Indian Wine - Sula Vineyards

Oct 26th, 2009 Jayne Pearce

Sula Vineyards in Nashik, India has been my home for the past 9 months now. It is only right I should provide a tasting note for each of the wines I have consumed vast quantities of.  Believe me, I know them quite well now.

For gallons of info on this great up-and-coming winery, head over to their website which comes complete with a blog -

Otherwise, check out my own assessments of the 2007/8/9 vintage -

Sauvignon Blanc (2008)

The Sauvignon Blanc is a big hit for the Sula sun.  It’s an easy-drinking wine that’s good as an aperitif or with lightly spiced dishes.  For me the nose is a real mix of old and new world Sauvignon with a concoction of herbaceous characters typical of Bordeaux and  the  South African style gooseberry and capsicum.  It has a a nicely balanced fruit to acidity without any nasty bracing surprises in the mouth.

Riesling (2009)

The Sula Riesling makes for a great lunchtime aperitif as the 10.5% alcohol doesn’t blow you over and you leave you dull-headed for the rest of the day.  Although only made in limited quantities for the moment, it is definitely worth trying to get hold of this light-headed nectar.  The nose is a refreshing mix of citrus and gooseberry fruits with a dash of the exotic spice and fresh acidity on the palate making it pair nicely with lightly spiced dishes.  My guess is we’ll be seeing more of this one  in future.

Dindori reserve Viognier (2008)

The Sula Dindori reserve Viognier is one of Sula’s premium wines and it’s working very well with the Indian terroir and the Nashik climate of warm days and cool nights.   I have tasted this straw-hued wine with many journalists and the reaction is always the same - a lot of arched eyebrows.  The nose is an intoxicating subtle mix of exotic fruit and stone fruits wheras on the palate it has a zesty acidity complimented by an abundance of citrus fruits and a dash of white pepper.   The 14% alcohol demands it be drunk with food and my vote would be a light creamy salmon taglietelle.

Blush Zinfandel (2008)

The Blush Zinfandel is a great Indian all-rounder, that is, if you have a bit of a sweet tooth.  That said, the 15 g/l of residual sugar is disguised behind a juice-overload fruity exterior.  At 12% alcohol this wine makes a great lunchtime al-fresco experience.

This wine is a great ‘spicier food’ (but don’t overdo it) pairing as the weighty sweet jammy fruit works very well with spice and being chilled helps to cool the palate.  With watermelon hues and the same on the nose as well as a hint of herbs this wine ticks all the rosé boxes.  On the palate though the style is explorative that takes you as far away as possible from the herbaceous Southern French rosé.  Think lightly stewed raspberries and you might be close. This is definitely worth checking out especially if you are a bit of a rosé fan.

Zinfandel (2008)

The Sula Zinfandel is a great wine to drink if you really want to pair a red wine with lamb and chicken kebabs.  The ripe cherry and the liquorice aromas couple very nicely with the supple tannins and blackberries on the palate.

Cabernet Shiraz (2008)

The Sula Cabernet Shiraz has a 30/70 split respectively.  The dominant Shiraz gives the style a spicy, peppery uplift while the Cabernet adds some blackberry notes and rounded tannins.  The oak influence is evident but subtle and youthful.  The Cabernet Shiraz pairs very nicely with tandoori dishes and other slightly spicy dishes.

Dindori Shiraz (2007)

The Dindori Shiraz is Sula’s red equivalent to the Viognier.  The grapes are selected from Sula’s premium vineyard region in Dindori.  After fermentation  it is matured in American and French oak for 9-12 months with a further 3-4 months ageing in bottle before release.  The resulting style is verging on Hunter Valley Shiraz in character with a hint of Rioja with the use of oak and patience.

Despite the maturation in oak and in bottle the wine is surprisingly opaque in appearance suggesting it could handle at least a couple more years lying down.  On the nose is a blend of spicy fruits , earth, leather and milk chocolate  and the palate is showing pepper, damson and herbaceous hints.  The tannins are rounded with good balanced fruit and some acidity to see it develop for up to 5 years if stored in the right conditions.  I personally would not drink this wine with anything spicy as the oak influence would battle with the chilli  making the spice appear spicier.  Choose a dish that will compliment its earthy nature such as a mushroom risotto or roast lamb.

Late Harvest Chenin Blanc (2008)

I love this wine.  The  Chenin grapes were handpicked (actually, all the grapes at Sula are handpicked) last at about 29 brix so there was good concentration of sugars right from the start of fermentation.  About 15% of the juice is fermented in oak barrels and the rest in tank until maximum alcohol was reached at 13.5%.  The modest 81g/l residual sugar is a sensory delight and a potentially flabby palate is avoided with the addition of tartaric acid giving the final style of refreshing balance to the fruit.    This deep straw-hued wine has a fragrant nose reminiscent of honeysuckle whilst on the palate there is a delicate balance of slightly stewed stone fruits and lemon meringue.  Gorgeous. The length lasts forever.  I could drink this anytime of the day on its own or, if I had to, with some fruit-based desserts that don’t dominate the wine such as an apple tart or a simple fruit salad .  Chocolate-based puddings are a no-no, in my opinion.

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