Reveilo Wines Revealed, Italian Winemaking in India
One afternoon my wine guide, Manoj, called and said today we are going to the eastern part of the Nashik Valley to visit Reveilo Winery. Up until now, we had focused on the western and northern parts of the Nashik so I was curious to see what differences there would be in the wines, if any.
Reveilo certainly was different, the vineyards and winery are situated outside the town of Niphad on flat farm land unlike the rolling hills of the west and it’s wine maker, Andrea Valentinuzzi, is Italian. Not only is he Italian but so is the equipment and many of the grapes they grow are Italian grape varieties as well. Reveilo specialise in Grillo, Nero d’Avola and Sangiovese but they also grow Chenin Blanc, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay. The Italian varieties were brought over in 2007 and are grafted onto rootstock that they also imported. They also only produce single variety wines, no blends.
The winery is a family owned and unlike most other wineries in the Nasik, they grow their own grapes and do not rely on contract growers. The Patel family originally used the land for table grape farming but in 2000, the patriarch of the family, Suresh decided he wanted to turn to wine production and his son, Yatin along with his wife Kiran now oversee the winery and their wine business. The family currently have 100 acres but not all of it is planted with wine grapes yet.
The winery is modern and utilitarian, everything you need to make wine but they are not competing to be on the wine tourist trail, there is no resort attached to this working winery. After a quick tour of the modern winery, Andrea and I sat down to taste these Italian varieties grown in India.
The Patels met Andrea at Vinitaly in 2003 and signed him on to be their consultant. Andrea lives in Alto Adige but spends a lot of time at the Indian vineyards. When I was there, he had recently arrived from Italy to supervise the harvest which was just beginning.
I was eager to try the Italian varieties so we plunged right in. We started with the Grillo 2016. It was fresh and crisp with a bite to it. Easy drinking and dry with good texture and acidity. I thought this was a very good example of Grillo. Would I say it was from Italy, no. But as Andrea explained, he wants to make wines that have personality and a sense of place. So Indian Grillo, thumbs up.
Next we tried the Nero d’Avola 2016. This one had that smoky note that I found in a few wines from the Western side of Nashik but it also had a wonderful black cherry nose and round tannins on the palate with a long dark chocolate finish.
The Sangiovese 2016 was what I was most interested in tasting. It had good tannic structure and balance and acidity. It was medium bodied with a soft mouthfeel, leather and spice being the predominate flavours and aromas. I thought it was a very good wine. Andrea told me that the biggest problem they have in this part of the valley is salty water which occurs naturally. That however didn’t seem to affect the wines I tasted, thankfully. On the flip side, the soil is mostly clay which benefits the grapes.
Andrea had one more wine up his sleeve, a late harvest Chenin Blanc. I am a sucker for dessert wines and this one had a funny story attached to it. One year, Andrea was delayed in returning to India and by the time he arrived at the vineyards, the grapes had practically turned to raisins. Nevertheless, Andrea decided to pick them and see what would come out. The result, happily, was a beautiful wine. The story reminds me of the apocryphral story of the origins of Hungarian tokay but instead a marauding Turks, it was delayed Italians which brought about this wine.
I tasted the Late Harvest 2013 Chenin Blanc, with 17% abv and 100 gr/ltr it was a delicious surprise. Aromas of almonds, dried apricots, caramel and orange marmelade on the palate. This wine also had a zippy acidity to it and while it was quite rich, the acidity shines through and saves it from being a treacly tart, so to speak. They make very small quantities but if you can get you hands on it, I definitely recommend it.
I very much enjoyed my visit to Reveilo. Andrea echoed many of the other winemakers I had met so far in lamenting the lack of government support for the Indian wine trade but he, like the others, sees plenty of potential and as it’s still a young industry, only 25 years old more or less, he feels that there is certainly room for growth in the Indian wine market. Reveilo’s goal is to produce quality wines and so far they seem to be doing just that.