In all ways, 2020 was a tough year. But 2021 promises to be a year of celebrating life and its small pleasures. The new year brings hopes, reconsidered priorities and reengineered ambitions and what better way to embark on new adventures than by uncorking abottle of wine.
I have picked my choice of some amazing wines available in India. This comprehensive list highlights wines across categories, including the best value reds, energising whites and lively sparklers across the classic European regions and New World discoveries from established producers. These are perfect for a hedonistic night at home, an intimate soiree or as a gift to those who deserve the taste of goodness. Cheers!
1. Wenté Vineyards Morning Fog Chardonnay, California, USA This queen of whites is made by the 140-year-old Wenté vineyards in California. Created by fifth-generation producers, it’s a wine with an elegant personality and an enviable history. The vineyard was the first to get the Chardonnay clone from Europe to California. Its moniker is inspired by the morning fog that rolls in to the San Francisco Bay area, after the wisps of mist curling around the vineyard located in Livermore Valley. The Chardonnay boasts a rich golden colour, showing off a floral nose with hints of citrus rind, green apple and lemon curd with toasty vanilla spicy notes seamlessly intertwined and a decadent creamy texture. It’s anexpressive wine with a vivid personality that excites the taste buds.
Price: Rs3,050 (In Maharashtra)
2. M Chapoutier Les MeysonnierCrozes Hermitage, Rhone Valley, France From the undisputed king of Rhone Valley M: Chapoutier, comes the Les MeysonniersCrozes Hermitage Syrah. The region is the historic cradle of superlative Syrahs and this wine jumps off the glass with aromas of deep black cherries, blackberries and dark fruits. The intent of the winemaker is to maintain the purity of flavours. The Les MeysonnierCrozes Hermitage is made from 100 per cent organic Syrah that was grown free of herbicides and pesticides and without any filtration. Its earthy mouth-coating minerality and fine-grained tannins add to its charm. Suave and stylish, this medium-bodied, intensely cherry coloured wine exudes warm, spicy notes and layered complexity, like a mysterious stranger.
Price: Rs3,990 (In Maharashtra)
3. Bodegas Ego ElGoru Red, Jumilla, Spain From the relatively undiscovered, but equally thrilling Spanish appellation of Jumilla is boutique winery Bodega Ego’s extraordinary El Goru wine. Bodega Ego’s contemporary twist on winemaking combines traditional methods with modern techniques to make wines of exceptional value and are enticing on your palate. A blend of Monastrell, Syrah and Petit Verdot grape varieties, El Goru is a lovely ruby red, supple wine with a warm, spicy nose of blueberries and mocha and a hint of toasty oak and vanilla spice due to ageing in oak. An exuberant wine for celebrations, the finish is delicious and alluring and will pair well with smoked foods and Oriental cuisine.
Price: Rs2,450 (In Maharashtra)
4. Il Bruciato by Marchesi Antinori, Bolgheri, Italy Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei waxed eloquent that ‘wine is sunlight held together by water.’ He could well have been speaking about the exceptional IL Bruciato from the iconic Guado al Tasso estates of Italy’s Bolgheri region. Made from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah grapes from Guado al Tasso’s vineyard, the wine is blessed with the triad of plenty sunlight, a unique terroir and the superb lineage of the first family of wine in Italy, the Antinoris, a 26th generation winemaking family. An intense ruby red, it expresses its personality with notes of bright, ripe berry fruit, a raw minerality and a generous finish. A speciality of this wine is that it is often available in limited quantities in India and hence, you should grab a few bottles if you canaccess it.
Price: Rs6,995 (In Maharashtra)
5. Whispering Angels by Chateaud’Esclan, Provence, France
A beautiful rosé from the Provence region of France, Whispering Angels by Chateau d’Esclan is no ordinary rosé. The wine ignited the fabulous rosé revolution in America, introducing a lifestyle of blush wine with oomph and pizzaz. A splendid expression of Grenache and Cinsault, Whispering Angels is a sensual coral-hued wine with a delicate nose of red cherries and red berries that draws you in. Full and lush, at the same time, it’s bone dry with a smooth, creamy finish and a mouth-coating minerality of Old-World wines. With a palate that is juicy and succulent, it is a wine for languorous brunches and romantic dinners.
