Making wine for Brangelina

It is not everyday that a winemaker gets to work with Hollywood A-listers Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, so it was natural that Mr Pierre Perrin got a little starstruck in 2012, when the celebrity couple was introduced to his family by friends to come up with some new wines.

Mr Perrin, 43, is one of the fifth-generation children running the renowned family wine business Famille Perrin as its technical and operations director. It is the largest organic wine producer in the Rhone Valley in France, with vineyards spanning 130 hectares.

The celebrity couple enlisted the help of the Perrin family to create new wines for them from their 40ha Chateau Miraval estate in Provence.

Mr Perrin says: "At first, I felt a little surprised, just like if you spot Brad Pitt on the street.

"But when you meet them every month, you tend to forget that they are celebrities when they bring their kids to stay in the estate during the summer."

He says Pitt is actively curious about wines, with a wide collection of red wines from France, Australia and the United States, and is "an interesting guy to chat to about wines".

The Perrin Family took two years to concoct the Miraval Rose, a light pink-hued wine, which has notes of raspberries, peaches and white flowers.

The company also oversaw all production aspects of the wine - from managing the vineyards and bottling to sales and distribution.

The Miraval Rose was named the Best Rose in the World by influential industry magazine Wine Spectator. It ranked at No. 84 in its Top 100 Wines of the Year list in 2013 and was the only rose to be included in the list.

Renowned wine magazine Decanter described the wine as having "a sense of power alongside the elegance... with a delicious mouth- watering finish".

Mr Perrin was in Singapore last month to launch the Reserve series of Famille Perrin's wine line, which consists of red, white and rose wines.

The recommended retail price for a 750ml bottle of wine is $45 and is available at wine retail shops in Singapore.

The Famille Perrin Reserve wines are a blend of three grapes - Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre - cultivated in Rhone Valley in the south of France.

Mr Perrin concocts the proportions of the grapes in each label, which vary every year.

On the blending sessions that take place every June, he says: "Finding the right blend is like painting a portrait. Every year, I feel like being Van Gogh and I need to produce the best painting."

The key, he says, is to find the right balance of colour, fruitiness, finesse and levels of tannin and acidity.

Besides the Famille Perrin stable of wines, the family has also been producing the premium label Chateau de Beaucastel for more than 460 years, as well as the cheaper, entry-level La Vieille Ferme wines.

Mr Perrin joined the family business in 1999 as part of his "family's ecosystem", after graduating with a degree in enology from the University of Dijon.

Today, the company is headed by his father Jean-Pierre and uncle Francois, while his siblings - Marc, 45, Thomas, 42, and Cecile, 32 - manage different aspects of the business, ranging from finance to marketing, with their cousins.

Mr Perrin's grandfather, Jacques, was one of the pioneers of the organic wine movement in Europe in 1956, long before organically grown foods became a marketing buzzword.

He says his grandfather was "completely intoxicated" with natural farming culture, abstaining from herbicides and pesticides, and using horses to plough the fields to curb the growth of weeds.

Growing up in the south-eastern town of Orange in France, Mr Perrin vividly remembers the stench of a copper and clay mix, which he sprayed in the vineyards to prevent mildew, a type of fungus growing on the grapes.

He recalls: "From the time when I was 14, I used to cycle to my grandparents' estate in the mornings to do these treatments and I will never forget the smell from the mix."

Mr Perrin, who is married to a 41-year-old wine lecturer and has three daughters aged two to 15, says: "Today, some companies would use the organic label to charge customers more, but organic farming has been my family's tradition. It is a move that I feel for more in my heart than in my wallet."

This article was first published on April 19, 2015.
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