NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  

Rediff News  All News  » Business » Ready for Argentinian wine?

Ready for Argentinian wine?

July 06, 2006 15:28 IST
It's not easy to find an Argentinian wine on the shelves of local retailers. It's even harder to come by a mention of it in the conversations of Indian wine consumers, still hung up on French and Californian.

In a bid to change that, Jagdeep Chowgule's newest venture - Best Foods and Wines - drew in Mumbai's connoisseurs for an evening of sampling wines courtesy the new world's youngest producer, earlier this week.

Why Argentina? "Since there are practically no other importers of Argentinian wine, so that leaves the market wide open for me," he says, laughing, though he also believes that "Indians are ready to be weaned off the old favourites". The first on the list was Titarelli wines, from the Mendoza region of Argentina.

Moet Henessy India also imports premium New World wines, including Terrazas, an Argentinian brand. But according to Ashwin Deo, managing director, Moet Henessy, it's the Australian and Californian wines that are grabbing consumer attention.

Globally even Chilean wine is outpacing exports from neighbour Argentina, that's trying hard to shake off the "pleasing wines at cheap prices" tag.

Chowgule believes Argentina's fine food and wine culture has received the short end of the stick in India. "The Argentinian embassy has no budget for promoting and marketing its foods here, which is unfortunate because it is not without reason that Argentina is regarded one of the world's greatest food-producing nations," he says.

So Best Foods has also taken it upon itself to advocate the nation's culinary heritage. In September, the company will organise a 15-day food festival at The Imperial, New Delhi, besides organising consumer orientation soirees around every product launch.

And products will be added on every few months, selected by joint venture partner Argentine Natural Food Company.

"We're initially taking the institutional route for our foods, but the wines will be pushed through retail," explains Chowgule. Best Foods and Wines has also just been granted authorisation to begin imports of Argentine lamb, rated among the world's best. "And cheaper than its New Zealand counterpart," he adds.

There is more in the pipeline too. At the Tittarelli launch, Timothy Walker, managing director, Argentine Natural Food company, was busy promoting a rather unusual product.

"If you haven't tried this..." he trails off. Dulche de leche is a milk caramel spread, copious quantities (100,000 tonnes annually) of which are consumed domestically in Argentina, primarily as a base for confectionery.

It's been promoted rather imaginatively in India, through a cookbook assembled by Walker and Chowgule, being distributed to restaurateurs and hoteliers to include in their dessert menus. Mumbai's iconic Indigo restaurant already has a Dulce de leche icecream on its menu.

Coming back to wines, Chowgule says, The idea is to give the consumer a choice of products at different price points". So, the wines will range from Rs 450-1,200. Chowgule is gunning for 3,000 cases (of 12 bottles each) in the first year, against the current 1,20,000 cases of imported wine sold in India.

Amid all that elegant swirling and earnest sniffing, Chowgule is banking on tasters finding a nose, and a palate, for Argentina's flagship reds - the Malbec and Tempranillo - - and the white Torrontes.