A Nashik winery has become the first in India to commercially plant an Italian grape here. Vintage Wines, which started producing the Reveilo label from its 100-acre vineyard in 2000, planted the Grillo white grape and Sangiovese and Nero d’Avola red grapes, all from Sicily, in 2006. Unfortunately, not enough of the Sangiovese crop was ready to harvest and it was let to grow for another year. Thus the Grillo and Nero D’Avola were harvested in 2009 and went on sale in April.
“I was in Siciliy, and our Italian wine consultant handed me a Grillo blend and I liked it so much that I thought we could make it here,” says director of Vintage Wines, Yatin Patil (36). Until then Reveilo, like most Indian wine producers, had only planted the French grapes, Syrah, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon in India. “We have an Italian winemaker and he said Sicilian varieties would do well in the Nashik climate, as it is close to that of Sicily, and since I was bringing Grillo, I looked at what else I could bring here” he explains. “They both grew very well and adapted nicely to the climate. The mortality was less than five per cent, which is better than in regular varieties,” he says.
The taste and character of the wines differ to those planted in Sicily, but it can be for the better, he informs. “Our winemaker says the Nero D’Avola has far more cherry character than the grape grown in Sicily,” he says. While in Sicily, Grillo and Nero d’Avola are generally used in blends, Vintage is selling them as pure varieties. “The idea was to get into the premium segment of Indian wines,” Patil explains. The good news is that both cost at least half the price of an imported Italian wine.
The Grillo is a fresh, light, refreshing wine, with green notes, that goes well with salads and starters, while the Nero D’Avola is a spicy and fruity red that matches Indian food. The Sangiovese will go on sale at the end of 2010. “The Sangiovese comes from Tuscany and is used to make Chianti. We will be making a premium red wine from it,” he signs off.