Interview With The Winemaker of Fratelli Vineyards on Noi – Their Latest Sparkling Wine

15th June 2023

Interview With The Winemaker of Fratelli Vineyards on Noi Their Latest Sparkling Wine

Fratelli Vineyards, India’s second biggest wine producer has been in business since 2008. Helmed by seven founders – three pairs of brothers – the Sekhris, the Seccis and the Mohite-Patils along with noted Tuscan winemaker Piero Masi, Fratelli has roots in Italy as well as India where it is located.

Over the years, Fratelli developed a reputation for doing things differently. For starters, it decided to pick the hitherto untested (in India) Sangiovese as its flagship grape. It also set up base in remote Akluj in the Solapur district of Maharashtra, rather than Nasik, the “Napa Valley” of India, as Masi believed the soil was better suited to growing black grapes. These decisions, have proved prophetic 15 years later.

Over time, collaborations with big-names in wine like Jean Charles Boisset and Steven Spurrier helped establish Fratelli’s premium position further.

Then, a few years ago, Fratelli took a decision to launch a new sparkling wine, made from the Thompson Seedless, or Sultaniye grape, a variety which has thrived in Maharahtra’s soils but was better known as a table grape. They named this fresh, off-dry sparkling wine noi. Today, noi has been joined by a rosé version, and also a spritzer in a can; all of them are finding increasing appeal with the younger demographic of wine drinker.

Excerpts from an interview with Fratelli’s marketing deputy general manager, marketing, Jayanth Bharathi, and winemaker, Vrushal Kedari.

How did the idea of noi first come about? And how did you decide on the grape variety, style, marketing, pricing? Fratelli’s first sparkling wine was the zero dosage Gran Cuvée, Piero Masi’s baby – made for the evolved drinker, this seems to be at the other end of the spectrum?

“It was Kapil (the late Kapil Sekhri, founder of Fratelli) who had the idea of launching noi. We already had the Gran Cuvée Brut (a zero-dosage traditional method sparkling) in the portfolio. But when we did some data analysis, the clear trend that emerged was that most Indian consumers preferred something sweeter. Hence, we decided to launch noi and curate its flavour profile to better suit the Indian consumer. The price point had to be sub-Rs 1000 (USD 12), and that defined the direction of the brand. With noi, we wanted to make a fruity and vibrant wine both in terms of the liquid and in terms of the brand.” – Jayanth Bharathi, DGM Marketing, Fratelli Vineyards:

Indians have only recently taken to drinking wine (compared to other regions in the world) and it is up to us to be able to introduce more drinkers to wine and make wines which suit their taste and preference. The Fratelli Gran Cuvée Brut is a phenomenal wine which showcases the ability of Fratelli and like you mentioned is for a slightly evolved wine drinker, whereas noi is an easy approachable wine for the beginner: two different audience cohorts, that have different product approaches.

Noi is arguably the first Indian sparkling to openly mention the grapes used are Thompson Seedless – used widely as a table grape. What has been the feedback?

“The winemaking team, led by (the late) Piero Masi, had been experimenting with Thompson as a grape much before noi was even conceived, and had been getting consistently good results.  One of the influences for noi was Prosecco, and Thompson has proven to be ‘our’ Glera grape – the grape used for Prosecco. Some of our competitors and predecessors have been using Thompson in their sparkling wines but have probably not mentioned it. We have been very transparent and honest about what goes in to our wines. That is our fundamental brand promise especially since we pride ourselves in making premium Indian wines.” – Vrushal Kedari, Winemaker, Fratelli Vineyards

For those not familiar with Thompson Seedless, could you explain what it brings to the wine in terms of taste profile, cost etc? What made you decide on 20g/L sugar as the ideal sweetness level?

“Grapes like Thompson tend to have a lot of off notes and because of their growing style, meaning thicker skin and lesser recovery etc. But Thompson as a grape is a very neutral grape. In our experiments, the fermentation and profile were very good. We did multiple tests with various sugar levels. While 9-10 grams is normal in sparkling wines and Champagne, we chose to do 20g/L to counter the acidity. With this dosage, the product turned out very well.”

Despite using Thompson Seedless – far cheaper than international vitis vinifera grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz to grow in India – you are making noi by the traditional method – far more expensive and not perhaps essential for a light, fruity wine. Are you planning a move to the tank method once volumes build? 

“Yes, once the volume builds up, we will move to the Charmat method.”

Speaking of volumes, could you explain how noi has grown in terms of sales and consumer appreciation since its launch?

“Noi sparkling has almost doubled every year in the last 4 years (barring 2020, the Covid year). We have seen great acceptance and runaway success in the north, which is now trickling to other regions as well. In fact, with the potential that this brand holds for us, we have also launched a noi sparkling rosé last year and that SKU has seen stellar appreciation. The rosé sparkling is doing almost 20% sales of the white sparkling in just the first year of its launch.” – Jayanth Bharati, DGM Marketing, Fratelli Vineyards

The bottle design is very colourful and eye-catching.

“When we were envisaging the brand noi, we wanted the label to do justice to the product. So, we moved away from traditional sparkling wine imagery and used a more vibrant and colourful route to convey the feeling the product will leave you with – refreshing. The Pantone shade of blue we chose is unique and brings alive the feeling of freshness, while the floral patterns are perfect to the overall brand positioning.”

The images were commissioned by Fratelli. Glass of Bubbly was granted permission to use them.

Ruma Singh DipWSET

Qualified full-time journalist who turned wine writer to pursue her interest in wine. She owns a dedicated wine website, Between the Wines at She is also a wine educator, member of the Circle of Wine Writers and wine judge.