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It’s all in the grape

Yet another brand of wine emerges from the cellar onto the shelves



FOR STARTERS The new range of wines is primarily for drinkers who are new and are just moving up to speciality wines

It was all metaphors as Italian winemaker Lucio Matricardi went about describing his first work in India. Following a long line of foreign consultants who have helped wine makers in India, he was on hand to launch yet another brand of wine to hit the shelves, Chateau de Banyan.

The promise of the new brand was delivered in Matricardi’s own words: “We wanted to make Indian wine with international style as most wines here are Indian wine in Indian style. We need to respect the palate of the Indian people.”

Matricardi hails from the Bologna region of Italy. He was educated there and later did his PhD in wine making from California.

After working in Australia and consulting at the biggest wineries in Italy, he decided to take the India challenge when the The Paul John Enterprise, promoters of John Distilleries and the Kumarakom Lake resort approached him.

The makers source their grapes from the Nasik grape belt and Matricardi confessed he was not all happy with his first impression in 2006.

He is of the philosophy that “90 per cent of quality of wine comes from the vineyard.”

He said he realised very early he must “work very closely with the growers as miracles cannot be made at the winery.”

“Grapes must be harvested at the right ripeness. I taste the seeds and not the fruit. They must be crunchy and brown.” His second biggest concern was the tropical sun which he said can cause “sunburn” for the grape. “A grape is like a baby.”

His style of wine making is said to favour young fruity wines which he said must “whisper aromas and not cover your nose.”

The Chateau de Banyan range is branded Big Banyan and features three red and two white wines.

The Chenin Blanc is the starter. It is a very fresh and fruity wine with very delicate aromas of apple, white melon and peach.

The Sauvignon Blanc follows the same template this time with notes of capsicum, gooseberry, pineapple and white peach. The reds include the Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Zinfandel. The last one is the clincher. The red grape originates in Italy and produces a wine that is again fresh and fruity with a smooth and soft finish. It features notes of cherry, violets and rose.

All the wines when at stores are expected to be priced between Rs. 450 and Rs. 600. They are primarily for drinkers who are new and those who are just moving up to speciality wines.

Paul P. John the Chairman of the company is bullish about the market for wine in India but says there is exiting potential in the export segment as curiosity is growing around the world for the so called “new world wines”.

ANAND SANKAR

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