Sunday, December 05, 2004

Wines of India: Sula Vineyards

Sula Vineyards is situated in Nasik, 120 miles from Mumbai in the state of Maharashtra - a coastal state in west central India. Nasik is 2000 feet above sea level with hills and a moderate climate suitable to grape growing. Sula's website draws comparisons between Nasik's terroir to the wine growing regions of Spain, Australia and California.

Sula was founded by a California educated former Silicon Valley engineer, Rajeev Samant. Under the guidance of Sonoma winemaker, Kerry Damskey, Sula planted its first wine grapes in early 1997 on Samant's family land that once grew mangos. My experience with Sula's wines (whites only) showed that the vineyards mango roots came through in unique tastes (more in the notes below). Sula's initial focus was on Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc, both varietals were new to India when Sula planted the vines.

Today, Sula is available widely across India in wineshops, restaurants and hotels. The wines are also exported to the U.S. and Europe. I briefly searched online resources like wine-searcher and froogle and found several retailers selling their wines.

Sula Vineyards Brut NV
One of two sparkling wines offered by Sula, it is made from three different white grapes varieties sourced from eight vineyards. Sula's website and the bottle didn't specify the specific varieties used. The wine displayed pale gold colors with big bubbles. The nose had subtle tree fruits with pronounced spice and pungent minerals. On the palette it offered a lush mouthfeel and the spice flavors hinting at curry! The finish was of medium length and resonated chalky minerals and some nut flavors. A solid offering.
Rating - 8.5 out of 10
Price - I paid about $7.50 for a glass at a fine Indian restaurant, but a bottle can be had for $10

Sula Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2003
Made from Sula's estate grapes. The wine had very light nearly transparent straw color in the glass. It offered mango, melon and grapefruit aromas. In the mouth the wine was round and started with a nice tart zing, which unfortunately doesn't last. The finish hinted at melons and was also too short. Fortunately with food, the flavors and sensations became much more pronounced. A good meal wine.
Rating - 8.0 out of 10
Price - $10 (same as above)