Last month, Fratelli won the Bronze Medal for its Chenin Blanc 2012 at the International Wine Challenge 2013 in the United Kingdom. In 2010 and 2011 as well, the label Chenin Blanc was lauded. What makes it so special are its fresh fruit and floral notes, well balanced with notes of apple, greengage, and chalky minerals, with smooth acidity and palatability. This is the first hat-trick for any single Indian wine brand and a well-deserved one at that! Speaking of firsts, its Merlot 2012 is the only Indian grape extract of this varietal to ever receive global recognition – another shining moment for the brand. And Fratelli’s Chardonnay 2012 and premium SETTE 2009 have only added to its list of prized wines by bringing home noteworthy stamps of international commendations.
Today, the house of Fratelli holds position as the second largest most distributed wine brand in India and is present in 12 states with 12 varietals on offer. In addition to this, the brand can boast of exporting to four countries – Italy, United Kingdom, Netherlands and Japan – all of which are known for their own wine produce.
Earlier this millennium, three sets of brothers got together to channel their ardour for wines to constructive exploitation. Secci brothers, Andrea and Alessio; Sekhri brothers, Kapil and Gaurav and Mohite-Patil brothers, Ranjitsinh and Arjunsinh are the might of Fratelli, Italian for brother. They invested in a few acres of land that stands 170 km south of Pune. Today, the winery cum vineyard holds 58 tanks with a total capacity of 600,000 litres spread over 240 acres across Motewadi, Garwad and Nimgaon.
For the sake of any wine label’s growth, the brothers realised a need for a viticulturist. This is when Piero Masi, chief viticulturist and oenologist, helped to positively spin their passion with equal vigour. Piero’s own brand, Fattoria dell’Agenda of 2004 and 2006 (100 per cent Cabernet) were sold out even before bottling. It had to be this merger of skill and zeal that pushed Fratelli wines into the limelight.
The secret to bringing out flavours of grape extracts lies in toiling towards creating excellent storage facilities. Not wanting to falter at any stage, the Fratelli brothers invested in the best – Oak Barrels from tonnellieries like Saury and Radoux in France. But before this, the soils for their vines were nursed with tender care – each inch was graded to form gentle slopes. And before this, the climate around its present region was carefully studied, like an architect would whet his blueprints before demolishing structures. Perhaps this is what explains the winning taste of refreshingly fruity Fratelli wines with good acidity and a dry feel – a contrast to the sweetness factor present in most the Indian wines.
PIERO MASI, CREATOR & CHIEF VITICULTURIST, FRATELLI WINES
WHAT INVOKED YOUR PASSION FOR WINE MAKING?
When I wake up every morning in my farm in Tavarnelle and look at the vineyards surrounding me, I imagine that 2300 years ago, Etruscans (original inhabitants of Etruria nowadays Tuscany) were already producing grapes from this same soil and making wine. I feel blessed to have such an inheritance to protect, maintain and evolve.
FROM WHERE DID YOU STUDY THE ART OF WINE-MAKING?
My father has been my very first teacher. I later went on to study Agronomics from the University of Florence. But in wine there is always something new to learn. I continue to study & learn in spite of being in the wine business for over 40 years.
WHAT CHALLENGES DID YOU ANTICIPATE WHEN PRODUCING YOUR FIRST BOTTLE?
I had no idea what to expect from our very first bottle of Fratelli. Tasting other Indian wines, my worries were more than my hopes. But after seeing the end result of our fermentation, all my worries vanished. My first Indian bottle took me 40 years back; what I knew about wines needed to be reconsidered because my Italian standards were not valid for India.
WHY DO YOU SUPPOSE THE CHENIN BLANC WINE WON THE BRONZE MEDAL RECENTLY?
It has always been a very good, refreshing wine with good acidity and minerality because of the quality characteristics of our soil. It won a bronze medal because I feel that it has reached the desired complexity that was missing earlier, making it quite close to very good Chenin Blanc from South Africa.
KAPIL SEKHRI, CO-PROMOTER & DIRECTOR, FRATELLI WINES
WHAT IS THE VISION FOR FRATELLI?
To be the premium wine brand coming out of India and also to change the international perception – Indian wine can stand on its own with quality produce. We’re taking small steps in our own way to try and show the world that India can be developed as a region for wines.
HOW DOES FRATELLI STAND APART FROM ITS COMPETITION?
The biggest difference from all the other wines is that we don’t do any contract farming – the grapes come from our own vineyard so the control on quality is far above. And secondly, we don’t have any consulting wine maker; every co-member of Fratelli actually owns a company share, so the interests are parallel and at the same level for everybody.
WHAT IS THE ONE MOMENT THAT DEFINES FRATELLI IN ALL ITS GLORY?
I would say the first International wine challenge award which we won from the first harvest on Chenin Blanc is the foremost encouragement we got. Even though we collected many others after that, the first encouragement is always the most special. I remember I saw the mail at about 6.30 a.m. and it definitely gave me a high which has not been parallel as yet.
DO YOU THINK FRATELLI GOES WELL WITH INDIAN DISHES?
Yes absolutely. And I’m no wine expert. I am a normal consumer like most of my fellow friends out there. Just the other day I was dining with three of my friends and we really could not believe how well the red wine, slightly chilled, went with our Indian meal which was more Lucknawi.
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