The wine-maker Telish located in the Northern village of Telish, Pleven District, was the only Bulgarian firm to attend the India International Wine Fair, which took place on March 16-18 in Mumbai.
“The company is presently targeting the South Asian markets of India, China and Hong Kong. India is a new market for us. Presently, we are the first Bulgarian wine producers here and we plan to establish our presence in the Indian market”, the Sales Manage of Telish is quoted as saying.
And so Vijay Mallya has thrown down the gauntlet to the rest of the Nashik Brigade with the launch of his locally produced range of Four Seasons wines and we were the fortunate ones at a wine dinner at Olive Beach which showcased his wines in what could be considered a soft wine launch.
On hand was UB’s business head of wines and their Chief winemaker, Abhay Khewadkar and his team. He is an old player in the Indian wine industry with stints at Chateau Indage and Grover Wines prior to starting the greenfield wine project for UB a couple of years ago, There he was, a proud man, standing in front of us, holding forth for his wines and telling us what went in producing them and why they were different from other Indian wines on offer in the market.
However before we got to his Four Seasons wines, we had as aperitif, Bouvet Ladubay Brut, a very elegant sparkling wine with a floral nose and a very fruity taste. This is a French import from the UB stable and in my opinion many notches above the best of the sparkling wines produced in India. However the same is not necessarily true when we look at the 3 varietals of Four Seasons wines which are being made in their Baramati winery and were tasted during our dinner.
The Chenin Blanc 2009 was by far the best of the trio. Like a lot of folks, I also prefer a Chenin Blanc which is on the drier side and this is what makes me say that this Four Seasons varietal could have a potential future in the Indian market. It had a lemony nose and a light body. Sadly it was not the typical fruity taste of a wine with a Chenin Blanc lineage, rather a slightly balsamic mouth feel. The Sauvignon Blanc and the Shiraz, both of the same maiden harvest, were young, frisky wines and displayed the miles UB has to travel to get within the shouting distance of those at the head of the Indian pack.
Undoubtedly, Abhay and his team have done an excellent job getting the whole operation up from scratch in such a short time. But I do feel their biggest challenges will be how they are going to tame the overpowering mineral overtones of their wines and bring in a lot more fruitiness and body to their wines. It would be unfair to pass judgment on Four Seasons based on just one harvest. At this point in time we can only wish them well and hope that their Reserve wines due to be released at the end of this year can propel them to the front ranks of the Nashik Brigade.
On the food side , Olive Beach did not disappoint – but then Olive, even in its previous avatar, was never known for artistically presented gourmet food as the ambience overshadowed all else and that was the residual positive impression one retained the next morning. Without that springboard, Olive Beach is at a major disadvantage which their lackluster food does not neutralize. After a listless Mediterranean salad and the combo plate of a coarse risotto and cold pasta, my Kolkata Beckti was easily the best effort of the chef that evening. Of course, the service was handled rather deftly to accommodate what seemed to be a record number of members inside the restaurant, reserved completely for the club.
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