Saas-Fee Film Festival 2015: The highlights
The eyes of young Giulia Salerno are inscribed indelibly in one's mindset - her troubled, but composed portrayal of Aria reflects a maturity way beyond her years in the Italian film, Incompresa, directed by Asia Argento. The Swiss Driften, the feature debut by director Karim Patwas, sends alarm bells on various fronts. One can count on a good Italian selection, this year L'Arbitro by director Paolo Zucca, to give a political twist combined with irreverent humour.
Saving the best for the last - the one which unanimously won the audience award - was the Austrian Der Letzte Tanz by Houchang Allahyari, a remarkable Iranian-born director, a practicing psychiatrist and more... A courageous film, the perfect palette for the swan song of the 88-year old Erni Mangold. Less said, but a must see.
While no snow storms this year, Saas-Fee was still stunning in its sun-filled valley, with towering mountains and its warm hospitality. Fondue lunch at "du" this year included the Decanter award-winning, Heida, featured by Sommelier India a few months ago, the local Valaisan wine, reputed to be from the highest altitude vineyards in Europe. Just a stone's throw away, the vineyards are seen on the opposite mountain-side while travelling by Post Bus from Visp up to Saas-Fee. Together with the wine, Astrid's generous offerings of mouth-watering dry meat from the Valais and crispy greens, followed by her special fondue mix, encouraged animated "off-the-record" conversations with the members of the jury, directors and actors!
A special feature which Gabriel and Stefan, both parents of young kids, have introduced is Young SFFF which this year showed three films for 0, 6 and 12 years respectively. A great way to get kids early into the cinema halls!
The special collaboration with the Talis Festival adds marvellous live classical music at the opening and closing of the SFFF. Talis also having its second round in Saas-Fee from 19-26 July 2015.
As summed up by Hans-Jochen Wagner, a jury member, at the closing event "The SFFF is small and high quality... In addition to the warmth and hospitality, it is the special character of Stefan and Gabriel that make it unforgettable." That's how everyone felt! So mark your dates for the next SFFF: 9-13 March 2016.
For more info:
On the village: www.saas-fee.ch
On the film festival: www.sfff.ch
On Heida wine: www.sommelierindia.com
On the Talis festival: www.talisfestival.com
Touring India's Wine Country - A Taste of Heaven
Charosa Vineyards is located at Charosa village in Dindori district, about 55 km north of Nashik. Off the Nashik-Dindori main road, a country road meanders past open stretches and fields to Charosa's extensive vineyards and large modern winery. There has been a good deal of investment of resources and effort at every step - from the selection of the site to the planting of vines, the production and maturation process. The complex also has an automated weather station to enable pre-emptive measures to be taken in protecting the vineyards.
Seven wine labels, falling under three categories - the premium Reserve range that features oak-aged wines; the easy-drinking Selections range; and the entry level Pleasures range - are presently being produced from the five grape varietals planted.
These are Charosa Reserve Tempranillo, which is credited with being India's first and only 100% Tempranillo; Charosa Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon; Charosa Selections Sauvignon Blanc; Charosa Selections Shiraz; Charosa Selections Viognier; Charosa Pleasures Sauvignon Blanc and Charosa Pleasures Cabernet Shiraz which is a blend.
Vineyard and Winery Tours
As of now Charosa Vineyards is not hosting wine tours commercially. However, it is possible to visit the vineyards and winery by invitation or by prior appointment. There is no charge for the tour. Wine tasting is held at the barrel room.
The entire range of wines is available for tasting and is offered without any charge. The winery is presently in the process of setting up hospitality and stay facilities. Wines are available at a 20% discount on MRP at the winery.
At the moment, there is no restaurant on the premises. However, with advance notice the winery arranges for local fare, which is fresh and tasty. The dining area is well located beside a water body and vineyards.
Visitors are advised to plan visits well in advance. Contact Ashok Patil, the winemaker (firstname.lastname@example.org). Closed on weekends, all public holidays and excise holidays. It takes about 60 minutes to reach the winery from Nashik.
Located slightly off the main road in Dindori on the outskirts of Nashik, Château d'Ori enjoys a lovely countryside ambience. The last section of the way to the winery passes a temple, old shrines, fields and vineyards, beyond which the winery stands out for its unusual circular design.
Inspired by the beauty of vineyards and wineries in Bordeaux, Ranjit Dhuru set up Chateau d'Ori on similar lines. Familiar with Nashik since his childhood, Dhuru examined the terroir of different sites before procuring land at the base of the Nhera-Ori hills at Dindori. Attention has been paid to the wine production process in the design of the winery. For instance, as Dhuru believes that pumping stresses wine, making it lose some of its subtler characteristics, the structure is designed to minimize pumping and instead use gravity to move wine. The winemaking process and the cultivation of the vineyards are overseen by the renowned and highly experienced oenologist from Bordeaux, Athanase Fakorellis.
Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Merlot and Cabernet Syrah. Wine is available for purchase at a discounted price at the winery.
Chateau d'Ori is open to visitors by prior appointment. There is a vineyard and winery
tour, along with wine tasting at the winery of four wine varieties. Charge: ₹ 150 per person. Timings: 10 am to 5 pm. Open throughout the year except on excise holidays.
Accommodation at the private four-bedroom guesthouse is available on request and at the discretion of the management. Food is included in this package.
Meals can be arranged at the guesthouse on prior request for a group of 10-15 persons. Rate depends on food preferences. For smaller groups meals can be arranged for a higher per head charge.
Dindori is about 22 km from the Nashik Central Bus Stand. It takes approximately 45 minutes to reach the winery from Nashik. Contact: Kailash Dhuru (email@example.com; mobile 09730071475) or Tanvi Dhuru (firstname.lastname@example.org; mobile 09766635611).
DECCAN PLATEAU VINEYARDS
Deccan Plateau Vineyards Pvt Ltd is located at Burkegaon, less than an hour's drive from Pune. Its founder, Nitin Shinde hails from a family of farmers and is focused on producing small quantities of quality wines. He studied Viticulture and Oenology at Adelaide University; worked at wineries in Australia, Nashik and the US; then set up Deccan Plateau Vineyards, which offers wine tours and agri-tourism in a small and simple way on the premises.
Seven varieties: Sauvignon Blanc, Rosé (from Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz), Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Shiraz-Cabernet-Merlot blend and Cabernet-Shiraz blend.
Vineyard and winery tour plus wine tasting: ₹ 350 per person. Prior booking is required. Call: +918600041293. Wine is available for purchase at the winery at a discount of 10% on the MRP. Visitors can buy fresh vegetables from the farm and processed vegetables like sweet corn, green peas from Trimurti Corns Agro Foods Pvt Ltd. located next to the winery. Visit www.deccanplateauwines.com
Meals can be arranged on prior notice. The charge for food, wine tasting and the tour is ₹ 700 upwards. Visitors can also enjoy fresh corn mixed with dry spices from a processing unit near the winery.
The winery is about 35 km from Pune, off the Pune-Ahmednagar Highway. Travel time varies between 30-60 minutes depending on the part of the city one is travelling from, making for an easy half-day or day trip. Transport from Pune can also be arranged. There are plans to develop agri-tourism, a restaurant and accommodation. Contact: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Visitors can also conveniently visit the memorial of the Battle of Koregaon (1818) near the winery. Other sightseeing spots are the memorial of Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj at Vadhu, about half an hour away; Tulapur, located at the scenic confluence of the three rivers - Bhima, Bhama and Indrayani - with its beautiful old Shiva temple; and Moraichi Chincholi, a lovely village that fosters a resident peacock population. Visit www.chincholimorachi.com
This story is part of a series by Brinda Gill that was published in SI's April-May edition.
Dancing the Tango on World Malbec Day
Argentum, silver in Latin, is the root of the name Argentina - the silver land.....entirely true until you try Malbec wines. Then it turns into gold!
Malbec World Day is celebrated on April 17, to commemorate President Domingo Faustino Sarmiento's decision to import new vines of Malbec on that day, in 1853. He tasked a French soil expert to bring over new vines of Malbec.
Originally from Cahors in southwest France, Argentina has made Malbec its own, a red variety recognised by its deeply purple hue. The main fruit flavours in a glass of Argentine Malbec are blackberry, plum and black cherry and the main growing area is Mendoza. Its mouth-filling tannins initially appear assertive but have a lush and mellow finish.
The Finca Flichman Misterio 2013 from Mendoza, the first of the two wines served, was particularly smooth. The second, Urban Uco Malbec 2012 was elegant and very enjoyable. The supreme combination of fruity and smoky flavours defies description but flirts with your taste buds while sliding gently down your throat. Argentine Malbec is fruit forward as against French Malbecs (sometimes called Côt and Auxerrois) from the Loire and Cahors, which have higher acidity.
Although Malbec was a common blending grape in Bordeaux, because of its poor resistance to weather and pests, it never became a top Bordeaux varietal. However, Argentina reinvigorated Malbec as one of the top 18 noble grapes. Although Malbec grows in seven countries (as well as India) and continues increase in popularity, Argentina cultivates over 75% of all the acres of Malbec in the world.
