‘All dressed up and nowhere to go’ may be the current scenario at the shopping malls in Delhi where wine retail has been allowed from this year but the prices are unattractive due to higher excise duties compared to the bordering Haryana although hopefully, the duties will come down soon, writes a disgruntled Subhash Arora who nevertheless recommends two red and two white wines from one such store.
Ideally speaking, this space should have been left blank- to be filled in at a later date in the near future when the excise duty becomes logical. After all, the price difference is between 20-30% and as high as 100% as was evidenced in the case of Yellow Tail in the prices between Delhi and the South of the Border, Gurgaon.
The situation is somewhat similar to what is seen in China and Hong Kong where duties are nil while the mainland has taxes totaling over 40% despite the reduction a few years ago to encourage non-cereal wine consumption. Reportedly, there are runners who can pick up any wines against order from the duty-free Hong Kong.
Malls provide an ease in availability, especially for women as confirmed by the manager of High Times in the DLF Saket Mall, one of the first stores to be opened in the Delhi malls-owned by the Delhi government- owned DSIIDC which had pioneered setting up of separate air-conditioned storage space with a decent number of labels about three years ago. Though the business has not yet reached the level sold at their erstwhile shop in Greater Kailash II, it has seen increasing number of women come to the store with higher sales over the weekends.
The new store opening in a few days at the DLF Promenade in Vasant Kunj would make it a must-visit destination for wine lovers in Delhi, but the prices being much higher,it would be great for window shopping –till the Delhi government becomes visionary and brings them to more logical levels.
Gurgaon is definitely a better bet to buy the following wines-which are selected from the limited range of wines available in the DSIIDC store (more wines are always ‘in the pipeline’ at this store)-the choice is much wider in cities in Gurgaon, Mumbai and Bangalore. Although a recent mainstream daily mis-reported that the High Times had a separate wine cellar to store the bottles properly, the malls are at least air-conditioned and are much better designed to store wines:
Caliterra Chardonnay Reserve 2008: (MRP Rs.1230)
It’s a young and vivacious wine with a light golden colour, tropical and juicy flavours and slight aromas to boot. It has seen a bit of oak that gives a shade of complexity and makes it work with chicken dishes, vegetarian food, and biryani. Best to buy and drink now as it would start its downward journey next year.
Morande Chardonnay Pionero 2007: (MRP Rs. 1300)
Although a bit pricy, it’s made by a well-known producer of Maipo Valley from grapes brought in from Casablanca. Pale yellow colour with tropical aromas and flavours like passion fruit and mango, it is quite fruity and slightly sweet on the palate making the medium-bodied wine a good combination with slightly spicy Indian vegetarian food or fish and chicken dishes.
Renaissance Sauvignon Blanc 2006: (MRP Rs.815)- vintage too old
This wine from the south of France seemed to have a good price tag but the vintage is rather old and it would have peaked out in a couple of years and is not considered for recommendation.
Sangre de Toro 2007 Torres: (MRP Rs.1150)
This Spanish wine from Torres is a $10- a bottle, one of the best value- for- money wines available anywhere in the world. Made from Grenache and Carignan, the two popular grapes of Rhone Valley, it is a dark ruby red colour wine with spicy aromas and flavour with berries on the palate. You would like it with Indian food-it would be perfect with pork and mutton chops. Surprisingly, the labels showed prices varying from either Rs.1095 or Rs.1150- I was told the latter price was correct.
Chianti DOCG 2009 Ruffino (MRP Rs.1900)
Despite the docg label, Chianti wines can be tricky in terms of quality-Chianti Classico in general is a better and more expensive wine. Rs.1900 is not what you’d want to spend on Chianti, but Ruffino is a respected producer who helped changed the poor image of Chianti in the mid '70s and continues to enjoy a good brand image. Made from over 75% Sangiovese (in contrast Chianti Classico must have a minimum of 85% of the grape), it has floral aromas and plum flavours that are fairly long lasting. It is a good accompaniment with Risotto (and Biryani), pastas, pizzas and though easy drinking, the high excise duty makes this wine hurt the pocket the most in Delhi (the wine has around Rs.950 as excise duty and VAT alone).