Chateauneuf-Du-Pape Les Sinards 2005, $88
IF THERE is an award to be given to a winemaker for his dedication to the Singapore wine market, Mr Pierre Bertrand Perrin would be a strong candidate.
The 35-year-old comes here at least six times a year to promote wines from wineries owned by his family. These include Chateau de Beaucastel, Perrin & Fils and La Vieille Ferme from the Rhone Valley in southern France, and Tablas Creek in California.
And the fifth-generation descendant believes that there is no better time than now to educate wine drinkers about wines from his home, the Rhone Valley.
'The old world of traditional techniques and wines is changing,' he says. 'Just because we belong to the Old World does not mean we do not know how to make modern wines. Today, Rhone is fresh, fruity and modern, and no longer rustic. We are back in fashion, our wines have freshness, complexity and best of all, attractive prices.'
To achieve these qualities, the Perrin family uses a special winemaking technique known as 'flash heating', which his grandfather discovered in 1960. It involves heating the pressed grapes before fermentation.
When the family's flagship winery, Chateau Beaucastel, made the bold move of going organic in 1956, there was one downside: Grapes that were harvested and brought into the winery often had to have sulphites added in order to prevent oxidation. As this was not in line with the organic philosophy, Perrin's grandfather discovered that if the pressed grapes were heated at 80 deg C before fermentation, the enzyme responsible for oxidation would be killed off.
It was also a plus that through this process, the colour of the wines became naturally darker, which wine drinkers today prefer.
Today, Perrin's challenge is to get consumers to understand Rhone Valley wines. His advice is to just think of them in terms of Northern and Southern Rhone. While it is the Syrah red grape that is dominantly used in Northern Rhone, the Southern Rhone is all about the art of blending. The most famous wine of the South, for example, is the Chateauneuf du Pape, where up to 13 different varieties can be blended in a wine.
He says: 'There are no perfect grapes in the South. What can contribute to the perfection is how the different grapes can be combined to make a perfect wine. Each grape must contribute something to the wine.'
Les Sinards is the second wine of the famous Chateau Beaucastel, made from 10- to 20-year-old vines. An interesting wine packed with power and density, with sour plums, smokey and leathery notes on the nose. Lots of ripe black fruits on the palate, although it comes across as more savoury than jammy. Lively acidity and freshness. Long finish.
Roasted quail and grilled meats.
Booze wine shops (168 Robinson Road 01-04,
Tel: 6435-1900, and 9 Raffles Place 01-11,
Tel: 6532-6700, e-mail:email@example.com)