In the middle of the 1990s, the Stanford educated Rajeev Samant left his well-paid Silicon Valley job, to return to his native India. His family owned farm land in Nashik, about 180 kilometers northeast of Mumbai. This area was already known for growing table grapes, but nobody had tried wine grapes before. With inspiration from California, Rajeev founded Sula Vineyards, and he recruited Kerry Damskey, an experienced winemaker from Sonoma. Their initial plantings were Sauvignon Blanc och Chenin Blanc, but they have since expanded to include reds as well. Today the production includes all types of wines: red, white, rosé and sparkling, with an impressive Indian market share of 60-70%. Sula is also a pioneer when it comes to developing the Indian wine tourism, with two hotels on the Nashik property and wine tastings, wine tours, a wine festival etc. on offer.
So the other day I twisted off the top of a bottle of 2015 Sula Vineyards Rasa Shiraz (no cork here). Rasa is Sula's premium offering, with an Indian retail price of more than 20 USD. The grapes have been hand-picked on their own wine estate in Nashik, and the wine has matured 12 months in French oak barrels. So far, so good! It is a full-bodied, fruity wine, with lots of sweet dark berries. There are some fairly polished tannins to balance the fruit, and a slightly peppery finish, with a long lingering mouthfeel. It reminds me of a fruit-forward Shiraz from California, and that is not too shabby. This is a serious wine, that will definitely qualify for a spot in the wine fridge.