News & Affiliates

QualityNZ's New Banner for promotion in be released at a function at the NZ High Commission in New Delhi.


QualityNZ's Geoff Thin under the banner at the New Zealand High Commission in New Delhi


Crowne Plaza Greater Noida's (New Delhi) Executive Chef Tony Smith and Executive Sous Chef Sanjay Browne with QualityNZ's Geoff Thin and Geoff Allott...celebrating the first ever shipment of fresh chilled 'Kiwi King Salmon™' into India.

Wine function at the NZ High Commission where we were proud to represent Pegasus Bay, Lowburn Ferry, and Main Divide. In the photo from left to right; Cav. Subhash Arora - President of the Delhi Wine Club & Indian Wine Academy, Jan Henderson - NZ High Commissioner in New Delhi, Sourish Bhattacharyyan - Wine critic and Colomist for 'Mail Today Newspapers'.


Andrew Guyan (a leading wine critic) with QualityNZ's Geoff Thin at the NZ High Commission in New Delhi.

Subhash Arora

Posted: Thursday, 25 April 2013 11:28

Tasting Kiwi Wines with the High Commissioner

April 25: In a rather unique event, H.E. Mrs. Jan Henderson, the High Commissioner of New Zealand hosted a small lunch in the dining room of her residence on Tuesday where a few of the visiting producers and exporters were invited along with a couple of importers and journalists each for tasting kiwi wines with lunch, writes Subhash Arora who as an invitee was moved by her hospitality and the quality of wines for tasting

Click For Large ViewThe informal lunch was organized on Tuesday to have the visiting producers and companies representing some of them to interact with the Indian experts, journalists and importers to get to know the Indian wine scene and find out a strategy to sell more New Zealand wines which otherwise sell in small numbers.

Protagonists for the afternoon were neither the wines, nor the food or service alone. Wines were great, mid level wines-there were plenty of labels and though I didn’t get a chance to taste many reds due to paucity of time (swish, swirl but no spitting) whichever I tasted were good, especially a Bordeaux Blend from Franklin Groves. Wines available for tasting followed by lunch were: Waimea Estates-Sauvignon Blanc, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Dog PointMarlborough-Sauvignon 2011, Section 94 Sauvignon 2011, Pinot Noir 2011, HahaMarlborough- Sauvignon 2011, and Pinot 2011, James –Pinot Noir 2008,Trinity Hill – Gimblett Gravel 2011, Main Divide- Sauvignon 2012, Pokiri Reserve Pinot Gris 2009, Lowburn Ferry-Pinot Noir Reserve 2010.

There were yet a few more like Pegasus Bay that had been served as a part of the big dinner organized by Her Excellency Jan Henderson, the High Commissioner of New Zealand, at a Reception she had organized last Saturday for a big delegation the visit which had been organized by ANZ Bank where the numbers of invitees were in the 3 digits and the atmosphere was not conducive to wine tasting but eating a lot of delicious food and whatever was poured in your glass. 

Click For Large ViewWhite wines at the lunch, with the sun shining brightly outside, were mostly delicious. The Waipara Riesling from Pegasus Bay was fruity and a tad too sweet as it had been made from Late Picked Riesling. It was a very good quality wine that should be tasted with a morsel of hot Indian food only. Similarly, the Section 94 Sauvignon Blanc from Dog Point may not find many takers in India because of aggressive wood that comes from fermenting Sauvignon in a Barrique; it would need to marry with a perfect dish like smoky fish or tandoori fish tikkas or perhaps a Dum Pukht style biryani. All the whites and Pinot Noirs were clean, well-made wines that had New Zealand written all over them and would need to find takers who are willing to pay the price that is as high as one anticipates about the NZ wines of quality.

The Menu was well crafted and the food was very well prepared by the Indian staff and the fusion food had more than one perfect wine to match with every dish - whether it was the Entrée - Vegetable parcels with salsa - or the chicken and risotto based Main Course which had a few other accompaniments as well. The desserts were delectable too, especially the Pavlova, the meringue-based New Zealand dessert. The service was generous and impeccable-by her personal staff. The conversation and discussion was frank and informal and hinged on wine market and laws, and the high prices of NZ wines made even higher on the wallet because of our high taxes.