Malbec wine offers a great alternative to higher priced Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. With its rounded tannins and juicy mulberry flavours, Argentinian Malbec is an ideal match for Asian cuisine. It is also a great barbecue wine since it is uncomplicated but robust enough to stand up to numerous smoky, charred flavours as well as the spicy and often sweetish condiments that accompany barbecued food.
Malbec Day has today come to epitomize all of Argentine culture while celebrating the grape that originated in France but now calls Argentina home.
Champagne Devaux launched in India
Located at Bar-Sur-Seine, Epernay, in the Côte des Bar region of Champagne, the House of Devaux produces 7,00,000 bottles annually, which are available in three ranges, the D Collection, Classic Range and Speciality 100% Pinot Noir.
In the past, Côte des Bar was often overlooked and even regarded with disdain as it did not receive any of Champagne's top classifications except Drappier, even though 50% of Pinot Noir in Champagne is grown here. When the cellar master Michel Parisot conceived Collection D, he wanted to create a masterpiece according to time-honoured methods of champagne-making, something that had its own identity within the hierarchy of Champagne.
As briefed by Jean-Noël, a selection of the best Pinot Noir from the "crus" of the Côte des Bar and Chardonnay from the "crus" of the Côte des Blancs is used to make Collection D. No pre-blending is done and a large amount of reserve wines aged in oak casks are used. Only first pressing juices called "cuvée" and the heart of the first pressing juices called 'cœur de cuvée' (the best quality) is used for the D Collection. Amazingly, the wine spends a rather long time on lees: a minimum of five years in the bottle for the non-vintages.
Jean-Noel encouraged us to taste the collection in large white wine glasses and not in the usual flutes and tulips that are normally used. He wanted us to experience the concentrated aromas on the nose; it did make a huge difference when compared to a flute.The first wine we tasted was the Devaux Cuvée D, Brut, which is a delicious fresh and creamy Champagne of great persistence. With key aromas of toasted Brioche, vanilla and white blossoms, it makes a good aperitif.
Devaux Ultra D, Brut, was next. This dark gold colour "extra brut", apparently the only one of its kind available in the Indian market, makes a good food wine. We were urged to try the fabulous range of cheeses, cold cuts, spreads, olives and breads that was displayed by Gada da vida to experience its versatility as a food wine. The freshness was accompanied by great minerality combined with saline notes. The low dosage enhances purity, freshness and elegance. It had wonderful vivacity and excellent length on the palate.
The last wine that was tasted was the pale coloured D Rosé that has fresh light aromas of red fruits. The palate was fruity with subtle notes of raspberry and apricot. This is a Rosé made by blending 10% red wine with the white. A perfect aperitif for a hot summer afternoon.
Champagne House of Devaux was founded in 1846 by the brothers Jules and Auguste Devaux. It was taken over by the three Devaux widows of great character or Veuves as they are called in Champagne. They ran the company with much energy and skill. The company is now owned by Union Aubois known today as the Groupe Vinicole Champagne Devaux.
Priced at ₹ 5,500 and ₹ 6,000 in Mumbai - the wines mentioned above are available in select retail stores and hotels.
Trade News - Drinks Business Awards 2015
Unveiled each year at the London Wine Fair, this is a chance for outstanding companies and individuals to win high profile recognition before some of the industry's most influential representatives. 2015 sees the addition of five new supply chain categories, in association with Crimson & Co Consulting, notes Drinks Business.
The deadline for entries is 27th April 2015. The ceremony will be on 19th May 2015 at The London Wine Fair, Olympia. Click here for information on how to enter online.
Alternatively, for further details email or call
Lewis O'Sullivan | The Drinks Business
Direct: +44 (0)20 7803 2427 | Office: +44 (0)20 7803 2420 | Fax:+44 (0)20 7803 242. http://www.thedrinksbusiness.com
Burgundy Vintner, Anne-Claude Leflaive, Dies at 59
Sula is the big daddy of Indian wines
Sula Vineyards entered the market 15 years ago and now exports to over 25 countries worldwide. The company has been a pioneer in many ways, not least in being the first to initiate sustainable viticulture and winemaking. Besides being India's largest wine producer, Sula is also a leading wine and spirits importer, with a portfolio of prestigious brands like Remy Cointreau, Cono Sur, Hardys, Ruffino and Asahi.
Sula pioneered wine tourism in India, opening the first ever winery tasting room in 2005 and the first vineyard resort, Beyond by Sula, in 2007. Since then, almost a dozen wineries have followed Sula's lead in Maharashtra alone by opening their doors to visitors. (Read more about visiting Indian wineries in the April-May 2015 issue of Sommelier India Wine Magazine).
