Game changer. This is the best way I can describe Chandon, Möet Hennessy’s Indian made sparkling wine. Game changer, because of several reasons. Quality, the price points and the brand equity it brings to the table.
Moët & Chandon recognized that other winegrowing regions outside France’s Champagne region had potential for creating high quality sparkling wine worthy of their name and first setup a winery in Argentina in 1959, followed by California (1973), Brazil (1973) and Australia (1986) and now India.
When asked why India, Bruno Yvon, Managing Director Moet Hennessy India, mentioned that it was in Möet’s DNA to look for new regions and terroir to make wine and Nashik fit the bill. The decision was made in 2009 and the first harvest took place in 2011.
There is another aspect for them to produce a local sparkling in India. Moët & Chandon would easily be the most recognizable champagne brand not only globally but also in India. It’s what we see at most Champagne brunches in the country, it’s the most common Champagne by the glass on wine lists, and even people who don’t drink wine recognize the label. With Chandon, Möet Hennessy will tap into a much larger wine drinking audience which does not need to think twice before picking up a domestic sparkling. Finally the focus can be on retail and not just restaurants and hotels, which was mostly the case with Champagne.
India now has two new méthode traditionnelle sparkling wines in the market, Chandon Brut and Chandon Brut Rosé. I was expecting both wines to be excellent and deliver more structure and complexity on the mid palate, which they did very well.
The Brut is an assemblage of Chenin Blanc, Pinot Noir and the all important Chardonnay. Though official figures aren’t available, multiple sources have pointed in the direction that Chandon has managed to procure almost all available Chardonnay in Nashik from grape growers.
Nose : Aromas of pear, green apple, toasted bread and a hint of honey and vanilla.
Palate : A lot of fruit right away which gets more evident on the mid palate. Creamy texture, plenty of underlying vanilla and toasty notes just like the palate. Lovely crisp finish with some green apple. Chardonnay here is doing the trick very well for Chandon, giving the wine very good structure and Chenin Blanc is bringing in the fruit.
Chandon Brut Rosé
The Rosé is mostly Shiraz based with some amount of Pinot Noir. More than the Brut, I believe the Rosé is a Nashik terroir driven sparking.
Nose : Aromas of strawberry and cherry
Palate : Excellent concentration of red fruit on the palate, slight spice, underlying hints of tobacco on the finish. Like with the Brut, its got good structure with excellent acidity and a creamy texture. Long finish like no other Indian sparkling that I have tasted till now.
Brut is priced at Rs. 1200 and the Rosé at Rs. 1400. Excellent wines and affordable prices, it simply can’t get better than this. The sparkling wine market in India is finally becoming a lot more interesting. Apart from Sula and Zampa, we have Chandon followed by Fratelli launching a sparkling as well.
Yesterday when I took my first sip of Chandon along with the Moet Hennessy team and fellow journalists and industry people, you could sense the excitement all around, it was a special moment. Chandon is a big deal and I am sure the wines will just get better year after year. Another major impact of Chandon might be wine tourism to Nashik, once their winery would be ready in the first quarter of 2014.
In a way this is also validation that India can make world class wines.