Nov 09: Just when the Indian wine industry presumed Sula Vineyards was merrily cruising along, focusing only on notching higher sales after the drastic drop due to DeMo a year ago on 8 Nov 2016 and the ‘Highway 500m massacre’, it announced the launch on Nov 6 of a new label Kādu made exclusively in Bangalore, to be followed by the Globe in the Glass roadshow in Goa, Pune and Mumbai, starting this Saturday, writes Subhash Arora who was invited to the launch at Hotel Taj West End and attended the Launch
If you thought ‘Born to be Wild’ was the title of the song by the band Steppenwolf, that was also played in the famous movie Easy Rider with Peter Fonda in the star cast in 1969, you belong to the previous millennium. This is in fact the hash tag #BornToBeWild assigned for the Kādu launch that took place on Monday November 6 at the Hotel Taj West end in Bangalore. Kādu (pronounced as Kaa-do) means ‘wild’ in the Kannada language.
The magnificent Indian tiger with all its glory takes the center-stage of the attractive label which also includes Kādu printed boldly on the top. Four variants have been introduced – Kādu Chenin Blanc, Kādu Sauvignon Blanc, Kādu Shiraz Rosé and Kādu Cabernet Shiraz (60/40 blend) at an MRP of Rs.625, 675, 650 and 695 resp. to keep them in the premier, affordable segment. Barring the red (13.5%) all other labels have a low alcohol content of 12%. They are also available in the convenient half-bottles.
Taking a zestful dig at the competitors, Rajeev said Sula did not believe in making and selling wines at extravagant prices-sometimes even crossing the Rs. 5,000 barrier, and had kept them at affordable prices; that’s why the prices were kept low.
Nashik producers including Sula used to pride themselves a decade ago and claimed that the Nashik terroir was better than that of Karnataka and vice versa. But with the polarization of wine policy, parochial in nature, by the two State governments, taxing imports from the other States, at least the top three wineries have been investing in both States out of sheer necessity to stay competitive. Kādu appears to be a part of the same process.
Also implicit in the decision is the purchase in February this year of Heritage Winery, situated on Bangalore- Mysore Highway, about 2.5-3 hours away from Bangalore. An established leader of fortified wines and promoter of wine tourism, the company fell into Sula’s lap. Although Sula has still not announced the future of the fortified wines, the winery is being refurbished to make it ready for the new Kādu range and of course, wine tourism in which Sula is already the leader.
Currently the Kādu wines are being produced at the Indian Ambience winery in Karnataka where select range of the Sula wines, are being produced for the Karnataka market. Rajeev stressed that all the premium Sula wines would henceforth be produced only in Maharashtra and exported from there even though they would be more expensive due to the extra import tax imposed on them to have a consistent quality.
Wine with a Cause
Although Sula has been a socially responsible company, with ‘saving the planet’ on top of the agenda that has taken it towards a sustainable business, this project is directly linked with a cause; to contribute towards Karnataka’s efforts towards tiger conservation, said Rajeev. He announced that Sula had committed to a donation of Rs. 5 for every bottle of Kādu sold, for an indefinite period. This has been done through Sanctuary Nature Foundation, founded by a family friend Bittu Sahgal. Through the ‘Mud on Boots’ the Sanctuary is empowering a network of grassroots conservationist across India, who are doing critical but unsung work. With the support of Sula the network now extends to Bhadra landscape.
Talking about the contribution, ‘this may not amount much at this stage
but at the expected sales of 100,000 cases of Kādu in Karnataka and elsewhere
in 5 years, this would amount to Rs. 60 lakhs (Rs. 6 million) which is
not a small sum,’ exclaimed Rajeev Samant, the Founder of Sula,
at the Launch. He said these wines would be made exclusively in Karnataka
and initially would be available in Karnataka only; the company might
fan out throughout India once the brand is popularized pan India and the
product can be available. Putting his money where the mouth is, Rajeev
of Rs. 500,000 to Sahgal who said that there are 11 such projects and
this money will help them open up the 12th one.
Wines are of good quaffable quantity-all very clean. Chenin Blanc is fruity and yet dry-much drier than Sula Chenin. Sauvignon Blanc is more reminiscent of Nashik varietal. Shiraz Rosé was by far my most my favourite quaff of the evening. The colour is salmon pink that reminds you of Provence Rose. Perfumed aromas of strawberries with citrus notes follow into the flavours. The end is short and simple but makes you salivate because juiciness. Served at the perfect temperature of around 6-8 °, it was very refreshing, especially with the snacks. It was heartening for me to see several people veering towards it as the evening progressed and they had given their expert opinions about the other 3 wines, especially the red Cabernet/ Shiraz, a glass of which I also enjoyed.
Launch of Kādu range is a brilliant move that just shows that Rajeev Samant has his ears on the ground and knows the pulse of the market. He was joined by his whole senior team - Nick Pringle, Cecilia Oldne, Ken Pritchard, and Deepak Bhatnagar among others who were assigned to look after the guests and mingled. Head Wine Maker of Kādu, Gorakh Gaikwad was also present at the launch.
Globe in a Glass
Action now shifts to the annual event Globe in a Glass Roadshow in Goa (Nov 11), Pune (Nov 13) and Mumbai (Nov 15). There will be over 40 wines showcased from Sula’s premium wine portfolio and from it’s import arm, Sula Selections. In addition, there will be 15 spirits including Janus and J brandy and Eclipse whiskey from Artisan Spirits and also Cointreau, Remy Martin, Volare and the latest addition to the Sula Selections portfolio – Beluga, the famous Russian vodka. One can meet master blenders, producers, winemakers and brand ambassadors of several brands all under one roof - at Taj Vivanta (Goa), Marriott Suites (Pune) and Sofitel (Mumbai). A unique opportunity to enjoy tasting ther entire range, meet the foreign visitors and experts and improve their palate and increase knowledge about wines and spirits!
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