The crave for fine wines among Indians is relatively small, but forever increasing, lock-step with their growing their wanderlust. Yes, travel-happy and aspirational, upwardly mobile India is taking to global cuisine with unprecedented gusto, from sushi and caviar to fine red and white wines, cultured to perfection by storied vintners like Robert Giraud. ‘Though the percentage of wine consumers in India is relatively small, they constitute a well-travelled and discerning group who understand what makes a good wine. They are willing to pay for quality of our handpicked, tailor-made award winning wines,’ says John Lujan, Export Director, and Robert Giraud Wines.
In 1945, post the Second World War, Robert Giraud, heir to a royal lineage of winegrowers from Saint Andre de Cubzac dating back to the 18th century, purchased Chateau Timberlay setting off a phase of frenetic growth for his famous house of wines. Now, this family owned company is run with the same signature passion by the brother-sister duo of Philippe and
Florence Giraud who own five Chateaux totalling 135 hectares across several Bordeaux appellations.
Giraud distributes wine to over sixty countries. ‘Along with our own production the company works with a number of other Chateaux and is, therefore, able to supply a full range of Bordeaux appellations,’ says Lujan.
Returning to India, a subject that obviously excites him, Lujan says: ‘we have witnessed a strong demand for our range of bespoke wines including those from the legendary vineyards of Margaux and Robert Giraud Vin de Pays. Bordeaux wine from the fabled Chateau Margaux estate is one of just the four wines to achieve the premier cru (first growth) status. It is rare and expensive. A standard-sized bottle of the Château Margaux grand vincan cost upwards of USD 650 (INR 44,000). ‘But that is not slowing down the connoisseurs in India.’
However, a wine is as much about age and pedigree as it is about how it is served and had. ‘I have been to India several times to educate and train retail and restaurant staff about our wines and the art of serving them well,’ says Lujun, underscoring the importance of appreciation, just as it is with art. ‘I have talked a great deal about how our wines are made at wine tastings and wine dinners helping consumers understand and appreciate them.’ In a way, India has been a mutually learning and profitable experience. ‘It has been a learning curve for us too,’ says Lujan. ‘We have tried to understand as much as possible about the needs of the Indian market with guidance from local companies.’
A wide range of Robert Giraud wines sell in different markets. In Haryana, Lake Forest Wines distributes the La Collection range, which is a range of wines from different appellations in Bordeaux including such legendary areas as Margaux, each with their individual character.The company also have a range of wines from the South of France like the Cépages Robert Giraud Vin de Pays and a range of individual small sized Chateaux.
In Mumbai and Pune, Flipsydee distributes the Chateau Timberlay range. Lujan is well aware about the stiff competition in the market as he concurs that with eight thousand Chateaux in Bordeaux, some labels are available in India. “But these are small production with individual style. We at Robert Giraud enjoy a worldwide reputation and have earned the trust of our consumers based on our signature for quality and authenticity,” he explains.
Talking about the best bet among his wine labels for the Indian market, Lujan understands that preference for one wine over another varies with regional customs and cuisines. He sees a lot of potential in his wide range of marquee brands, which includes Vin de Pays, Chateau Bordeaux and traditionally prepared sparkling wine Cremant from Bordeaux. For him, the biggest differentiator is the Robert Giraud name and its bouquet of world famous wine brands.
He has a very positive outlook about the wine growth prospects. He believes that the Indian market is very promising as can be observed from statistics, which show an increase of 42 % in volume and 24.2 % in value of the wine exported from Bordeaux in one year. “ Wine drinking is becoming popular among Indians; both males and females are showing an increasing interest in good quality wines like ours. There is an increasing desire among Indians to understand the wonderful world of wines and also to visit the vineyards in Bordeaux. Many Indian bloggers and journalists are writing about wine. It is a pleasure to see many Indian sommeliers during my travels around the world,” he profers.For him, the future of the wine market and for the Bordeaux wines in India are very bright.