Fratelli Wines Chenin Blanc 2013

It’s not great.

With that out of the way, we can tackle the more interesting question of: why bother? India’s not renowned for its acceptance of wine, with beer and whisky tending to thrive at its expense. Yet the state of Maharashtra, centre of India’s wine industry and this writer’s present location, has a long history of growing table grapes. So why the hell not?

If nothing else, it’s interesting to see the beginnings of an industry. Local wines are enthusiastically promoted on many restaurant wine lists, and it seems a few players (Sula, Fratelli, Grover, Turning Point) dominate on premise. The varietal mix is decidedly unfocused. Whites range from Chenin Blanc to Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc and (inevitably) Chardonnay. Reds include all the usual suspects — Cabernet, Shiraz, Merlot — but I’ve also spotted some Sangiovese. I’ve also tasted a surprisingly palatable sparkling wine. No indigenous varieties yet spotted, alas.

The wines have ranged from cleanly commercial to downright faulty (a particular red wine I had the other night seemed a veritable catalogue of technical faults, and not in an interesting way). So far, the whites have been more successful, and this wine in particular shows some decent varietal character, if also a ragged structure and level of flavour dilution that fights against full satisfaction.

Paired with some local food, it went surprisingly well – the food’s pungent flavours didn’t entirely overwhelm the wine’s delicacy. One can’t help but think a relatively good food and wine match in this context must be more accidental than by design, though. Certainly, the prominent collaborations between Indian producers and those from (in this case) Italy and France (Michel Rolland’s name is stamped all over Grover’s wines) suggests an imported aesthetic rather than anything truly local and organic.

I hope to try a wider range over the next few weeks. Stay tuned.

Fratelli Wines
Price: ₹500/glass
Closure: Cork
Source: Wine list

3 thoughts on “Fratelli Wines Chenin Blanc 2013

  1. It sounds like India has a way to go before it produces truly authentic wines 😉 Though a small sample, the names are interesting names too. ‘Fratelli’ is an Italian word meaning ‘brothers’ and my understanding is that ‘Sula’ means ‘easy’ in Hindi. ‘Grover’ perhaps reflective of the popularity of Sesame Street in Maharashtra? He always was my favourite after Kermit.

  2. Grover seems like the consensus for my next foray, so I’ll see what I can do. 🙂 Sula’s by far the most visible producer — I had their sparkling wine and it was pretty decent. I’d love to go visit one of the regions in Maharashtra, which are about 200kms from where I’m staying. Fingers crossed.

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