I am good at wine. When I say good, I refer mainly to the step in the grape-to-glass-to-gut process that comes following the glass. I am very good at imbibing that sweet sweet nectar of the vines—world-class, even. But when it comes to understanding the constituent parts of what it is I am quaffing and sloshing, to really knowing the knitty gritty of what goes into making a fabulous wine, I confess: I am a novice.
That is, until last weekend when I attended the "Create Your Own Cuvee" blending session with Chateauneuf-du-Pape, at Sarment wines. The intimate event was hosted by Anne-Charlotte Melia-Bachas, winemaker and owner of Château de la Font du Loup, at the Sarment wines "members area" in their offices in Sheung Wan. And what a lovely way to spend a Saturday lunchtime it was!
Step 1: Blending the Grape Varietals
Anne-Charlotte, who is the first female winemaker in the Châteauneuf-du-Pape region, took us through the basics of the wine production process—from picking the grapes, to ageing in concrete and barrels, to bottling, corking and more ageing—before going on to enlighten us on the three common grape varietals in Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines: Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre. Having sampled and analysed each of the raw grape varieties, we were then guided through mixing the three to create our own concoctions according to our taste preferences. Interestingly each of the four people around the table created wines with very different leanings in terms of flavour. Mine was deemed, tellingly perhaps, as "very drinkable."
Step 2: Designing Your Own Label
Following the concocting sesh, we were then invited to sit down with Sarment’s talented designer Sara Lanza, who took us through the steps to creating our very own wine label. This process involved Sara patiently sitting with her laptop while I excitedly pointed at pink and gold fonts and seals. Err... wine not?
Our label designs were then saved and our blended wines recorded and sent back to Château de la Font du Loup in France for production. Now all I have to do is wait for my bottles of "Cuvee Chloe" to arrive in the post in time for the festive season. Happy Christmas, Dad!
All in all, the experience was a great mix of informative and entertaining. Anne-Charlotte herself is a mild-mannered and thoroughly charming bon viveur who succeeds in thoroughly engaging even the most novice of wine-o's in the process of winemaking…even the bit that comes before the glass.
Sarment, The Pemberton, 22-26 Bonham Strand, Sheung Wan; +852 2187 3290; www.sarment.com
Photo courtesy of Sarment