As the financial year draws to a close, wine importers and distributors will be looking to the year ahead. Whatever semblance of recession there has been will be shaken away. There are even rumours of the state taxes on wine coming down in some states when their budgets are announced. Smart wine importers will look to expanding their wine portfolio now, so that their customers will in turn be able to offer wine drinkers a better range. In the last six to nine months, only a couple of importers have added new wines to their portfolios.
These wines have largely filled gaps in existing catalogues in order to compete with other importers, or have come about as a result of new restaurants opening up.
Spanish Reds: It is mostly thanks to Torres that Indians are familiar with Spanish wines today. These wines from Catalunya in northern Spain are generally well priced and easy to drink. Most waiters, however, still associate Spanish wines with the region of Rioja, but there are a handful of big, juicy reds from Ribero Del Duero and Jumilla that are well-balanced and rather impressive. There are some available in India already but they are frightfully expensive.
Look out for more affordable Ribera wines in the coming year. The best wines have elegant tannins, well-balanced red and dark fruits and fresh acidity, due to the local grape varieties of Monastrell or Tempranillo but with French varieties like Cabernet and Syrah.
Spanish Sparkling Wine: Called Cava, these wines should take off in a big way in 2010. Though the wines are produced in the same traditional method used in Champagne, theyre made in a much lighter, delicate style due to different grapes used. They are also much more affordable than Champagne. The cheaper, commercial brands like Freixenet and Codorníu are sold in India in small quantities, but there are more high-end Cava like Raventos í Blanc thats already in talks with a distributor, Im informed. Cava is becoming all the rage overseas and there is no reason why this trend cant succeed in India.
Austrian Whites: The Austrian Government really ramped-up their efforts in 2009. They sent people to Austria and had a delightful tasting in Delhi of their signature wine produced from an indigenous grape: Grüner Veltliner. Gru-Vee, as its marketed, is medium-bodied, a little fruity and often identified by an intense white pepper aroma. There are only four Grüners in India, but Im hoping to see more this year, particularly because Grüner Veltliner is perhaps the single most versatile food wine in the world, often surpassing even Riesling because of its ability to pair with difficult foods such as artichokes and asparagus. Statistics just released show that in 2009, Austrian wine exports grew by almost five per cent. This is huge, and is good news for us in India, as the range of wine available will increase.
Harshal Shah is a sommelier and former executive committee member of the Australian Sommeliers Association. He currently spends his time between Sydney and New Delhi, consulting to restaurants and hotels