When you’ve traversed enough wine trails and had your share of exquisite Rieslings and Sauvignon Blancs from the Brancotts down in Kiwiland, and Old Barrel Ports and Cabernet Francs from family-owned wineries in Midwestern United States, you’re considered, well, a weathered wine buff. Atleast a little more than you’d be if all your winely knowledge trickled down from say, Paul Giamatti in Sideways. But we digress.
A quaint little winery beckoned a bunch of food bloggers for an exclusive tasting event recently. Nestled in the lush hillsides of Nandi, just outside Bangalore, SDU is a boutique winery with vineyards (currently not in bloom) within an arm’s length from its manufacturing unit. The drive, which lasted about 2 hours, was pleasant, offered some countryside vistas to the sore suburban eyes, and was peppered with invigorating conversations about everything under the sun except food, wine or blogdom. Seen above is the vineyard, from a distance, on a pit stop along the way.
Upon reaching the vast expanse that houses the SDU unit, we were ushered in by the kindly Mr. Mohit Nishchol, Business Head at SDU, who inadvertently opened up a discussion about the winery and answered some (even unbecoming of said wine connoisseurs) questions. The most relevant of those, however, was that SDU is really aiming to create a healthy awareness about easy drinking wines among the general public. That being said, their doors are not really open to the public, and they retail their wines through select outlets. We would also learn a few moments hence that you can’t really walk out of SDU with a wine bottle tucked into your pocket – because they are not licensed to sell wines right out of the unit – and hence the CCTV cameras would nicely capture your little act.
After we’d sipped on our teas and coffees and wolfed down a few platters of snacks, we visited the machinery unit, with the gigantic tanks where the red and white wines are fermented and kept until they’re ready to be bottled, a well planned assembly unit that functions on stringent rules and rigmaroles, ridding the bottles of all oxygen content before they’re sealed, labeled and sent out to the other relatively colder room where they’re packed into cartons. Of course we also went to a precision lab where everything, from brewing temperature, to carbonic maceration, is monitored with hawk-eyed perfection. It also reminded us of colleges or hospitals (or both), with whiffs of ether and phenyl wafting across the span of the chamber. Next stop was the room with the French Oak barrels, where the reserve wines were, well, resting.
The wine tasting event that followed shortly after, was rolled out in front of us like a cheery picnic mat, quite literally. Oodles of cheeses and olives, nuts and breads, crackers and chorizo, ham and smoked salmon, were spread out on a gigantic table swathed in a red-and-white checkered table cover, around which we were seated in anticipation of the fruity, oak-kissed, acidic liquids to hit our mouths. The 4-S rule was reasserted just in time – see, smell, sip, swirl – while some of us had already dug into the snack accompaniments. After much ado about the wine tasting process, we finally sampled the 2012 vintage numbers: Deva Cab Suav and the Deva Syrah, as well as the soon to be launched Deva Chardonnay. While the Syrah is a a light wine with a not-too-overwhelming peck of spice-like flavors in the background, the Cab Sauv is a full-bodied wine with a rather immodest hint of fruitiness and spice-like flavors as well. The Chardonnay is a lovely white wine, dry and fruity with a lingering effect on the palate. We are quite sure there’ll be fireworks in the market when it’s launched later this year.
Still heady from all the tasting, we were given strict instructions to guzzle down a bottle of water before being taken out to the balcony for a scrumptious lunch, which was washed down with more wine. While the drive back home was just as enjoyable as the drive up to the winery, we couldn’t help take a second look at our prized possessions: two bottles of select Deva wines, and think ahead to the dinners they will likely rule over.
As all reviews must come to an end on a good note, here’s ours: the Cab Sauv is priced at Rs. 600/- a bottle and the Syrah, at Rs. 500/- a bottle. Quite the bargain for delicious, easy-on-the-palate wines from a lovely boutique winery.