Published on Mar 06, 2024

Indian winery Big Banyan launches new single-varietal wines

In a bid to keep up with increasing sales figures and growing demand from domestic consumers, Big Banyan, the winery owned by John Distilleries, is launching a range of wines which express the diversity of India's terroir.

Indian winery Big Banyan launches new single-varietal wines

Named after a 400-year-old tree which grows nearby, Big Banyan was established over a decade ago by Paul P John of John Distilleries, best known for its Indian whisky stable.

Big Banyan's range consists predominantly of single-varietal wines, with Merlot, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon among its reds, and Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay making up its whites. The winery also produces a rosé called Rosa Rossa from the Sangiovese grapes, and a dessert wine named Bellissima. In its reserve collection are the Limited Shiraz and the Limited Sauvignon Blanc.

Aeisha Sahni, head of wines at John Distilleries, explains that the reason Big Banyan refrains from blending any two different grape varieties is because India continues to be nascent in terms of its knowledge of wines, and the company wants to educate consumers about the basics.

Single-varietal wines are easier to comprehend than blended wines, and give consumers a better understanding of the unique flavour and characteristics of an individual grape variety. According to the company's winemaker, Lucio Matricardi, Big Banyan tries to bring the authenticity of the grapes and express the personality of each variety. The company also makes blended wines as part of its other collection, L'angoor, which has a younger target audience.

Expanding on its range of single-varietal wines, Big Banyan is introducing a new line of wines using grapes that are highly influenced by climate and soil. Only small yields will be harvested, allowing the company to prioritise the quality of the grapes. The resulting limited-edition reds and whites will only be sold at the winery itself and at select outlets in Bengaluru, and the exclusive collection, which is currently under registration, is expected to be released in a few weeks.

Viognier, Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese and Grenache are being produced as part of the new collection. Viognier has been cultivated at the Big Banyan vineyard along with the other grape varieties that are already harvested there — the Shiraz and the Sauvignon Blanc — which the winery says are well XX to Bengaluru's cool temperature and red clay soils.

As for the other grape varietals, the company sources them from different parts of India through contracts depending on where the vines thrive well. Regions like the Nashik district, in Maharashta, with cooler climates are perfect for the label to get its whites like Chardonnay. Alternatively, the microclimate and soil texture prevalent in the Deccan Plateau make the area suitable for farming red grapes such as Merlot and Sangiovese.

Big Banyan, which owns just 8 hectares of its own vineyard land, produces approximately 600,000 litres of wine annually, and the numbers are increasing every year. The brand noted a year-on-year growth of 20% in 2018-19 as a result of the L'angoor collection launching in 2017, which increased the company's sales figures significantly. The next huge spike in sales came in 2021-22 with year-on-year growth of 32%, triggered by a return to growth for major markets after the Covid-19 pandemic.

Increasing sales are also being driven by an influx of new wine drinkers in India, which is pushing the brand to up its production and introduce a new line for consumers to try.

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