It was good to know that the ceremonial monarch, Queen Elizabeth of New Zealand (shared by the UK, New Zealand and Australia) was quite respected and liked in New Zealand whereas Prince William and Kate were the darlings of the NZ youth.

The protagonist of the lunch was truly the High Commissioner herself. She was absolutely delightful, warm and friendly, totally informal and extremely welcoming. She made every guest feel comfortable and special and shared interesting stories about various interesting subjects. She laughed at the jokes and even made a couple of innocuous ones. One might say she was a perfect diplomat but she surely did go beyond the call of duty. One meets diplomats frequently, especially from the wine producing nations but it does not take much to see that behind their welcome, there is mostly diplomacy hidden. Not this lady!

Click For Large ViewNo wonder she has made a large number of Indian women friends in Delhi and before she goes back after this assignment, it would not be surprising that all of them are in love with the New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc even if they are currently teetotalers!

Of course she didn’t flinch while addressing the small group at the table with only four of us being non-kiwis, and telling everyone that when her Prime Minister told her to take the responsibility of representing New Zealand in India, he urged her to increase the economic trade with India and that is what she was doing here. One hopes that we are able to increase our exports to New Zealand too besides increasing imports of food, wine and other allied products for which some committed kiwis are setting up offices in India - Quality NZ is one such company representing 16 different units of products, that has opened an office in Bangalore and the Managing Director of India operations, Geoff Thin and Geoff Allott, Head of New Zealand operations were both present at the lunch.

Disclosing her little secret, Her Excellency  admitted she could not drink still wines as they gave her some sort of allergy. But fortunately, when she has a double fermented bubbly made by Pernod Ricard in New Zealand, she has no problems perhaps because with the double fermentation the negative effect is somehow negated, she feels. This point would be of interest to many Indians who get headaches immediately after drinking a glass of wine. Unable to think of a scientific, plausible explanation, I wondered why it was not exported to India. ‘The fact that they are already exporting Jacobs Creek Sparkling Brut from their Australian stable’, was the theory propounded by Richard White, Trade Commissioner and co-host for the event. It would make business sense if they choose not to export the NZ bubbly to India.

Click For Large ViewThe afternoon was truly memorable and the experience worth penning down for our readers. While leaving, my thoughts went back to a decade ago when an enterprising young Indian living in New Zealand and representing a few Kiwi wineries had visited India and invited  me and requested a few members of the Delhi Wine Club to attend a wine tasting dinner hosted by the then High Commissioner at the same venue. There were some excellent wines but the Indian food served in the buffet style was quite average and the guests were called in lots to the dining room to pick up their plates, reminding one of the NCC camp when I was studying in IIT Delhi. I am glad that only faint memories remain and though the hostess was polite and welcoming, it was not a memorable experience. The wines were ahead of their time - India had just opened up wine imports. It is a pity the gentleman never came back to promote the wines. Wine import was as tough then as it is today!

But I am sure that after another decade, I would have as fond memories about the lunch on Tuesday as I do today. A toast to the bubbly Mrs. Henderson!

Subhash Arora

April 25 is known as  ANZAC Day in New Zealand to commemorate the war they fought along with Australians in 1915 as a part of the British Army, fighting the First World War against Turkey as Germans Allies . Kiwis lost the battle and thousands of lives along with Aussies and Turks but also discovered a sense of identity. Partly due to this fact and partly to pay homage to the unknown soldiers, this day is being commemorated since 1916. H.E. Mrs. Henderson related to me the story as I was wondering why the tents were being pitched in her lawns now that the big dinner had concluded the previous Saturday. ‘We invite Australians and the Turkish community in the spirit of reconciliation and friendship after the 8-month Gallipoli campaign. We commemorate it and call it Anzac Day,' she said. DelWine dedicates this article to the ANZAC Day and for a growing friendship between India and New Zealand. Editor

Sourish Bhattacharyyan's article below from his Editorial in New Delhi's "Mail Today" newspaper.
PDF Version:

'Masterchef' India's Kunal Kapoor cooking "Kiwi King Salmon™" with QualityNZ's Geoff Allott.


