In the spotlight: Rhône Valley wines and vineyards
Wine has always been something of elegance and refined pleasure. In large part due to their complex nature, deep-rooted traditions, and diverse taste, they usually also come with an air of mystery and notions of cultural finesse. In this age of information and endless possibilities, wine has definitely been gaining increasing exposure and popularity. As one of the largest wine producers in the world, French wine have also naturally been getting more presence and receiving greater appreciation, even from all the way here in Southeast Asia.
Hot on the heels of the successful Vinexpo Asia 2023, where over 1,000 exhibitors welcomed trade visitors from 64 countries at the iconic Marina Bay Sands, sharing their wines and knowledge with tradespeople and connoisseurs, we throw the spotlight on Rhône Valley and their vibrant range of exports. We speak to Florence Quiot, Head of Vignobles Quiot – a winemaker and vineyard owner with over 13 generations of family history in Southern Rhône – to learn more about Rhône Valley’s proud exports.
Tell us more about what separates Rhône Valley wines and vineyards from the multitude of varietals from other regions?
As a whole, Rhône Valley has no unique kind of wine. We have very diverse and different types of wine as Rhône Valley vineyards cover a very large area. It spans more than 200km from North to South, and is about 200km wide. With such a huge area, we get different weather, different terroir, and several different grape varieties, and as a result, we have many different wine profiles. In total, we have more than 30 different wine appellations – so you can imagine the vast range of wine profiles the Valley produces.
For the layman, what would you say is a distinct element to look out for when they taste a wine from Rhône Valley?
Most importantly, it is that you’ll find very well-balanced wines full of aromas ranging from the those of fruits to spices. With Côtes du Rhône and Rhône Valley wines in general, you’ll easily find great drinking pleasure with amazing Quality-to-Price Ratio.
To get our readers more acquainted, what are the main varietals that Rhône Valley has been known for? Are there differences between regions within the Valley itself?
We are known for our red wines, and we have a lot of red varieties – in fact, we use more than 20. Amongst them, we produce a lot of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre – these are our main red varietals. Generally, in Southern Rhône Valley, we blend the grape varietals, but in the North, they mainly use Syrah for their reds. But of course, we also have a great variety of white wines.
As French wine continues to gain presence and popularity in our region, how has Inter Rhône been targeting and engaging wine drinkers and connoisseurs from around Southeast Asia?
Inter Rhône is reaching out to more people now with our educational programmes. Designed for professionals, our aim is to first engage with B2B customers so as to enter the market. Rhône Valley wines and vineyards are currently not very well-known in the Southern part of Asia and it’s our goal to improve on that – which is why we actively participate when opportunities like Vinexpo Asia 2023 come around. With Vinexpo Asia, we got to bring about 30 producers to Singapore, and it’s also the first time we’ve done that. We’re putting a focus on the Singapore market first before expanding to other parts of Southeast Asia.
Are there specific markets and cultures that have a closer affinity with Rhône Valley vineyards?
Historically, Rhône Valley vineyards mainly exported to Northern Europe, which is in large part due to our geographical proximity. For example, we used to export mainly to Belgium and the UK. After that, we found the USA and Canada to be good export markets as well. We now also have a growing market in Southeast Asia – which is where we currently want to focus on. We’re doing well further up in Japan and Korea too, but we find that Singapore is the place to be in order to expand in Southeast Asia.
Which market in the region is Inter Rhône looking to enter or expand within next?
It’s Singapore first, of course! With Singapore as a platform, we’re looking to then expand into Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, and other Southeast Asian countries.
Southeast Asia is famously known for bold and intense culinary flavours, as well as diverse cooking methods and use of spices. Where do you think Rhône Valley wines stand when it comes to matching the food in this region?
With so many varieties that come out of Rhône Valley, I believe that we can definitely find the perfect varietal for any kind of cooking. With so many different cooking methods in Southeast Asia, the culinary heritage is so interesting – but the best part about all this is that we can search for the perfect food to match each type of wine.
For example, some Southeast Asian food feature the use of many spices, so we cannot pair them with strong or intense wines. I think that’s perfect for us as there are Rhône Valley wines that are delicate and balanced enough to go well with Southeast Asian flavours in that sense.
We understand that there has been much effort put into creating a progressive and sustainable culture in Rhône Valley vineyards. Could you share more about how these changes will affect the wine industry as a whole?
Being in an agricultural trade means that it is essential for us to be very careful with the environment. Realistically, not every producer can be strictly organic, yet there are still so many views on biodiversity, and on how water should be stored, for example. It only goes to show how every element of the entire chain plays a vital role to agricultural industries.
We offer full courses on biodiversity, water storage, and more. If you look around us now, we are currently experiencing dry climate and need water here. Times like this, we all benefit if producers have knowledge of how to store water and how to be efficient with handling water. Our wines have also earned different labels now. Not only are we organic, we are also HVE-certified, which is an important French label for vineyards and estates that demonstrate High Environmental Value with a high level of commitment to protecting and enriching the environment.
How does the shifting culture in a major production region like Rhône Valley engage with the contemporary generation in Southeast Asia – and with the modern world as a whole?
With the modern generation, wine is no longer just a beverage: it’s also a lifestyle. Rhône Valley offers all three main wine colours – red, white, and rosé – with a full range of flavours from sweet to dry, and even the complex. When taking Rhône Valley wines, we present to you hospitality in a bottle, bringing you along to experience the Rhône Valley way of life. We’re able to share our values along with the lifestyle we lead in France and within Rhône Valley.
Bringing us the best of Rhône Valley’s vineyards, their extensive selection of wines, and an array of educational courses, find out more via Inter Rhône’s website here.