From their finest red wine Sette launched in 2009 from an exceptional vintage by Tuscany-based Master Winemaker Piero Masi, to the luxurious range J’Noon created in partnership with Fratelli Vineyards proprietor, the late Kapil Sekhri and California-based French vintner Jean-Claude Boisset, it’s been an epic journey for the Maharashtra-based winery. Launched in 2007 by three pairs of brothers from Delhi, Italy, and Maharashtra (Fratelli means ‘brothers’ in Italian), the growth of this Sholapur, Maharashtra-based winery coincided with Indians’ lively embrace and increasing consumption of this spirit.
It was Kapil Sekhri’s dream to ‘uncomplicate’ wines and make them more accessible, with the belief that wine is best enjoyed if it becomes a part of your life, and how best to do this, than transform the very vessel in which it’s drunk? Mr Sekhri’s vision has now culminated in TiLT – wine in a can, the very latest expression from Fratelli in a recyclable aluminium can, where the grapes for red, white, bubbly rosé, and bubbly wine are crushed, fermented, and blended at India’s largest privately owned vineyard by their inhouse team. Mr Sekhri said that “Fratelli represents a new India which wants to produce a product based purely on excellence and the faith that India can deliver the best from its soil”.
We speak to his brother Gaurav Sekhri, Director, Fratelli Wines, as well as Vrushal Kedari, Winemaker at Fratelli about Mr Sekhri’s passion, and the easily enjoyable product that he created, and what goes into making this high-quality wine.Mr Gaurav Sekhri, Director, Fratelli Wines
Please could you tell us – how was TiLT such a big passion for Mr Kapil Sekhri, and how this launch honours his incredible legacy…
Gaurav Sekhri, Director, Fratelli Wines: When Fratelli was incorporated, our dream was to produce premium-quality wines. My brother Kapil championed it, and it is with his passion and energy that we could successfully produce the best quality wines that an Indian terroir can offer. This feat for the first time put Indian wines, which can compete with the rest of the world, on the global wine map. That is his legacy.
Kapil’s zest for life, passion for innovation, and collaborative brainstorming was a perfect illustration of the Fratelli – ‘the brotherhood of the grape’ – outlook on life. While he championed it, and his energy and passion are hard to replace, the board and shareholders are aligned with his vision and grand plans, and are committed to see them through.
The ideation behind and execution of TiLT as a product mirror this. It is to make wine as a beverage more approachable, by demystifying its nuances through casual elegance. As wine-in-a-can, designed for today’s multifaceted preferences, it ‘TiLTs’ our perspectives toward adaptability as an important quality of life.TiLT Wine in a Can - by Fratelli Wines - lets you enjoy red, white, bubbly, or bubbly rose wine anywhere
Wine in a can – the concept exists abroad for example, wine in a box – but is new to India – who is TiLT aimed at? What is the age group of the consumers? Are you trying to win over first time wine drinkers with TiLT?
GS: Fratelli has always believed in creating new benchmarks for the Indian wine industry. After sensing a changing drinking culture for some time now, it was a conscious decision to launch TiLT as a drink for young India, with no shackles, no boundaries, and never say never. It speaks to the confident young adult, with an inclusive and inviting mindset, whose life philosophy matches our own: live your dreams, while respecting others.
All we are trying to do, is give the drinker a choice of a no-fuss drink with all the goodness in a form factor they are comfortable with, as it will bring more people to wine drinking by reducing the formality around wines.
Another very significant change that we noticed as a result of the pandemic has been the connect with family, and wine drinking to gain more acceptance in the Indian cultural context. Many young adults in India don’t drink with their parents. Many social taboos were broken – sons and daughters with their parents and elders at home have increasingly opened a bottle of wine and shared moments together. This has been a much needed, positive change. Wine is not something you typically drink on your own. It is well savoured over conversations and social gatherings.
Why was this the best time to launch TiLT?
GS: We have been working on this project for two years, ensuring quality, consistency, and shelf stability. We fast-tracked the launch with a wish to contribute to resolve the crisis that dawned upon local farmers in this pandemic of 2020, and secondly, foreseeing a rise in home consumption.
Each of the four variants – please could you tell me what grapes go into them – for the white, the bubbly, the bubbly rosé, and the red – like chenin blanc and merlot?
Vrushal Kedari, On-site Winemaker, Fratelli Wines: All four variants are a unique combination of various indigenous varieties along with some hint of our regular wine varietals.
The white and the bubbly variants are blends of Chenin, Thompson, and Dilkush. The red and the bubbly rosé incorporate Bangalore Blue, Bangalore Purple, Sharad, and Shiraz.
Are all these from the vineyards in and around the Fratelli vineyard? Are they all owned by Fratelli or do some of the wines come from other growers?
VK: Shiraz and Chenin are grown at the Fratelli vineyards in Sholapur, Maharashtra. Thompson, Dilkush, and Sharad are procured from our growers, some of whom are from Nashik. Bangalore Purple is obtained from Baramati and Bangalore. Thompson and Bangalore Blue are grown by Fratelli contract farmers while the rest of them are independent growers.
While blending, what are some of the flavour profiles that were kept in mind?
VK: The overall idea for a Wine in a Can was that first and foremost, it should be approachable, flavourful, and drinkable – people should be able to enjoy every sip of it. Indians have a unique taste palate and like things that are high in flavour. This was the overarching view and we fine tuned it for different variants as we went further.
