A great wine-tasting

I had a fantastic wine-tasting recently, which took place at Graze, Hilton KL. It’s very rare that i love all the wines at these sessions, but man, these were perfectly-selected.

The delicious award-winning Californian wines are under Treasury Wine Estates, and the session was guided by TWE Winemaking Ambassador Stuart Rusted.

The congregation

The congregation

We had several wines before and during lunch, starting with the Beringer Founder’s Estate Sauvignon Blanc. Refreshing & fruity in a citrusy way, soft, but rich as well. Clean grassy finish.

It’s for sure a superb wine, one that could easily challenge New Zealand’s sauvignon blancs. The grapes are from vineyards on the Central Coast mixed with those from the California Delta. I had to go for seconds. And thirds.

Come 'ere u!

Come ‘ere u!

It’s RRP is RM89, which is awesome value. Beringer has been producing since 1876 in Napa Valley.

After i got my late breakfast outta the way we had the Chardonnay. It was the Sterling Vineyards VC (RRP RM117). Again, the right amount of fruit, minimal dryness when it ends, and less oaky that the usual. A citrusy finish.

20170613_132406

Main course, NZ sirloin

A little tipsy by the time lunch was served. Food was awesome, as usual.

This was probably the first time i had a Cali merlot, the Stags Leap Napa Valley Merlot 2014 (279). Wine growers have faced a drought there for a decade, giving the grape richer flavours. As is typical of merlots, this one has a dry finish; however not the tongue-twisting dryness that usually puts me off merlot.

I’m more of a cabsauv kinda guy. We were served the Beaulieu Vineyards Cab Sauv 2015 (92). On my palate i got sweet berry. It’s also a little ‘leafy’, with tannin, but these are lighter flavours. Finish is velvety. Another excellent production.

BV_Asia CA CabSauv_750_nvThis was followed by an on-point Pinot, Sterling Vineyards VC Pinot Noir 2015 (117). It does a 10-month bid in American & French oak. The concentrated palate is rich with good depth and complex flavors of dark berries.

Dessert wasn't a dessert wine

Dessert wasn’t a dessert wine

For the finale, our glasses were blessed with the Beringer Private Reserve Cab Sauv 2012 (489). (ABV 14.9%)

The sifu for the day

The sifu for the day, kickin back

Their wines are near-perfect. Amazing stuff.

And understandably except for the Private Reserve, the prices are as enticing as the quality of these superb productions.

?

I’ll definitely get my hands on some these wines, and not necessarily for special occasions either. Sunday breakfast should do.

 

Brain damage: 8/10

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Wolf Blass Wines + Chinese food

Winemaker Wolf Blass recently had a lunch wine-tasting at this fancy Chinese food joint in Nexus called Dao Xiang Chinese Cuisine and it was great.

Catch of the day...

Catch of the day…

I’ve usually enjoyed wine (white and red) with non-Asian food. Like pizza, bread, roast, grills, cheese, pizza, some pizza, etc. So the opportunity to try it with some hardcore Chinese food was cool.

Wolf Blass is an Australian wine company that has won many awards, the latest being Red Wine Maker of The Year at the International Wine Challenge 2016.

Score!

Score!

The lunch was a non-rice spread of dishes, the most prominent being a large frothing wok loaded with prawns, fish, crab and pork belly slices. It looked like some sort of gumbo. But nobody seems to know what it is. Haha

20170209_133043The soup in this mix was excellent (had many bowls of it).

We started with the Yellow Label Riesling, very light-tasting, almost bland compared to the heavier Germans. I enjoyed the fruity aroma of the Sauvignon Blanc typical of this grape. It has a slight tang, and pleasant with the soup. Light start with a long citrusy finish.

Yummy

Then we had the Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is superb. Straight up, some berry fruitiness. Smooth, low on tannins, medium-length finish. Perfectly balanced.

To me, a prefect cab sauv, considering its reasonable price point. (Retail price is about 70, on-trade about 150). Not sure which places have this particular variety, but available at Locker & Loft for sure.

Special limited-time label for the Shiraz

Special limited-time label for the Shiraz

The Gold Label Shiraz also impressed me, tho am not usually into this grape due to its spiciness. I guess this isn’t a typical shiraz, as it’s not in-your-face. In fact you could easily have several glasses quite quickly. Maybe the slightly spice soup played a factor.

All in all, a palate-opening experience, knowing i now can easily wine with my char kueh teow or dim sum. The whites and surprisingly the reds paired well with Chinese dishes.

Wolf Blass from Barossa Valley makes wines that very few will dislike or reject, and suites a variety of palates. That is probably what makes them such a successful winery. And the Yellow Label range is one to watch out for.

 

Brain damage: 7.5/10

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The 3-Michelin Star Macallan lunch

Single malt player Macallan  introduced its 1824 Masters Series range through a luxurious dining experience that interestingly, collaborated with Aziamendi 88, Malaysia’s first 3-Michelin star chef pop-up restaurant.

Whisky time

Whisky time

The chefs were brought in from Aziamendi, a 3-Michelin star restaurant in Phuket, Thailand, for the month-long pop-up restaurant experience at Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur.

Pre-gaming

Pre-gaming in the lounge

As is the trend now, guests were given a whisky cocktail to start. While we were warming-up, a little basket was served to our tables. It’s called the Picnic, and is a mix of appetizers, including some caviar, and a little ball filled with booze that you pop into your mouth. Nice.

