by Mibu Minami
Atsushi Morishita is a former Japanese expat of India working for a Japanese trading and investment business conglomerate. A Japan Sommelier Association certified wine expert, he created the ‘Indian Wine Club’ with fellow wine lovers while residing in Delhi. He has tasted and reviewed over 300 Indian wines and on his off time traveled to several wineries within India. Between 2015 to 2016 he published three wine guidebooks, two guides in Japanese ‘India-wine 100-sen’ vol.1 and 2, as well as ‘Wine Atlas of India’ in English with notes and reviews of all the wines he discovered in India. Currently back in Japan, he still holds wine tastings online with friends he made through the Indian Wine Club. Mangoli Mag reached out to him via email to ask about his attraction to Indian wines, his favorites and how to enjoy them.
Mangoli Mag (MM): You have been a wine aficionado before working and living in India. Did you have knowledge about Indian wines? What was your first impression?
Atsushi Morishita (AM): I had chance to taste it when I came to India for a business trip in 2008.
Some of them are good and some are not, mainly due to exposure to high temperatures during logistics and storing conditions.
MM: What initiated you to create the Indian Wine Club?
AM: There were friends who did not like Indian wines without trying different varieties.
I also could not tell them there were tasty Indian wines without tasting certain varieties of bottles. It was around the end of 2013 when I was chatting about this topic with my friends and that led to creating the Indian Wine Club.
MM: It is often said that the extreme climate of India is not the best environment for creating wine and incomparable to, for example, European wines. What drives your curiosity for Indian wines?
AM: There are lots of difficulty to produce good wine in India. Some of the reasons are the rains during monsoon season, very high temperature in summer and commercial wine making has just started in late 20 century. In order to produce good Indian wine, wine producers need to overcome those handicaps and surely, they have done it. Pruning schedule is deferred to post monsoon instead of spring which is typical in northern hemisphere to avoid fruits of grape to be exposed to lots of rain. To overcome high temperature, wine producers selected high altitude areas along Western Ghats (mainly Nashik and Bangalore). Several wine producers invited internationally known wine consultants, which is contributing to develop quality quickly, irrespective of India having a short history of (commercial) wine making. This background of difficulty and overcoming them with invention attracted me a lot to Indian wines.
MM: Can you share your most impressionable Indian wines, your favorite Indian wineries or brands？
AM: Fratelli Wines, Grover Zampa Vineyards and Sula Vineyards are surely pioneer of Indian wine and there are a lot of good wines made by them. Apart from these 3 major producers, KRSMA Estates attracts my attention a lot. Wine produced near Hampi World Heritage in Karnataka shows sophisticated quality. Their white wine made of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are a must try. Their red wine made of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese are one of best quality in India.
MM: There seems to be a growing recognition of Indian wines and the quality of wines have greatly improved. How are you enjoying your Indian wines? Do you have a specific way of enjoying Indian wines?
AM: Indian wines are typically known for concentrated fruitiness, especially red wines made of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. These wines go well with even Indian curry such as Rogan Josh (curry made with lamb). It is advisable to start with a cooled bottle, ideally around 13 to 15 Celsius. Cooling red wine to highlight the contained acidity will also balance the concentrated fruitiness.
MM: You lived in India for 4 years. Can you tell us what you liked about India? Any advice for expats living in India?
I enjoyed unexpected days in India. Surely, it is important to prepare before something happens, but we sometimes need to accept what happens as it is with flexibility. I feel now that having this mind enriched my life a lot. And when something bad happens, let’s cheer for tomorrow with Indian wine. Tomorrow is another day.
**Atsushi Morishita’s “Wine Atlas of India” is available for data. If you are interested in reading the wine guidebook, you can email us at Mangoli Mag for inquiries.
Fratelli Vineyards: https://fratelliwines.in/
Grover Zampa: http://www.groverzampa.in/
Sula Vineyards: https://sulawines.com/sula.aspx
KRSMA Estates: https://krsmaestates.com/