The winemaker at Hildenbrand Wines from South Africa is a very vivacious lady, Reni Hildenbrand. A small ‘dynamo’ (she has to stand on tables to be seen and heard) but she lets her wines do the talking for her.
This time, the wine dinner’s venue was around the pool at the dusit D2 baraquda pattaya. I am assured by GM Michael Ganster that despite the ample flow of the Hildenbrand wines, nobody actually fell in!
(L to R) Michael Ganster, general manager of dusitD2 baraquda pattaya; Allan Riddel, director of South African/Thai Chamber of Commerce; Reni Hildenbrand, owner & producer of Hildenbrand Wines; Dorothy Phenjati; Krisadee Bodhidatta; and HE Douglas Gibson, the South African Ambassador.
The Hildenbrand Estate boutique vineyard wines burst on to the local scene around three years ago, and since then have developed a strong following amongst the wine enthusiasts in Pattaya.
The poolside setting at this time of year was wonderful. Cool, enough breeze, attentive staff and comfortable chairs in which to relax and savor the wines.
However, before we mingled poolside there was a cocktail reception on the roof, overlooking the lights of South Pattaya and Pattaya Bay. The winemaker, Reni Hildenbrand, was present, but it was a tired Reni, having flown for three days from South Africa with functions at every stop. The South African Ambassador to Thailand, HE Douglas Gibson and his charming wife Pam, a completely unassuming couple, spoke with everyone, and when prompted the Ambassador would show his socks. Like Dr. Iain’s shoes, the Ambassador’s has this silent protest against conformity.
The reception wine was a 2007 Unwooded Chardonnay, and at 14 percent alcohol was one to be wary of, especially as it slipped down just so easily.
After being settled into the poolside tables, we were met with a very refreshing 2007 Chenin Blanc, served chilled. This was a slightly astringent wine and as such an excellent palate freshener for the start of the dinner, which was a duck foie gras terrine with rocket salad and mango chutney. A good combination of wine and food.
The next course was also interesting being a Greek salad with goat cheese, black olives and seared yellow fin tuna accompanied by a 2007 Chardonnay Barrique. The goat cheese was interesting, being a project in Lopburi run through the SA Embassy. Goat cheese is often difficult to find, and usually a rather expensive gourmet item, and the Dining Out team hopes that they can make this concept work as the prices being quoted were very affordable.
A 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon Barrique was served with the next course which was a very flavorsome Lobster bisque. Reni expressed a worry that perhaps the soup and the wine might not complement each other, but her fears were unfounded. The full, round wine went well with the full, round soup.
The Cabernet Sauvignon continued on to the main course of an Australian beef tenderloin and again this was a great match.
The final wine was a 2005 Shiraz with a macadamia cheese mousse. By that stage we were both very satiated, but also aware of the fact that we had to drive home!
It had certainly been a “Visit to South Africa” as promised by HE Douglas Gibson, and the diners at D2 that evening would certainly have added the name of Hildenbrand Estate wines to their virtual cellars. The wines are available through the Thailand distributor Food Com (www. foodcomthailand.com) and chat to the MD Reinhard Murer.
The D2 GM, Michael Ganster, was very pleased with the attendance figures, with almost 100 wine lovers booked in and said that he is hoping to run similar wine dinners every two months. During the winter period, this is an excellent venue, and the Dining Out team is looking forward these. In the meantime, you can enjoy the D2’s s.e.a. restaurant overlooking the pool!
Roseanne and her daughter enjoying the wine.
There were not too many downsides to this dinner, but I must remark on the menu. Anyone over the age of 40 could not possibly read it, even with reading glasses, as the typeface was so small. Even Madame, who does not need glasses could not decipher it in the low light levels. Next time a larger font, please!
dusitD2 baraquda pattaya, 485/1 M 10 Pattaya 2nd Road, tel 038 769 999, fax 038 769 900, email www.dusit.com/d2pa, www.dusit.com. Restaurant open 6 a.m. (breakfast) until 11 p.m. Secure parking in hotel complex.