Oct 03: If every wine must have a unique and interesting story to tell, there would be plenty in the glass from Fratelli Wines, a collaborative joint venture between three sets of brothers, with the Seccis from Tuscany teaming with Sekhri siblings from Delhi and the Mohite-Patil brothers from Maharashtra- the three pairs launching three varietals in the first phase, in Mumbai last Friday
In the first phase, the company has released three varietals- Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon in both- standard bottles and half bottles. Fratelli Wines will be available in Mumbai and Pune for the time being, where they have been priced at Rs. 650 for the Cabernet Sauvignon, Rs.595 for the Sauvignon Blanc while the Chenin Blanc has been priced at more competitive price of Rs.495. Half-bottles (375mL) have been priced at Rs.335, Rs. 315 and Rs. 260 respectively.
Partnership and Management
The Secci brothers - Alessio and Andrea have teamed up with the Sekhri brothers - Kapil and Gaurav and the Mohite-Patil brothers – Ranjit and Arjun; to form joint Indo-Italian venture which is perhaps the first of its kind in India, each investing Rs.100 million in the venture. A small stake is also held by their viticulturist and enologist, Piero Masi.
So far, the participation of Italians in the Indian wine industry has been limited to consultancy- like in the case of Vintage Wines, Big Banyan and Humpy, although Riona Wines had been formed a couple of years ago as a JV to distribute wines from Marché Region in Italy with the planned production of wines from the staple Maharashtra grapes with the machinery from Italy exported as part of the equity participation.
Masi- The Symphony Conductor
Wines are being produced under the guidance of Masi who is the chief viticulturist and enologist from Chianti (no relation with the well-known Veneto producer Masi-owned by the Sandrone family), hopefully giving a distinct and truly Italian flavour. He is credited with production of some premium and acclaimed wines in the Chianti region. His wine brands ‘Fattoria dell’ Agenda’ 2004 and 2006-100% Cabernet Sauvignon were reportedly sold out even before bottling. He is also attributed with the creation of the famous ‘Chianti Classico Casa Sola’ and the Super Tuscan ‘Cepparello’ for the premier Tuscan winery Isole e Olena.
Speaking at the launch, Alessio Secci, Director of Fratelli Wines said, ‘We at Fratelli are very committed to serving the best taste of Italian wines and thus have taken special efforts in planting the 350, 000 vine saplings by grading every inch of the 240 acres of virgin land at Akluj where we formed gentle slopes with ideal lines of elevation.’ The winery with a capacity of 600,000 liters plans to make 100,000 liters of wine at present, says Secci. Grapes of Fratelli- Besides the ‘traditional’ Maharashtra white grapes of Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc, the company has ventured into Chardonnay, which has yet to prove its mantle as a successful grape in India, though Reveilo has gained acceptance for this varietal. It has also grown the German varietal Müller Thurgau (easy drinking but crisp wine producing grape of Franconia, losing fast its popularity globally) and the German, French and Italian aromatic varietal Gewürztraminer which can be quite sensuous or weak in flavour, though exotic and tropical on the nose with many people mistakenly thinking of it as a perfect match with Indian food.
The red varietals have all the Bordeaux grapes minus Malbec- Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and the other popular blending varietals Syrah (Shiraz) and Sangiovese. The company also seems to have taken on the challenge of growing the Burgundian varietal Pinot Noir- a rather difficult grape for this region (and claimed to be used by Indage in their table wine Riviera).
But the most exciting experimental grape seems to be Marselan - A new French grape variety named after Marseillan, the small town on the French Mediterranean coast where it was first grown in 1961. A cross between Cabernet- Sauvignon and Grenache and gaining attention for the past few years in the European market from producers and consumers alike, it was first made in 2002 in France. Only a few producers are making this medium-bodied wine in the Languedoc region and it would be most curious to see how the variety would develop in India-the hot climate should be able to give a more full-bodied and high alcohol version in Maharashtra but it does have the ring of exotic and uniqueness about it. Since it is normally not wooded, it would be interesting to see how Piero would handle the grape.
From the looks of it, Fratelli Wines should help add a new dimension to the Indian wines. Incidentally, Fratelli means ‘brothers’ in Italy where ‘Sorelle’ are the sisters. Do we hear some dream girls in the vast India conceiving ‘Sorelle Wines’ with their Italian counterparts in the near future?
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