French Wine Exposium in Delhi

A group of French winemakers visiting India had a tasting organised at the Park Hotel in Connaught Place, Delhi on Monday. The Exposium had 21 wineries with over 150 labels to taste from Bordeaux , Burgundy , Champagne , Rhone and several Southwestern regions of France.

The wineries present were Baron de Montfort, Cellier des Dauphins, Champagne Eric Taillet, Chassagnoux & Fils, Chateaux Bellefontaine, Brague, Mallevielle, Tariquet, Rousselle, Denis et Florence Dubourdieu, Domaine de Val d'Estable, Domaine du Parc Saint Charles, Dubos Frere-Bordeaux, Gerard Bertrand, Louis Max, Maison Tricon, Malbec Cahors International, M. Chapoutier, Rhum Clement, Vinovalie and VMV.

The tasting was organised by Sopexa. Speaking to delWine, Rajiv Singhal, Chargé de Mission , India said,' this is part of our regular programmes in which we bring producers to meet the trade professionals in India .'

The Exposium moves to Bangalore tomorrow for a day and then to Mumbai Grand Hyatt on April 27. There are some very interesting wines including premier crus from Burgundy . Some négociants offer a complete portfolio including Bordeaux first growths.

Though I did not get the opportunity of tasting any red wines, some whites from Rhone were very interesting. Cohors is another area which has been getting international attention with better quality wines at affordable prices and was represented at the show: so was Cotes de Ventoux. A champagne with 100% Pinot Meunier was simply delicious and its complex flavours and live acidity in the mouth was impressive.

What was quite noticeable was that many owners of the small family run estates were present and were seen enthusiastically pouring for tasting. One hopes they find the trip well worth it. India is a tough market at this point. It is lying sowing the seeds for a mango tree and not like growing new grape vines.

The venue of the tasting-Yantra is a remodeled Banquet Hall at the Park and is excellent for such events in future. Incidentally, they must have made enough money to buy decent spittoons that will not only be functional but also harmonise with the décor and style of the hotel.

I am intentionally not singling out any winery since I could not taste majority of the wines. But I can safely comment on Rhum Clement- the only company present, that makes rum and not wine. I don't drink rum (or any other alcohol but wine so I did not venture to taste it). It reminded me of the French Grey Goose Vodka though, which is all pervasive these last few years not only in India but everywhere in the world and sells at a premium-even before Bacardi discovered the goldmine. The theory and assumption is that French who are great in distilling and making excellent brandy in Cognac , would also distill an excellent vodka (technological supremacy).

If same rationale is applied to Rhum Clement's 'true representation of pure, natural rum, produced only two months in a year, in the world renowned terroir of Martinique', it might be worth the tipple for the delWine readers of Indian residence who have pledged never to drink any thing that has less current than 40% Alc. Possibly a good product to consider for importers.

Subhash Arora

April 24, 2007


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