I suspect that many of us of a certain age fell for an Indian fizz called Omar Khayyam when trying to impress or be impressed at an Indian restaurant in the 1990s. But slowly Indian wines have been appearing on British shelves since then. Previously I've had wines from Nashik (Sula Vineyards) and Bangalore (Grover Vineyards). And then there were the rather Indian sounding Viceroy White, Raja Rosé and Rani Gold from Wine for Spice, but they were actually Spanish. The Indian wines were fine, unexceptional but fine, and lacked any sense of place and felt in a very international style: at the time I tried them, Grover Vineyards were part owned by Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy and enfant terrible of the international modern French-American style, Michel Rolland, was involved in the winemaking. If you tasted them all blind, I think the ones you'd probably pick as most likely to be Indian would be the Wines for Spice ones, thanks to them being specifically designed to go with spicy food.
Fast forward to 2016, and it was interesting to meet Gorvinder Butter and try his Soul Tree wines. Apart from a couple of reds that I couldn't get on with, I thought the increase in quality over the last Indian wines I'd had was very noticeable, plus a bit more a sense of place. Soul Tree is based in Birmingham, but the wines and the vineyards are located in India's largest wine-grape growing district, the Nasik Valley, around a hundred miles north east of Mumbai. Fortunately the vineyards are at sufficient altitude to be able to take advantage of cooler nights.
- NV Soul Tree Aikya
Apparently a blend of Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Symphony, and Shiraz.
A zesty lemon nose that immediately made me think of chenin. Straightforward palate. A good clean fizz, with a blend that strikes me would work well with spicy food. Perfectly serviceable and pleasant drinking. 85/100
- 2015 Soul Tree Sauvignon Blanc
A massive asparagus-dominated nose. On the palate, this is a good, fresh sauvignon blanc. Maybe there is some tropical fruit creeping in and taking over from the green fruit. A nice wine. 87/100
- 2015 Soul Tree Chenin Blanc
Very fresh nose with zesty lemon and white flowers. On the palate, this is a good, clean, steely chenin. Very drinkable. 87/100
- 2016 Soul Tree Rosé
A rather slight nose. It's a good white zinfandel. Much less offensive than some Californian examples. Much drier than most white zin. 85/100
- 2014 Soul Tree Reserve Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon
The nose has good balanced fruit and oak. Good palate. Absolutely fine. But a bit dull and international. 85/100
- 2015 Soul Tree Cabernet Sauvignon
A good cabernet sauvignon nose. Very pleasant palate. Lush, ripe fruit, but nicely balanced. A hint of wood. 87/100
- 2014 Soul Tree Shiraz
A bit mealy-nosed - wood, meat and a strong perfume. Odd palate. Strangely perfumed with air freshener notes. Not entirely pleasant. 77/100
- 2015 Soul Tree Royal Blend Cabernet Sauvignon-Zinfandel
Good clean nose. The Zinfandel appears dominant. A bit odd on the palate, and quite green. Can't say I like this. I wonder if it would come into its own with spicy food. 81/100