Wines from France and Italy may be pleasing, and definitely classy, but the wine world now has inhabitants from other locations
By: Karishma Suri
Posted on: July 6, 2012
Wines from France and Italy may be pleasing, and definitely classy, but the wine world now has inhabitants from other locations.
The highlight at every formal and social gathering, wine has, and will be, an essential ingredient of cultural appreciation. The art of viticulture has also evolved, what with the various assortments flooding the markets at present.
Thinking traditionally, wine connoisseurs joyfully and confidently swirl around glasses of wine from extremely popular regions like Bordeaux (France), Napa Valley (California), Tuscany (Italy) and Burgundy (France) amongst many others. But what about the other extravagantly tasteful wines which come from slightly alternative regions? “A lot of wine from Australia, South Africa, Chile and the US is imported into India as well as from Spain, Germany, Argentina, Portugal and New Zealand. If you make France and Italy the 'conventional regions', then these countries become unconventional, but world over for decades and in India for the last decade or so, we have been enjoying wines from these fantastic wine countries for some time and are hardly considered unconventional,” said Mr. Nikhil Agarwal, Sommelier & Director, All Things Nice.
Aspri Spirits, another company that offers world class wines, also brings in wines from unconventional regions like Spain, Portugal and Argentina, known as ‘new world wines’. “The recognised regions are no doubt the major players, but people have become more open to accepting new trends. Even in India, we are getting a positive feedback about these new age wines,” said Mr. Sumedh Singh Mandla, CEO, Core Brands, Aspri Pvt Ltd.
Drawing up a comparison
With a host of new consumer opportunities opening up around the world, especially India, it is interesting to note how humankind has taken to an array of wines and found their own poisons. Each and every one of the countries mentioned above produce beautiful wines and it is just a matter of perception and, of course, experience, that will go a long way in recognising the right wine for the right occasion and person. Aspri Spirits brings Schloss Gobelsburg from Austria, Raventos from Spain, Flinchman from Argentina and wines like Mateus Rose from the Sogrape vineyards in Portugal and no one hears any complaints. To highlight their quality and uniqueness, even renowned world critic, Robert M Parker, couldn’t resist giving Schloss Gobelsburger Riesling Urgenstein an impressive 88 points. “It will take time for new world wines to gain the stature that the old world wines enjoy, but nonetheless they are being accepted and recognised world over,” shared a proud Mr Mandla. Everything takes its time and more often than not, the results are sweet!
What are the characteristics that distinguish a great wine from a good wine? The answer is far from simple, and can be found in an inter relationship of events that commence from the selection of the right parcel of land for a particular variety all the way through to brand management. Perfect bottles of wine are not produced by mistake. So is it difficult to make wines in unconventional regions? “Just as difficult or easy (if you are a ‘glass is full’ kind of person) as it is to make wines in any other 'conventional' country,” said a jovial Mr Agarwal. He furthered that some countries did better with certain grape varietals than others and some have grape varietals that are indigenous to them. “The beauty about wine is, that each region will offer its own style to the same grape varietals produced elsewhere, creating so many options for us to choose from,” he shared.
Neal Martin, the UK representative of erobertparker.com, after sampling some 40 wines from Argentina, was convinced that Argentina is the most exciting new world wine producing country. “At their best, these wines exude panache, complexity, and unbridled ‘deliciousness’, and there is no doubting not only to the rarefied heights which Malbec can achieve, but that the country can excel with other grape varieties,” he said.
Unconventionality, or not?
While having stuck their flags in North America, South America, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia is quite a feat, it isn’t enough. Ms. Cecilia Oldne, Head-International Business, Global Brand Ambassador, Sula Vineyards, explains that perhaps the toughest wine to have success with is a Cabernet, which is much harder to sell than it is to make. “On top of this it can also be expensive to produce! In recent years, the local wine industry has acted on the assumption that, 'we just have to make good wine and there will be a market for it.' This just isn't true. With producers such as Sula having such excellent Cabernets, like the Sula Cabernet Shiraz, any newcomers have some serious competition,” she shared. According to her, Pinot Noir is also very difficult to grow: the skin is thin, the grapes are fragile. “The wine once produced is also fragile,” she said.
New world wines have been increasing successful in the last few years. In fact, you often get better value for money when buying a new world wine. “One advantage is that the rules for wines produced in the new world are far less strict than other regions. You are free to grow and produce any varietals that suit the soil and you can put the name of the grapes on the label, which carry significant marketing benefits,” she explained.
Beyond the taste
Going beyond the basics of wine, a thought that crosses most experts is whether the wine population really understands the essence of the origin of the wines. Unfortunately, the odds are against it at the moment. ”Not yet, but they will in the not too distant future. Wine culture in India is growing rapidly and it’s only a matter of time,” added Mr Agarwal.
“In India, unfortunately people willing to spend a higher amount of money will associate quality only with wines from France and Italy, though this perception is slowly changing. France and Italy produce some of the world’s most iconic wines, no doubt, but there are wines from other countries that are brilliant as well,” he added. With time, the Indian consumer will be as resourceful and appreciative towards new world wines as any other consumer.
Looking forward to the expansion of this tasteful world of wines!
Schloss Gobelsburg, Riesling Urgenstein (Kamptal) – Tasting notes
Aroma: Smokey roasted beginning with subtle hints of apricot and Mirabelle plums intertwined with nutty roots.
Body & Taste: Reveals surprisingly intense notes, working nobly on the palate. Crisp and refreshing wine with a perfectly linear finish.
Suggested food pairing: Good pairing affinity with seafood and shellfish, but medium spicy food.
Nederburg, The Wine Master’s reserve Pinotage – Tasting notes
Region: Western Cape
Aroma: Plum and cherry fruitness with slight oak spices in the background
Body & Taste: Well balanced rich fruit flavours with soft tannins and a lingering aftertaste.
Suggested food pairing: Serve with pasta, pizza, roast leg, ravioli or even chocolate.