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UB raises a toast to crossover wines

business Updated: Nov 18, 2007 20:45 IST
Ruchi Hajela
Ruchi Hajela
Hindustan Times
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Baramati is not quite Burgundy, but India is ready to be a global player in wines while Indians are ready to raise a toast at home to their own economic surge in the world consumer market.

Taking a leaf from Bollywood’s overseas-bound film world, you could call it a crossover mood in wines.
January 2008 will see liquor baron Vijay Mallya’s UB group launching its India-made four-season wines made from grapes harvested in Baramati, the Mahrashtra district better known as Sharad Pawar’s political pocket borough.

UB, manufacturing at a winery located in the area, plans to sell sparkling wines at Rs 700 a bottle, while the humbler still wines are expected to be priced at Rs 500.

Like Bollywood movies, these wines offer a song-and-dance taste.

“While wines cultivated on Indian soil are aromatic, fruity and expressive, the ones manufactured overseas are more subtle and classical. And in my opinion, both are special in their own way,” Abhay Kewadkar Abhay Kewadkar, business head (Wines) and chief wine maker at UB Group, told reporters at the weekend.

UB is eyeing more manufacturing facilities in India and will certainly be exporting as well.
India, which consumes only 1 litre of wine per head per year, offers quite a heady market opportunity in itself.

Compared to France at 50 litre and Australia at 70 litre, that is miniscule in a global market in which annual sales now total 29 billion litre. But an increasingly affluent market tasting Western lifestyles, opportunities are aplenty.

With its own French connection as well, UB Group, which acquired Bouvet Ladubay last year for 150 million euros (Rs 825 crore), launched seven flavours of Bouvet Ladubay wines at the weekend.

Priced between Rs 1,500 and Rs 2,500 per 750 ml bottle, the wines, still and sparkling, are raising a toast to an economic boom.

“India may not have been a wine market so far but now everyone knows India is the place to be, wine is a drink for celebration and with India shining, there are enough reasons to celebrate,” Patrice Monmousseau, president and director-general, Bouvet Ladubay, told Hindustan Times.

Kewadkar believes that a brand like Bouvet Ladubay would create a taste for wine with Indians.

The French label is targeting to expand its manufacturing capacity to about 7.5-8 million bottles by next year, from the current 4 million, which forms a small share of the global wine market of 10 billion bottles, one-fifth of which are sparking wines.