On the Wine Trail, Soma Vineyards Resort, Nashik Valley
The Nashik Valley is known as India’s Napa Valley so it stands to reason that there would also be a wine trail. While the wine trail is still quite small, only 3 wineries at the moment (Sula, York and Soma) what it lacks in size, it certainly makes up with in the quality of the wines and the winery resorts.
I popped into Soma Winery and Resort to taste the wines and have a look around. Soma was founded by Pradeep Pachpatil and the name derives from the most important people in his life, his family. Somneth (father), Omkar (son), Manjusha (wife) and Anchal (daughter). Pradeep started with a small plot of grapes, a 3-bedroom bungalow and a swimming pool. Visitors to the much bigger Sula, which is just down the road, were charmed by the set up at Soma and began to use it when they visited Sula – and thus, Soma resort was born.
They were the first ones in India to really build on the idea of wine tourism in India. The resort faces the Godavari River and features an infinity pool with a view of both the vines and the river, my favourite part! The pool also has a wine bar which I think is quite handy, it does get warm out there in the Indian sun. There is also a fully equipped gym, conference rooms and an all day restaurant with a lovely terrace to watch the sun set – with a glass of Soma sparkling in hand, of course. They also offer adventure sports and after all that you can relax in their on-site Spa. It really is a full service resort.
However, I was there for the wines, the pool could wait. At Soma, their wine making philosophy is to make wines that are soft and approachable. The style of wine is ‘tropical’, young and fresh yet fruity. They grow their own grapes and do not use growers. The winery is on-site, behind the restaurant and visitors are able to take a tour of the winery before sitting down to a winetasting. Their aim is to show people the wine lifestyle at the resort, visiting the vineyards leaves folks with lasting memories and hopefully builds the desire to re-create that same feeling at home, with Soma wines, obviously.
At Soma they categorise their wines into Gold, Silver and Dessert styles. The Gold style is drier on the palate being less fruit forward. The Silver style is medium dry with fruit taking a bigger role in the flavour profile. The Dessert ‘style, contrary to what you might think, is not a late harvest or fortified style but wines that are made with more residual sugar. However, I would not classify them in what we in the West call traditional ‘dessert’ wines. At Soma, they have customised their wines for various palates, they see their wines as a process of educating the consumers palates.
Their signature Sauvignon Blanc is a Silver wine and is tropical in flavour and aroma. Peaches, melon and guava on the palate, a medium bodied wine, it’s made to be paired with the typical Indian dishes of Tandoori and kebab.
The Gold Chenin Blanc is quite herbaceous and floral on the nose, having a honeyed and tropical fruit flavours on the palate with a slight hint of coconut. They told me this one was made to go with Prawn Piri-Piri. I could definitely see a pattern here. In fact, later I did try these wines with the curries of India and they did fit perfectly.
The Gold Shiraz spends time in French and American oak, aging only for 3 – 6 months, it has a nose of cranberries and raspberries with a slight smokiness in the background. Medium bodied on the palate with lots of cinnamon and red fruit flavours. I was advised that this would work wonderfully with mint and coriander, especially Manjari Kebabs, which sadly I was not able to try while there.
The Silver Shiraz doesn’t spend any time in oak and is a light and easy going red, full of strawberries with a hint of spice on the finish. Very easy to drink on a hot day. It was ONLY 32C while I was there so I shouldn’t complain!
Soma were the first to do a dessert Sauvignon Blanc in India, most of the other wineries there use Chenin Blanc for their dessert wines. This one was off dry, only 15-20 gr/ltr, loads of tropical fruit on the nose and palate but not overly sweet, it still had a freshness to it which would make it a great partner for the fresh fruit that can be found everywhere in India.
The Rose Dessert wine is unusual in that Soma use Zinfandel to make their rose. It’s a blush style of rose and is left to macerate for 48 hours before fermentation. Surprisingly, it had a rather savoury nose but on tasting it, I was hit by a wave of strawberry jam and spice on the palate. It was off dry and happily not like a California blush Zin, banish those thoughts of Blossom Hill! Try with Tandoori chicken or a goat’s cheese salad.
An enjoyable way to spend the afternoon and then time to hit the pool!
Tour and Wine tasting £2.75