Oct 09: The 3rd edition of the India Wine Awards held at The Leela Mumbai was held with great aplomb, in which the Results of Silver , Gold and Diamond winners were announced out of the 320 Indian and foreign wines available in Mumbai with 56 vying for the food and wine category as well, writes Sheetal Kadam who attended the ceremony on behalf of delWine, with inputs from Subhash Arora who was a judge for the 3rd year
The Award Ceremony held on October 5 in the Grand Ballroom was truly grand and a landmark for the wine industry, attended by over 300 people from the industry, wine connoisseurs, journalists, jury members and several special guests, most predominant being Ian Harris, CEO of Wine and Spirit Trust (WSET) and Ravi Viswanathan, Chairman of Grover Zampa Group, who had come especially to attend the Awards night from Singapore.
Sonal Holland MW, the first and only Master of Wine was the Chairperson of the Awards (IWA) started in 2017. It is a world- class wine judging competition for Indian and Imported wine brands in India. This year the Award Night was held again at the Grand Ballroom, The Leela Mumbai on the evening of 5th October.
Judging for the Awards
The judging was conducted by a panel chaired by Sonal Holland MW on September 12-13 at the Leela Mumbai. 320 wines were tasted and rated by a jury of 18 experts over these two working days. In addition 56 wines were entered in the food and wine category- with each of the participating wine tasted against 8 dishes served all at one time. Jury was selected from varied wine and hospitality background, including Subhash Arora, editor of delWine and President of the Indian Wine Academy, with judging experience at 66 international wine competitions and who was present in all 3 editions. For details of Jury, click here .
As a strong believer in wine education, Sonal had organized three master classes which I attended. ‘The Extraordinary Italian Taste’ was led by her, the second master class on ‘Varietal Tasting- Focus on Chardonnay’ was conducted by Alex De Cata, DipWSET, WSET Certified Educator and Business Development Manager – Middle East, Africa and India). ‘A journey of the senses- The glass and the Palate’ was also conducted by Sonal in association with the crystal stemware company Lucaris Crystal.
Before the start of the Award ceremony meticulously anchored by Anish Trivedi, the Whiskey evangelist, for the second year, there were ample wines to taste from stalls set up by companies like Sula, Grover, Fratelli, Moet Hennessey and others to moisten the palate before the 2-hour ritual.
Sonal welcomed the dignitaries and professionals and said “We feel proud that in three years we have established the India Wine Awards as the biggest and the most authoritative wine competition in the country with authenticity, credibility, relevance and integrity as its 4 cornerstones. It is equally exciting that the Awards continue to get bigger, bolder and broader in its vision.” For the first time medal stickers will be provided to the winners so that they may affix them on the winning labels. She also assured the trophy winners that she would consider them favourably for Food Hall in Mumbai and Bangalore for which she is a consultant.
Rajeev Samant – Founder & CEO of Sula Vineyards and Kapil Sekhri had sent congratulatory messages. Ian Harris, Global CEO of Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) London, was the special invitee. He shared his views on India as a prospective market and said that India was amongst the top 20 countries for WSET to consider for expanding their business activities and rendering wine education.
Stefania Costanza the Consul General of Italy in Mumbai extended a supporting hand to the IWA-2019 through a stand showcasing Italian products. In her unique style, holding an Italian wine glass, she spoke about the legacy of Italian Wine Culture and historical being of Italian wines. ‘Extraordinary Taste of Italy’ showcased cheese, olive oils, pastas etc.
Ravi Viswanathan, Chairman of Grover Zampa Vineyards, spoke about the potential of Indian wine in the International markets. “The world is considering and accepting Indian wines to be better and progressing; we as Indian’s also need to realize the fact”, he said. (Read details in another Article in this issue)
‘You have judged for all 3 editions. What was your experience this year of judging’, I asked Mr. Arora. ‘It was a professional wine competition like anywhere in the world. The organisation by Sonal Holland’s team and the wine service by the Leela were immaculate. In fact, I feel they went overboard on hospitality on both days. Tastings were blind and the judges were not aware of the country of origin. It was the first time that Indian wines had been pitted against foreign wines on the same flight. This gave them ample challenge and opportunity. A few experts could perhaps identify the origin being India for a few of the wines but in general all wines were judged based on the taste in the glass and the capability of each juror. About 18 judges worked on 2 days at 4 different tables-the first day being exclusively for judging the wines till 7 pm and the next day with food.’
Food and wine judging have created a lot of interest in the competition in the past and I believe also this year. How did you enjoy this aspect? I ask further. ‘This is really a fun competition as much as it is subjective. It is quite common in Australia and in some competitions in London too. In fact, I have been involved in judging the food and wine competition at the Hong Kong International Wine and Spirits Competition (HKIWSC) where I have been a judge 9 times in the past 11 editions and from the beginning since food and wine tasting started. I introduced several Indian dishes as a part of the portfolio of Asian dishes. I was happy to have it introduces at IWA in 2017 when I had a significant role to play. Therefore, I was not surprised by the interest and curiosity shown by the judges and the Press alike. This is a very subjective tasting where the wine quality is not important.’
‘I believe this year you tasted one wine label with 8 different foods including Sushi, Pizza, Haleem, Chicken Kung Pao, Thai Green Curry and 2 Dark Chocolates. How was the experience?’ ‘Honestly, I felt very uncomfortable and despite my experience, inadequate to do a fair job. It truly violated my palate. Eight wines with same dish, is fine but same wine with 8 dishes is humanly impossible. I hope for a better solution next time.’
With growing participation of producers and importers, IWA-2019 experienced voluminous growth. Indian wines were seen participating in parallel with the imported ones in the show, the ratio of Indigenous wines to imported wines being 50:50. Apart from the 28 Indian wines and 19 International brands winning Silver Medals many more Golds were garnered by the foreign wines: 15 Indian wines vs. 28 International labels.
The best in show trophies bagged by 5 Indian wineries were J’NOON Red 2017, The Source Grenache Rose 2019, KRSMA Syrah 2017, Grover Zampa Chene Grand Reserve 2015, SDU Reserva Syrah 2015, along with 7 international wines- G.H. Mumm Brut NV, France, Trapiche Oak Cask Malbec 2018 from Argentina, Bodegas Ego Fuerza from Spain, Dry Creek Vineyards Heritage Vines Zinfandel from USA, Paul Jabuolet Aine Les Traverses Ventoux 2016 from France, Framingham Pinot Noir Marlborough New Zealand, Zenato Ripassa Valpolicella Ripasso DOC Superiore 2015 from Italy.
Best in Show Italian Selection trophies won by Itinera Montepulciano D'Abruzzo, Tedeschi Capitel San Rocco Valpolicella Ripasso DOC Superiore, Carpene Malvolti Prosecco Special Cuvee Brut DOC, Sensi Boscoselvo Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, Zenato Soave Classico, Veneto.
Best wines paired with the Cuisines popular in India, was an innovative category. Sensi Prosecco Gold 18K from Italy was best with Sushi. The Faustino VII Rioja DOCa 2015 from Spain went well with Pizza Margherita. Reveilo Nero d ́Avola 2019 of India was best paired with Haleem. Sula Riesling 2019 best paired with Chicken Kung Pao. The Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Réserve NV from France paired with Thai Green Curry. Ganache KRSMA Syrah 2017 & Deetlefs Stonecross Malbec, South Africa were Best Wine paired with Fabelle Dark Chocolate. Best Wine pairing with Fabelle Single Origin Cacao was York Arros 2017, India
Quite a few awards were given away under the category of Outstanding World-Class Wine List, Best Wine Destination Award, Best Upcoming Wine Destination.