Cava de paraje –  the Grand Cru of Cava       

Cava, the Sparkling wine wine from Spain has, over recent years, gained much favour amongst wine consumers world over and this along with Prosecco (Italian bubbly) is increasingly proving a viable competition to the French Champagne.

Now, “Cava de Paraje“, the new proverbial ‘grand cru’ of Cava, could become a reality soon –  according to the Spanish agriculture ministry
As per Cava Regulatory Board, the rules for same would include a maximum yield of 8000 kg/ha, 36 months of ageing in the bottle, only vintage wines and only brut styles.
Certainly a reason to celebrate for the Cava fans.

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Source – Vinexpo )

The first 12 cava sites, and their owners, are:

An Interview with Pio Boffa

Time flies, and the world of wines is no exception. It has almost been a year since I interacted with Mr Pio Boffa, who is the renowned yet humble wine producer from Piedmont in North West Italy. The occasion was the wine-maker’s dinner organized by the Prestige Wines and Spirits at The Leela Hotel, New Delhi.


Pio Cesare Wine Dinner at The Leela Hotel, New Delhi

During the course of the dinner Pio, the 4th generation owner of the famed Pio Cesare winery, introduced his wines with much passion, knowledge and a lot of anecdotes. Notable amongst the wine showcased were the Barolo, Barbaresco and Barbera of different vintages. Little did I know that a year on I would again be interacting with the famed wine maker to know more about his wines, Barolo in particular. More about it further in the write up, but first a brief report on the state of Harvest 2016 which has been much discussed in wine circles recently.

World Harvest-2016 World over the general perception has been of a tough harvest due to inclement weather conditions. El Nino in South America, frost and hail in France and poor weather conditions in South Africa, all these adversely affected the grapes in the vineyards. There was some saving grace towards the end of the growing season when certain parts of Europe witnessed a warm and sunny climate. The resultant expectation was of a good quality albeit reduced quantity of the produce.

On a macro level, the 2016 harvest can said to have produced lesser volumes of wines as compared to previous years owing to inclement weather conditions – almost a 20 year low as per some estimates, the exact figures should be out soon.

Piedmont Harvest 2016 However, in Piedmont things were different where the weather Gods granted a favorable weather to suit the viticulture requirements and this resulted in a bumper harvest. Wine producers have proclaimed it as an outstanding harvest and expect excellent quality wines particularly the Barolo. To Some the 2016 growing season reminds of 1964, one of Barolo’s legendary vintages, and if that’s true then there’s much to cheer amongst the Barolo enthusiasts world over.

A superb Barolo harvest in Piedmont prompted me to contact Mr Pio Boffa once again, this time on e-mail, to know more about the harvest and the wines. Not only did he respond promptly but provided pertinent information and his views. Excerpts of my interaction with the winemaker are as following.

Me How has been the Harvest 2016 with particular reference to Barolo?

Pio Boffa “We are extremely happy, pleased and thrilled about the wines we have been able to produce in 2016, particularly the Barolo. It has been a perfect and an ideal harvest from the point of view of both quality and quantity. My experience of more than 40 harvests here in the region has taught me that quality and quantity never go together. This year has been an absolute exception and we can’t be happier about it”

Me How have been the weather conditions during the harvest?

PB “The weather was a bit rainy in late spring, but we did not experience any frost problem and the flowering started nicely and gently. We had enough rain to grant sufficient humidity beneath the soil and to the roots, which enabled us to face a very warm summer, with hot weather continuing for long time even during the harvesting, which was not as early as in 2015.

The grapes were all very healthy, ripe, with the correct amount of acids, ripe tannins and good sugars: a dream for us growers. We picked with almost no rainy days, with the exceptions of just a few during the entire harvest.

Me Tell something about the vinification?

PB “Fermentations were carried on very regularly and correctly. Great color extraction, good, supple and ripe tannin extraction and the healthiness of the grapes and the skins allowed us to carry on very long macerations with wonderful extractions”

Me What is your expectation from the wines from 2016 harvest?

