There is much more to imbibing in Pattaya than the (now fallacious) image of merely beer swilling. Over the past decade, Pattaya’s residents have shown an increasing interest in the grape, rather than hops, with the president of the Royal Cliff Wine Club, Ranjith Chandrasiri, being one of the leaders in this movement.
Last week, Pattaya had two distinct functions dedicated to Tuscany wines with a wine dinner held at Dicey Reilly’s Irish Pub and a wine tasting held at the Royal Cliff Beach Resort. Both events were supported by ItalThai, with Channel Manager Anuchit Saeng-on present on both evenings.
The Tuscany wines themselves were represented by Marco Bacci, the owner of three Tuscany vineyards, and as passionate an Italian as only Italians can be. Once started on his favorite subject (his wines), there appeared to be no stopping the enthusiasm he showed for his product.
The dinner at Dicey Reilly’s was a relaxed affair, but with the dress shirts of the serving staff and elegant table settings the ‘pub’ atmosphere gave way to more of an up-market restaurant venue, and the guests were treated to a four course dinner and five Tuscany wines, with Marco Bacci floating around the tables personally explaining his wines to the diners.
The Dicey Reilly’s kitchen and the cellar worked in harmony, presenting courses which complemented each other very well, and for me, the risotto with champignons, Parmesan cheese and pesto with the Castello di Bossi Chianti Classico Riserve Berardo DOCG were the dishes and wine of the night, but as always, wine appreciation is a very personal matter. The Castello di Bossi Vin Santo Laurentino dessert wine came a very close second, and was one of Marco’s wines to score 96 points from celebrated wine judge Robert Parker. (I also noted that executive chef Luis Zamora has returned to the Marriott and Dicey Reilly’s after a ‘sabbatical’ in the Maldives, so we may be getting such culinary events more regularly in future.)
The following evening at the Royal Cliff Beach Resort was a much more formal affair, with a wine tasting of the same Tuscan wines for the members of the Royal Cliff Wine Club, but this time it was with group education from Marco Bacci, but with the same intense enthusiasm.
Marco described his three vineyards, Castello di Bossi, Renieri and Terre di Talamo, and how he became involved with winemaking after a lifetime of being in the rag trade. He bought the first one, the Castello di Bossi as a real estate venture, but the wine heritage of the 1000 year old castle got to him and he decided to continue the tradition of making wine there.
Over the next decade he deserted the clothing industry to then purchase the Renieri and Terre di Talamo and over the next 20 years became a walking text book on Italian viticulture and Tuscan in particular.
He lectured the Wine Club members on the different appellations used such as IGT and DOCG and how these classifications are rigidly maintained. His vineyards use no fertilizers, herbicides or irrigation. The quality of the grapes depend entirely on the ‘terroir’ and in bad years, the wine is sold off in bulk, while in good years the grapes are unhurriedly brought to the high standards as expected in Old World winemaking. It was obvious that Marco did not agree with the New World methods of wine production!
He described the areas in which his vines were grown, and how the soil can be so different (sometimes volcanic), even though they can be less than 40 km from each other in some cases. His number one grape is the San Giovese, a grape which is identifiable with the Tuscany region.
He also noted that Italian wine is the number one wine export to the USA with 20 million cases every year, with Australian wine 13 million and French, once the number one producer, down to a mere 8 million cases.
A spirited Q&A session brought forth much more from the encyclopedic Marco, and even if not all the wines were to my taste, (but the Castello di Bossi Chianti Classico Riserve Berardo DOCG was excellent) I left a lot wiser.