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French sparkling wines, with grapes harvested in India?

The aroma of tropical fruits, with a hint of Green Apple hits you as you take the first sip. And the mild acidic, fruity aftertaste with a dash of vanilla, suddenly washes away the tiredness of the day. The ‘Made in India’ Chandon Brut has its first official convert, even before most get to taste it.

Less than 48 hours before Moet Hennessy (MH) officially launches its first-ever India-harvested and bottled Chandon Brut and Rose sparkling wines, I am sitting with MH team over a few sips of the bubbly, chatting about…well generally happy things in life. “We took a decade (MH arrived in India in 2001) to launch an indigenous sparkling wine.

It’s a wine that clearly meets our international standards and therefore we have gone ahead and given it our top label, the Chandon tag,” smiles Mark Bedingham, managing director of Moet’s Asia Pacific region, who has spent the last 15 years launching MH wines in China, Australia, Hong Kong and elsewhere.

“But I love India. You have so many celebrations and you have your dinner late too. It gives people more time to celebrate with a glass of sparkling wine,” he says. The wines, which will roll out across in Mumbai from Monday (they would hit Delhi next month and other metros and resort cities by year-end) are made from grapes harvested in Nashik -- the first time a leading French Champagne-maker is creating sparkling wine in India.

“The evolved Indian palate loves good wine and the market is growing fast. More and more younger Indians are drinking sparkling wine. The young, upwardly mobile, urban Indian is our biggest client. Sparkling wines are also a favourite with women across the world,” says Bedingham. The Rose, with a subtle aroma of ripe cherries and grapefruit, is crisp and fresh.

Spread across 19 hectres of land in the Nashik Valley, MH’s vineyards are already growing Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Shiraz and Pinot Noir, grapes. While the first two have gone into the Brut, the latter went into the making of the Rose. The best part about the Chandon being made in India? There’s no nightmarish import duty to be paid. Imagine great sparkling wine at Rs 1,200 (Brut) and Rs 1,400 (Rose). Now that's reason enough to have a party.

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