‘The quintessential BBQ red wine of the year’
|Our Correspondent||Oct 16, 2007|
‘The quintessential BBQ red wine of the year’ If you’re like me when it comes to the BBQ, neither the apparatus nor the chef seem to function adequately without a glass of red in a free hand. The enticing, smoky incense of broiling pork cutlets or sirloin tease the olfactory senses in the direction of a wholesome red. Apologies if you are vegetarian or Muslim. It might seem a little late in the season to be naming the quintessential BBQ red wine of the year. However, in the subtropical parts of Asia, this is actually the most conducive time for outdoor entertainment -- if you can breathe at all outside in Hong Kong at present. For the tropical zones, well, it’s BBQ time all year-round although invariably it rains as soon as you wield the BBQ tongs. This unpretentious yet characterful wine is decidedly drinkable, the sort of wine you don’t tire of after the second, third…well…glass, and it also accommodates an agreeable level of chilling. Moreover, the quality-price rapport is exceptional, befitting volume purchases. Winery Profile Michel Chapoutier is one of the most dynamic wine producers in all France, championing biodynamic viticulture and producing an incredibly 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. 2005 is an excellent notably ripe vintage however; you will 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. 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%) and Syrah (20%). The minimal handling and absence of oak allows it to fully express its fruit qualities and terroir.
Tasting Note Exuberant raspberry and red cherry perfume, building in intensity with stewed plum sweetness amongst grilled meats and smoky fireside charcoals (and that's not just the BBQ smoke wafting into my nostrils). An effusion of Provence with scents of dried herbs –oregano–thyme-lavender-aniseed, black pepper and five-spice with a background of black Kalamata olives and warm granite rocks. Racy, tart palate entry, engulfing the mouth with sour raspberry and cherry with a surge of crunchy acidity accelerating the piquant flavors across the palate, then running in to earthy, baked clay, charry herbal tannins, chalky and cooling, almost Amaro-bitternut-like, turning the wine savory and tangy, leaving gasping for another mouthful. 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 a very good all rounder with congenial Asian fare, lighter curries, Chinese roast duck or pork and the ubiquitous Indian 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 a good vintage such as 2005. Should this vintage not be available in your market, you can rely on the house consistency. Besides, the vintages on either side (2003, 2004, 2006) are all solid. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 dinning 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