PB “We will be having wines with great elegance, concentration and balance, with a great amount of rich ripe fruit and extracts, forward characters and an extremely long ageing potential. Wines would be well balanced and supported by fruit and tannins”

Me Any final words for Harvest 2016 ?

PB 2016 will be a fantastic vintage for wine lovers and collectors as also for the “purists” who have a strong faith in the great and unique character of Nebbiolo.

The winemaker’s delight and enthusiasm about an outstanding harvest has certainly rubbed off on me and would make me eagerly await the release of the Barolo 2016 vintage. However, that would take time since the minimum ageing requirement stipulated for Barolo is 2 years. But as I mentioned earlier, time flies and hope it flies fast this time. Till then keep loving the Barolo.

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Every wine reflects the personality of it’s winemaker

“Every wine has a story”…goes the saying. Well if that’s true then the story teller (or the wine maker) certainly assumes a central place in the wine experience. This also supports my belief that the winemaker’s personality is always reflected in the wine he makes.

I often try to read about the  winemaker of the wine which I’m having and would correlate the personality of the winemaker with the type of wine he produces as under..

Serious winemaker  – his wines should display perfectness in all aspects including balance of tannins, acidity, sugar, and alcohol etc. A text book precise wine.

Casual winemaker – his wines should be more of easy to drink  – much dependent on the magic of the terroir and less on viticulture and vinification efforts.

Maverick winemaker– his wines would display an element of boldness and experimentation. Like maybe a wine with a blend of the crisp Sauvignon Blanc, the aromatic Viognier and the noble Gewurztraminer. The IGP regions which grant some flexibility in winemaking should be the maverick winemaker’s paradise.

Last but not the least and irrespective of above classes –

Sincere winemaker–  his wines would reflect the sincerity, dedication and hard work in making of the wine which may be of any price range or the brand.

These are some wine musings. Views and own experiences are welcome. Cheers!

A Rendezvous with CDP

Dark was the bar and spicy the wine. Ofcourse I’m talking about Chateauneuf-du-Pape (CDP). Dim lights in the Blue Bar at Taj Palace, New Delhi prevented me from seeing the colour of the wine, so much was upto the nose & palate to know the wine. First few sips conjured up the word ‘moderate’ – but hey this was CDP – this should be anything but moderate. So I did what all wine aficionados do when in doubt – I let it decant in the glass for half hour…and Bang !! The wine exploded with pronounced aromas & flavours of black fruit, pungent spices and prominent oak. All this supported by a high alcohol content sent an immidiate signal to brain saying “Happiness”. Thank stars I was not driving home that night 😉😊


Since I stay in wine country I get to try a lot of wine varietals” says Sandeep Sinha – my friend from high school who stays in California. In the pic is a 100% Mourvedre wine which he relished recently.

Mourvedre is a red grape varietal which ripens fully only in hottest sites. It plays an important role in adding richness, colour and complexity to blends. We all know of the legendary GSM (Grenache, Syrah & Mourvedre) blends from southern France.

When fully ripened it can develop gamey, savoury aromas that are sought by many.

The one in the pic is a 100% Mourvedre which comes from vineyards in Contra Costa County, CA where many of the vines are 80 to 100+ years old.

These ancient vines are low yielding and produce a Mourvedre of intensity and richness (15.5% ABV) which display flavours of plum, chocolate and a bit of oak.

“To give an Indian twist I paired this wine with a Mumbai style spicy misal vada pao – which worked wonderfully” says Sinha on the wine – food pairing.

I’ll have the 3rd Red” … she said candidly 

It was late february evening and I was perched amongst a group of enthusiastic wine lovers around a rustic wooden table. The set was immersed in mellow golden light of the lamp hanging from the roof.

Perch Coffee and Wine Bar  – a ‘must go’ place for wine lovers

Venue was the  ‘Perch Coffee and Wine Bar’ – a ‘must go’ place for a unique and enjoyable wine experience – at the upscale Khan Market in New Delhi.

