While some start-up winemaking operations in India have looked to the New World or France for their inspiration, Fratelli Wines has most closely associated itself with Italy. The name itself is Italian (Fratelli meaning brothers) and the venture involves three sets of brothers, two from India and one form Italy.
The decision to produce wine using grapes only from their own estate immediately indicates a commitment to quality, rather than cost saving. Starting in 2006, they began preparing three vineyard sites and planting began the following year. The Motewadi, Garwad and Nimgaon vineyards are all located near Akluj, about 175 km south of Pune, and together cover an area of about 100 ha. Vines were imported from France and consisted of eight black varietals (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Marselen, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese and Syrah) and five whie varietals (Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Gewurtztraminer, Muller Thurgau and Sauvignon Blanc). Planting was under the supervision of Italian viticulturalist and winemaker Piero Masi. The Pinot Noir has since been discontinued as vineyard conditions proved to be too warm to grow this varietal successfully.
The winery is located at the Motewadi vineyard which also boasts a testing laboratory, tasting room and guest accommodation. These are located in modernist buildings designed by Sunil Patil and make extensive use of glass. Tanks with a total capacity of 600,000 litres were imported from Italy.
The first vintages of Fratelli were released in 2010 and they now produce 10 varietally labelled wines covering a range of prices and quality. Some of these have been entered in international competitions, with the 2012 Chenin Blanc receiving a bronze medal at the 2013 International Wine Challenge in London. Yet their most exciting premium wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese, matured for 14 months in French oak and known as “Sette”. Only 12,000 bottles were produced of the inaugural 2009 Sette, which was released in 2012. Described by some as India’s first iconic wine (whatever that means), it already competes with Gover Vineyards’ La Reserve for the title of best Indian red wine.
It’s worth remembering that Fratelli Wines launched just as the Indian wine industry was experiencing severe problems of oversupply. Despite these difficult initial trading conditions, Fratelli Wines has pursued an aggressive marketing campaign which has successfully raised the profile of the company and it’s wines. This approach indicates that, unlike some of its competitors, the owners of Fratelli Wines are prepared to invest in order to secure the long-term viability of the business. In just a short period Fratelli Wines has become the second most distributed wine brand in India (after Sula Wines) and has achieved international listings in the UK, Italy, Netherlands and Japan. Already one of the most exciting wineries in India, this winery appears destined to make a splash internationally for Indian wines.