ANZ's Sunil Kaushal, 'Masterchef' India's Kunal Kapoor cooking "Kiwi King Salmon™" and ANZ's Mark Hiddleston at the NZ High Commission in New Delhi.


'Masterchef' India's Kunal Kapoor with QualityNZ's Geoff Thin, and Executive Chef Tony Smith.


Pegasus Bay Aria wine foreground; with Kunal Kapoor (plating 'Kiwi King Salmon™"), Geoff Thin & Tony Smith inside the Fisher & Paykel outdoor kitchen at the NZ High Commission.



Famous Indian Chef, Ritu Delmia cooks NZ food with NZ MasterChef winner Nadia Lim. QualityNZ was invited to share time with Ritu & Nadia as they filmed an episode for Indian's NDTV.



Business Standard Article

July 2013: QualityNZ Directors, Stephen Fleming and Geoff Allott enjoy the company of India's FTA negotiators (from left Mr Ojha, Mr Dadoo, and Mr Srikar).


The writer is a noted food critic
at home
with his
portfolio of
may seem at first sight to be a
bad Punjabi joke, but the
Goan ‘100% Agave’ is India’s
answer to tequila and it has
earned critical acclaim even
from the Mexican newspaper, Mural, published
from Guadalajara, which is like getting
a Bordeaux daily to agree that Indian
wines are worth quaffing.
With a growing fan following
among Delhiites who treat Goa as
their second home (but can’t get
the brand in their backyard), and
investments by private equity
heavy hitter Ajay Relan, industrialist
Shrinivas Dempo and dotcom
pioneer Sanjeev Bhikchandani,
Desmondji gets its name from its
creator, Desmond Nazareth, who
has the most interesting personal
history (more about it later). It is
made with alcohol distilled from
agave (pronounced ‘a-gaa-way’)
growing in the Chittoor district of
Andhra Pradesh, at a place
named Pedda Thippa
Samudram, which looks
as if it has fallen off the
map and landed at a
spot 200km away
from Chittoor town.
“Its geo-climatic
conditions are just
like those of the
Mexican regions
associated with
agave cultivation,”
says Nazareth, who has
a micro-distillery in that
forgotten corner of the Deccan
Plateau with an installed
capacity of 250,000 litres.
Agave plants grow in wastelands
and their leaves are used for decorative
household knick-knacks, but
it is their stalk that contains the
heart (the Mexicans call it the
pina) that yields the juice which is
double distilled into tequila in oldfashioned
pot stills. The heart,
which usually weighs around 120
kilos (although Desmond has
extracted one giant specimen tipping
the scales at 300 kilos!), is har-
A dessert of contention
AS YOU’D expect from the
New Zealand high commissioner,
Jan Henderson served
the pavlova to her guests at a
lunch she had hosted in honour
of a wine delegation visiting
from her country. The hospitable
high commissioner
made it a point to emphasise
that the delectable dessert,
inspired by the skirts of the
iconic classical ballet dancer
Anna Pavlova (1881-1931), is
a Kiwi, and not Aussie, invention.
In the antipodean war of
claims, the Australians insist
the pavlova was created by a
chef named Bill Sachse at the
Esplanade Hotel, Perth, in
1935. The world bought this
theory till Prof. Helen Leach
of the University of Otago,
New Zealand, found a Kiwi
recipe dating back to 1929.
WHAT does an international
cricketer do after
hanging up his boots?
Become a coach or a commentator,
or, like Chennai
Super Kings guru and former
New Zealand captain
Stephen Fleming (in pic),
discover the spending
power of the Indian market.
Fleming has padded up as
the brand ambassador and
director of a Kiwi food marketing
company, QualityNZ,
whose portfolio
extends from Manuka honey
to Pacific King salmon,
South Island lobster, artesian
water and apples. Giving
him company is the
Kiwi captain and wicketkeeper
Brendon McCullum,
whose record of the highest
IPL score (158) was just
