29 October 2017 19:17

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Feature: Nazaaray kay Nazaaray at Australian High Commission

Oct 29: Three Wines from Nazaaray Estate in Flinders, a small town south of Melbourne, Victoria were poured at a special dinner organised by the Deputy High Commissioner Chris Elstoft last Thursday to welcome and recognise Paramdeep Singh and Dr. Nirmal Ghumman whose cool climate Pinot Noir Reserve 2015 won the People's Choice Award among 544 entries in May this year at the Cool Climate Wine Show, writes Subhash Arora who feels the high quality wines deserve a presence in India

Click For Large ViewVilla No.5 at the back of the Australian High Commission was bedecked with beautiful small lights in the front and the back lawns reminding one that we were in the middle of Diwali and Guru Nanak’s birthday when Sikhs and many Punjabis light candles or illuminate their houses for the celebration. The lawn of the Deputy High Commissioner Chris Elstoft had festive but elegant air about it with excellent table settings filling it with several round table, and lights.

It was truly a festive occasion-to felicitate Paramdeep Singh and Dr. Nirmal Ghumman who were once ‘ours’ but now are ‘theirs’. Together, the Indo-Australian Ghumman couple run a boutique winery called Nazaaray Estate in Flinders, a small town in Mornington Peninsula, south of Melbourne, Victoria.

‘Terroir, Terroir, Terroir!’ The most important word in winemaking! It took me 5 years to understand the meaning,’ said Paramdeep Singh Ghumman, the Sikh owner of Nazaaray Wine Estate about 10 kms outside the town, an hour’s drive from Melbourne. He is a self-confessed student of Burgundy, who has worked hard with both the signature grapes of Burgundy-Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and makes wines a-la-Burgundy. He has had no formal training –in fact, the first glass of wine he ever had was in 1981 on the flight to Melbourne in Australia where the couple then migrated and have now retired from their professional careers.

Click For Large ViewLocated at 37.5° latitude, his farm is located on volcanic soil with Miso climate.’ Although we are also affected by the climate change but still ours is a considered a cool climate region where summer temperature reaches a high of around 35° C,’ he says. He makes very dry wines with under 2gms/liter residual sugar. ‘You want to taste fruit, not sugar in your wine. I like to keep it at 1-2 gms/liter,’ he adds, describing all their wines as dry.

He uses 100% French oak, 35% of it is new for ageing every year and stresses that his focus is not on making good wine but only great wines. The accolade received by His Pinot in May 2017 is one such great example.

The Ghummans shared many interesting anecdotes during the evening. ‘When we bought the farm, there were no trees or grapes being grown. It is on a hillside, exposed to wind from all directions, but overlooking the beautiful landscape. It was a grazing ground Click For Large Viewwith a lot of thistle growing. It was a massive task to clear off the ground. We could not figure how to eradicate it until one of our neighbours suggested we got a donkey that would eat it all up. It worked! We grew several cypress trees to tone down the wind velocity’, says Nirmal who says ‘it was an interesting sight as I drove across town to pick up a donkey in the tractor and the people watching with awe as many had never seen a donkey before!’   

Wines Tasted

Three wines were poured; unfortunately, the award-winning Pinot Noir was not part of the portfolio this evening:

Nazaaray Pinot Rose 2016

At the first instance the wine did not look impressive. Onion peel colour is slightly outside the spectrum one is used to seeing for Rose wines; but the moment you take the glass to your nose, the perception changes. Full of strawberry and red berry aromas, it is clean, complex and juicy. Flavours are fruity with just the right amount of tannins present softly to give it nice structure and elegance. Click For Large ViewA very good example of Rose from Pinot Noir! It was an excellent match with the salmon canapé starter. Rating 91/100 with food 97/100

Nazaaray Chardonnay 2016

His love for Chablis, Meursault and Montrachet whites from Burgundy is showcased in this wine; he likes to call it his Montrachet. Very fresh and vibrant wine; fruity and persistent layered flavours with just the right amount of oak and a lot of character. Very well balanced, elegant wines with nice structure! Perfect match with the delicious Pan seared scallops with braised barley. Drinking well already but should age well for 3-5 year or even more. Rating  92/100 with food 98/100

Nazaaray Pinot Noir Family Selection 2013

‘A hot year for Victoria; there was a heat wave and spike in temperature which went to 40° C. Grapes had to be picked earlier in March within 3 days,’ says Param adding they made 3 ‘blends’ of the grape that year, maturing them in different oak barrels. Param Click For Large Viewexplained that since the colour comes from the skins and Pinot Noir has thinner skin, it is lighter coloured red’. It was quite perfumed with aromas of roses in the garden; full of blackberry, blackcurrant and a shade of our desi Jamun, he felt. It was well paired with the Australian lamb rack. Rating 90/100 with food 95/100

The Menu had apparently been well curated as I noticed in the food and wine pairing, scoring consistently higher, the high rating of wines alone notwithstanding.

While thanking the hosts, Nirmal said that the Australians are very warm-hearted people and her family is very happy there. ‘I was one of yours but now I am one of theirs,’ she quipped. The Burgundy-styled Indo-Australian wines are quite unique in their character. Param rued that Indians looked only for the low price but these wines were of high quality and limited quantity, hand crafted and nurtured-with-love and care. They sell half the wines through cellar door and online and rest mostly within Australia through distribution. But they would love to have a presence in India due to the emotional connect with their country of origin. These wines retail generally in the range of AUD$30-45 ($23-$35) at the cellar door.

Nazaaray wines from the Nazaaray Estate winery deserve a place to be available to Indian connoisseurs who are proud of what their compatriots have done in wine and proven yet again that given the right ambience, Indians can excel in every field-even wine.

Subhash Arora

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