Do your wines go well with Chinese food? 'It can be quite challenging - there are so many different types and styles. It's not easy to say which style goes best with our wines. Chiu Chow goes well with some of our wines and Shanghainese is fine. Cantonese food might be difficult to pair, it can sometimes be a little too subtle for some types of Rhone wines.'
Was there any doubt that you'd go into the family business? 'It was bought by the Perrin family in 1909 - so we've had it for a century. I have two brothers and a cousin in the business and we share the world when it comes to marketing. I'm the winemaker and do marketing in all of Asia and Switzerland. Why Switzerland? I don't know. I'm the only one with a technical background - I'm an oenologist from Dijon University [in France] and worked in Burgundy for six months and at [Chateau] Petrus for a year before going back into the company. I really wanted to go back into the family business.'
How does Chateau de Beaucastel differ from other estates in southern Rhone? 'We are the only estate to use 13 grape varietals. We had [an infestation of the vine-damaging insects] phylloxera in Chateauneuf-du-Pape between 1870 and 1900. Before 1870, there was a tradition in the area to make a blend of 13 grape varietals but after the phylloxera, most of the estates planted with grenache. [The rest of] Chateauneuf-du-Pape is planted with 80 per cent grenache but my great-great-grandfather decided to replant with exactly the same grapes and in the same proportion of what it was before the phylloxera.'
Is winemaking a difficult job? 'It is - we have 20 different wines. We harvest each grape varietal separately, we do the winemaking after that and only in May or June do we do the blending. I like to say that each year we have 13 different colours and we have to do the best painting we can with those colours. We try to have the same background every year - and normally with Beaucastel, it's 30 per cent grenache and 30 per cent mourvedre - then we add all the other grapes. We never make pure varietal wines. That's the characterisation of the southern Rhone Valley - that we do blends.'
Do you worry that wines will one day all taste the same? 'I don't think so. It's why we do blends and are very careful with the characteristics of the grapes we have. What is going to be globalised are the varietal wines - it's always cabernet or merlot or syrah. For an easy entry-level wine - like syrah - technology will go, everything will be a clonal selection, it will be quite globalised. For me, a good wine has a lot of colour, structure, tannins - but also a lot of finesse. With the old [world] terroir, you can do that. But with new terroir, you have tannins and richness but sometimes the finesse is missing.'