Price: Rs4,950 (In Maharashtra)
6. Fratelli M/S White, Akluj, India An intriguing collaboration between two international wine icons has led to the creation of Fratelli M/S White. Joining hands with the winery’s Tuscan winemaker Piero Masi is Steven Spurrier, among the most noted wine writers and commentators of wine globally. The result is a special white wine that suits all occasions. A blend of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc grapes that have been coaxed out of the parched soil of Akluj in Solapur Maharashtra. Bursting with lingering flavours of citrus, tangerine, melon and pear, it has a slightly yeasty aroma. The proof is in the stemware—a lemony white, with a creamy palate and fruit flavours, this is a young, exuberant and unpretentious wine created by revered wine professionals.
Price: Rs1,200 (In Maharashtra)
7. The Source Sauvignon Blanc Reserve by Sula, Nashik, India It shouldn’t come as a revelation that the one grape variety that grows very well on the Indian terroir is Sauvignon Blanc, one of the popular wines in India. The Source Sauvignon Blanc is an elegant and polished wine from the premium selection of Sula, a market leader in India, which has captured 60 per cent of the domestic market. Bright and fresh, coupled with an impressive creamy complexity that unfolds on the nose and palate, clubbed with enticing aromas and flavours of peach, melons and lychees, this is a smooth and easy-drinking wine. It is expressive and youthful and pairs well with home cooked meals of tossed vegetables and creamy curries.
Price: Rs 1,150 (In Maharashtra)
8. Zonin Prosecco, Veneto, Italy
The Zonin Prosecco from the slopes of Northeast Italy is young, unpretentious, fresh and bubbly. It has been made from the Glera grape that belongs to Italy’s Veneto region. A superb affordable Italian sparkling wine, there is finesse and style in these bubbles, which have dramatic aromas of crushed white flowers, citrus, some melon and nuttiness. Straw-coloured with just a sprinkling of sugar, the wine has a lovely soft, rounded edge. Perfect as a casual sipper or a celebratory toast, it pairs wonderfully with sushi and appetisers such as salty nuts and freshly tossed salads. A wine for all seasons and all ages, this is a decadent conversation starter.
Price: Rs2,395 (In Maharashtra)
9. Penfolds Bin 28Kalimna Shiraz, South Australia From iconic Australian wine producer, Penfolds is a full-bodied powerhouse—the Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz that comes from Southern Australia. An opulent wine, the wine shows off lashings of ripe black fruits, redcurrants, liquorice and cinnamon spice, with a dollop of oaky toast. With an expressive bouquet of vanilla and liquorice that’s enhanced with flavours of chocolate and roasted coffee beans, the wine is a lush red. It is an oak-aged wine with finely grained tannins, which ensures that it slides smoothly down your throat. An exuberant wine, it delivers a depth of flavours that linger on your palate long after the initial burst of fruit on your palate. Price: Rs5,900 (In Maharashtra)
10. Bouchard Aine & Fils Chablis, Burgundy, France
A boutique winery from the prestigious Boisset Collections, Bouchard Aine & Filsis in the cool climes of Burgundy. A racy expression of Chablis, it is made from Chardonnay grown on flinty soil laden with oyster fossils. The Chablis is structured with minerality and often unoaked, has a steely edge with a palate suggesting classic notes of citrus fruit and white flowers. Light-bodied, the bright acidity imparts a crisp, crunchy and lively persona. Pair it with delicate foods such as sushi and stir fries and even heavier pasta and sauces, to take your dinner to another level. This absolute classic shines effortlessly and is the best value Chablis available in the Indian market.
