Wine In India

Friday, April 1, 2022

“INDIA GEARING UP TO REPLACE CHINA FOR AUSTRALIAN WINE EXPORTS” – Read the headline in the “Daily Wine News” recently, citing a Drinks Business article – please refer to link below. The article states that the governments of India and Australia are reportedly in talks regarding a free trade deal which would boost Aussie wine exports to India. WOW! Big whoop-dee-doo to that say I! Don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen!

The article in essence, saying that the FTA might open the doors for a significant increase in wine sales to India, but not to the level of replacing China.  To put into context, it would be like saying that fine wine sales to the Northern Territory will match or exceed those to Sydney!! Jacob’s Creek is currently the largest selling imported wine brand in India at around 50,000 cases a year – to match their former sales to China they would have to have a twenty-fold increase in sales!!!

Why won’t this happen? Well for starters current wine import duty into India is 148.2% – How much will they reduce this in the FTA? There has been talk about reducing this level of tariff ever since I was there back in 2004, and it ain’t happened yet!

Then the Indian government is so anti-wine (and pro-whisky) that it severely hinders its own domestic producers as well as imported wines. There is no existing habit/ritual of wine consumption with meals.

Several of the 28 states and eight Union Territories are alcohol-free, and in the rest the drinking age is 25. In one of the hottest, most humid countries on the planet there is very little temperature controlled storage of wine, especially in transport across this vast country, so even fairly young wines are often already oxidised when sold.

In the capital of Delhi (approx. 26 million people) under Section 33 of the Delhi Excise Act, 2009, you cannot have more than 18 litres (2 dozen bottles) of “beer, wine and alcopops” in your house at any time per adult (age 25+) resident, without a liquor licence. This is a law that is enforced as can be seen in this Indian Wine Academy article – please refer to link below.

Please don’t get me wrong, the very small percentage of the population that do drink wine, are very knowledgeable and most appreciate the quality of Australian wines. It is the government and its bureaucracy that stands in the way of many more Indians enjoying the pleasure of wine, be it Indian or Australian wine. If it were to be removed or even minimised, then wine would flourish in India and sales would rise dramatically.

This governmental hindrance did not happen in China and thus over a decade and a half we became the No.1 imported wine country in that rapidly expanding market, prior to the imposition of a punitive, politically motivated tax on our wines. To put our current wine sales to India into context (according to Wine Australia figures): in 2021 we sold $12 million worth of wine to India, whereas we sold $14 million to Indonesia (a Muslim country with a dramatically smaller population) and $12 million worth of sales to the Philippines (another “wine minnow” country).

So here is hoping that the Indian whisky culture can be swung over to a wine culture – but alas don’t hold your breath waiting for it to happen just yet!

Link – Business Drink’s Article:

Link – Indian Wine Academy Article:

This Week's Wine Review:

This week I am talking about the uber exciting emerging variety, GRÜNER VELTLINER (GRÜNER).

It was love at first sight when I first encountered this sensational, native Austrian white variety on an Austrian Wine Marketing sponsored trip around Austria in 2015. Wow! It blew my socks off with its delightful citrus and floral aromas and vibrant, steely flavours. It was like a “Riesling with attitude” having more oomph, complexity and depth than Riesling.

Since then I have tasted hundreds of GRÜNER from pre-release through to going as far back to a 1971 vintage tasted at Domiane Wachau on the banks of the Danube, in 2019.

I have written several articles on the variety and have closely followed its amazing progress here in Australia. The very first Australian GRÜNER was released by the adventurous Carpenter family, of Lark Hill Wines, in Canberra, with their 2009 vintage. This was followed by the next vintage from Hahndorf Hills Wines, in the Adelaide Hills. Since then the Adelaide Hills has become “GRÜNER Central” – the spiritual centre for GRÜNER in the southern Hemisphere, with over 45 producers in 2020. The Hill’s mob have even formed the “GRÜNER Group” who, until Covid-19 used to meet regularly to discuss the variety and benchmark their wines against those of Austria.

So finally we come to today’s wine – a truly worthy addition to the booming Australian GRÜNER scene. It is the superb, COLLECTOR WINES 2019 “LEDGER” TUMBARUMBA (NSW) GRÜNER VELTLINER.

This is a cracking, classic cool-climate GRÜNER with the typical varietal zesty, yet steely, perfumed citrus aromas. The palate is full-bodied, flinty, dry, flavoursome with great acidity and just a hint of white pepper. The finish is superb, refreshing and lingering and this wine will continue to evolve for several years and comfortably live for well over a decade.

I believe that this wine can proudly stand shoulder to shoulder with the best GRÜNER from the Adelaide Hills and most Austrian GRÜNER as well.

As one of the panellist at the tasting said: “Drop dead, bloody gorgeous!”

Visit the website link below and see this stunner wine and the rest of the excellent Collector Wines range (especially the Collector Summer Swarm Hilltops Fiano) – well worth checking out.

Well that’s it until next week and remember to stay safe, #chooseaustralianwine and when possible enjoy #emergingvarieties. Cheers!

Winery link: