India doesn’t feature in the fine wine market at all, either in the buying or making of it. For Indians, figuring out an everyday drinking wine is the current challenge, given Covid restrictions and the lockdowns imposed by various states.
What is your everyday drinking wine? What is your favorite varietal? Please don’t say pinot noir. It reeks of “Sideways” the movie, it is a safe bet; a cop out really; one that you cannot go wrong with. Pinots are the last stop for most oenophiles. Since I cannot afford DRC (Domaine de la Romanée Conti), I have to depend on the Marlborough region of New Zealand, where good and affordable pinots are made, and subsequently make their way to India.
Unfortunately for the other varietals, the grape that makes its home in Burgundy has cachet and evokes prose. Who can forget Miles’ (a character in Sideways) passionate speech on the virtues of Pinot Noirs. “…it’s a hard grape to grow…it’s thin-skinned, temperamental, ripens early. It’s…not a survivor like Cabernet, which can just grow anywhere and uh, thrive even when it’s neglected. No, Pinot needs constant care and attention…. And in fact it can only grow in these really specific, little, tucked-away corners of the world. And, and only the most patient and nurturing of growers can do it, really. Only somebody who really takes the time to understand Pinot’s potential can then coax it into its fullest expression. Then, I mean, oh its flavours, they’re just the most haunting and brilliant and thrilling and subtle and…ancient on the planet.” Makes one want to move to Burgundy and taste these ancient flavours.
Few in India make good quality Pinot Noir. The closest to Indian you can get is the excellent Indian Creek Pinot Noir from Navarro Vineyards in Mendocino, California. I say this in jest of course, because it merely has the name “Indian” in it and is currently not available in India. Still, it is a good wine. Many Indian wine brands stay away from pinot noir and gravitate towards Cabernet Sauvignon for the same reason that Miles alluded to in his soliloquy: it is a hardier grape to grow.