Names like Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Napa Valley have long dominated the fine wine market on the worldwide stage, enticing enthusiasts and fetching the greatest prices. Wines from well-known vineyards all over the world have long been the pinnacle of perfection, leaving little room for other newly developing wine regions to succeed. This long-held belief is being challenged by a fascinating transition that is taking place in the centre of the Indian subcontinent. India, a country rich in vivid culture and long-standing traditions, has been quietly making progress in the winemaking sector and establishing itself as a significant player in the world wine scene.
Indian wines have historically been generally overshadowed by their foreign equivalents because consumers associate the subcontinent more with alcoholic beverages like whisky and rum than with grapes and vineyards. But in recent years, Indian wines have experienced a revival because of a convergence of circumstances, including improvements in viticulture methods, kind weather conditions, and the enthusiasm and know-how of pioneering winemakers. India is now prepared to take its rightful place among the top wine-producing nations in the world.
The incredible diversity of the nation's terroir is one of the main reasons Indian wines have drawn notice. Each location has its own unique microclimate and soil composition, offering winemakers a wealth of grape types to experiment with, from the undulating vineyards of Nashik in Maharashtra to the scenic slopes of Karnataka's Nandi Hills. Grape varieties like the powerful Cabernet Sauvignon and the aromatic Riesling are becoming more and more well-known for their distinctive qualities.
Additionally, several regions of India have meteorological characteristics with well-known wine-producing regions. Wines with rich flavours and well-balanced acidity are produced as a result of the grapes' optimum growing climate, which is characterised by gentle monsoon showers, lots of sunshine, and chilly evenings. The versatility and potential of Indian winemakers are demonstrated by the fact that warmer climate regions create robust red wines while colder climate regions generate beautiful white wines.
The relentless pursuit of excellence by a new generation of winemakers can also be credited with contributing to the expansion of the Indian wine industry. These enthusiastic individuals, who received both domestic and international training, have returned to their native country with their knowledge and experience, adopting contemporary methods while respecting conventional winemaking methods. Their hard work has paid off, as shown by the countless honours and recognitions Indian wineries have received in international contests, catapulting the country's wines onto the international scene.
As a result of the extraordinary advancements made by the nation's winemakers, Indian wines have become a major player in the international wine business. Indian wineries are challenging the common wisdom that the best wines only come from internationally known places through their passion, inventiveness, and deep appreciation for the soil. It is an exciting time for wine fans to explore and savour the distinctive flavours and tales that are found in India's vineyards as the world begins to discover the hidden riches there.
Join us as we take you through seven of India’s best wines for you to try at the earliest chance!
1. Chandon Brut
Using traditional methods for winemaking, Moet Hennessy's private 21-acre estate in Dindori creates a variety of crisp, fresh sparkling wines. The life and soul of every party in Mumbai and beyond, Chandon Brut is cut through with summery flavours of orange blossom and vanilla and is every bit as elegant as its French sister. From Mumbai, a day trip to the stunning Chandon vineyard and tasting facility is a superb idea.
2. Cabernet Sauvignon, KRSMA Estates
Based in the Hampi Hills, KRSMA Estates has won numerous accolades for its premium Indian wines. Its signature wine is a highly luscious Cabernet Sauvignon, with the best vintage to date being the 2014 crop. KRSMA wines are famously tough to get; it's a case of ‘see it, buy it’, fueling the flames of rising demand.
3. Sula Chenin Blanc Reserve
The first winery to open in Nashik in 1999 was Sula, a persistent pillar of the Indian wine industry. The estate's award-winning Chenin Blanc Reserve is featured on wine menus throughout the Subcontinent and is overseen by owner Rajeev Samant, who began his career in the Californian Winelands. It's a semi-dry white wine that's light and flavorful and easy to drink. Try the Rasa Shiraz, which is best served chilled, for a fine, simple red.
4. Grover Zampa La Réserve
Grover’s Zampa La Réserve is the darling of the Indian wine sector after taking home a Bronze at the 2016 Decanter Asia Wine Awards. With its flavours of chocolate and dark berries readily holding their own against meat, heat, and spice, this full-bodied blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz goes well with a lamb biryani. A particularly tasty sparkling wine for a sundowner on a special occasion is Grover Zampa's Soirée Brut.
5. Fratelli Sette
Sette is a ruby mix made of roughly 70 per cent Sangiovese and 30 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon that is aged for a year in oak barrels. It is grown close to the Nira River. The Fratelli vineyard, under the direction of Tuscan master winemaker Piero Masi, is the work of love of three sets of seven brothers from India and Italy. The majority of the top eateries in India carry Fratelli wines, including the estate's crisp white J'noon.
6. Big Banyan Merlot
Close to Bengaluru but just away enough from the city's hustle and bustle is Big Banyan Wines. Their medium-bodied Merlot is a fun, soft, velvety red. Its Shiraz, Limited Shiraz, and Cabernet Sauvignon have all received praise in local prizes.
7. KRSMA Sangiovese
Another KRSMA offering on the list, their Sangiovese 2016 is the last vintage offering from the brand. Hints of vanilla and fig make this more pleasantly balanced than its other versions. That said, go for the 2012 first vintage for a more expressive taste, and if you can get your hands on their 2017 limited edition, the subtle tobacco and elderberry undertones will surprise you, and how!