My friend Anand Vermani, who’s studied wines at Burgundy, had just finished explaining about all the wine showcased that evening. Extending the wine courtesy he asked all about their choice for the next glass of wine. 

Deepti Agarwal, who was sitting at the head of the table, gave her choice very candidly. She wanted the 3rd Red, Period !!  (indicating from the sequence of wines served in the first round). 

Her statement would stick to my mind for a long time to come. Coming to think of it, how often we get bogged down and obsessed with the wine labels, names, tasting notes etc that the actual pleasure of what’s in the glass takes a back seat. We all are guilty of this, one time or the other, arn’t we ? Should we not just sit easy and enjoy the nectar in the glass ?

And here was a lady who was doing just that, enjoying the wine without getting into the wine semantics. Now Deepti is no wine newbie, she’s wine literate and knows her wines. But still, keeping her knowledge aside she prefers to savour the wines and the company – living the wine moment. 

I was truly impressed and  have often tried to emulate her wine style and even recommend to others.

The 3rd Red that day was the Pinotage.  It was one amongst a cache of imported wines by Sula Selections, the import arm of Sula – the leading wine producer in India.

Pinotage – dense color, bold flavors, spicy notes

Pinotage is a signature grape from South Africa and is a blend of Pinot Noir and Cinsaut. It regaled all with its dense color, bold flavors and spicy notes. There were many converts that day – people who switched their wine preference to embrace Pinotage.

So, the next time in a wine scenario, in case your host asks you about your choice of wine – say simply the 3rd Red..or maybe last White or even the 1st Rose. Cheers.

Pictures courtesy – Perch Coffee and Wine Bar, Sula Selections

Harvest 2016

 Lamps fired to prevent vineyard frost 

“Vintage” in wine terminology refers to the year in which the grapes are picked (harvested).

World over, the 2016 vintage is likely to produce lesser volume of wines as compared to previous years owing to inclement weather conditions – almost a 20 year low production as per estimates.

El Nino in South America, frost and hail in France and poor weather conditions in South Africa – all these are likely to result in reduced yields.

As per OIV – Intn’l Organization of Vine and Wine, in 2016 approx 259.5 million hectolitres of wine will be produced around the world which is about 5% less than last year.

The picture shows fires being lit in vineyards as anti frost measures.

References- and

Pic- Google Images

3 Big B’s of Italy

Barolo, Barbaresco and Brunello are today amongst Italy’s best-known and most expensive wines. The reputation and stature of these three wines has grown so much over the years that it’s not uncommon to pitch them in the same league as wines from Bordeaux and Burgundy in France. And such is their aura and popularity the world over that they are often referred to as the Three Big B’s of Italy”. 

A comparative tasting of Barolo, Barbaresco and Brunello wines during “The Wine Fine Affair” recently held at the Oberoi Gurgaon, inspired Mukul Manku share his experience with Sommelier India readers. Read the full article here..

Yes that would be wonderful..

Why don’t you try some french wine with food” ? – an innocuous question by the bearer at a french bistro in New Delhi. I had taken my wife for an anniversary dinner. Till then I had never liked wines and wanted to say – “No, thank you”. Maybe the french ambience got better of me and I found myself uttering – Yes, that would be wonderful.

So the wines were served with dinner and it would be much later that I would register what we had – Chardonnay (White wine) for her and Cabernet Sauvignon (Red wine) for me – labels which were alien to me then.

The wines cast their magic- the aromatic, crisp, fresh white wine and the soft, rounded, fruity red wine bowled us over. The wine – food combination was so pleasurable that it sparked in me a keen interest in wines – which developed into a passion soon.

Thus, a simple visit to a bistro actually started my wine trail. So, to all those who often wonder about wines but are unsure whether you will like it or not – hit a bistro in your neighbourhood and when asked about wines just say – “Yes, that would be wonderful”. I promise you it would be so.