In most recent news from Sula Vineyards, the company hosted a special event at 'Catch by Simonis' in The Hague, following their participation in Europe's largest (and one of the world's most important) wine and spirits show - ProWein in Dusseldorf. (The other Indian company that took part at the show in Dusseldorf was Grover Zampa Vineyards).
The event arranged for prominent figures of the Dutch wine trade was hosted by Cecilia Oldne, Sula's Brand Ambassador & Head of International Business, along with Sula's importer in The Netherlands, Asian Wines. In her welcome speech, Oldne informed guests about Nashik's emergence as a wine region in India and how this had helped make Indian wine a player in the international arena.
The wines uncorked in the course of the evening included award-winning wines such as Rasa Shiraz, Sula Brut, Sula Sauvignon Blanc, Dindori Reserve Viognier, Dindori Reserve Shiraz, Sula Late Harvest Chenin Blanc as well as the new launches in the market - Sula Riesling and Sula Brut Rosé (pictured, left).
One of Sula's best markets in Europe, business in The Netherlands (which is the 6th largest wine import market ii the world) is growing at a steady clip. Sapna Knijnenburg of Asian Wines, said, "Sula Vineyards came as a pleasant surprise to the Dutch people and they love the wines!" Dindori Viognier and Dindori Shiraz are the current favourites. Chefs from high-end international restaurants including Michelin star restaurants are full of praise for them.
As Oldne commented, Sula has helped raise the profile of Indian wine globally, firmly establishing India on the wine map of the world.
A Stellar New Release from Querciabella
In addition, meticulous blending was carried out from various subzones, to produce straight Chianti Classico worthy of the Querciabella name. The new mono-varietal Riserva, an offshoot of Querciabella's single-vineyard Sangiovese project, and the result of rigorous micro-vinification is an excellent example of the estate's site-specific handling of grapes in the cellar. Like Camartina and Palafreno, this Riserva represents the pinnacle of Querciabella wines and will be bottled only in the best vintages.
The warm growing season in 2011 produced smaller, more concentrated berries that required the gentlest of winemaking, including shorter pump-overs and lighter punch-downs during fermentation. "The fruit had everything to give in this vintage," said winemaker Manfred Ing. "We only had to point it in the right direction."
Italian wine critic, and Gambero Rosso founder, Daniele Cernilli has awarded the 2011 Riserva a stellar 97-point score, hailing it as a great wine, "refined, agile and well-supported by acidity". Only 10,000 bottles have been released of this unique Sangiovese blend from Querciabella's top vineyards located in Greve, Radda and Gaiole in Chianti. Due to limited supply, the Riserva will be available in a few select markets outside Italy, and will be sold strictly on allocation.
Distributed in India by Mumbai-based importer, Vishal Kadakia of The Wine Park, Querciabella's critically acclaimed wines can be found at upscale restaurants, hotels and wine shops in the major cities of India.
Sommelier India Issue 2, April-May 2015 Released
Turning to the issue at hand, the lead feature is about Piero Masi, partner and oenologist at Fratelli Wines, who brings decades of Tuscan winemaking experience to bear on Indian wine production. For a firsthand experience and better understanding of what goes on behind the scenes at a winery, you can't do better than visit one. Our Pune correspondent, Brinda Gill has done extensive research on Nashik. Her article, "Touring India's Wine Country, A Taste of Heaven", provides all the information you will need.
Ronald Rens' article about Bordeaux First Growth château, Mouton Rothschild, "Making the Impossible, Possible", and Michele Shah's "A Tribute to Toscana" will set you dreaming about vineyard visits further afield. Elsewhere in the issue, Mira Advani Honeycutt describes a unique bespoke service, Soutirage that will go to any length to assist wine lovers in nurturing their passion.
Undeterred by warnings from family and friends about visiting conflict ridden, Lebanon, Renu Chahil-Graf our correspondent in Europe, braved it all to bring us an account of the exceptional but lesser known wines produced there. The pioneering winemaker who did more than anyone else to make the wines of Lebanon known around the world was, of course, Serge Hochar, who died unexpectedly last year. You may remember reading his obituary in the last issue of SI.
"On the Grapevine" features an interesting potpourri of wine news and what's trending. Read about international wines available in our country, Querciabella's latest Chianti Classico Riserva from Tuscany, De Bortoli's re- entry in the Indian market, Cockburn's bicentenary, and more. Before you put down this issue, do remember to fill in the answers to SI's Lucky Draw and send them in. There's a bottle of Fratelli's latest release to be won. What's more, you get a free bottle of Grover Zampa's La Réserve with a three-year subscription to Sommelier India!