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Being a wine enthusiast, Ive often wondered about the process of wine-making and how each one tastes different from the other. The art of tasting wine, pouring it in the right glass and enjoying the aroma and flavor of a red or white is a joy that many enjoy thanks to the growing popularity of this drink. Naturally, I was thrilled when I got a chance to visit one of Indias premium winemakers Fratelli Vineyards. I spent a weekend in Akluj and heres what I learnt about my favorite poison. If like me, you too enjoy sipping wine, this place is perfect for a weekend getaway from the city. ALSO SEE 9 expert tips for the right food and wine pairing Also Read - Man Accidentally Masturbates In Front of His Colleagues During a Zoom Call, Video Goes Viral
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Situated in the interiors of Maharashtra, Fratelli Vineyards is in Akluj and falls in the Solapur district. The journey from Mumbai is about six hours long and on the way you are greeted with sugarcane fields, villagers dressed in traditional attire, heading to Pandharpur and the natural beauty of the state. Yes, the drive can be exhausting but once here, we realized it was worth it. We reached the property only by noon and were put up in their guesthouse that is close to one of the three vineyards owned by Fratelli. The winery too is in the same area.
Fratelli that translates to brothers, is a partnership run by seven men who came together to give India its own premium wine label. While the vineyards are spread across 240 acres of land with 12 varieties of grapes from Italy and France, the accommodation is restricted to just four guestrooms with a common living area as of now. Nonetheless, the hospitality is warm. After a hearty Indian lunch paired with a glass of Sangiovese Bianco, we set out to see the vineyard and learn a thing or two about winemaking. Motewadi Vineyard which is spread across 60 acres of land is right outside. The staff member accompanying us explained how Fratelli grows its grapes in a vertical shoot position where the shoots stay in a standing position with the grape bunches getting maximum sun exposure that is required for better quality. Unable to spot any grapes in the vineyard, we learnt that the harvest season in Maharashtra is during the first three months of the year and so, most part of the vineyard was only stems or leaves.
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After a round of the vineyard, it was time to see the winery where these grapes turn into wine. We were escorted by the Assistant Winemaker Vrushal Kedari who monitors everything from checking the quality of the grapes to making wine and tasting it. He explained how grapes are collected in the months of January to March and immediately put into a machine called the de-stemmer in the winery. The grapes get separated from the stem and fall down into the hopper machine attached to it. They are then are transferred in the press machine where the grapes are crushed to extract the juice. White wine is made using only the juice of the grapes and so this juice is transferred in to a large tank for fermentation. The juice is treated for 12 hours after which yeast is added to start the fermentation process. The mulch that is left behind in the press machine is later used as fertilizers in the vineyard. For making red wine, the grapes are directly transferred in the tanks after de-stemming as red wine uses grapes along with the skin. Yeast is added immediately and the process of fermentation begins.
Fratelli has 66 tanks with four different volumes and these grapes and juice are stored in these to turn them into wine. The fermentation of red wine takes only about a week while white wine requires about two weeks. However, even for a young wine to get ready, the wait is of about 10-11 months. The wine has to be stabalized, processed, blended, filtered, aged, bottled, capped and labelled before it is dispatched in the market. These processes take up all the time to get the wine ready. Fratelli has a selection of white, red, sparkling and rose wines with different blends and special editions like MS, Vitae and Sette that make for a large collection of wines to offer. Their premium wines are aged in French-imported oak barrels to give them a woody texture and round off the flavors well.
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After learning the science behind the winemaking process, it was time to open up the bottle and learn wine-tasting. We tasted some of the best wines that Fratelli had to offer like MS White and Red, Vitae Chardonnay, Vitae Sangiovese and Vitae Tre. But before that we learnt the right way to taste them. With step-by-step instructions from Winemaker Vrushal, we realized how different it is to taste wine and just drink it. If you are intrigued, heres what you should do:
First, smell the wine after it is poured in the glass and try to associate the smell with something like fruits, nature, food, etc. Remember this first bouquet smell and then swirl the glass. You will see the tiny droplets sliding sown the glass, these are called the legs of the wine and indicate if the wine has been diluted or how much alcohol it has. After this, sniff it again and notice how the notes have changed. You will find them to be mellower. Now sip the wine and let it swirl in your mouth and then taste it. Take another sip and taste it again and concentrate on the aftertaste this time. When people taste wine regularly, they often spit it out after letting it swirl it the mouth and to cleanse ones palate, a sip of water or a bite of cheese is a good idea.
The next day, we explored the other vineyard in Garwad which is 15 minutes away from the guesthouse and a much bigger vineyard. It is spread across 140 acres and the two sides are divided by a small hillock. On top of the hillock is a machan where you can have lunch as you admire the 360 degree view of the vineyards. Pleasant breeze paired with the refreshing rose and sparkling wine made for the perfect afternoon treat. We grabbed lunch packed by the staff that consisted of traditional Maharashtrian dishes like mutton sukha, matki, thecha and jowar bhakri. After a hearty lunch in the midst of nature, it was time to head back to the guesthouse.
However, the evening had some signature blends in store for us. With a side of smoked cheese, we tasted two vintage red wines from Fratelli, Sette 2009 and Sette 2012. The limited edition wines had a rich flavor thanks to being aged in oak barrels for several months and were the perfect way to conclude our weekend of wine-tasting at Fratelli Vineyards.
Where: Fratelli Wines Pvt Ltd, Gate No 131, Zanjewadi Taluka, Malshiras, Disst Solapur, Maharashtra. It is about six hours away from Mumbai and three hours drive from Pune. It is best to drive down to the vineyard.
Accommodation: Currently, Fratelli Vineyards offers a guesthouse with four rooms and a common dining room. The meals are prepared by the staff here and they offer packages such as a day visit, overnight package, two-night stay and even rent a vineyard package. The tariff ranges from Rs 2200 to Rs 1,00,000 depending on the number of people, the package and the time you visit. These packages are all-inclusive so your meals, stay, tour, wine-tasting and complimentary wine are part of the deal. However, since accommodation is limited, it is best to book soon.
Contact: For more information, contact Fratelli Vineyards at +91 9958880577 and to make a reservation, visit their website http://fratelliwines.in/our-hospitality.html
Photograph courtesy: Sambit Satpathy/Fratelli Vineyards
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