Posh rice at a scary price: Vintage crop of basmati from 2006 selling for 10 a kilo… but is it twice as nice



22:07 GMT, 1 December 2012

Curry lovers are in for a treat as a vintage crop of rice from ‘one of the finest-ever years’ hits the shelves.

But, much like vintage wines, it comes at a cost.

At 4.99 for a 500g bag, it is more than five times the price of most supermarket own-brand basmati.

Taste test: Tom Parker Bowles compares brands, including the highly priced 'vintage' crop from 2006, produced by Tilda

Taste test: Tom Parker Bowles compares brands, including the highly priced 'vintage' crop from 2006, produced by Tilda

Tilda’s Vintage Basmati was launched
last week at John Lewis, Waitrose and Ocado and costs twice as much as
the company’s standard version.


Indian rice – long-grained and, at its best, beautifully fragrant – is available in myriad brands, prices and packages, writes Tom Parker Bowles, the Mail on Sunday’s culinary expert.

Ageing certain of varieties of rice can add to the depth of flavour. I’ve eaten ten-year-old, specially aged Riso Gallo Arborio. And pretty splendid it was too. So does Tilda Vintage Basmati live up to the hype

Sainsbury’s Easy Cook Rice

Not basmati, but the standard type of own-brand rice many shoppers choose. Decent texture, and dull scent. Inoffensive, perfectly OK but no discernible flavour. 5/10

Tesco Microwave Basmati

Not too bad at all. And easy to cook. Loses a little on texture. But a hint of flavour and nutty on the nose. 6/10

Tilda Vintage Basmati

Rich, nutty aroma and a true basmati taste: subtle, smooth and well-rounded. Delicate floral notes and each grain stands proudly separate. Magnificent! Yes, it’s expensive and best saved for the occasional treat. But this is properly blissful basmati. 9/10

Tilda Microwave Basmati
High-quality rice, with real basmati taste and decent texture. A nutty nose too. 7/10

The new variety comes from the crop of 2006 – apparently the best year for rice in recent history.

It has been aged to create a richer, more separate grain, which producers say enhances its flavour.

Most rice lovers may not realise that, like wine, it can improve with age and can also have vintage years.

Basmati is grown primarily in Pakistan and northern India and has a fragrant flavour that makes it popular for curries.

When farmers have an exceptionally good crop, they will generally set aside part of their haul for their families to eat on special occasions.

This will then be aged to produce a stronger-tasting variety that goes especially well with red meat and game.

Tilda stored some of its 2006 harvest, which it said was ‘one of the finest’ crops, and is selling it as a limited edition.

It claimed the rice, which comes in a gold-coloured bag and is presented in a black gift box, has an ‘extraordinary nutty aroma and naturally sweet flavour’.

The company’s marketing chief Vijay Vaidyanathan added: ‘We are bringing something completely new to the rice category, creating a prestige product.

'As a naturally fragrant rice, it develops more complex aromas and flavours over time, so by carefully storing the rice we are adding new dimensions to the existing offering.’

Tilda has seen sales in the UK soar by 15 per cent over the past year, with takings of 56 million.