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When talking wine, all roads lead to Rhone

Special to The China Post--Rhone Vignobles is a group of boutique winemakers from the Rhone region of France. They visited Hong Kong and Shanghai in late February to raise awareness of, and find local markets for, their wines.

The 15 winemakers — 14 men and one woman — have worked together since 1996.

The Rhone Valley is France's second largest region in terms of production after Bordeaux. The big names like Chateau Beaucastel are well known and have big reputations, and also high prices.

Some of the smaller producers are less well known, yet they deserve attention because of their attention to detail and passion for what they do.

Alain Graillot, owner and winemaker at Domaine Graillot and a spokesperson for Rhone Vignobles, said they cultivated their wines with utmost respect for the environment.

“Rivalry is never an issue in the group. What matters is friendship, trust and sharing,” he said.

“Some wines (the group makes) are organic, some are bio-dynamic; others apply the principles but not the label, while others are currently being certified. We cultivate sensibly, mindful of the soul and the environment.”

Laurent Combier of Domaine Combier said his father was the first in the northern Rhone to embrace organic grape cultivation in 1970. His reds are elegant, with great finesse, and I enjoyed the hints of violets on the nose and the elegance of the fruit in the mouth.

The group obviously respects each other and all appeared keen to learn from the others. The level of rapport and friendship was obvious during my time with them in Hong Kong.

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