By: Our Correspondent

chapoutier-bg

We
singled out the Chapoutier Belleruche Rouge 2005 as BBQ red wine of
the year in 2007. And while you will no doubt still come across this
vintage, the 2006 is now widely available in the Asia market, and is
right on the money again.

Notwithstanding
the exceptional quality-price rapport, this unpretentious yet
authentic red is full of character and the sort of wine you don't
tire of. With no oak whatsoever coupled with plenty of succulent red
berry fruit, it also accommodates an agreeable level of chilling,
which is imperative in the summer heat. Yes, it is summer in East
Asia for those in tropical zones who barbecue the year round and are
oblivious to the four seasons.

Winery
Profile

Michel
Chapoutier is one of France's most dynamic wine producers,
championing biodynamic viticulture and producing a consistent,
impeccably high-quality range of wines from the prominent northern
and southern Rhône Valley appellations, as well as
Languedoc-Roussillon. He also owns vineyards in Australia and has a
joint venture with fellow biodynamic producer Ron Laughton at Jasper
Hill Vineyard in Heathcote, Victoria, involving a vineyard at Jasper
Hill called La Plelade and a vineyard in the Côtes du Rousillon
called Agly Brothers.

Chapoutier
spends as much time and energy assiduously educating the trade and
consumers around the world on every precise detail of wine service
and the nuances of his wines as he does growing and making them. I
have never encountered someone so meticulous in detail when it comes
to the serving and enjoyment of wine, yet he is never boring or
wearisome, to the contrary jovial and amplified with an engaging
intellectual magnetism.

Terroir
(= total vineyard environment) & Vintage Synopsis


The
radiant, dry Mediterranean climate of the Southern Rhone is echoed in
this wine with a distinctive earthiness
known as garrigue, an infusion of baked earth and Provencal
herbs that transposes in the wine.
The vineyards for Chapoutier Côtes du Rhône Belleruche
are spread over the communes of Sablet and Séguret, with silty
and stony subsoils that were once the ancient riverbed of the Rhône.
2006 continues a remarkable run of excellent vintages in the Southern
Rhone, indeed 8 out 9 with only aberration being the rain deluged
2002. While the weather was cooler than in 2005, the 2006 vintage was
considerably long and the ripeness very even but more importantly,
acidities were higher and there is a marked freshness and crunchy
fruit in the wines, particularly at this entry level. You will
however, find Chapoutier Côtes du Rhône remarkably
consistent in quality year to year, in no small part due to
biodynamic viticulture and meticulous winemaking.

Winemaking

The
polarity of winemaking in the new and old worlds is exemplified here
with no oak maturation whatsoever, something that more winemakers in
Australia and USA should grasp when it comes to succulent and
eminently drinkable red wines. Fermented and matured in stainless
steel, this wine relies on the natural flavenoids and phenolics from
maceration for 15 days on the grape skins to give it the requisite
tannin structure, enhanced by the characteristic fullness and
spiciness of Grenache (80 percent) and Syrah (20 percent). The
minimal handling and absence of oak allows it to fully express its
fruit qualities and terroir.

Tasting
Note

No
apologies for the similar tasting note to 2005, frankly everything is
here that was there last year… only there seems to be added vibrant
fruit and crunchy acidity and slightly more definition of terroir, I
would suggest from the cooler conditions. A strong perfume of red
cherry, blackcurrant and stewed plum amongst grilled meats and smoky,
fireside charcoals, lots of garrigue – the effusion of
Provence with scents of dried herbs -oregano-thyme-lavender-aniseed,
backed earth, warm granite rocks, pronounced black olive tapenade and
five-spice in the background. Racy, tart palate entry, engulfing the
mouth with sour raspberry and cherry with a surge of crunchy acidity
accelerating the piquant flavours across the palate – then running in
to black earthy, peat-like coolness, lots of black olive and oolong
tea as the wine twists to savoury with herbal tannins and abundant
fresh rosemary with a tangy farewell.

Serving
& Food Pairing

Needless
to say, extremely versatile red with barbequed poultry, game and
meats and likewise, roasted meats and lighter casseroles. I also find
it a very good all rounder with congenial Asian fare, lighter
curries, Chinese roast duck or pork and the ubiquitous Indian and
Thai takeaway. Serve at around 15C, chilling it down just enough to
take the edge off it, making it more refreshing. There is nothing
worse than warm red wine on a hot day and apart from unpleasantness
in taste; the accentuated alcohol will go to your head. Keep the
bottle in a bucket or vessel of water, popping in a few lumps of ice
in from time to time to maintain coolness.

Longevity
& Price Point

While
predestined for early consumption, Côtes du Rhône reds of
this quality and structure will benefit from two to five years'
bottle aging, particularly in good vintages such as 2005 & 06. It
is remarkably well priced given its hedonistic qualities, for example
HK$100 per bottle if purchased by the dozen direct from the importer
in Hong Kong, a quantity that I would suggest is the absolute minimum
at any BBQ, unless you're aiming for a dry argument.

Importer/Agent
China:
Torres China
– Shanghai, Tel: 86 (21) 6267
7979 www.torreschina.com

Hong
Kong:
Connoisseur
Wines, Tel: 852 2772 3670 www.connoisseur-wines.com.hk

Philippines:
Titania Wine Cellar, Tel: 632 894 1371 74
titaniawinecellar@yahoo.com
Indonesia:
VIN PLUS, Tel: 62 21
7179 2577 www.vinplus.biz

India:
FineWinenMore,
Mumbai, Tel: 91 22
4033 0000 www.finewinesnmore.com

Japan:
Nippon Liquor,
www.nlwine.com

Malaysia:
Asiaeuro,
www.asiaeurowines.com.my

Singapore:
Culina, www.culina.com.sg

South
Korea:
Daeyoo, Tel: 82-2-2632-7028, www.winenara.com

Vineyard
website/Travel

www.chapoutier.com
and www.mchapoutieraustralia.com

The
Southern Rhone villages of Sablet, Seguret, Gigondas,
Vaison-la-Romaine
are resplendent with Provencal joie de vivre and delightful
for holidaying in self-contained villas where one can forage for food
and wines and cook up wonderful feasts. A visit to restaurant Le
Beaugraviere in Mondragon is must-do, indeed one of the most
memorable dining experiences I have ever had, and you will not find a
larger list of older Rhone Valley vintages anywhere.
www.beaugraviere.com

"Life
is filling in time between meals… and a meal without wine
could only be breakfast"

Curtis
Marsh

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