Price: Rs4,000 (In Maharashtra)
11. Zuccardi Serie A Malbec, Uco Valley, Argentina
If you’re new to the world of wine, you can’t go wrong with a Malbec, a grape varietal originally from South West France. Responsible for planting Argentina firmly on the global wine map, Malbecs from Argentina are fruity, smooth and food compatible wines. From the high-altitude Uco Valley comes the sublime Zuccardi’s Serie A Malbec, a family-run winery helmed by winemaker Sebastian Zuccardi, rated among the finest in the world. Crunchy minerality cuts through the lush structure and it has mouth-watering acidity. A deep ruby red, it has attractive notes of black plums, blueberries, black cherries, violet and herbs that lend complexity to the wine. Medium-bodied, it is savoury and layered and pairs well with hearty Indian foods such as dal makhani, paneer or chicken tikka and other tandoori dishes.
Price: Rs2,950 (In Maharashtra)
12. Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio, Alto Adige, Italy
Though its fortunes have dribbled in the past, Pinot Grigio is having its moment in the sun for a decade. Crisp, clean and snappy, Pinot Grigios are accessible, quality and great value wines that impress. In the Venetian countryside of Italy, a region where alpine rivers cut through sun-soaked hills, wending their way to the Mediterranean, is Santa Margherita, an iconic Italian wine producer who has quite a reputation for popularising the easy drinking charm of Pinot Grigio. Their Pinot Grigio is a straw, lemon-coloured and bright and delicious, with a tangy acidity that lifts the rich flavours and enhances the creamy texture. Dry, light and refreshing, it is versatile and foodfriendly and pairs well with creamy dishes without drenching its easy–going personality.
If the entry fee into the world of the rich dry red wine Amarone is a deterrent, then the Valpolicella is your ticket to the opulence of the former. In the unique winemaking process, Valpolicella goes through a ‘re-passing’ on the dried grape skins of Amarone that are still warm and rich in sugar, which adds body, tannins, alcohol and intensity to the wine. Italian winemaker Zenato’sRipassadella Valpolicella Superioré is modern and polished and has a lingering finish. With an inviting nose of dry fruits, hints of spice and leather, the memorable wine pairs well with cuisinesthat have a spicy edge.
Price: Rs4,990 (In Maharashtra)
14. Krsma Estates Cabernet Sauvignon, Hampi Hills, India
Made in Southern India’s Hampi Hills, this is an internationally acclaimed, 100 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon.It has notes of black berries and black cherries and has been inspired by the great reds from Bordeaux. It is rich with hints of sweet spice and vanilla, an extroverted palate and a finish of fresh cedar. It is fresh and mouth-wateringand has tight knit tannins and a grippy texture. You will be rewarded if you keep it up to eight years when this wine metamorphoses with savoury notes of elegant beauty. We recommend you decant it for at least 20 minutes before you drink it.
Price: Rs2,460 (Only available in Karnataka)
15. G. H. Mumm Champagne, France
Festive, fancy and the best value for the luxury beverage, since 1827, the prestigious champagne house G.H. Mumm has garnered much praise and fan-following across the world. With its iconic red ribbon, G. H. Mummis among leading big-scale Champagne Houses of France. Smart and sleek, it is often found on finest chefs’ tables and among royalty, celebrities and sportspeople, playing an important cameo on the podiums of Formula-E 1. Delivering elegance and finesse on the nose, the house style is a fresh, golden glass characterised by lively bubbles rising to the top, expressing soft aromas of lemon, grapefruit, white peach and apricot. Expect a long, lingering finish of vanilla, honey and caramel, making it stylish and easy to drink.
