Dec 20: The recently formed premium wine, spirits and beer import company VBev with Sumedh Singh Mandla as the CEO with ambitious plans up its sleeves, launched wines from Maison M. Chapoutier of Rhone last month in the presence of Edouard Payot, their Singapore based export manager, at Honk Restaurant in Pullman Aerocity where Chapoutier wines were paired with Indonesian dishes, reports Subhash Arora who feels the wines offer good value for discerning connoisseurs who love wines from Rhone
It was a touching moment when Edouard gave me his business card with Braille lettering on it. Noticing my curiosity he explained that when Michel Chapoutier, the 54-year old owner of Maison Chapoutier bought a piece of land from a neighbour in the 1990’s he realised the owner had a blind child. To empathize with him, he decided to take a few steps including introduction of business cards with Braille]
Michel Chapoutier is one of the most highly regarded winemakers in France. Since taking over his family firm in 1990 at age 26, Michel has made the winery a leading Rhône Valley producer. Like many other talented winemakers, he combines the modern and the traditional methods of wine making and viticulture. He has been long a crusader for biodynamic winemaking, as he continues to expand his operations around the globe and experiments with cutting edge winemaking processes.
‘M. Chapoutier has been producing iconic French wines from Rhône Valley since 1808. The Côtes-du-Rhône vineyards are one of the oldest in France. Since 1991 the vineyards have only been cultivated organically or bio-dynamically to preserve the terroir. Since he took over the family business, the sales have gone up by 25 times’, Edouard says.
Chapoutier Top French Wine Brand
Chapoutier is also an iconic wine Brand. It was the Top French Brand in the World’s Most Admired Branch List of 2018 announced annually by Drinks International- it was no. 6 in the global List. He did it by displacing the no. 1 French producer Guigal, which was incidentally globally no. 6 also in 2017. It has been rising in the Brand Status, being at #14 in 2014.
Chapoutier was introduced in India by Sumedh Singh Mandla when he was working with FinewinesnMore (FW M), prior to joining Grover Vineyards. The brand languished for a while after FWM nose-dived in imports, till it went out of the public radar. This was not because of the international popularity or recognition of the brand for its quality offering. It is not considered inferior to Bordeaux by any means but different because of soil and grape differences. This is validated by the fact that Chapoutier holds a record of receiving 33 times from Robert Parker for 100-pointer wines. It enjoys top ratings from major critics like Wine Spectator, Jancis Robinson and Wine Enthusiast among others.
Michel Chapoutier is known for his drive for quality at different price points. He believes in wines that fully express their terroir and is today France’s largest producer of biodynamic and organic wines, having been registered with Demeter for biodynamic wine.
Dinner at Honk
Honk is a Pan Asian Restaurant in Pullman Aerocity-renowned for its excellent cuisine. It was interesting to have the visiting Chef from Bali Pullman craft the Menu which had exotic sounding and looking dishes paired with wines from Chapoutier. Tahu Telur Surabaya (East java fried Chicken and Egg Bean sprout was a good starter with Belleruche AOC Cotes du Rhone Blanc 2017, a fresh, clean and floral wine made mostly from local grapes- Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Viognier, Clairette and Bourboulenc. This elegant wine was a good match with the dish as well.
Soto Medan was up next- a milky soup which did not need any wine with it for me. But Bila-Haut AOC Cotes du Roussillon Villages 2017 served was a blend of Carignan, Grenache and Syrah- Michel uses today 80% Grenache for the body, 15% Syrah to make it spicy and 5% Carignan for the freshness. Freshness and spiciness showed in the medium to fully bodied wine which is not heavy on the pocket as well. Great VFM wine!
My favourite wine from Rhone is Crozes Hermitage-the Les Meysonniers AOC 2016 which never fails to satisfy with excellent Price-Quality ratio. Made from 100% Syrah grapes, this organic wine is an embodiment of wines from M Chapoutier. Perfect match with Satay Kambing- Balinese Lamb skewer which by itself was a grand dish- a perfect specimen of Indonesian cuisine. Priced at under Rs. 5000, it is well priced for the quality it offers.
Last wine of the List, the signature wine from M Chapoutier, La Bernardine AOC Chateauneuf du Pape 2015 was reserved for another lamb dish, Lamb Rendang-Lamb curry served with steamed rice and Crackers which was a bit too spicy but in any case it matched very well with Crozes Hermitage too for me. At under Rs. 10,000 a bottle, it is not your everyday wine but for special occasion when you want to enjoy the rare CDP from this premier house would be not too expensive.
Earlier we tasted 2 of their entry level wines. I found Les Meysonniers an excellent preposition for a high quality wine that was still affordable and I am sure it would do very well with connoisseurs who are willing to spend just a bit of extra money for an outstanding product which is SWAD as well!
The evening was an excellent, rounded experience that included delicious wines and food coupled with excellent service and congenial conversation. Sitting next to Payot, I was privileged to share many anecdotes with him about the winery, the area and his background that took him to Australia, Dubai and now in Singapore. The 10-million-case company with its hands stretched in all directions, including Australia and dabbling in a restaurant with 3-Michelin star lady chef were just a few of many interesting facts that will be shared in later issues.
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