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« In India, wine is associated with sophistication and success. »


Widen your perspectives with a meeting of East and West alongside India’s only Master of Wine, Sonal Holland.

Sonal, what is the state of the wine market in India today? How is it organized?

We are currently seeing very exciting growth in the wine market in India, which ranks third among the world’s markets for alcoholic beverages. Compared with other alcohols, the market for wine has not yet reached maturity but wine has seen the strongest growth, of 15-20% annually, over the last ten years.
Imported wines represent 25% of the market but they are also seeing the greatest increase in consumption. Indians are very interested in wines from abroad and are drawn to premiumization. They are also avid travelers: some of them discover wine in India before exploring wines from other markets whereas others begin drinking wine during travels abroad.

What are the drivers of success for wine in India, especially where younger generations are concerned?

Indian society is very exposed to Western models and generally aspires to a more fulfilling lifestyle. Within this context, wine benefits from three factors.
First of all, wine is associated with sophistication and success. Our studies show that when people begin succeeding professionally, they also begin drinking wine. Our Gen Z corresponds to an age category that is wealthier than ever before in the history of the country and has demonstrated its willingness to pay more to consume better.
It is also true that although Indians have traditionally consumed liquor, especially whisky, the media often evokes the health benefits of drinking wine.
Finally, female consumers tend to consider wine to be a more elegant and socially acceptable option for women, more so than liquor. There has been a women’s revolution around drinking wine in India!

These three axes represent excellent opportunities for wines from abroad as long as they communicate in a simple, synthetic, and authentic fashion.

How are the fine wines of Bordeaux perceived in India?

Bordeaux is recognized and respected, almost as if it were a brand. The region is associated with wines of excellent quality. Indians are familiar with some of the prestigious appellations, like Saint-Estèphe, Margaux, and Saint-Émilion.
The availability of Bordeaux wines could be improved, but they are subject to import taxes. What we need is a trade agreement with Europe like the one India signed with Australia.

How do you perceive Cos d’Estournel, particularly the role of India in its history and its universe?

It is fascinating to see this confluence of Western and Eastern cultures in the estate’s magnificent pagodas, its elephants, and the superb architecture that makes it so distinctive. It is almost like an Indian temple, but it is also not Indian, thanks to its Western heritage.
It is like our contemporary world: whenever the East and the West meet, it results in something magical. I also remember the private residence, the Chartreuse, with its rich tapestries and silks and precious woods… It is a singular, mesmerizing, and surprising place. Anyone who is lucky enough to visit Cos d’Estournel will never forget the experience and will forever remain an ambassador of Cos!

To conclude, which of the estate’s wines has left the most lasting impression on you?

When I visited Cos in 2018, I received a very warm welcome. I especially remember tasting the 2009 and 2010 vintages of Cos d’Estournel, both of which were spectacular!

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