- Chandon India’s winemaker Kaushal Khairnar talks about the brand’s Brut & Rosé variants, what makes Chandon different from other vineyards and India’s growing wine market
Chandon India is one of the most recognized names in the Indian wine industry today with its Brut and Rosé variants being top picks in the sparkling wine category. But what’s the story of the brand behind its popular variants. We got Kaushal Khairnar, winemaker for Chandon India to tell us more about the brand and what it means to be a winemaker in the country currently. Excerpts from the interview.
- Tell us a bit about Chandon India over the years.
Moët Hennessy set foot in India in the year 2013, with the inauguration of the Chandon winery at Dindori, Nashik, advancing the vision of Robert Jean de Vogüé, Director, Moët & Chandon Champagne House, from 1930-1972, who speculated that wine-growing regions outside the Champagne region of France also held great promise to fabricate high-quality sparkling wines. Across the years, the firm has steadily set foot in various different countries, and the assembling of the state-of-the-art winery in Dindori, speaks to the intrigue of Chandon sparkling wines in India as well as the prospects of Nashik’s terroir in producing world-class premium sparkling wines.
Chandon India has consistently bagged accolades at the Decanter World Wine Awards and the Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships in 2019, 2020 and 2021, making it the only sparkling wine to win these awards two years in a row.
After a succession of engaging events over the last few years, Chandon India has transformed the sparkling wine category in the country. With its striking, thought-provoking promotions and natural appeal to the contemporary consumer, the brand has brought unprecedented innovation and energy to the sparkling wine category since 2013. It has been successful in introducing Chandon to new consumers while simultaneously engaging a growing audience of wine connoisseurs across the nation.
- What makes Chandon different from other wine producers in the region?
Chandon now calls four continents home. We are a worldwide family; together, yet separate; sharing our knowledge and united by inspiration. While we share the same techniques, our six houses produce a range of different styles of sparkling wine due to the varying climates and grape varieties available locally. There is an ecosystem of demand and production – it’s even part of the definition of terroir. It’s not only physical – the subsoil, the climate – it’s cultural, too. We also make wines in an internationally recognized style, but the key to our winemaking is in the local elements that we safeguard. All our wines are fresh and fruity, with just enough complexity and acidity. They’re approachable and easy to drink.
At Chandon India, sustainability is central to how we grow our grapes – we focus on the environment and social good practices. This is done by using natural organic fertilizer to keep our soils healthy, drip irrigation, sourcing water from the ground storage that is also recycled and using solar panels as a source of energy.
- Tell us about the Brut and Rosé variants
Much famed for its fine quality, Chandon India’s Brut & Rosé styles are crisp, tasteful and welcoming. Chenin Blanc and Shiraz are symbolic of our Chandon Brut & Chandon Rosé. They attest to the quintessential characteristics of the fruit and terroir of the Vineyards.
Chandon Brut is an elegant expression of the Chandon style with a fresh bouquet of citrus blossom, green apple and hints of tropical fruit, it is made with Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, which pairs very well with light, flavourful foods like coconut-based dishes or white-fish curries, paneer dishes, lentils & butter chicken or delicious soft white cheeses.
Chandon Rosé is a sophisticated and delicate expression of Chandon, intense aromas of ripe cherries, red fruits and soft grapefruit lead to a rich, creamy, persistent finish with subtle hints of guava and rose petal potpourri. Made with Shiraz grapes, it highly compliments mildly spiced barbecued red meats like pork vindaloo, grilled fish and a variety of Indian foods.
- What are some of the most interesting grape experiments done by Chandon in India?
We are working with the varieties that do well in our hot climatic conditions, Chenin Blanc and Shiraz. In order to create relevant blends, with pinpointed local tastes. The tropical climate calls for highly acidic grapes to create our extraordinary balance. Chenin Blanc, our hero grape, makes for a sparkling wine with a delicious fruity palate, with acidity and freshness, even in hot tropical climate. It tends to thrive in heat and around 70% of the assemblage in our Brut is Chenin Blanc. It’s a distinctive characteristic of wine of this region – a showcase of India, if you like.
- Which regions see most demand for different types of wines in the country?
The modern Indian Wine market is a growing industry, with the perception of wine being a “feminine” drink, fast-changing. The bulk of India’s wine consumption transpires in metropolitan cities. The city with the highest wine consumption is Mumbai, closely followed by Delhi NCR and Gurugram. The love wine expands beyond mega cities and is also present in markets such as Bangalore, Goa and Pune.
Cover image is for representation purposes only, with courtesy from Unsplash
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Priyanko Sarkar is the Founder Editor of Gurgl.in. He has been a writer for over 15 years and this site is his attempt to document India's growing beverage sector with impactful and interesting stories. His favourite drink is Vietnamese Coffee and his favourite spirit is Turkish Raki.