Red – Nice, light, and soft on the palate with an additional hint of oak.
Rosé – Very fruit forward with flavours of strawberry, blueberries, and raspberries. Here, it was important to derive the right colour too in addition to the flavour, which is salmon pink, a nuanced colour from France. The right amount of carbonation is also very important for any sparkling wine and here too, it was important to achieve the perfect balance between carbonation, acidity, and sweetness.
Bubbly – A burst of fruity flavours of passionfruit and gooseberry. We wanted to create a truly refreshing drink when chilled and served at the right temperature. Again, it was important to achieve the right amount of carbonation, acidity, and sweetness.
White – The taste and profile is exactly the same as that of any nice, decent, white wine – beautiful, fruit forward, and clean on the palate. And, because it is in a can, it is convenient and tastes great when served chilled in hot summers.
What would be the tasting notes for each of the four?
VK: TiLT Red: A soft, elegant and subtle ripe plum finish.
TiLT White: An aromatic, balanced acidity and smooth finish.
TiLT Bubbly: A refreshing tropical fruit, with a lovely citrus finish.
TiLT Bubbly Rosé: A subtle yet refreshing blueberry finish.
Did you refer to any of the pre-existing wines like your Chardonnay, or your Shiraz Rosé, or your Classic Merlot – for the red, white, and rose bubbly?
VK: The TiLT White is similar to our classic Chenin Blanc and TiLT Red is similar to our Classic Merlot.
TiLT Bubbly and TiLT Bubbly Rose have distinctive flavour profiles because of which they can truly hold their own. The lingering taste captures the effervescence and optimism of life’s simple pleasures in a memorable way. There’s something quite inimitable about it, which has inspired us to broaden our creative horizons here at Fratelli, while setting exciting industry benchmarks on our behalf, for the sparkling wine industry.
Did you recreate a special blend for each version of the TiLT wine – that would be unique and just right for the aluminium cans?
VK: Yes, we recreated new blends for all variants of TiLT. In the past 2-3 years, we have undertaken extensive research on how local grapes can be used to make wine and how their flavours should be retained in cans. Basis the results of this research, we made special blends for each variant.
Canning wines is different from bottling wines as a process. For example, with cans, you have to be very careful with the amount of sulfites used. If you push more sulfites into the wine, they will start reacting with the aluminium can. Therefore, all can wines are low on sulfites.
These wines are very delicate and young, and they are supposed to be consumed like that. Can wines need to be fresh, young, and easy compared to bottle wines that are to be aged for a certain time period.
What are the advantages/disadvantages of serving wine in an aluminium can – as opposed to a glass bottle?
VK: Well, the advantages are that the wine does not require to be aged, there is no need for it to be served in a special glass, there is no need to carry an opener, and it’s easier to carry than a bottle. The wine too is nice, fresh and young; every sip made to always taste fresh. It also encourages mindful drinking as it’s a smaller pack and you can keep count. You don't have to open a full bottle and consume it within a certain time frame. It is value for money and encourages forward thinking.
It does not have any disadvantage for the consumers. From the point of view of production though, transportation, handling, and storage is a little difficult as cans are not as sturdy as bottles. During transportation, if it spills over, the other cans will start leaking too. We also need to make sure cans don’t puff up and retain their shape till they reach the consumers. Canning wines is also a sensitive process that requires care.
How long was the fermentation for the red and white wines – and how long were they kept in the cellar before being canned?
VK: The fermentation process for all wines, whether it is a bottled wine or a wine in a can, is the same. For TiLT White, TiLT Bubbly, and TiLT Rosé, it takes two weeks to ferment the wine at 14°C. For TiLT Red, it takes 12-13 days to ferment the wine at 28°C. Once the blend is ready, we directly start canning it as the wine needs to be consumed young and fresh.
What is your philosophy as a winemaker when it comes to making Fratelli wine?
VK: To do justice to the grape varieties and its flavours, do justice to my work, and try to make a wine that can be liked and consumed by people again and again. At Fratelli, our efforts are always directed towards making clean, good wines that people actually relish. I always aim to give my best and always aim to provide our customers with superior quality.
How is Fratelli working towards sustainability?
Gaurav Sekhri, Director, Fratelli Wines: Our focus has been on working with farmers, who are experienced in sustainable farming with grapes. Opting for simple, yet effective steps that have stood the test of time, has been the way forward. These steps include opting for organic manure over synthetic fertilizers, mulching techniques to help with moisture retention, and timely pruning, to avoid sprays for controlling fungicides.
On the other hand, when talking about TiLT, the cans are also eco-friendly. World facts show that aluminum is 98 percent recyclable, 70 percent of aluminum cans are still in circulation, there is 50 percent less carbon emissions during transportation.
Do you plan to introduce more wines into the TiLT fold?
GS: WIC (wine in cans) are here to stay. While it’s too early to comment on more variants, we are very excited for this category and want to champion the same.
(Additionally, Fratelli has launched the Noí Spritzer in a can, vibrant, packed with flavour, and distinctive character. With its notes of tropical fruit, and fragrant flowers, it invokes playful summers, as well as days spent in the company of loved ones. Vegan, gluten-free, and with eight percent alcohol, it comes in eco-sensitive cans that chill quickly.)
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