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Delhi Wine Club
Two-in-One Launch by Fratelli at the Mansion

Posted: Thursday, 13 November 2014 11:23

Two-in-One Launch by Fratelli at the Mansion

Nov 13: As already communicated by delWine last month, Fratelli officially launched 6 imported wine labels from their UK distributor as well as released Vitae and Vitae Tre- super premium white wine labels and Sette 2011 by Steven Spurrier at a glamorous wine party hosted by them for over 400 people at the Mansion at Hyatt, writes Subhash Arora

Click For Large ViewWhen I called up Kapil Sekhri, one of the Indian Directors of the Indo-Italian starrer, Fratelli to get details about their proposed wine import venture, he was a bit hesitant and told me that the launch I had been already invited for November 10, was to introduce the new products and he would not like my article to steal the thunder. But he agreed to share the basic details when I told him the products were already available in the Mumbai market. He confirmed that 2 labels each were being imported from Chile (Viña Edmara-Chardonnay and Pinot Noir), Portugal (Cintila-Fernão Pires white and Castelão red) and Italy (Il Casone Pinot Grigio and Casa Sola Chianti Classico produced by their viticulturist Piero Masi). Other labels are owned by W.I.V. the multi-million Euro German wine merchant whose UK arm, Hallgarten Druitt and Novum Wines has been Fratelli’s importer for the last 3 years.

As I entered the foyer of The Mansion in a state of semi stupor after a hectic 4-day sojourn at the heavenly Villa d’Este where the monotony of royal meals was disrupted by interesting tastings and seminars on wine during the World Wine Symposium, I realised why he had been so economical with information. That it was not a traditional launch, was obvious when I met Piero Masi with his daughter, Alessio Secci with his fiancé and Kapil’s father Bhupinder Sekhri with family members and several faces not usually seen at such dos. It was also clear that this was not a trade-only event. An estimated 400-500 people that finally showed up during the evening would make any expat swear it was one of the wedding events Delhi has become famous for globally! Except that wine was flowing and the ‘national’ drink (whiskey) was not being missed by anyone-apparently.

Click For Large ViewVitae was the new white wine range launched at the event. The super-premium range includes Vitae barrel fermented Chardonnay. Vitae Tre as the name suggests, is a blend of 3 grape varieties- Chenin, Gewürztraminer and the decreasingly popular European variety, Müller-Thurgau. Gewürztraminer is the aromatic variety that charms many Indian palates and is very popular with Chinese food and the combo shows well on the palate-clean, fruity with citrus and mild mandarin notes with clean finish and medium length. It will go well with appetisers and delicious even on its own.

Vitae is a barrel fermented Chardonnay. Unlike several over-oaked Chardonnays it was almost under-oaked, giving the winemaker Piero Masi the possibility to age in the oak a bit more in the next editions. An excellent wine with most meals including vegetarian-if you can afford it. This range is not meant for every mortal -the price of Rs. 1600 each makes it the most expensive Indian white wine duo. With the universal acceptance of Sette at the highest price for any Indian wine, the ‘Brothers’ are confident of finding the right profiled white wine lovers for the pair.

Fratelli took advantage of the presence in the city of Steven Spurrier, well-known wine merchant-turned journalist, expert and a wine judge (think 1976 Judgement at Paris curated by him) and had him and Piero Masi launch Sette 2011, the latest release of the Super Premium red wine, a blend of 70% Sangiovese and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. Like an artist, Piero has been experimenting with different blends and perhaps based on a specific vintage would like to keep changing the blends till a uniformity is achieved- reportedly Steven Spurrier worked with him to create this vintage. The wine has good structure, is extremely well balanced, elegant with rounded tannins, lighter on the palate and an easier drinking wine than the 2009 vintage. Complex perfumes of red berries and floral notes make it a rather engaging wine.

Click For Large ViewThe importance attached to the event may be gauged from the fact that John Cunynghame, International Sales Director, Hallgarten Druitt & Novum Wines, their UK Distributor was also present to announce the launch of 6 imported labels as was reported earlier in delWine. The 5 wines presented at the event are value-for-money wines. As John explained, their parent company in Germany, WIV is one of the biggest wine merchants with sales of $500 million. Although based in Germany, it has built a range of wines from different countries which it exports to 40 different countries. It has a particularly strong market in UK from where the stocks to India are being supplied. The company specialises in selecting quaffable wines that can be sold at affordable prices and brands them and promotes the brands rather than the country of origin.

Cintila white is made from the indigenous grape-Fernão Pires-one of the most grown white grapes of Portugal, which produces simple yet quaffable wine, fresh and fruity but not very acidic. One needs to drink it young. The Cintila red is from the Castelão grape that is similar to Tempranillo grape and should be easier to adapt to the Indian palate. Il Casino Pinot Grigio is another off dry, pleasant, fruity wine that goes down easy. The slightly higher sugar content than normal makes it favourite with Indian food. The Chilean pair of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir was quite interesting- like a Burgundy regional wine made in Chilean Terroir. Priced at Rs. 2450 and Rs. 2550 it is sure to attract comparisons with the Burgundy equivalents retailing at similar prices.

The Mansion at Hyatt has stolen the limelight from the top banquet rooms at other deluxe hotels in and around Delhi in a short time since it has opened. With a chic ballroom that acts as a reception area (there is a separate foyer at the entrance) and opens up a dining area at the touch of a button that removes the wall separating several live kitchen areas that serve food from various restaurants of the hotel-including Indian, Chinese and Italian cuisine. Not only is the quality of the food top-notch, the variety and service matches it well. An evening like this gives the guests ample opportunity to experiment several wines with different foods. It might even start an era of multiple wines served at banquets rather than a couple of low-ended wines usually offered on a ‘take-it-or-leave-it basis.’ In fact, the 5 labels showcased this evening could make a perfect quintet with the food.

Click For Large ViewA minor irritant, perhaps overlooked by a vast majority of the guests who had seemingly come for a party and were immersed in the social gossip and could hardly be expected to tune their ears to the launch speeches when Alessio, Piero, John and Steven made brief presentations. This perhaps justifies the embassy events where champagne is not opened till the speeches are over and the bar is shut when the organisers want to communicate something. Hopefully, the hotel would advise the speakers at such events to address at the beginning when the number may be less but people are more serious and can lend their ears far longer.

With bringing imported wines into the market, Fratelli has sent a message to one and all-it plans to conquer the market by using its ampelographic charms-no matter how much time it takes. And looking at the portfolio, it appears that they are on the right track. It was also a first for any such event-where despite several choices of imported wines, most people were drinking Sette 2011, Vitae or Vitae Tre when I left the hotel after looking around to see how everyone was doing after tasting 8 wines of the evening.

Fratelli deserves a round of applause.

Subhash Arora

For the recent article regarding the launch and further details, please visit Fratelli Diversifies into Imported Wines

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Tags: Fratelli, Kapil Sekhri, Piero Masi, Alessio Secci, Steven Spurrier

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