The heat of the summer subsided in both India and Europe long ago. We have changed the clock from day light saving time to Greenwich Mean Time in England, signalling the start of the period in the year when days get shorter and colder, so it is comforting to enjoy the warmth of the fire place in the evenings. The thrills of Halloween are ushered out as much in the USA as in all those other countries, including the UK and India, which adapted this very American celebration. The flickering lights of pumpkin lanterns are being replaced by candles in cemeteries lit by Christians remembering the dead on All Souls’ Day.
Fortunately, the festive period is round the corner and we can shift our attention from the scary, cold and gloomy to the celebration of light. As a non-religious person, I am fascinated that light has a special significance in the Hindu festival of Diwali as much as in the Jewish holiday of Channukah.
Diwali gives the opportunity for my Hindu friends to decorate their homes, wear their finest cloths, illuminate their homes with diyas – lamps – and spend time with their families. Poojas are offered to Lakshmi in celebration of the spiritual victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance. What better way to bring a bit of extra sparkle to the festive meal than enjoying a bottle of Indian sparkling wine, so I recommend three classics for you to savour this Diwali.
Grover Zampa: Soirée Brut N.V. (17)
Alcohol: 12.5%. 100% Chenin Blanc, mainly from the 2016 vintage, bottle fermented, 8-9 g/l dosage. Tasted in Bangalore, August 2018. MRP: 1,100 IRs.
Pronounced lemon with a pale gold hue. Fine, persistent bubbles. Highly intense nose with a lovely vegetal character of turnip, followed by pears, honey and biscotti. Rich in the nose. Dry, fresh and lovely fine mousse on the palate. Very pronounced aged character, generous with savoury tones. Well textured and very enjoyable. Long finish.
York: Brut N.V. (17.2)
100% Chenin Blanc. Predominantly from the 2015 vintage. 19 months on lees, disgorged in May 2017. Tasted in Nashik, November 2017. MRP: 1,100 IRs. (N.B. the current release is pre-dominantly from the 2016 vintage)
Pale lemon. Very good mousse with fine bubbles. Lovely yeasty character with dough and wooly mid-palate. Richness. Zesty finish.
Sula: Tropicale N.V. (16.5)
Alcohol: 12.5%. 40% Pinot Noir, 30% Syrah, 20% Chardonnay and 10% Chenin Blanc. 7 hours of cold soak to enhance fruitiness, no barrel. 13 – 15 g/l dosage. Pre-dominantly from the 2016 vintage. Tasted in Nashik, November 2017. MRP: 1,250 IRs. (N.B. the current release is pre-dominantly from the 2017 vintage with a bit of 2016 included)
Very pale cherry with onion skin hue. Lovely fragrant red fruits: strawberry, red currants and cherry, with tones of white flowers. Off-dry, fresh, smooth and fruity on the palate, with a modest persistence of the mousse. Medium finish.