16. Pertaringa Lakeside Pinot Noir
A vibrant Pinot Noir from the Adelaide Hills, this is undeniably a beautiful wine from the Bec Hardy Wines portfolio. Bec Hardy is the first woman vigneron from Australia’s first family of wines, the Hardys, leading winemakers in South Australia since the 1850s. Intense, fresh and pristine, the Pertaringa Lakeside Pinot Noir is a bright expression from the region. The nose displays youthful and fresh aromas of strawberries, cherries and raspberries and additional enticing floral notes. The palate delivers the same berry intensity that’s complemented by soft, powdery tannins. A party pleaser, this is an enjoyable everyday wine, perfect for outdoor meals under the stars on warm summer days.
17. Robert Mondavi Private Selection Cabernet Sauvignon
Robert Mondavi put California’s Napa Valley at the forefront of the wine world with his superlative wines. The Cabernet Sauvignon from the Robert Mondavi Private Selection Labels is a wine with a soul that maintains the legacy of the region. This is a note-worthy wine with fruit plucked from cool-climate coastal vineyards, where slow ripened grapes are rife with brooding complexity and gentle tannins. A winner at blind tastings, it is blended with Syrah, Carignan, Malbec, Petite Sirah and Petit Verdot. The bottle reveals decadent aromas of black cherry, blackberry with flavours of vanilla, toasty oak and coffee creeping in. Ripe and elegant, it has soft red and black fruit flavours and a smooth texture. It has been aged in a combination of American and French oak, which allows for nuances and imparts refinement.
18. The Chocolate Block, Boekenhoutskloof, South Africa With a moniker that rouses curiosity, The Chocolate Block is a blended wine made by Boekenhoutskloof, an eclectic boutique South African winery. This cult wine is built on the principle that the Cape’s Mediterranean climate is suited to create magnificent blended reds, which are adapted in each vintage. A varying blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Cinsault and Viognier; the nose is intense with aromas of black cherries, cardamom, sweet tobacco and even espresso. It’s a medium-bodied wine with an earthy palette with layers of berry swathing it—from tart red plums to rich blue and black berries. The finish is svelte, clean and powerful. The Chocolate Block pairs well with meats and cheeses, especially the hard ones.
19. Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc While this green-skinned grape is a worldwide commodity now, its best expression is found in New Zealand. This Sauvignon Blanc from the country’s most established wineries, Cloudy Bay is just sublime. Expressive, refined and fruity, it embodies the spirit of the place, the Marlborough region vineyards, which extend from the Pacific Ocean to the Richmond Range Mountain. With fresh scintillating flavours of ripe grapefruit, lime and passion fruit on the nose, it continues the stone fruit theme with a streak of minerality on the palate. Balanced with a long zesty finish, it adds another dimension to seafood, Asian and Japanese cuisines.
20. Grover ZampaChêne Grande Reserve
The Chêne Grande Reserve is a premium wine from Grover Vineyards, a blend of Tempranillo and Syrah. Aged for a minimum of 15 months in French oak barrels, it has a lush and robust expression, punctuated with hints of oak that frequently overpower the fruity flavours of youth. If you cellar the bottle for five years, the wine transforms into a complex, integrated and savoury wine with a long finish, which has an exotic bouquet of vanilla, liquorice, chocolate and roasted coffee beans.
21.ViñaPomalRioja Reserva A wine with a great story behind it, Viña Pomal is an elevated expression of classic Rioja in a modern style, under the umbrella of the Bodegas Bilbaínas winery in Haro, the capital of Rioja. The vineyard, with gravel soil, is spread across 250 hectares. Its benchmark polished Rioja Reserva is a cherry red wine that boasts a ruby-hued rim. It is a full-bodied wine and has harmonious floral and red fruit notes. Showing depth and balance, its juicy nose has spices such as vanilla, cinnamon and cloves. On the palate, this well-built Reserva feels flush, with strong tannins, but is classy at its core. It pairs well with savoury food and creamy dishes. Price: Rs2,990
About the author
MW Sonal Holland is the Founder-Director of Vine2Wine Retail Pvt. Ltd, a chain of modern wine specialist retail stores offering a curated selection of world-class international and premium domestic wines. She is also an educator, consultant and entrepreneur.