March 12: Inspired by the increasing global interest in Indian wines, especially in UK, a new start-up called ‘Wines in India’ has been floated by Chris Holland, Mayank Gupta and Nilesh Kamble with the stated objective of importing wines exclusively from India, with wines selected from six producers already there in the first tranche, writes Subhash Arora who wonders why the two top and the oldest producers, Sula and Grover have been excluded
‘Wines in India’ claims to be the only UK importer focused totally on import of Wines from India, according to Harpers. The initial portfolio focuses on six producers from the Nashik region- Charosa, Fratelli, Vallonne, York, Reveilo, and Good Drop Wine Cellars. Mysteriously missing are two of the top and the oldest producers Sula and Grover-perhaps because they already have well-established exclusive distribution in the UK market and could not legally entertain a new importer even if they wanted to.
The company was founded in 2019 by Chris Holland in partnership with Mayank Gupta and Nilesh Kamble who are the Directors.
The company will target both the Retail and Restaurant business and will include independent wine merchants, multiple specialists, grocers stocking quality wines and e-commerce wine specialists. For instance, a month ago, the UK supermarket chain Waitrose listed Vallonne Vineyards Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 at £19.99 a bottle. (Currently out-of-stock according to their website)
Their wine buyer Xenia Ruscombe-King MW, says, ‘the Indian wine industry has been going from strength to strength over the last 20 years and we are now seeing some fantastic quality wines being produced to rival those from classic wine-making countries.’
Artisan wine specialists like Wine Monkey, have already listed several labels, with more in the pipeline when restrictions due to Covid-19 are relaxed.
Also read : Soul Tree UK first to import Bulk Wine from India
Looking at their online List, Charosa has 3 variants at £18 each but the Reserve range of both Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo are priced at £34. The Italian version of Reveilo Grillo (£16) and Sangiovese (£18) are priced slightly lower. Vallonne Rose is £15 but the Reserve white Anokhee Chenin Blanc (£26) is priced high and the Anokhee Special Reserve Cabernet Reserve even higher at £32.
York Rose lists for (£12) whereas the popular Arros sells for £23) and H Block Chardonnay fetches even more at £25. The sparkling wine specialist Good Drop Wine Cellar Casablanca Rose Spumante and Vino Spumante are listed at £22 each whereas the Antaraa red is priced at £18. These wines and a few others are discounted at 10%.
Within the restaurant section (on-trade), the focus will be on fine dining Indian restaurants, or those with a specific wine focus and wine bars specialising in emerging regions, says the Report. The company claims that wines have been already listed in restaurants like the Darbar, Thyme & Chillies and Diogenes The Dog in London.
With so few Indian wineries available in the UK market, Wines in India’s mission is to remove any misconceptions the trade or consumer may have about Indian wines, by ensuring the focus on elegant, world class offerings, says the start-up. India is still a relatively young wine-producing country but during the last 10-15 years the industry has innovated and grown faster than any other competitive beverage market, and the potential to grow the category in the UK is significant, according to Wines in India. There are currently 17,000 Indian restaurants in the UK but very few of them supposedly list Indian wines, leaving a big gap to be filled and the company hopes to fill up the hole.
Wines In India also plans to be an exhibitor at this year’s Digital London Wine Fair on 17-19 May 2021 for the first time, with a digital pavilion showcasing 19 wines from the six wineries it currently showcases. Wine samples will be made available to the business visitors in advance. It will host Masterclasses for retailers and sommeliers.
However, one company that may take umbrage to the start up taking the credit for the only ‘Indian-wines only’ label, is The Soul Tree which was formed by the Indian-born duo of Melvin D'Souza and Alok Mathur who left their cushy corporate jobs to start up the company in 2011.
Also read : Tree Sharing Soul to Expand in UK
With thorough research and experimenting with wineries like Oakwood and Vinsura and with the help of their local winemaker Rajesh Rasal as their consultant, they launched their own label-The Soul Tree and claim to have cracked many of these 17000 restaurants across the Island nation. They have currently 5 variants, according to their website.
Interestingly, the Soul Tree started importing bulk wine last year from India and set up a joint venture with Kingsland Drinks that has a bottling facility in Greater Manchester to offer cheaper Indian wines bottled in the UK and also putting India on the world map as a bulk wine exporter.
There is nevertheless a need for as many dedicated export channels as possible and one welcomes Wines In India promoting Wines of India, which have improved their quality significantly and offer the taste of their terroir. There is a huge potential for selling these wines to not only the Indian customers or the Indian restaurants but a section of wine lovers in the UK loves to be experiential and experimental and they would love to patronise Wines in India –and companies like The Soul Tree and help promote quality and branding of our wines.
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