Analita Seth
Managing Editor

In conversation with Kaushal Khairnar, Head Winemaker at CHANDON India.
Translating to ‘of the earth’ in Sanskrit, “Aurva,” pays homage to the beauty of Nashik’s unique terroir and the art and culture of the Warli people. The still wine is a product of ageing for 10 months, offering a cacophony of aromas and flavours of cloves, cherry, blueberry, and plum. CHANDON Aurva is touched with the magic of CHANDON’s commitment to collaboration. The winemakers focused on solely one harvest per year to ensure a certain quality and freshness to the locally sourced Shiraz grapes from Nashik, India’s wine capital.

Chandon Aurva
Distributed by Moët Hennessy India, a leader in the luxury wine and spirits segment, CHANDON Aurva marks a new chapter in the brand’s history of collaboration and cultural cross-pollination. Priced at INR 4250, the product creates a fresh dimension to the Indian market of premium wines. Currently available in Mumbai at select retail outlets and five-star properties, as well as at the CHANDON winery in Nashik, with plans to expand availability by the year’s end.

We catch up with Kaushal Khairnar, one-half the innovative talent behind the curation of the still wine as we discuss the CHANDON Aurva and CHANDON’s commitment to excellence in India’s evolving wine culture as a homegrown wine.

(( How has the trajectory been for wine consumers in India? Have they been inclined to the long-term blends or newer launches? ))
The trajectory for wine consumers in India has been intriguing and promising. The luxury wine market, currently valued at 148K, has experienced remarkable growth, with a 26% increase, signifying its emergence as a significant market. There’s a noticeable shift in consumer preferences towards wines that stand out and have a purpose. There is a heightened appreciation for still wine as the preferred choice for various occasions. India is poised to become one of the world’s largest luxury markets in the coming decade, driven by the expanding upper-middle-class segment, high-net-worth individuals (HNIs), and ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNIs). Indian consumers are adopting a “drink less but better” approach, mirroring global trends in premium and luxury alcohol consumption.

Consumers in India are increasingly experimental, closely following global trends, and seeking novel products and experiences within the country, eliminating the need to wait for international trips to enjoy luxury offerings. There’s a growing sense of pride in locally made luxury products, exemplified by the “India Proud” sentiment. This shift in consumer recognition and preferences has been a significant driver behind our decision to launch CHANDON AURVA.

CHANDON has witnessed substantial growth, primarily driven by younger consumers diversifying their drinking choices, aligning with global trends. Our brand has found resonance in metro cities and select Tier 1 and 2 cities across India. For instance, our brunch campaign earlier this year catered to the resurgence of home and out-of-home brunches, with sparkling wine as a perfect accompaniment. Similarly, we’ve observed that sundowners on the beach have become a key occasion for enjoying a chilled glass of CHANDON Rosé at resort properties throughout India. The sky’s the limit, and we are excited about the evolving wine landscape in India.

(( How was Aurva born?))
CHANDON Aurva was born from a compelling blend of inspiration, innovation, and collaboration. It all began with CHANDON’s rich legacy of pioneering and pushing the boundaries of winemaking, which date back to our inception in 1959. This tradition of daring to be different, of seeking new terroirs and striving to redefine the world of wine, has always been at the heart of our ethos.

The spark for Aurva ignited when CHANDON India achieved resounding success with its award-winning sparkling Rosé, crowned as the Best Indian sparkling wine in 2020 at the CSWWC, often referred to as the “Oscars” of champagne and sparkling wines. This achievement underscored our mastery of noble and unconventional red grape varieties when crafting sparkling wines. It prompted an intriguing idea – to establish India on the global map of exceptional red wines by creating an exclusively Shiraz-based still wine sourced from Nashik, a region with tremendous potential. So an idea began to form. Why not see if we could create a still wine with the variety?

The result is CHANDON Aurva – fruit of the earth, in Sanskrit, and a meeting of minds. Two, to be precise. Kaushal Khairnar– Nashik born and bred – the youngest of our Head winemakers, and Dan Buckle, CHANDON Australia’s Head winemaker, and a master in the art of Shiraz wine winemaking.

Fruit-driven, precise, elegant… and above all delicious, CHANDON Aurva reveals a new facet of our brand’s maverick mastery of the Shiraz grape variety and reflects the culmination of six decades of pioneering winemaking across the globe. It is a world-class red wine crafted with 100% Shiraz grapes grown in India. It not only builds on CHANDON’s global reputation for excellence but also cements India’s presence on the global wine stage, showcasing the unique marriage of terroir, expertise, and pride in locally crafted wines.

