M/S

Mahārāshtra, maharashtra India

This is a joint venture between Piero Masi, a Tuscan winemaker we first came across in the mid-1980s when he worked for Paolo De Marchi at Isole e Olena, and wine writer, producer and innovator Steven Spurrier, who founded the Wine Society of India on one of his frequent visits. They met through Kapil and Gaurav Sekhri, whose winery owns about 95 hectares of vineyards, planted over three sites, in Akluj (Mahārāshtra), on the right bank of the Nira River about 170 kilometres south of Pune. The climate is sub-tropical but the altitude of 650 metres gives cool nights, which ensures the grapes retain their freshness.

As Piero speaks little English and Steven speaks no Italian, they converse in French. Their communication is nevertheless very good, as demonstrated by the quality of the wines. "We wanted to ensure they were fresh, vibrant, unoaked and balanced," says Steven. The white blend is of 80% Chardonnay and 20% Sauvignon Blanc and comes from two different vineyards at close to 550 metres above sea level. All the grapes are hand picked and the wine is fermented in stainless steel at 18˚C to retain the aromas acquired during ripening at altitude. The rosé, made solely from Sangiovese (as one might expect given Piero's involvement), is pale, fresh and zingy, while the red blend of 60% Sangiovese, 20% Cabernet Franc and 20% Shiraz is soft, ripe and very well balanced. It was fermented in stainless steel for about two weeks at 25°C to extract colour and ripe tannins. The Merlot is made in a similar way for a supple mouthfeel and rich palate.

The vineyards, planted in 2008 with cuttings imported from Europe by Piero, are the key to the success of these wines. The soils are poor, which reduces vigour, and do not contain clay, a key factor in managing disease pressure in a sub-tropical climate. Yields are half what most people achieve in India, which means the grapes ripen properly before the monsoons arrive. The result is a set of wines that have lovely purity and lift, which deserve to be sold in good restaurants and wine merchants everywhere.

 

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Wines

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