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Delhi Wine Club
Passing By: Arancha Busnadiego from Roda of Rioja

Posted: Tuesday, 11 September 2012 14:34

Passing By: Arancha Busnadiego from Roda of Rioja

September 11 : Arancha Busnadiego, the peppy export manager of Roda, one of the top producers of Rioja in Spain, was in India recently to promote their wines through the newly appointed distributor, the Wine Park. Subhash Arora caught up with her to have a quick tasting of Roda, Roda1 and their newly introduced Sela 2009 at the Leela Chanakyapuri

If there is one example of persistence and patience paying off in the difficult Indian wine market, it has to be Roda, one of the newer but high quality producers of Rioja. Whose export manager Sara Fernandez Bengoa I had met at a wine show in Barcelona about 6 years back. Their top wine Cirsion had been winning several recognitions and awards as the top Spanish red wine. They also produce top quality olive oil from their own farms in two different locations in Spain. I subsequently visited the winery in Haro, Rioja and was quite impressed with the modern winery.

Sara and subsequent export managers have been visiting India frequently. The common refrain always was that they wanted to be in India on a long term basis and the branding was their main concern. The talks had once reached a very advanced stage of negotiations with Brindco but eventually fizzled out. Their current export manager for Middle East and Asia, the young Arancha Busnadiego who came to India in late 2010 was not the least bit disheartened that their persistent efforts had not yielded results. When I organised a Delhi Wine Club dinner at her request at the Aman Hotel, she was very pleased with the response and the dinner was a resounding success. But there was still no importer willing to touch the rather expensive wines due to lack of appreciation of the brand and quality and the fear of inability to sell to the 5-star hotels who generally look at the prices first and then the prices again as the first two important factors.

Fortunately for them, the Wine Park has been following a similar policy of including the quality labels and focusing on discerning hotels who have their F & B managers and clientele looking for wines with such difference and finesse.  The business started and the first supplies came in early this year with Mumbai being the first city to start selling their wines. Delhi was next and the registration was done a couple of months ago. She had come to Delhi to meet the various hotels and was quite happy with the response she got. In fact, she was pleasantly surprised when some decision makers asked her about Cirsion which is not being imported by Vishal Kadakia. DelWine has been a propagator of this top class Tempranillo from select parcels - but only for people with deep pockets.

For others there are Roda and Roda 1 which is primarily a higher end variant of Roda and the new addition which is ‘Sela’- a vine made from young vines. The Indian producers would squirm when they hear the Riojan definition of young vines-its usually 15-20 years old; it is not uncommon to come across vines that are 90-100 years old some of which I had seen personally during my visit to Rioja. The company had started in 1987 with planting of vines but soon realized that to make the best wine, they needed to have different parcels in different soils, height and temperature characteristics, says Arancha.

The company thus owns 70hAs of vines but in 17 plots at an average height of 400 meters. The grapes from each of these vineyards are vinified separately and blended later to decide which wine would be made. Sela is made from vines that were planted in 1987.

‘We are very proud of the way we control our malolactic fermentation temperature’ says Arancha while going through her impressive PPP, among other features like tasting in the caves where not only is the wine stored for aging but there is a proper tasting room. The barriques in which red wine (they make only red) is kept are kept in a room the floor of which is temperature controlled through water running underneath and can be heated or cooled as desired.

Sela is a young wine with softer tannins and  juicy flavours with a lot of elegance that make people term it feminine wine, says Arancha. Its already offered in the business class of Itehad Airlines. The company has priced it aggressively enough for the Wine Park to sell it so it is available at Rs.800 a glass in restaurants or Rs.4000 a bottle which is a great value-for-money offer. Roda is at Rs, 6000++ while the complex and more sophisticated Roda 1 at Rs.9000 a bottle may find fewer and more discerning clients with money not being the consideration for an excellent Rioja worth ordering at special occasions.

While it may not be available in retail in Delhi, Sela could soon be available in hotels like Claridges which has just placed an order and the Taj or Maurya Sheraton which she feels have shown a positive inclination. Like Barolo, Barbaresco and Amarone, Rioja is also a ‘brand’ in the eyes of many wine connoisseurs and there are enough palates yearning for a fine Rioja like Sela, Roda and Roda 1, Arancha would be pleased to know.

And Cirsion? Retailing at over $150 a bottle in the US, that would be a bit of a challenge and will cater to a very small niche market - and probably more in Mumbai. High excise duty would make it beyond the reach of an average super-rich Indian.

Subhash Arora



Aman Dhall Says:

I wish to advise you that we did not have advanced discussions with Bodega Roda and infact only 4 emails where exchanged. I had advised them that we shall not be able to represent them as Brindco consider the category small at this stage. The facts given in your article are incorrect. Aman

Posted @ September 12, 2012 17:23


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