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Issue 44 / Exploring LVMH's Newest Chandon Winery In India

Exploring LVMH’s Newest Chandon Winery In India

Apr 09, 2016


    The world’s largest champagne house launches its cutting-edge Chandon winery in India’s wine district, ushering in a sparkling new space for the country’s party-happy tribe of bubbly fans.

    Glossy press brochures have long extolled Nasik as India’s own Napa Valley, soul sister to Bordeux and Burgundy, a land of gentle, fertile slopes teeming with oenophiles in linen suits and tangerine kaftans. As the epicenter of the Indian wine growth story, along with the Krishna and Kaveri valleys in Karnataka and Akluj in Solapur, the "Grape City" is where vintners from around the globe are plotting to dunk unsuspecting Indians into a bubbly heaven of sorts.

    Bonjour Chandon!
    Photo Credit: Aparna Pednekar

                                    

    The Chandon display outside Gateway Taj's SolTerra Restaurant.
    Photo Credit: Aparna Pednekar

    That particular heaven is now sizzling at 37 degrees Celcius, as I drive into Nasik, for the launch of Moët Hennessy’s Chandon winery at Dindori. Party animals from Mumbai, Delhi and beyond are settling in at the divine Gateway Taj. A welcoming appetizer from Chandon in the room casts a rosy glow on the sneak peek cocktail party at the Solterra Bar. Post air kisses and hugs with journalists, bloggers and all manner of happy, shiny people. I spend some time around the sprawling, country estate-style property, an ideal base for that holy Nasik trinity — wine tour, Shirdi and Trimbakeshwar. (If you’re popping in, do book one of their gorgeous wine-themed suites with oak timbre floors, private garden area, rain shower and the works.)

    The next morning, we set for Dindori  in a Fast and Furious-esque cavalcade of cars, highlighted by a shiny golden Beemer that mysteriously whips in and out of line, until we reach the Chandon winery. If the heat and a couple of extra rosé goblets have got peeps catching a few winks under their sunglasses, our reverie is broken by the resounding welcome of traditional dhols.

            

    First peek at the gorgeous Chandon property at Dindori.
    Photo Credit: Aparna Pednekar


    A traditional Nasik welcome.

    Photo Credit: Aparna Pednekar


    Boys on dhols set the tempo.

    Photo Credit: Aparna Pednekar


    And the girls keeping the rhythmn! 

    Photo Credit: Aparna Pednekar
     

            

    Chic minimalist-luxe interiors.
    Photo Credit: Aparna Pednekar


    A spot of calm before the party gets started!

    Photo Credit: Aparna Pednekar


    Jewel-toned goblets, sparkling in a row.

    Photo Credit: Aparna Pednekar


    Ladies and gents, the party-starter has arrived.
    Photo Credit: Aparna Pednekar
     

    The property is pristine and I’m already fantasizing of a long weekend spent lazing on white sofas and gliding up and down pillared verandahs, while not scampering on the manicured lawns in earnest pursuit of wine snobbery.

    It’s a luxuriously intimate affair, appropriately décontracté. Guests head straight for the makeshift bar for Elderflower and Aam Panna spritzers and then find a cozy corner to socialize or Snapchat furiously. Within minutes, the Chandon team gathers on the podium to officially present their baby to the world.

             

    After years of hard work, the Chandon team is ready to officially inaugurate their sixth winery in the world.
    Photo Credit: Aparna Pednekar

    It isn’t a product launch — Chandon has been selling its twin premium sparklers, Chandon Brut and Chandon Brut Rosé, in India since 2013 — but this lovely winery has long been shrouded in secrecy, and is now finally open, much to the delight of India’s millennial oenophiles. Davide Marcovitch, the company's president, recalls the brand’s legendary journey of Claude Moët luring French mistresses with the beauty benefits of champagne, and sending his oenologists scurrying across the globe in hunt for the finest terroirs, in the Fifties. From Chandon’s first winery in Argentina — expanding to California, Brazil, Australia and China — this one is their sixth.

