Christmas may be over, but this holiday season is only just picking up, with New Year’s Day just around the corner and Chinese New Year being but a month behind. Of course, no season of revelry is complete without a fine wine of two to go with festive dishes, and a new Singapore-based startup plans to help with that.
The French Cellar was started by two wine lovers, Vincent Morello and Eric Joubert, back in October. Morello was the former secretary of his school’s Wine Tasting Club and has visited more than 50 winemakers around France, while Joubert was a member of the HEC Paris wine club ‘Grand Cru’. Having lived in Singapore for nearly four years, Morello and Joubert have noted the increasing interest in wines among Singaporeans, particularly French wines.
“(We) feel that Singaporeans are interested in knowing more about wines and discovering different wines, which is key for us as we introduce a new experience with our website,” Joubert says. Hong Kong was chosen as the second region for launch because it was easy to launch the website there, and the wine market is not that different from Singapore, in fact boasting a wider range of wines available as compared with Singapore.
“We came up with the concept based on the fact that it is not easy for people to select and purchase quality wines,” Joubert elaborates. “What appellation to choose? Which winemaker? What vintage? How to be sure of the quality? (These are) many questions which are not obvious for a lot of people in Singapore.”
The French Cellar’s subscription plans aim to answer these questions for oenophiles in Singapore and Hong Kong. Every month, wine lovers will receive two bottles of fine and rare wines imported directly from vineyards around France, together with a guide with wine tasting and pairing advice. There are three plans ranging from S$79 to S$1230 a month, which differ in the appellations of the wines included.
To provide their customers with the choicest selection of wines and the best pairing advice, Morello and Joubert have enlisted the help of noted French sommelier Nicolas Rebut. Rebut has been Chief Sommelier at two three-star Michelin restaurants, Le Louis XV in Monaco and Le Meurice in Paris, and has also authored a book about wine pairings, Vins & mets: Une affaire de goût.
“In general, we believe the interest for a ‘curated wine experience’ – the selection of a talented sommelier – is probably universal,” Joubert notes. “There is an ongoing trend for this concept in the USA and Europe, and even in France, where a majority of people admit they have difficulties choosing their wines.”