I luv picnics

I luv picnics

And there was another cool item once we took our lunch seats, a starter called The Bonsai Tree, which had items hanging on it that we could harvest and eat.

Three of Macallan’s expressions were paired in sequence through the course of the dining experience; The Macallan Sherry Oak 12 Years Old, The Macallan Fine Oak 15 Years Old & The Macallan Rare Cask.

Each expression brings about its own unique character and taste profile, complementing the exquisite food that was served. It was a six-course whisky-pairing dining experience.

Eating n drinking commences

Eating n drinking commences

One of the items was a very unique foie gras one, called Foie Gras Ashes.  It had shaved bits that literally melts in your mouth; served with the Fine Oak 15.

Looks like ash alright

Looks like ash alright

 

I particularly enjoyed the smoked tuna, as well as the lobster, which was as juicy as a beach cocktail.

 

Grilled lobster

Grilled lobster

 

The aged duck was well-presented, and had some strong flavours, thanks to the accompanying condiments. This was served with the Rare Cask.

 

Well-presented

Well-presented

The treat for that day

The treat for that day

Macallan is a huge user of seasoned sherry casks to age its whiskies. The casks are made, then sent to Spain to be used by the sherry wineries for 18 months, then brought back to Scotland to age the Scotch. Sherry casks impart notes of vanilla, dried fruit, chocolate and wood smoke.

The Macallan Fine Oak is actually aged in three different barrels. I found it smoother than the 12; more floral even, with some citrus too. It comes in at 43% abv.

LMT020

The Rare Cask has an amazing 16 cask profiles, and is sold in a decanter. It holds whiskies that are 13 – 30 years old. I found it a little nutty, with some tropical fruit, and it gives you your money’s worth on the finish! A real long one.

The Rare Cask Black, which comes in a black bottle, will only be available in travel retail.

O yea. Dessert. The chocolates were incredible

O yea. Dessert. The chocolates were incredible

As it was a Monday event, we didn’t drink much. The highlight and surprise of the day was when we were served some Macallan Reflexion, a very rare and expensive dram.

It contains whiskies that are 20 – 30 years old, and is from smaller 250L casks, increasing its intensity. But i found it to be very very smooth and the perfect end to a wonderful lunch.

Having a pop-up Michelin experience was definitely a brilliant idea to showcase Macallan’s top line-up, in an unforgettable F&B experience.

 

Brain damage: 7/10

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Sunday wine lunch @ La Bodega

Yea, it’s one of those – a relaxing wine n dine session where u don’t need to worry about the bill, and kick-back.

Place to be

Place to hang

La Bodega in Bangsar Shopping Centre (BSC) (2287-2768) has just started its Sunday chillout called El Corazon Del Vino (The Heart of Wines), where guests can enjoy free-flowing wine of the month and food from noon till 4pm.

Different wines from La Bodega’s cellars take the stage monthly, and there was even cava served during my visit. As well as whites & reds. (These are random weekly bonuses tho.)

The deal is very reasonably-priced too, at $60++.

Pepe & friends

Pepe & friends

The featured wine was a sherry, Tio Pepe from Jerez, Spain. White sherry reminds me of sweet tuak.

This is the wine of the month for September.

The bar made various cocktails using Tio Pepe, but the welcome drink was an Aperol Soda. A light intro to the session. Aperol is a Campari-like aperitif.

The drink is lightly-alcoholic, with herbal scents and a hint of vanilla.  And refreshing in that it does wake you up.

We have lift-off..

And we have lift-off..

My buddies dug into the food soon after. The spread each person gets is impressive. Enough to get your stomach to chill, and entertain the booze you’re feeding it.

Paella leads the way

Paella leads the way

The canapes platter served to each guest was good; it contained Paella Valencia (with prawns, clams, chicken and mussels), Croquetas Bacalao (cod fish croquettes), Pinchos Morunos (chicken on toast), and Calamares Fritos (deep-fried calamari rings). While for dessert, we each got some stuff.

Stuff

Some stuff

Among the cocktails we had was sumtin that looked like late breakfast – a martini consisting of Tio Pepe and Martini Bianco shaken and strained into a glass – with smoked salmon rolls on a stick swimming inside.

Fish got drunk

Fishy got too drunk

I was neutral about this; my friend liked it. “Bite the salmon then take a swig” was the insight.

I dig the Garden Sprite.

G

Aint no Sprite

This baby has Tio Pepe, lychee liqueur, strawberry puree, orange wheels and mint leaves. It’s like a fruity rather than tangy mojito, but with sherry flavours.

The Citrus Cup is a goblet of oranges made with Pepe and a dash of Drambuie.

Refreshing with a fruity sweetness

Refreshing with a fruity sweetness

Other cocktails served were Toffee Apple, Oceanic, and Aperol Sour. However, all drinks had Tio Pepe as the base, which can get a little too much, as its flavour is prominent.

Points for colour

Points for colour

I enjoy long-ass, slow dining over some wine. When i was travelling in the Basque country (Northern Spain), my lunches were always two to three hours, as that’s how the locals cruised, with the fruity local white wine txakoli always around. Awesome. (And of course the traditional ciders you pour straight from barrels, but dats another story.)

Chill indoors, or at this cozy patio area

Chill indoors, or at this cozy patio area

So this one at La Bodega? Am gonna hit it again for sure.

Probably the best Sunday wine brunch in KL right now.

 

Brain damage: 8/10

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