Alexandre Rougeot knows French wine. The fifth generation winemaker and sommelier grew up in the village of Meursault in Burgundy, learning the craft on his family’s vineyard.

Through his business, Clos Cachet, he imports French wine to supply independent bottle shops and fine diners. His new side hustle – Le Club – is aimed at the rest of us.

The subscription service, which Rougeot launched with the help of sommelier Tristan Vinson (Saint Crispin, Cumulus Inc, Broadsheet Kitchen), regularly delivers premium French wine – and demystifies it for consumers.

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“For French people, in any given region of France you have vineyards, so for them the confidence [about wine] comes from the fact they know the local vineyards and through tradition,” Rougeot says.

Children often learn about wine from their parents over lunch and dinner. And French wine is distinguished by appellation – regional rules that apply to certain grapes and production methods – rather than by varietal or style. For example, locals from Burgundy may know their regional white wines are chardonnays and their reds are pinot noirs. Australians tend to be guided by varietals instead.

“In Australia there’s a regional appeal, but also the strength of saying, ‘Okay, a chardonnay is that, a cabernet franc is that, a riesling is that’,” Rougeot explains. “And they have built a confidence with the varietal more than where it’s from.”

Le Club has four tiers of subscription, starting at $98 per month and scaling up (the fourth tier is $898 – this isn’t a bargain bulk-buy scenario). Each includes a monthly delivery accompanied by tasting notes, wine-matched recipes from top chefs (such as Philippe Mouchel), and access to virtual tastings with Rougeot and Vinson.

“We want to provide the wines that sommeliers are drinking, that professionals are drinking,” says Rougeot. “If you go to France to the restaurants and wine bars you’ll find those, but in Australia they are hard to access.”

The entry-level subscription, Le Picnic, includes two bottles and two European crystal wine glasses with your first order. As you move up the subscription tiers, you’ll receive more – and rarer – wines.

“Basically we push the boundaries,” says Rougeot. “You have the two wines you can drink when the box arrives, and you may want to get your friends for that special bottle because there’s a lot to say and it’s pretty amazing.”

The top tier, Le Connoisseur, includes four wines, at least one of them a harder-to-find drop such as Meursault’s celebrated Domaine Coche-Dury.

“French wine, we all have in mind that it’s supposed to be good,” Rougeot says. “The idea you have of French wine is true, but you need a curator, someone that will catalyse your confidence.”

leclub.com.au