Mantra’s Chakana Wine Dinner

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The Mantra restaurant is renowned for doing things in its own special way, and the Chakana Wine Dinner was no exception to that rule.  When you think South American wines, you immediately think of Chile, but this was a young winery from Argentina that was not well known in Thailand at all.  The Mantra has changed all that!

There is always the tendency to launch new wines/wineries with geographical technical appraisals put forward in the well-worn formal approach.  Mantra did the opposite, with the gregarious export manager of Chakana Winery, Francisco Garcia Burgos, mingling with the guests at the reception and then touring the tables to gain their opinions and answer any questions.  All very laid back, and all very “Mantra”.

Francisco Garcia Burgos.

In an exclusive interview with PMTV, Francisco spoke with pride on the winery, which has become well known in South America for its Malbec grapes, with one of their vintages gaining 92 points from the international judge Robert Parker.  Francisco also informed the viewers that they are well down the track with a fully organic vineyard, no chemical fertilizers.

The reception wine was a Casillero del Diablo, Brut Chardonnay, Concha Toro from Chile, which went down very well with the guests.  I heard no complaints at all.

With wine dinners, it is always necessary to try and match the food and wine to complement each other.  The executive chef for the Mantra (and Amari) is an Australian, Leonard Faust.  He has impressed me over the past couple of years with his mastery of differing cuisines, and this wine dinner again showed his mastery of his craft, with the first course (of five) featuring a lamb tenderloin and baby spinach salad, goat cheese, butternut pumpkin and home-made semi-dried tomatoes.  (And I will wager you’ve never had that before!)

The first wine at the table, with Leonard’s lamb was a Chakana Malbec 2012, a very pleasant ‘budget priced’ red.  Surprisingly easy to drink, and with high alcohol content, caution was required!

The second course was a spicy seafood and tomato broth, reminiscent in many ways of the Thai tom yum goong.  The wine was the Chakana Syrah 2012, which held its head up well against the spicy broth.

The first course featured a lamb tenderloin and baby spinach salad, goat cheese, butternut pumpkin and home-made semi-dried tomatoes.The first course featured a lamb tenderloin and baby spinach salad, goat cheese, butternut pumpkin and home-made semi-dried tomatoes.

The third course was designated as the ‘main’ and guests had the choice of a grain fed beef tenderloin with chimichurri sauce, gratinated leek and potatoes, buttered zucchini and pancetta, or pan-fried Andaman king sea bass with parsley-parmesan crust, olive oil-balsamic soya sauce, oven baked wild mushroom risotto in vine tomato.  Those who chose the meat course enjoyed a Chakana Estate Malbec 2012, whilst the seafood lovers had a Mezzacorona Pinot Grigio (Italy) 2012.  In the name of investigative journalism, I sampled both wines, while eating the sea bass, which was superb.  Still moist with the outside crispy.  The Estate Malbec was similar to the first wine, but definitely heavier (and around 12 percent alc/vol.) and will take cellaring.  The white Pinot Grigio was very refreshing, and I liked it very much.  Do not cellar, drink it now!  (And save a glass for me!)

Sea bass.Sea bass.

The next course was an assortment of cheeses with a small baguette.  Chef Leonard picked some piquant flavors and we drank the Chakana Estate Selection Malbec 2012.  Each one of these Malbecs was increasingly heavy and increasingly complex.  Another good bottle to cellar, as these wines are only 18 months old.

The final course was biscuits with chocolate, cream cheese and a hazelnut toffee.  We continued with the Chakana Estate Selection Malbec 2012 with the deserts.  And we were replete!

The wine sponsor for the evening was Siam Winery, probably one of the most dynamic wineries in Thailand working through their own Siam Winery Trading Plus, with Key Account Manager Tamara Demeo on hand to answer any questions, as well as Francisco Garcia Burgos regarding Chakana Estate.  It is worthwhile investigating the Mantra wine cellar to lay a couple of these Chakana wines down.  2012 is a very young vintage, and they will improve with some TLC in a cool cellar.

This was a most convivial evening, good food, good wine and good company making for a most pleasant Thursday night at the Mantra.  Thank you!