It is not enough to be a country’s largest wine producer. You’ve got to keep expanding the ambit to ensure a continuing customer outreach. Sula Selections, the import division of Sula wines of India seems to be following this approach by augmenting its portfolio aggressively of late. The latest in their slew of wines are two ranges- Mud House and Kumala wines from New Zealand and South Africa respectively. After eventful months with Hardys wines of Australia culminating in the launch of William Hardy and Art of Cricket collections, Sula’s action arena has shifted to other New World regions apparently in a quest to evolve a well rounded portfolio. And with this it’s association with Accolade Wines- one of worlds largest wine enterprises delivering wine to 143 countries worldwide- goes a notch higher.
The launch of Mud House and Kumala wines was done at a dinner hosted in Lavaash- a new restaurant serving Armenian cuisine in Delhi. Prarrthona Pal Chowdhury- Sula’s enterprising Marketing Head for Brandy Project and International Brands invited me over for the tasting. The wines came across as refreshing and full of novelty. Here is a lowdown on the portfolio:
Mud House Wines
This production house has presence in three of the renowned wine areas of New Zealand viz. Marlborough, Waipara valley and Central Otago. It gets its name from the house which was built by its founders from the mud excavated from the local area.
Wines tasted (Prices indicated ex Delhi/ Mumbai):
Mud House Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (₹ 2300/ ₹ 2575)
True to its provenance (of a maritime climate) the wine had expressive ripe peaches aromas going on to guavas after some time. It may be called a ‘typical Marlborough’ wine but my personal choice steers away from particularly domineering aromas. On the palate, the wine was pretty decent and refreshing with tropical fruit flavours. This wine will please those who like intensely aromatic Sauvignon Blancs as opposed to their subtler cousins.
Mud House Pinot Noir 2013 (₹ 2530/ ₹ 2830)
The light ruby colour of this wine indicated at the outset that it would be more fruity and less tannic. The wine expectedly came out juicy on the palate with abundance of red berries and soft tannins- though I felt it could have done well with a firmer structure. Notwithstanding, the wine was an excellent match for the paired food that had vegetal-fruity orientation and ample texture.
The winery takes great pride in being located in the surrounding areas of the iconic Table Mountain that has rich bio diversity. Perhaps their ‘Gecko’ motif conveys the same essence. They also source their grapes from growers spread over five prominent South African viticultural regions viz Western Cape, Olifants River, Paarl, Stellenbosch and Worcester.
Wines tasted: (All variants ₹ 1250/ ₹ 1355)
A crisp Chardonnay with aromas/flavours of apples, citrus fruits and pears. Well suited for the Indian summer conditions.
Kumala Sauvignon Blanc
A subdued variation of the Mud House Sauvignon Blanc tasted as above, this was a well balanced wine having pleasant citrus, vegetal and spicy aromatics that were accompanied by a delicious palate.
No SA wine talk is complete without the mention of Pinotage- the country’s derived varietal from Pinot Noir and Hermitage (also called Cinsault) varietals. This wine had complex aromas of red fruits and fruitcake. A well rounded medium bodied delicious palate and a medium finish made it a pleasant wine to relish even without food.
A deep ruby wine with aromas of ripe black fruits and black pepper. Full bodied with round tannins and a distinct oak touch made it a good accompaniment with the robust and savoury main course dish called Chicken Kalagyosh- a chickpea and chicken stew with parsley paprika and olive oil.
To sum up the entire tasting experience, both the wine ranges have something unique to offer- coming from two distinct terroirs of the New World.The benefit-cost ratio however, works to the advantage of Kumala wines, significantly so, because Mud House may find ample number of worthy competitors for their pricing on the Indian retail shelves- including biggies from the Old World.
But then- it all depends upon catching the customer’s fancy!