Recent import of French bulk wine made from Grenache and bottling it in Pondicherry does not make this simple and expensive red wine anything special and it certainly does not deserve the Premium label, writes Chinmaya Raja . TN State Marketing Corporation Limited (TASMAC) liquor shops in Chennai and are displaying a red dry wine that says it is a 'typical French wine made out of Jurançon and Grenache grape varieties of France and matured in the oak casks to enrich the mellow bouquet.' The Warehouse red is made from the blend of the grape variety grown in the south west region of France and imported in bulk and 'processed and bottled" in Pondicherry, our own little France, by Vinbros & Co.
The bottle displays 'Red Wine' on the label as if the colour of wine is not visible enough. The reason to mention 'Dry wine' may be to distinguish it from the other fortified sweet wine, Globus Fortified Port wine, which is sweet as a cough syrup. The bottle mentions alcohol content to be 12%. But a taste of wine gives the impression of much higher alcohol content. Of course, wines from Jurançon ćepage in France are anyway considered to have more alcohol content. Incidentally, one must not confuse this grape variety with the AOC Jurançon Sec Appellation, a famous dry white from the southern region close to the Pyrenees Mountains near the Spanish border which does not use this grape variety.
While tasting this wine with other wine lovers in Chennai and France, it was a consensus that this wine was simple and had no aftertaste. The only good news is that The Warehouse is definitely a lot easier drinkable than the Golconda wine from Andhra, also being sold at these shops.
The wine bottle mentions the serving temperature as 16-18°. But the way these bottles were stored in the TASMAC shops, one wonders how the wine will taste after storage. This wine can be termed as a basic entry level imported wine and in no way can be termed as a "Premium" wine. The quality is worse than a good table wine from France.
It is disappointing to see TASMAC distributing such low quality imported wines when better wines can be distributed after some changes in the state Govt policies. It appears such bulk wines imported, processed and bottled are marketed to helpless consumers just to make profits.
TASMAC must appreciate that wine is not just hard liquor and it needs a different marketing approach. Its shops are often uninviting and people think twice before going to buy liquor and beer. Wine shops like the ones in Bangalore or Pondicherry would be greatly welcome.
The Warehouse wine sells for Rs 650 ($14) each. According to the sales people of these shops off-take of these wines is limited. The customers find it very costly and instead prefer the cheaper Globus Port Wine, a fortified wine that costs Rs 300 a bottle. With the alcohol content at 14% and more, they also find it more intoxicating.
According to a newspaper report the company plans to sell an ambitious 10,000 cases a month. The CEO RammSukaesh expects to make a profit of Rs. 15 million every month from this portfolio. He claims his company has already supplied 8,800 cases of both the labels to TASMAC.
Vinbros claims to have invested Rs. 50 million to get the know-how and technology from the French collaborator, Chateau Bouscaillous. They already have manufacturing alliance with UB group. One wonders how long these wines will be available, however. The government of Tamil Nadu is considering Prohibition in the state due to pressure from the opposite political party to which the anti-alcohol lobbyist, Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramados belongs. There is a lot of pressure also from the anti alcohol NGOs.
According to the new policy, TASMAC shops will remain open only till 10 pm. No licences will be issued for new shops and the number of existing shops will also be reduced gradually.