Hollywood stars Pitt and Jolie lend their name to a fine French rosé

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 July, 2013, 9:39am

It's rare for there to be a stampede to buy a celebrity wine. And rarer still when that wine is a rosé. But two things made Chateau Miraval sell 6,000 bottles in five hours, and provoke articles and wine reviews everywhere from the Huffington Post to Vanity Fair.

The first reason was the name Jolie-Pitt behind the label. But another name, Marc Perrin, joins theirs and it has added credibility to the rebranding of this Côtes de Provence estate.

"Miraval has always been known to produce one of the best whites in Provence, so I was put in touch with Brad and Angelina by mutual friends, when they were looking for a wine consultant," Perrin says.

"I said I would do it as a joint project, not on a consultancy basis, and they agreed. They are involved in all aspects of the project, and farm everything organically."

The Perrin name is among the most revered in French wine, and has meant wine lovers have queued to taste this Provencal blend of grenache, carignan, syrah and rolle grapes. A Miraval white is due for release in September, with a red next year.

The Perrins are best known for their wines from Chateauneuf-du-Pape and the surrounding southern Rhone villages of Cairanne, Vacqueyras and Gigondas.

The family got their start in the olive oil business, before buying Chateau Beaucastel in 1909. The property has gone on to become one of the most sought-after of the Rhone Valley.

I've been following another personal project of Perrin's in recent years, and was thrilled to taste the results at last month's Vinexpo wine fair, which took place in Bordeaux.

This is a project he began with Nicolas Jaboulet, another great name from the south of France, this time from the northern Rhone.

The Jaboulet family has been resident in the northern stretches of France's great winemaking valley for almost two centuries, making as much of a name for themselves there as the Perrins did in the south.

When the family firm Maison Paul Jaboulet Ainé was sold in 2006, Nicolas stayed on as sales director for a while, but began looking for another project. He found it with Marc Perrin, and in 2009 they created the boutique négociant business Jaboulet-Perrin, concentrating on making small parcels of wines from select appellations across the northern Rhone.

At first they worked with local growers, buying grapes and wine from Saint Joseph, Cote Rotie and Hermitage. In 2011, they bought a plot of vines in Crozes-Hermitage for themselves.

"We had wanted to work in the northern Rhone for a long time, but we decided to keep it separate from the main family business," Perrin says.

"We have complementary skills," Jaboulet adds. "And after almost five years of working together, we have the styles of wine right and a good network."

This is truly a joint venture - wines are made in the northern Rhone, in the wineries of their partner growers, then aged at a Perrin facility in Orange, in the south. They now have the full range of Rhone wines.

This year, they are launching an entry-level range. "We would like to build our own winemaking facilities in the northern Rhone, but not yet. We are concentrating on getting the wines exactly right." Here are three to try:

Maison Nicolas Perrin St Peray 2012 This is the most southern appellation of the northern Rhone, so it's a perfect place to make a wine. It is known for its sparkling wines, unusually for the Rhone, owing to a quirk of history when monks from Champagne settled here in the 17th century. But the past 10 years have seen a real push by local winemakers to make their still wines better known. This is an excellent example - a touch of bitter almonds, excellent persistency, and value. Price on request.

Maison Nicolas Perrin Ermitage Rouge 2011 If you see an AOC Hermitage wine without the "H", local tradition dictates you're getting a wine with ambition. An great example of Jaboulet-Perrin: food-friendly and fruit-forward with the steeliness and grace of the northern Rhone. Just 10 per cent new oak, this is aromatic with blueberry spice. HK$739 

Maison Nicolas Perrin Syrah-Viognier 2011 The entry-level range is labelled by grape variety rather than appellation. Touch of white pepper, blackcurrants, accessible, hugely enjoyable. Price on request

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