Sunday, April 16, 2006

(East) Indian Sauv Blanc

Granted, India's wine production is an area I'm personally very inexperienced with.
But after reading years of press and having met a few Californian winemakers who have had a hand in developing their domestic industry, my interest continues to be piqued.

Indians it seems have a preference for Sauvignon Blanc, at least as far as their white wines are concerned. I guess that makes some sense, as I think they'd want a varietal which kept more acid during the hot growing season, and also a wine style that preserves acid during fermentation and aging (probably no malo-lactic fermentation).
That also implies few if any barrels used for the white production, which would help keep down the cost of the wines as well.
See this link for a short article about Sauv Blanc in India...where we find the following regarding prices of imported wines in India:

The huge difference in prices is largely due to the impact of the high customs duties on imported alcoholic beverages in India, which at 256 per cent to 145 per cent (inversely proportionate to cost) are the highest anywhere in the world.

Undoubtedly those tariffs will drive the local industry as demand rises - if their government doesn't drop the rates on imports - as the new upwardly-mobile Indians start to consume more wine.

I had posted a few articles about the awakening of Asian wine markets in August last year...
[Côtes du Riveière Kwai]
India pushes improved wine image]

India, in the last year or so, has been in the news off and on regarding it's wine industry. Here is an article about some of the Californian winemakers who have traveled to India to join in their efforts.
[The link has a few errors in the story (Dry Creek is a sub-app of Sonoma COUNTY, and NOT Sonoma Valley; ISO certification is not the "stamp of a world-class operation", but rather certification that they use a standardized tracking and paperwork system...), but otherwise is very informative.]

Some of the viticultural techniques are very eye-opening, including the need to prune twice a year to force dormancy! Quite an interesting system...

Here's a nice site with some info on the Indian wine industry, with a telling description of what's to come if Indians wake up their wine taste buds:

"For those who curl up their nose at Indian wines, the advise would be not to write off the local offerings. The consumption is increasing though ever too small. Sham Chougule, the chairman of Chateau Indage puts it succinctly, " It's about half a teaspoon per head. The day it becomes one litre, the market will be one billion litres." "

That's it! India needs some sort of campaign to bring more awareness of wine to the population. In fact, it seems to me that this is yet another perfect opportunity for the WINE BUS! And I think we should get one custom painted for just such a drive...


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