    Davide Marcovitch's enviable sabering game.
    Photo Credit: Aparna Pednekar

    Ever the bon vivant, Marcovitch drums up the requisite drama, recalling a story about Napoleon, while smoothly sobering — with a local knife we’re told — a dewy bottle of their best Brut Rosé. Next up, the brand’s new Indian managing director, Steven Bullock the Aussie, was togged out in an on-trend, camel-coloured suit and spoke on developing wine culture in India. (For now, some of us philistines have scraped through the basic lesson: NEVER ever call anything produced outside Champagne, champagne; else it’s off with your head!)

            

    Steven Bullock takes centerstage.
    Photo Credit: Aparna Pednekar

    Post-sabering and much merry, we wander off for a site inspection of the state-of-the-art production facility. Chandon works closely with Nasik’s grape farmers, using its centuries old French "method traditionelle" to craft the two variants of Category E sparklers. “You can eat off the floors here,” someone quips, as we move through facility which has been awarded an ISO 22000:2005 Certificate of Compliance for their Food Safety Management System.

             

    Sweeping, pillared corridors and chequered floors.
    Photo Credit: Aparna Pednekar

           

    Shiny steel barrels inside the production area.
    Photo Credit: Aparna Pednekar


    FoodTalkIndia's Shuchir Suri taking in the sights.

    Photo Credit: Aparna Pednekar


    My favourite picture of the day…imposing yet very inviting.

    Photo Credit: Aparna Pednekar
     

    Brunch calls out soon enough, making a theatrical appearance from behind closed doors. Catered by Gaia Gourmet’s adorable Cordon Bleu-trained couple, Chinu and Christophe, it’s a picturesque display of baby bites set around a table with orange bonsais and pink geranium blooms.

           

    Magical epicurean garden in bloom.
    Photo Credit: Aparna Pednekar


    A blushing display of Tamarind Pok Rib Sliders, waiting to be demolished.

    Photo Credit: Aparna Pednekar


    Prawns with Sparkling Wine, a marriage made in heaven.

    Photo Credit: Aparna Pednekar


    Spritzer refills before dessert.

    Photo Credit: Aparna Pednekar
     

    The idea was to combine French sophistication with some typical flavours of Maharashtra like kokum, coconut, pomegranate and Nasik oranges,” Chinu explains before rushing off to replenish her goblet. There’s a bit of a crazy rush towards the Tamarind Chilli Pork Rib Sliders in Beetroot Buns, Malvani Sukka Chicken Choux Puffs, Masala Crabcakes with Thecha Miso and Goan Sausage Frittatas.

           

    Chef Chinu and Cristophe circulating with the hors d'oeuvres.
    Photo Credit: Aparna Pednekar

    Between another Berry Spritzer, I snap up a superb Prawn cocktail with Madras Curry Powder, Madagascar Peppercorns and Nasik Oranges and yummy Mango Cardamom Profiteroles.

    Before and after bubbling encounters with Ruchita Sharma from Mumbai's boutique firm Peepul PR, my favourite hipster to turn to for all things fashionable and fun.
    Photo Credit: Aparna Pednekar


    The gorgeous 21-acre property by night, basking in inaugural glory.
    Photo Credit: Aparna Pednekar

    Party game upped and three hours down, we’re left with a rich languor in the air plush with the faraway scent of jasmine garlands and pork buns. Chandon goodie bags are being handed out, padded with cocktail recipes that you’re coaxed to try at home. I’m gunning for the Chandon Shikanji. What cool elixir could make a hot and crazy Indian summer more sparkling!

    Main Image Photo Credit: Aparna Pednekar

      Aparna Pednekar

      Aparna Pednekar

        Author

         Aparna is an India - based travel writer for leading lifestyle and fashion publications. She's also a gemologist and jewelry designer. New cities, new food, cats, dogs, snakes, hours of walking and driving fuel her incurable ADD.

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