Grover Zampa vineyard experiments with foudres, amphoras and concrete tanks for its Signet collection
As far as lockdown experiments go, self-cut hairstyles, homemade breads and cheeses went viral. But on the slopes of the Nandi hills in Karnataka, Grover Zampa vineyards was quietly experimenting with grapes and casks to create its premium Signet collection.
The wine was recently unveiled in Chennai over a charcuterie board laden with cheese, olive tapenade, bowls of hummus, nuts, crackers and grapes spread across what looked like a 12-foot long table. On either side sat wine enthusiasts and connoisseurs all set to taste the Signet collection for the first time.
The event, held to celebrate Indian Wine Day was organised by Chinmaya Arjun Raja of Tasting Pleasures – Wine Education & Library in collaboration with the Indian Wine Academy, and was part of a week-long series of Indian wine events in Chennai and Puducherry.
Excited for fellow oneophiles to try his vineyard’s latest grape experiments, Ravi Viswanathan, chairman of Grover Zampa vineyards, who curated the experience, discussed how the wine was aged in foudres, amphoras and concrete tanks.
Dinner began with whites from the Grover Zampa vineyards that paired well with a grilled coconut sprout salad with virgin coconut oil dressing made by Chef Ajeeth Janardhanan of the Residency Towers in Chennai.
The first glass was Signet Shiraz which was aged 24 months in French Barriques. The 2017 vintage had a subtle fruity and earthy flavour with notes of tobacco giving a well rounded mouthfeel. “The time the wine took to age in the oak casks reflected in the leathery complexity and it is only going to get better over the years,” said one of the tasters.
The second Shiraz Signet was a 2019 vintage that was aged for 12 months in a 1,000 litre foudre. It had hints of cinnamon and vanilla with powerful tannins giving it a strong structure. The next Signet varietal was also a 2019 vintage aged for 12 months but aged in a 2,000 litre foudre. The deep ruby red dry had notes of tobacco with soft tannins making it a well-balanced wine.
The fourth wine tasted, again a 2019 vintage, aged in an Amphora for 12 months – a nod to the ancient Roman aging technique. As tasters swivelled their glasses and tried the wine, Viswanathan said, “The terracotta clay amphora allows micro oxygenation that softens the tannins giving it an intense yet fresh flavour.” Its rich and earthy notes linger on the palette giving it a rounded mouthfeel.
Swirls, sniffs, refills and a round of picking favourites later, the next Signet was poured. This was a blend of Shiraz, Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Muscat. The 2019 vintage was aged in egg-shaped concrete tanks that allow even fermentation. This wine had notes of liquorice and almond rendering a powerful mouthfeel.
The Signet collection was launched in 2021 and can be purchased from Grover Zampa’s wineries in Bengaluru and Mumbai. They are also available in select restaurants in Mumbai.