Friday, December 10, 2004

Wines of India: Chateau Indage

Chateau Indage aspires to be the Robert Mondavi Corporation of India. Unfortunately, with Chateau Indage the individual passion and love for winemaking that Robert Mondavi brought to Napa Valley is in short supply. Much like their website, its all style with little substance. I can hardly blame Indage as a business enterprise. Why invest the rupees and sweat equity in producing a high quality wine? Most local wine consumers aren't bothered with substance. Those that are, typically poo poo Indian wine and favor tried and true Old and New world favorites.

Indage threw me a couple major curveballs during my travels in India. On more than one occasion I ordered glasses of Indage wine - expecting to sample efforts from home grown grapes. I tasted and studied the wines hoping to uncover the essence of Indian terroir. First things first, these wines were crap. Second and more importantly they were not Indian wines, eventhough 5-star hotels and restaurants included the offerings under the India section of the winelist. Indage has established agreements whereby they import bulk shipments of wine (usually in godzilla-sized garbage bags) from places like Australia and South America. That imported garbage bag wine is then bottled and sold locally. I believe that Indage saves money by using imported wine rather than focusining on their own vineyards and wineries.

This is not to say that Indage doesn't grow and produce local Indian wines. In fact, they do just that. Outside of Bangalore, Indage grows Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah, Cabernet Franc and plenty of others. And guess what, the truly local wines were good. The sparkling wines I tried were quite good. As was the Chantilly Cabernet Sauvignon. Regrettably, the home-grown wines were harder to come by than the garbage bag exports like Cranswick (Australia) and Morande (Chile). For this tourist some more home cooking would have been appreciated.