May 02: Before releasing their J’NOON high end sparkling wine costing Rs. 3500, Fratelli Vineyards, quietly released their low end ‘NOI’ aimed at young, new and women wine drinkers who love Prosecco or other sparkling wines which are off dry (over 12 gms residual sugar/liter), writes Subhash Arora who believes that at the retail price of rs. 850 in Delhi and even lower at Rs. 850 in Bangalore and Mumbai makes it an excellent value for money sparkler
Fruity, vibrant and bubbly! That’s what the heavy bottle with a punt and aqua green vibrant coloured flower motifs says on the back label of NOI, the latest addition to the sparkling wine category in India-before J’NOON, that is!. All it says on the front label is- NOI Sparkling.. It does not say if it is Brut (under 12 gms/ liter of sugar or extra dry which would be under 17 gms in the Prosecco genre. The 20 gms sugar makes it the equivalent of ‘Dry’ wine for a Prosecco- a rather sweet wine. The eye-catching packaging is chic and designed to attract women and youth.
As Alessio Secci, the Italian partner of Fratelli Vineyard says,’ NOI means we/us in Italian and represents celebrating. The label has been intentionally chosen to send a message of joy and enjoyment in the company of friends, loved ones, and the wine in a party mode with catchy packaging.’ The wine is very fruity, approachable and easy to drink with no pretense to complexity. The sweetness is more to appeal to the Indian consumers who prefer slightly off dry wines. The acidity is vivacious, balancing the sweetness-else it would be cloying.
This wine is made from Thompson seedless grapes which used to be the staple grape for Sula Brut and Marquis de Pompadour prior. The grape is also blended with hard press of Chenin Blanc, but you don’t feel any bitterness. It is made with the traditional method, at least for the time being but it stays on lees for barely 75-90 days, the minimum required time for second fermentation to be over while other similar wines are kept on the lees for 12-15 months (Spanish Grand Cavas are kept for over 5 years to give complexity!). It is then riddled and disgorged and 20 gms sugar/liter added- 15gms per standard bottle and the same wine is added to fill the space as licor de expedición.
The wine was released in January, 2018 but with no special Launch. It has no equivalents in the market though Secco from Sula and Casablanca from Good Drop Wine Cellars in Nashik could claim to be in the similar price bracket- NOI scores higher in terms of Price quality ration with Rs. 880 in Delhi and 850 in Mumbai and Bangalore, making it an affordable, approachable wine, especially for youngsters and women. The alcohol level of 12% gives it the body but does not come into play in the flavour, making it a well rounded fruity wine, a wine for all seasons.
Fratelli has planned 4000 cases to start with but undoubtedly the numbers could be increased to 20,000 within 3-4 years with their distribution system and the attractive packaging, pricing. The bubbles are not its basic strength. It feels more like a frizzante as you open the bottle and watch the bubbles disappear. The tangy taste remains for a reasonable time on the palate though.
Personally, I would prefer a sugar level of 12-15 gms/liter and I suspect it will be brought down gradually during the next few years as the followers find it a bit too sweet. In all honesty, I must say that I tried it at home with chicken kathi rolls with caramelised onions, spicy mint chutney and the food and wine match was perfect. The tropical flavours make it a pleasant wine by itself.
The only problem is you will certainly consume more than you normally do. And don’t expect it to last more than a couple of years. So, if you like your bubbly fresh, the label would help you identify. Mine was produced in February 2018 and was very fresh. Use it to make spritzers or Bellini or a mango drink during the ensuing summer or even a Rossini if you find juicy, sweet strawberries.
But keep one bottle chilling as standby when you open a chilled bottle and served at around 5-6 degrees C... just in case!
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