Warehouse beverage manager Geert Vanbaelen (L) and Chapoutier export manager Stéphane Barlerin. Photograph: Miranda Glasser
The inaugural garden party of Madame Butterfly restaurant, which has re-opened after a month’s refurbishment, was held last week, on November 13.
Guests were invited by wine purveyors The Warehouse to sample the restaurant’s finger food and taste wines from Maison M. Chapoutier.
Special guest was export manager of M. Chapoutier, Stéphane Barlerin.
“The event tonight is a tasting, we’re just introducing the wines here,” said Barlerin.
“Chapoutier is from the Rhône valley and we’ve been exporting to Cambodia for eight or nine years now.”
Chapoutier is the only wine company to have braille on all its labels, and is well known for its non-traditional viniculture methods.
Barlerin said, “We converted all our vineyards to the bio-dynamic way 20 years ago. We were like a pioneer for bio-dynamics, which is more than organic. We don’t use any pesticide, sulphide, but more than that we work with the moon calendar – same as Chinese medicine.
"We believe that when the moon comes up all the energy goes to the top of the plant. When the moon comes down the energy goes to the roots. So you have to work with the soil and there are different treatments.”
And the result of all this moon-gazing, seemingly, is a recipe for oenological perfection.
“The wine has more complexity, more minerality,” Barlerin said. “When you drink water and mineral water it’s not the same taste. And the difference is the minerals.
“We like to say we’re doing ‘terroir’ wines. That’s a combination of three things; it’s about the soil, the climate and the people because traditionally, some areas know how to develop certain kinds of grapes. We are very well-known for our Syrah, it’s very dynamic.”
Regarding the Cambodian market, Barlerin stressed that the vintner produces affordable wines as well as high end.
“Chapoutier’s speciality is to provide the market and the emerging countries with a wine adapted to the young generation that is easy, but still complex at the same time.”
He explained that Chapoutier has recently launched a new ‘affordable wine’ called Marius.
“It’s starting to be very well-known in Asia. This is a real ‘terroir’ wine; easy to drink, fresh and what we like to say for reds, very fruity but not too sweet. Very elegant, soft tannins.”
Barlerin said the Cambodian wine market was definitely growing.
“It’s amazing. I think the Cambodian market is the fastest-growing in Asia. It’s one of the countries with the most independent restaurants. Also, there is a wine culture here.”