(( What’s CHANDON Aurva’s biggest USP? ))
CHANDON Aurva has an exquisite character and a unique blend of qualities that set it apart in the world of wines. Here are some key aspects that make Aurva stand out:

100% Shiraz Excellence: Aurva is an exceptional red wine crafted exclusively from 100% Shiraz grapes handpicked in Nashik, India. This commitment to a single grape variety ensures a singular focus on showcasing the full potential of this noble grape.

Expression of Terroir: Aurva embodies the essence of Nashik’s terroir, capturing the distinctive characteristics of this region’s soil and climate. It reflects the unique flavors and aromas that are born from the land, offering a genuine sense of place in every sip.

Diverse Winemaking Techniques: CHANDON’s diverse winemaking techniques, refined over six decades across the globe, find expression in Aurva. The wine is a testament to CHANDON’s innovation and expertise, bringing together the best practices from India and Australia.

Collaborative Heritage: Crafted in collaboration between Indian and Australian winemakers, Aurva draws on the brand’s rich collaborative savoir-faire heritage. It combines the mastery of Shiraz with contemporary winemaking techniques, resulting in a wine that feels both timeless and modern.

Global Recognition: CHANDON, known for its sparkling wines, has successfully placed India on the global wine map. With Aurva, the brand expands its horizons, showcasing its commitment to excellence and innovation in crafting still wines.

Exceptional Quality: Aurva represents a commitment to quality over quantity, reflecting the “drinking less but better” approach that is gaining popularity among wine enthusiasts. This emphasis on quality ensures that each bottle of Aurva offers a remarkable and memorable tasting experience.

In summary, CHANDON Aurva is the bringing together of the best of the terroir, expertise, and innovation to create a world-class red wine that celebrates the uniqueness of India’s wine landscape and resonates with discerning wine consumers.

(( How hard it is to crack the Indian wine market with a monopoly in place for years? ))
The Indian wine market has unique characteristics and complexities that require careful navigation. I believe that success requires a well-planned strategy, commitment to quality, understanding of local nuances, and a long-term vision. CHANDON’s entry into the Indian still wine market with Aurva exemplifies how a brand can leverage its expertise and innovation to make a mark in this evolving landscape.

(( What’s the finest pairing for the Aurva? ))
CHANDON Aurva offers a versatile and delightful wine pairing experience. Its exceptional qualities make it a perfect match for a variety of dishes – both traditional and contemporary. From grilled meats, including steak and lamb, to traditional Indian cuisine like tandoori chicken and biryani, Aurva complements a range of flavors. Cheese platters, featuring aged cheddar or blue cheese, also pair beautifully with this red wine. For a vegetarian option, one can consider roasted vegetables, such as eggplant and bell peppers. And don’t forget dessert—Aurva pairs wonderfully with dark chocolate. Whether you’re enjoying a special occasion or a casual meal, Aurva’s complexity and character elevate your dining experience.

What’s the biggest myth about wine that you’d like to bust for new consumers?
Wine appreciation isn’t solely reserved for connoisseurs or those with extensive knowledge; it’s an accessible and enjoyable journey for everyone. The myth around the rigid set of rules for wine pairing. While certain pairings can enhance your experience, wine enjoyment ultimately comes down to personal preferences. Don’t be afraid to explore and discover your unique taste. Wine is a diverse and welcoming world, ready to be explored by enthusiasts of all levels.

Tell our readers a little about the ageing process of this wine…
CHANDON Aurva undergoes a meticulous aging process to achieve its exceptional depth and complexity. After the careful selection of the finest Shiraz grapes handpicked in Nashik, the wine is aged for fourteen months in new French oak barrels as well as used oak barres. Our focus with Aurva is to achieve the result of the oak complementing the fruit characters that we get from this region and not the other way around. This specially selected french cooper allows us to elevate bluberry, black berry, red cherry sensation of grapes balanced with soothing vanilla, warm coffee beans sensation. The used oak barrels allows us to build up further in terms of aroma as well as the palate. It adds the complex touch of herbs, spice notes with softer tannins that creates velvety, silky layered sensation on palate.

Courtesy Moët Hennessy India