Maurizio, McGuigan and Mantra makes for a very different wine dinner

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The Amari’s Mantra restaurant was the venue for their latest wine dinner, overseen by the Amari’s new executive chef, native Italian Maurizio Susan, and featured wines from Australia, with the main vineyard being McGuigan.

Following a well trod pathway these days, Amari GM Brendan Daly was on hand to greet the wine devotees in the cocktail area of the Mantra, and offered a pre-dinner McGuigan Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir Cuvee Brut, a wine that had something for everybody – not too sweet, chardonnay and pinot grape, dry and bubbles!

(L to R) Amari Pattaya Executive Chef Maurizio Susan; Siam Winery’s Key Account Manager Francesco Neirotti; Australian Vintage Asia GM Nicolas Heretiguian; Mantra Restaurant PR Manager Benjamas Sitthi; Amari Pattaya GM Brendan Daly; and Amari Pattaya Resident Manager Richard Gamlin enjoy their evening.(L to R) Amari Pattaya Executive Chef Maurizio Susan; Siam Winery’s Key Account Manager Francesco Neirotti; Australian Vintage Asia GM Nicolas Heretiguian; Mantra Restaurant PR Manager Benjamas Sitthi; Amari Pattaya GM Brendan Daly; and Amari Pattaya Resident Manager Richard Gamlin enjoy their evening.

Representing McGuigan was Nicolas Heretiguian, the GM for Asia of Australian Vintage Ltd, assisted by Lenka Lopes, sales and marketing Australian Vintage, and from Siam Winery Francesco Neirotti and the lovely Jeab.

Chef Maurizio Susan is Italian, coming from Trieste, but admitted that it had been 25 years since he was last in Trieste, having worked all over the world in the meantime, with Dubai being his last port of call before joining the Amari.

(L to R) Australian Vintage Asia Pacific Sales & Marketing Manager Lenka Lopes; Amari Palm Reef Koh Samui GM Martin Kunzmann; Helena Kunzmann; and Australian Vintage Asia General Manager Nicolas Heretiguian.(L to R) Australian Vintage Asia Pacific Sales & Marketing Manager Lenka Lopes; Amari Palm Reef Koh Samui GM Martin Kunzmann; Helena Kunzmann; and Australian Vintage Asia General Manager Nicolas Heretiguian.

The dinner, which was a six course epic, started with a crème brulee amuse bouche, showing that Maurizio was not afraid to do something different. I have always said that food should be fun! This was!

The menu proper began with an interesting presentation of scallops and avocado chopped together and topped with tomatoes, all presented in a deep bowl, which had the guests guessing, looking for the more traditional scallops and avocado presentation. Once more, Maurizio was not timid in his approach to his cuisine. The wine was a carry over from the reception sparkling chardonnay and kept the palate fresh for the next course, a ravioli.

This ravioli was rather special being a langoustine served with a white truffle foam and macadamia flakes. For me, this turned out to be the dish of the night, smooth and flavorsome and taken with the McGuigan Private Bin Chardonnay 2013, a great wine with a great nose.

The next course was another of Maurizio’s surprises, being a chicken consommé with parsley tuille and praline. Hot to the table and I found it was a wonderful palate cleanser and made me appreciate the McGuigan Private Bin Merlot 2012 served with it. A good solid Aussie red.

Many regular customers of the Mantra Restaurant were on hand to enjoy the McGuigan wine dinner.Many regular customers of the Mantra Restaurant were on hand to enjoy the McGuigan wine dinner.

The next course was another Maurizio special – a lobster ragout in a warm lemon espuma and in my tasting notes I had just written “Exceptional”. The wine with it was also interesting, a white, being a Tempus 2 Varietal Chardonnay 2013. This was then the second chardonnay grape, both 2013 and both completely different. This reinforces the idea that one should not choose wine by the grape! (I enjoyed the McGuigan over the Tempus 2 which had little in the way of a finish, but wine appreciation is always a matter of personal taste.)

Then came the main course, a lamb fillet and beets “Noque”, something not seen too often in tropical climes. This was taken with the McGuigan Shortlist Shiraz 2010. Plenty of body with this wine, but the tannins a little strong, but for many, this was their wine of the night, and if you were looking for a long finish, this wine had it.

The dessert wine did not come from McGuigan or Tempus 2, but from the Australian Banrock Station. Their unwooded chardonnay is pleasant, but this Moscato was not as memorable.

So another Mantra wine dinner came to a close, with chef Maurizio making sure he had met all the guests, and listened to their critiques of the evening. For me, it was an enjoyable dinner, and I think chef Maurizio is going to produce some very different dishes over the next few months. Mantra always said it dared to be different. It will certainly be that now.