Vijay Amritraj, tennis icon and UN peace ambassador launched his wine label in 2014 partnering with Grover Zampa Vineyards, leading wine producers in India. The wines, a red and a white, have since won 9 international awards across North America, Europe and Asia. I’d not tasted the wine and an event organised to celebrate the success seemed like the perfect opportunity.
That being the cake, frosting came in the form of a relaxed interaction with Mr Sumedh Singh Mandla (CEO – Grover Zampa) & Sumit Jaiswal (Marketing Head – Grover Zampa) and brilliantly enough with Mr Vijay Amritraj himself.
Wine has always had an aura of class and refinement around it. So much so that people who insist on consuming alcohol in no other form but wine, are often labelled snobs. There also is a long history associated with most generic wines lending to often detailed discussions about the grape, the soil type, the country, the pairing with food so on and so forth.
Fortunately, the detailed aspects of production have spilled over (pun intended) to the varietals as well. Unfortunately, snobbery has been a part of the spillage as well. Now for a person who’d like a decent buzz from a good tasting tipple at the end of the day, the history seldom has any significance. What’s required is as good an alcohol as money can get, and that’s that.
With distilled alcohol like whisky, vodka, rum etcetera, that’s not a problem. The differences are clearly discernible. The quality benchmarks too are rather objective. But not so much with fermented beverages like beer and wine. Beer has the advantage of a lower price point for good quality so that a person can experiment. Not wine. Wine is expensive. Telling a good one from a bad one is intimidating. Also, one bottle, basis storage and age could differ vastly from another of the same vintage (production year).
Hence the lower consumption and thereby lack of broad and legitimate knowledge. Vicious circle.
It was with this background that I met top honchos from Grover Zampa, as well as Mr Vijay Amritraj. To get some basics right for the readers. To start demystifying wine.
My first interaction was with Mr Sumedh Singh Mandla, (CEO – Grover Zampa) who I requested to elaborate on how the company is working on overcoming the inherent constraints of storing and retailing wine. Turns out that Grover Wines has a programme in place to sensitise point-of-sale employees about the proper storage methods for wine. Also, modern trade outlets in Delhi and Gurgaon are already following best practices in this regard. Echoing the belief that the wine market in India is at a very nascent stage, he added that events and initiatives on wine appreciation would lead to a boost in consumption, and thereby awareness regarding proper storage and consumption would increase in turn.
Mr Sumit Jaiswal (Head of Marketing – Grover Zampa) and I had a detailed conversation about the Vijay Amritraj Reserve. He spoke at length about how the wines have had a fantastic run since the launch and have garnered multiple awards in countries with mature wine markets, and hence tastes. Given the success of the initial offering(s), Grover Zampa was also exploring the idea of launching additional variants in the future. Mr Jaiswal went on to describe Mr Amritraj’s exhaustive participation in making of the brand. From choosing the grape varieties to label design, Mr Amritraj was involved in decision-making at every step of the way. Describing Mr Amritraj as extremely affable and down-to-earth, he said that the tennis icon was a delight to work with.
Text and images by Aditya Sharma
Read about the author’s conversation with Vijay Amritraj about his love for wine and his association with Grover Zampa here.