Comparisons to China and the failing CWG efforts aside, the world nevertheless wants us and that is quite a coveted position to hold. My observation may be based on a very tiny market – that of wines – but it is surely a sign of what lies ahead for this burgeoning, almost bursting at the seams, democracy.
I recently met with the Commercial Director for a large Spanish wine house Cellers Unió. That is Cellers with an ‘E’. Pere Mateo FERRER was in India on his maiden visit trying to see how the market looks. Judging by how optimistic he looked when I met and by the size of the smile on his face I could tell that I was among the first few, if not the first, people he was meeting with. In retrospect, I was wrong; the man knows his game and more importantly, he knows his wines.
He spoke about the upcoming DOs of Spain especially the newly formed one of Montsant, which literally encircles the DO of Priorat. Priorat rose to fame when a few winemakers turned the image around and started making super high-end quality wines in the region, thereby valorising the Terroir and the produce. Alvaro Palacios was one of the pioneers of this movement and today, thanks to his efforts and of others with him, the area is one of the most prized of vinelands in the world.
Well, Montsant is a ring all around it. Priorat is closed on all sides by Montsant. Guess what I am trying to say is that the wines can’t be all that bad, right? The soil and topography are pretty similar too. Sure I know how much a difference even a tiny aspect can make but this comes to me from people who have vines in both regions. What is admitted is that Montsant doesn’t have the image of Priorat yet and if you have seen the real estate boom in India, you very well know where to park your interests, or your principle, for that matter.
Terra Alta is another not-so-popular-yet DO. The grapes remain mostly the same for most of these regions in Catalonia, none too far from Barcelona. Garnacha (or Garnatxa), Syrah, Mazuelo and Cinsault dot the landscape with Garnacha Blanco for whites. Mazuelo is the same as Carrignan (Cariñena) but ever since a DO of the same name was granted, the ‘M’-name is used to avoid confusion.
Cellers Unió makes oil, wines and dry fruits. As Pere explained, they have considerable market share in each category but it is only in wine that they have such diversity of packaging and styles as different markets have different requirements and sensibilities. As I said earlier, he knows his game well.
So without any further ado, I give you tasting notes for the 3 wines presented.
1. Clos del Pinell 2009 negre D.O. Alta Terra: Wine from an area with extreme climate. Mainly Grenache with some Syrah and Cinsault. A nice vivid robe, deep but not dense, shiny almost. Clean, young, fruity, fresh, zesty, lively, light, soft tannins, detectable heat – that’s quite the analytical list! Slightly cooled is best. A bit prickly on the tongue as well. A nice raspberry flavour. On the whole, an enjoyable simple red. Great for the amateur red wine fan and a good add for restaurants with a basic wine offering. I think it could hit retail at around INR700 and that would be fantastic.
2. Perlat 2008: D.O. Montsant: Garnatxa with some Carrignan and Syrah. A rich intense robe with earthy, slightly mineral notes on the nose. Reminds me of patchouli. Then, some dense berriness but more currant-like and all this held together with oak-induced woody complexity. On the palate, the wine is fairly light although the alcohol does ride close, tight, and right behind. Still manages to be a soft wine overall with good fruit and supple tannins. This could be great wine By-the-Glass (BTG) for hotels, or as a basic coffee shop red and with its rather premium pearl-finish label, the wine is poised as a great value-for-money find on the gifting market as well. There are five variants I was told and I think their overall value proposition is superb.
I had more than my share tasting sips, at which point just one word seemed to shine through – Heady!
3. Gran Copos Reserva 2006: D.O. Terra Alta: Similar grape composition as the wine above i.e. Garnacha and Syrah but with some Cabernet Sauvignon added as well. A nice rich strong yet juicy wine, plenty of flavour and depth, rich and structured. The alcohol and tannins balance out fairly well. The bottle I tasted from was in an old packaging and I was shown a picture of the new packaging that would be destined for India. Feels good to know we aren’t getting discards and rejects of the Westen World anymore.
On the whole, I loved the Perlant series: from the label to the packaging, everything seems poised to make it a great hit in India. We haven’t seen many Spanish (or Iberian) wines in India and as long as big companies like this take a keen interest, we can be assured that they will not only bring the right stuff but will also price it well to gain in the long term. And India will be all the better a place to drink good wine.
And on that Miss-Wine-Universe-winning kinda’ note, I leave you all to our daily tipples. Cheers!