shattered by Chris Gayle’s
explosive 175 on Tuesday.
QualityNZ’s managing
director Geoff Allott, who
was in the city with a wine
delegation, also shares a
cricketing tie with his brand
ambassador. A left-arm seam
bowler, Allott was the highest
wicket-taker along with
Shane Warne in the 1999
World Cup (20 wickets,
including that of Sourav
Ganguly, in nine matches)
and until last month, he held
the dubious distinction of
spending the longest time on
the crease without scoring a
run — 77 balls in 101 minutes
against South Africa in
1999 — till it took England’s
Stuart Broad 103 minutes to
get off the mark against New
Zealand at Eden Park,
Auckland, on March 26.
Allott now bats for an
entirely different cause. He
talks about bringing the best
of New Zealand produce to
India, about getting his
country’s celebrity chef Tony
Smith and Masterchef
India’s Kunal Kapoor for a
cookout, and introducing the
market to the lesser-known
but unmissable Kiwi wines
from small producers. But of
course, cricket keeps coming
back to his conversation.
Anna Pavlova after whom
the dessert is named
TODAY is Anzac
Day, which commemorates
sacrifices of the Australian
and New Zealand
Army Corps in the World
War I Battle of Gallipoli.
In the time-honoured
tradition, the Anzac Day
breakfast includes rum
and coffee inspired by
the tot of rum included
in the daily ration of the
troops. The drink isn’t
unusual — the Spaniards
call it carajillo and it
dates back to the Spanish
occupation of Cuba.
Spanish soldiers, as the
story goes, drank it for
coraje (Spanish for
‘courage’) and that is
how the drink got to be
named corajillo and
finally carajillo.
pursue a filmmaking course, and
ended up establishing a software
company that specialised in developing
Y2K solutions and even did
work with ITeS giant Wipro. Not
many tequila makers can lay claim
to such a vastly diverse background,
so what drew Desmond to
the idea of making India’s very
own tequila?
With his usual sense of drama,
Desmond says he used to miss the
margaritas that he would have in
America and his quest for the best
led him to launch his own ‘100%
Agave’ brand. And what’s next on
his menu? There’s Pure Cane, a
double distilled sugarcane spirit,
an artisanal take on Brazilian
cachaca (which goes into making
the cocktail caipirinha). I can set
the Brazilians do a double take.
vested only when an agave plant
attains maturity (Desmond, no
wonder, says tequila is made from
the “waste of the wasteland”) and
each one, after distillation, yields 8-
12 litres of the heady liquid that is
first fermented and then distilled
into what the world calls tequila.
Desmond can’t use the name
‘tequila’ because it is protected
under the Geographical Indication
(G.I.) system — only a tequila made
in Mexico can be called a tequila,
which gets its name from the city
where it is primarily produced,
65km northwest of Guadalajara.
The Americans,
though, have got Mexico
to agree to the use of
the word ‘tequila’ for
the agave-based
alcoholic beverages
produced in that
country but bottled
in America.
Nonetheless, the
gregarious Goan’s
‘100% Agave’ is in the
distinguished company
of upper-end
tequila brands such as
Patron because the agave content
of the popular labels is a mere 51
per cent — the minimum required
for a drink to be called a tequila.
But, as Desmond points out, a
bottle of his ‘100% Agave’ sells for
`800 in Goa, whereas a Patron will
set you back by `5,000 and a regular
Don Julio by `3,000-4,000.
Who’s Desmond Nazareth? He’s
a Goan who studied mechanical
engineering at IIT-Chennai, then
went on a full scholarship to Temple
University, Philadelphia to
used to miss
the margaritas he
had in America and
it launched the
quest that led him
to develop ‘100%