How would you like a surname that makes people smile when introduced? How would you like a surname that makes shy women come out of their shell? “It is fun,” says Hugo Andres Casanova, of the eponymous Casanova Winery in Chile, while giving a wicked smile.
The reference is of course to Giacomo Girolamo Casanova de Seingalt (April 2, 1725 – June 4, 1798), the world famous womanizer. He was so famous as a lover that his name remains synonymous with the art of seduction. He associated with European royalty, popes and cardinals, along with luminaries such as Voltaire, Goethe and Mozart. Along his way much DNA was spilt, and undoubtedly some is contained in the genes of Hugo.
The youngest Casanova was in Pattaya for the wine dinner at the Mantra restaurant, which was arranged by Anirut Posakrisna, the chairman of the Wine Dee Dee Company. At the event, I had the honor of sitting with Hugo Casanova and learning a little about his family, beginning with Eliseo Casanova who emigrated from Italy and settled in Chile to become a wine producer. Eliseo’s son, Aldo Casanova, continued the family tradition (in wine-making!) and he was followed by Hugo Eliseo, and his son is Hugo Andres Casanova, the current head. Proudly a family vineyard since 1898.
The evening began in the cocktail bar (just love those spicy walnuts!) with a glass or three of a most refreshing Casanova Chardonnay Reserve 2010. Some wood, but not intrusive, this was a wonderful introduction to the Casanova Wines range.
With manageress Amy shepherding us into the main ‘arena’ we were soon sampling the Casanova Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2011, which though young, was another exceptionally pleasant wine with controlled acidity and a fresh finish. This wine was drunk with the first course from new executive chef, Australian Leonard Faust, of a chilled Maine lobster, sweet shredded beetroot with raspberries and micro green herbs. I really enjoyed that course.
The wine continued into the following course of a Jerusalem artichoke and cauliflower veloute, prawn and dory mousseline and green oil. Personally I found this a trifle bland, but discussing this with some others at the dinner, this was not universal.
The main course was eaten with the Don Aldo Founder’s Reserve 2009, using 60 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 20 percent Carmenere and 20 percent Shiraz grapes. This wine has 15 months in French oak barrels and kept for a minimum of 10 months in the bottle. Good body and finish and well worthwhile looking for. The main event was a 120 day Australian grain fed beef tenderloin, with ‘bubble and squeak’ (similar to the Irish Colcannon or Scottish Stovies). Very tender beef and fun with the bubble and squeak.
The next wine was the Hugo Casanova Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 made from 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. Another full-bodied wine with an exceptional finish, which went so well with the cheese platter of Cambozola and Camembert cheeses. This was another almost universal favorite.
The fifth course took an interesting detour. A dessert of bitter chocolate and white chocolate terrine with cherry Chantilly, which was mated to the Hugo Casanova Reserve Merlot 2010, made from 100 percent Merlot grape. This wine is kept for 10 months in the French oak barrels, and on its own, was a very pleasant Merlot – however, it did not really marry up with the chocolate dessert. This was not just my impression, but Hugo himself agreed that the combination just did not work. A shame in some ways, as the individual components of the final course were very enjoyable. (Most of us ate the chocolate and left the merlot to take with the coffee as the finale.)
Despite the disparity in the final course, Anirut of Wine Dee Dee and Hugo Casanova presented the diners with a most enjoyable evening, and Amy and the Mantra staff always ensure one leaves with a satisfied smile.
Mantra Restaurant and Bar, Pattaya Beach Road (just down from the Dolphin Circle), telephone 038 429 591, fax 038 428 165, website www.mantra-pattaya.com, email [email protected] Open seven days, bar from 5 p.m., restaurant from 6 p.m. till 11.30 p.m. Secure parking within the Mantra car park. Valet parking is also available.