W Power 2024

Can Chandon's new made-in-India Shiraz be country's luxury wine for the world?

Chandon Aurva, as the still red wine is called, celebrates Nashik's terroir and innovation in wine-making. Its makers want it to put India's luxury wine prowess on the global map, and change the perception of India as a brown spirit market

Pankti Mehta Kadakia
Published: Oct 23, 2023 02:54:39 PM IST
Updated: Oct 23, 2023 03:04:30 PM IST

Can Chandon's new made-in-India Shiraz be country's luxury wine for the world?Chandon Aurva is a 100 percent shiraz still red wine, heavy on the red fruit flavours, including plum, cherries and raspberries, with the aroma of jasmine, violet and dry red roses.

LVMH-owned Moët Hennessy’s sparkling wine maison, Chandon, has for the first time in its 60-year history, introduced a still wine, made in India’s Nashik.

Chandon Aurva is a 100 percent shiraz still red wine, heavy on the red fruit flavours, including plum, cherries and raspberries, with the aroma of jasmine, violet and dry red roses. It’s aged in both old and new oak, and features innovation in Chandon’s own wine-making technology, as well as in managing the vineyard in ‘intensely hot’ Nashik.

‘Aurva’ means ‘of the earth’ in Sanskrit, and the team thought it a fitting name for a Shiraz too. In fact, the label contains Warli art, indigenous to Maharashtra, the state where Nashik lies.

“We want Aurva to be the product for luxury wine, from India to the world,” Ipsita Das (ID), managing director at Moët Hennessy India, said to Forbes India. Edited excerpts from an interview with Das and Arnaud De Saignes (ADS), president of Chandon:
Q. What made you decide to create Aurva?
The first time I tasted Chandon in India, it was Chandon sparkling, and the wines were so unique in style. I discovered that because of the terroir of Nashik, the Chandon rosé was crafted using Chenin Blanc and Shiraz, and not Pinot Noir, which is the historic grape that you use in the crafting of sparkling. I thought that was really interesting, because the wine was delightful, flavourful, and had hints I had never experienced in sparkling wine before.

We thought it would be interesting to create a product that explores the beauty of Nashik, and the winemakers collaborated in Australian and India to come up with the idea of Aurva.

Can Chandon's new made-in-India Shiraz be country's luxury wine for the world?Arnaud De Saignes, President of Chandon
Q. What is attractive about the terroir in Nashik?
It’s much rainier and features different climatic conditions. The vines are much higher because the ground is wetter, and having different ingredients is interesting. We don’t make Chandon sparkling wines with Shiraz much, so it’s very unique from that point of view.

It’s also intensely hot, and all of this creates a beautiful mix for a very rare kind of Shiraz, and demands a huge amount of creativity from our viticulture team. For Aurva, the terroir is very important, but it’s also about how our vineyards were managed to create the grapes for the Shiraz—they needed a vertical position to balance the exposure to the sun, and we had pre-harvest to ensure that only one punch was there per shoot, for the right concentration of the players. So for Aurva, one part of the story is about the terroir, but the other is about the craftsmanship.

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Q. What were some particular challenges with this project, in India?
It’s a challenge of innovation and collaboration. Our six wine makers are connected and learn from each other. It was also about how to bring the craft of Chandon, a sparkling wine house, into still wine, so that it’s further building the legacy of Chandon.

Can Chandon's new made-in-India Shiraz be country's luxury wine for the world?Ipsita Das - Managing Director - Moët Hennessy India
Q. What are your plans for Aurva? What sort of scale are we looking at?
The vision for Chandon is to become the most premium homegrown wine brand. We’ve won several awards for both our Chandon Brut and Chandon Rosé. While that’s put our sparkling wine on the map, we wish to bring our innovation on the map too, coming through Aurva. We will select a few international markets where Aurva will be available, besides India. We also see Aurva as the product for luxury wine, from India to the world. Australia is a starting point. We have six wineries across the world, and thinking of bringing our select brands from the other wineries.

When you talk about India, the perception is that our production is all about brown spirits, and we do see a lot of innovation in whiskey, as that comes naturally to us. We’re actually breaking boundaries here. We want Aurva to put Indian luxury wine on the world map.

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Q. What are the flavour notes for Aurva?
It has Shiraz, so it features the red fruit flavor—plum, cherries, raspberries, with a beautiful aroma of jasmine, violet, dry red roses. It’s also aged in new and old oak. It gives hints of vanilla and a bit of coffee and softens the tannin completely. It's a beautiful mix of what a Shiraz could bring in along with what aging in an oak could bring in. It is a velvety-smooth and beautiful.

We wanted to create a still wine that has the style of what we do in sparkling. So we wanted it to have a distinct personality and character.
Q. How has the luxury wine industry changed in India?
There’s definitely a lot of premiumisation that’s happened. Consumers are a lot more experimental today and they are also very exposed to the world. The wine preferences that we have in our country today, however, does reflect the entire diversity of our own culture and our palates. Hence, you do see so many different kinds of wines being available in India today, which showcases the potential of the growth of wine in an otherwise brown-spirit market. This also gives us the confidence that when we bring in a world class product, there are consumers who would appreciate it.

In terms of the consumer side itself, people are drinking much lesser, but drinking better today. That’s something Covid has taught us, and the shift has been quite drastic—drink less, but drink the best.

The second part of this is that with exposure to the international wine community, people know exactly what they’re drinking, and what a region has to offer. That also means that they have started to take pride in what India has to offer. There’s clearly a unique terroir in Nashik—and in other wine-growing parts of India too. And we see that making an impact in the wine industry.

Lastly, we find that for all these reasons, people are looking forward to experimenting, and to what’s new that’s coming. Nobody wants to stick to a particular style of drinking anymore, and we’re seeing that in multiple industries, including wine.

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