For his contribution to our best-indie writing competition, Chan Wai Xin chooses The French Cellar in Singapore – a kind of monthly lucky dip delivered to your doorstep.
If I am asked to highlight any novelty in the Singapore wine market, then the boys at The French Cellar certainly top the chart. They don't carry lots of wines nor do they run a wine shop. All they do is simple. Every month they deliver two wines for each subscriber based on their subscribed quality-tier. No fuss, no frills and a pleasant surprise to look forward to around the same time of each month.
Most people probably don't understand this, but in a rather young country where wine drinking culture was only taken up by the general public in recent years, most people couldn't tell the difference between Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Buying wines from the old world countries, like France, is even more challenging since varieties used in the blend rarely appear prominently except for the case of Vin de pays and Alsace.
I would think a sensible wine merchant should educate their clientèle on a regular basis regarding the different products in the portfolio. These guys added a touch of education service by having tasting notes, prepared by sommelier Nicolas Rebut (pictured), delivered along with the wines, carefully detailing the visual, smell and taste expected from the wine. And for a customer like me who is already familiar with the mainstream producing areas, I can still indulge in an adventure into the lesser known regions like Savoie or Corsica. The only catch is that the limited stock they carry means one has to be quick to order additional bottles.
If customers don't have the time to learn a lesson on wines, why not bring the lesson to them. Readily available, whenever they want to open the bottle. The French Cellar nailed it.