An Indian Wine Visionary
There was always a sense of grand scale and bold experiment to the ideas Kapil Sekhri brainstormed. And consistently, those ideas turned into interesting and sublime wines in bottles which Kapil loved to open and share with the world at large. Kapil Sekhri was the director and co-founder of a landmark Indo-Italian winery called Fratelli that went on to become of one of India’s biggest and most notable wine producers, that pushed the industry into new and exciting directions. Kapil sadly passed on October 10 this year, leaving a huge void where there was once a tireless and passionate wine visionary. From the outset, Fratelli was a company of bold dimension, planting Italian grape varieties which most Indians were unfamiliar with in the little known region of Akluj. And Kapil was the driving force behind Fratelli’s visibility across the country, personally hosting wine tastings and dinners and interacting keenly with media and consumers alike.
Kapil didn’t simply love wine. He had a grand vision for the ferment. Along with Fratelli’s co-founder Alessio Secci and Italian winemaking maestro Piero Masi, Kapil achieved a great number of vinous firsts in the Indian wine industry. He introduced red wine blends unique to Fratelli, surprised the industry by choosing to sell reserve wines by the barrel, crafted a dessert wine of traditional Italian style and collaborated with a major French producer to launch an uber premium range of wines called J’noon. He stunned the industry when he roped in one of the world’s best-known wine critics Steven Spurrier to jointly curate a set of wines with Piero Masi. Kapil will be remembered above all for championing the Indian expression of the popular Tuscan grape Sangiovese. His abiding belief in the potential of Sangiovese translated into some stellar vintages and success for Fratelli with Indian wine drinkers who had barely heard of the Italian grape varietal back then. That is his fine, indelible legacy and permanent chapter in India’s wine history.
I fondly recall an engaging conversation with Kapil late last year about J’noon and his enthusiasm about the label’s success was palpable. He also told me about the organic viticulture focus of Fratelli and the possibility of bottling some interesting barrel aged white wines. Kapil always had a new and creative vinous pursuit on his mind. It is perhaps what drove him. There could have been so many more splendid wine firsts imagined by Kapil and delightful conversations with him to look forward to. There are, thanks to him, some memorable ones that will always remind us of the remarkable life of an Indian wine visionary. Raise your glasses.
As a tribute to Kapil Sekhri and Fratelli Wines, Wine Park is shining a light on some of the winery’s best wines on its website through to the end of next week.