In September this year, there was a historical moment, which defied the notion that India couldn’t produce a good quality cabernet sauvignon. The occasion was the first-ever vertical tasting of cabernet sauvignon wines from KRASMA Estates.
At the end of the tasting at the Oberoi Hotel, Bangalore, a room full of industry experts, wine journalists and representatives of trade declared in unison that we do have a world-class cabernet sauvignon.
The vintages offered by KRSMA Estates for tasting from magnums were 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015 from the barrel. Why not 2013? I will come to that later.
The journey of KRSMA estates began in the year 2007 when the marathon running and the wine-loving couple from Andhra Pradesh, C. Krishna Prasad and Uma Chigurupati decided to buy a piece of vineyard in the middle of nowhere. Well, not exactly nowhere, it was in Hampi, a place never known for wine production. The first vintage of KRSMA came out in the year 2010 from the rocky, arid terroir of the historical Hampi region. The choice of the place was thoughtful. Prasad considered the dry, harsh climate, iron-rich soil to be best suited to make quality wines without getting concerned with any disease or fungus attack on the vines. Over the years, the demand for KRSMA wines has grown manifold even as the owners’ stay reluctant to the idea of increasing yield per hectare (at present the estate has around 17 hectares of land under cultivation).
Prasad says, “We are a premium boutique wine estate and would like to stay that way. We are happy with the response from the US market and Karnataka”. The wines, two whites, KRSMA Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are priced at Rs 1000 and Rs 750 whereas the two reds, Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon are priced at Rs 1000 and Rs1500 in India.
Quality is of utmost importance when it comes to KRSMA wines. At the tasting, 2012, 2014 and even 2015 from the barrel impressed every single taster. While Krishna and Uma weren’t too impressed with the first vintage and decided not to showcase it at the tasting, it was different in the case of the 2013 vintage. He felt it didn’t turn out the way he perceived whereas Uma and the other KRSMA team members didn’t quite agree with him. Hence, this year they released a second label of KRSMA as K2 with the stock from 2013 vintage at a lower price range of Rs 750.
The same afternoon, I had the opportunity to enjoy a vertical tasting of the Sauvignon Blanc (2013, 2014 & 2015) wines from KRSMA over lunch with Krishna and Uma. The wines were well paired with the food from Szechwan Court, the award-winning Chinese restaurant of Oberoi Hotel.
I am yet to visit the winery located around 70km from Hampi in Karnataka, but after listening to what Krishna and Uma have planned for the estate, I certainly hope to make a trip there soon. “We have plans for sustainable agriculture with sheep and cattle farming, building cycling track around the vineyard and plan to reduce carbon footprint by reducing the weight of the burgundy style bottles used for the Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon wines”, added Prasad.
KRSMA’s success story is inspirational to many other Indian wine producers who at the moment are fighting the battle of sustainable quality versus volume sales, vintage after vintage while reeling under a cash crunch economy of business. Some have the capital to go on while others are struggling to survive in a growing competitive environment without any constructive backing from the government.
Be it a winery with big volume or one with a small scale of production, something is clear. Quality is the key and like any other business, in the business of wine, “To win the game, you have to stay in the game”.
Such a belief was reiterated when recently KRSMA Cabernet Sauvignon emerged as the best oak aged red wine in the country in a blind tasting event conducted by Vino India.