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!
Cellar Night at Courtyard by Marriott, Pune
For this delectable endeavour and for the sheer dining pleasure of guests, the menu featured three courses of Indian specialities and a dessert platter with a signature touch, all paired with Indian wines. Chef Sinha tasted a selection of wines before deciding on the wines to be served and the dishes to pair with them. To prepare the dishes for the wine dinner, he used spices in judicious quantities, opting for mild, flavourful spices. He used cream for the marinade to mellow the effect of the spices so that the flavours of the wines would not be overpowered by those of the food.
So it was that the appetisers of Bharwan Kumbh and Zaffrani Murgh Ki Ashrfiyan were paired with the light, floral Fratelli Sangiovese Bianco. Sujata mentioned that Fratelli is the first winery in Asia and one of the few wineries in the world to produce a white wine from Sangiovese, Tuscany's a signature red grape.
The main course of Laal Maans/ Murgh Nawabi Handi/ Nazakat Ke Koftey was paired with the medium bodied Myra Reserve Shiraz infused with mild flavours of spice and oak. The Dum Gosht Biryani/Dum Subz Biryani, served with Salan and Dal Makhani, was paired with the fruit forward Fratelli Merlot. (Pictured left, Brinda Gill with Executive Chef Pradipt Sinha, as he explains food and wine pairing)
The meal was fittingly wrapped up with The Great Indian Dessert Platter of three favourite Indian desserts with a Western touch to reduce their sweetness and improve their pairing with Zampa Brut. The Gajjar ka Halwa was nicely wedged between and oozing from a pair of macaroons, while Angoori Rasmalai was served in a chocolate cup and small Gulab Jamuns were presented in a tart!
And all these dishes combined with a lovely ambience, the easy meeting of Indian wines and Indian food in the company of wine enthusiasts - spoke softly of the growing confidence in Indian wines and India's wine culture.
KRSMA founders - Crossing new frontiers
Krishna has had a life-long penchant for making home-made wines. It started with buckets of rotting fruit in his garage when he was twenty. Uma tells me that when they were married, they had a two-bedroom apartment, and one of them was Krishna's winery! A few years ago, when visiting the dry, gravelly, hard-scrabble 14th century heritage town called Hampi, not far from Bangalore, he wondered out aloud whether it would not be a good place to make high-quality wines. As usual, his friends greeted what was surely a hair-brained idea with hoots of laughter, so of course Krishna set out to do it.
This is Hampi.
And this is the winery Krishna and Uma built from local stone.
They called their wines KRSMA. Two years after the launch in India in 2013, Krsma wines have climbed the ladder to the top of international-standard wines made in India. They will be launched in New York next week, but have already been well-received by several respected restaurants there.
In blind tests in Bangalore, their Sauvignon Blanc came out on top of the most internationally-renowned versions from New Zealand. And their Reds (Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon) are now the standard in India.
Krishma and Uma are not only top-notch winemakers. Another of their hobbies got them into the Guinness Book of Records a few weeks ago as the first couple in the world to have run seven marathons on seven continents in seven days! Starting from Antarctica, they were the first to cross the Finishing Line in Sydney, Australia!
Watch the video.
And as if this isn't enough, their day job is as promoter-owners of Granules India, a $300 million company that makes medical products in India and the US for companies in the US.
From the Editor
Since the note above was written, KRSMA has been launched in New York City. KRSMA wines from India are now poured in more that 15 restaurants in New York and are available for sale at two stores in Manhattan - Sussex wines & liquors and Park Avenue Liquor shop. They are also available online in the City through https://www.parkaveliquor.com/wine/india
"Uma and I met a few restaurant managers and everyone seems to be rating the wines very high. It looks like we sold 100 cases in the first three weeks! Says Krishna with justifiable pride.
The US price for KRSMA Cabernet Sauvignon is $45 and KRSMA Sauvignon Blanc is $20.
Dheeraj Bhatia, Chief Sommelier at Peninsula Hotel, HK
After working in New Delhi, Dubai, South Africa, the Seychelles and Beijing, he became Head Sommelier at Raffles Hotel in Singapore before moving to Hong Kong. He was nominated Best Sommelier of 2011 at the World Gourmet Summit in Singapore, and is a judge for Decanter Asia where Grover's Sauvignon Blanc recently won a gold medal.
Bhatia's first interest was food, but upon realising he couldn't be a good chef, he developed a fascination and curiosity for wine and vineyards. "You must know how to differentiate and appreciate the characteristics of each wine before you can recommend one to a guest. It's a journey that never stops," he says.
On his travels, he sources exclusives for the Peninsula's seven restaurants and two bars, though 90% of the 900 labels are bought locally. Hong Kong has only two hundred bottles of Philipp Kuhn's Riesling from Germany's Pfalz area and all of them are in Bhatia's cellars. While judging for Decanter Asia this year, he discovered a very good fortified wine from Bali and hopes to offer this for the first time in Hong Kong.
While Burgundy, Rhône, Loire and Bordeaux wines are most requested, particularly by mainland Chinese guests, Bhatia has seen changes in drinking patterns over the past two and a half years. "People are more open-minded, willing to try new things," he says. He helps them by providing interesting wines by-the-glass from Greece, Hungary, Israel, Japan, and Austria. Felix restaurant overlooking Hong Kong island
Bhatia believes that changes in wine preferences run parallel with changes in wine production - towards lighter more subtle wines with low alcohol content. 'Guests' tastes have become more flexible and they love pairing', so Bhatia provides plenty of half-bottles and by-the-glass options. In Felix, the hotel's more trendy restaurant, guests go for more exotic wines, and in the Felix Experience pairing menu Bhatia offers his 2012 Philipp Kuhn Riesling Alte Reben from Pfalz in Germany with duck liver; a Tavel rosé with olive oil-poached octopus and shrimp dumplings; the 2010 Bad Boy Garage, a Bordeaux find, with lamb; and a 1988 Armagnac with fresh cheese mousse complemented with anise vanilla ice cream.
In general, Bhatia recommends a rosé wine to go with garlic flavoured dishes; Greek and Hungarian wines with fish and Armagnac with desserts to act as a digestif. He believes Port or Riesling go best with cheeses. The first lesson Bhatia learnt in sommelier school was to "make the chef your best friend". Acting on the lesson, he married a pastry and chocolate chef and enjoys hanging out with chefs after work.
When dining out, Bhatia is always looking out for new ideas. Recently he came across a quirky Spanish blueberry liqueur aperitif in a bar and immediately photographed the bottle with his phone and sent the image to his chef. He has also discovered a sparkling sake for which his chef created a special recipe.
Bhatia holds monthly training meetings for his staff of twelve, at which he discusses the wine list. To motivate his staff he conducts six-month-long programmes, with prizes of visits to the Champagne and Californian wine regions for the best pupils. Each night he tours the hotel's restaurants, checking that guests are comfortable with their wine choices. "You must treat them as if they were in your own home and offer them the best. Guests new to wine can be terrified of sommeliers." So he simply introduces himself by saying, 'I'm the wine guy', and moves away while they study the wine list.
Bhatia believes the taste of wine has much to do with the weather. He likes to serve champagne in white wine glasses because "champagne deserves to be in such a glass, not a flute, so that it can breathe as other wines are allowed to do and the bouquet can be fully appreciated. It can be served as any time of the day and is a good cure for jet lag".
This article first appeared in SI, Sommelier India February-March 2015
It's all about location, location, location - and microbes