Friday, 29 March 2013

Sula Dindori Shiraz Reserve 2010

So here's something a little bit different. Sula, the Indian vineyard that boldly claims to be 'at the forefront of the Indian Wine revolution', was founded by Rajeev Samant in 1993 after leaving his job as an engineer in Silicon Valley. Dindori Reserve was launched in 2005 and shows the experimental edge and growing flair of Sula. Aged in new oak for 1 year.

While the phrase 'Indian Wine revolution' may seem a little vainglorious, I thought it would be an interesting wine to try. I had been recommended to try Indian wine before, but I was cautious as to how well it would travel. Given the distinctly different climates of England and  India I felt its merits may be lost (especially as I tried it in mid-Winter - which was actually a rather good thing, as you will see from the notes below).

Along with experimenting across established Indian varietals, Sula also produces a dessert wine (India's first), a Sauvignon Blanc and a Chenin Blanc (also firsts for India). While I suppose this could be termed a revolution in that it has never been done before in India, the fact that these are 'firsts' for India suggests to me that this is a revolution very much in its infancy. Still, with some fairly slick marketing projects, including luxury accommodation on the vineyard, Sula may well end up being as successful as its marketing suggests. They definitely need to change the labels though...

Colour: A rather opaque, cloudy red. A hint of purple.

Nose: Peppery, spicy (cinnamon) and jammy. All characteristic Shiraz tastes. Now comes the interesting part - salt and smoke combined with distinct notes of dried black tea. For those of you familiar with Lapsang Souchong tea, this is a remarkably comparable nose! My notes say in capitals 'TEA'! How interesting.

Palate: Really really smoky fruit. Plenty of oak. Molasses and cinnamon (perhaps burnt cinnamon?) come in with some spice in the middle, giving it a rather charmingly sweet toasty flavour. Lapsang comes through again in serious quantities. Interesting. Quite heavy but not oppressive.

Body: Quite acidic and reasonable tannic. Quite austere on the back. Reasonably smooth.

Finish: The austerity really punches in here. Again, I can't help but make comparisons with slightly over-brewed Lapsang tea. Very smoky, drying and slightly sweet. Not wholly unpleasant.

Conclusion: Classifying a wine like this is extraordinarily difficult (much to my amusement I originally typed 'tea' here - reflecting just how tea-like it was!). It's hard to tell if its well-made or hideously unbalanced. The smokiness is something I quite like (for a glass or two) but I think those of you who have more refined palates may find it oppressive. I liked the sweet spiciness in the middle of the palate but was rather less fond of the austere ending, which is rather too dry for my liking.

Points: 84. Give it a go. It's an extremely interesting wine and is a great conversation-starter, especially given its provenance. Balance is an issue, but perhaps that's what makes it exciting.

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