It was around 10 years ago that Pattaya’s first ‘real’ oenophile, Ranjith Chandrasiri, asked me whether I thought that Pattaya was ready for a wine club. I replied in the affirmative and the wine clubs have flourished since then.
Some of our better hotels and restaurants are running regular wine dinners, wine tastings and even good old fashioned P-Ups. Yes, wine has become part of the very diverse fabric which makes up Pattaya.
In September, I was fortunate enough to be invited to three wine functions, one at the Royal Cliff, one at Holiday Inn and the other at the Mantra. All three were running wine tastings, but that is where the similarity ends.
The Royal Cliff dinner I have already reported in the Pattaya Mail a couple of weeks ago, and was a formal sit-down dinner, with wines and accompanying food courses. Not quite dining in the grand manner, but very close. The dinner featured Talamonti wines from Italy, with the food being just as important as the wines.
The Holiday Inn chose its wines from California, while the Mantra, very bravely, asked its wine diners to contrast wines from Argentine and New Zealand. These were much more of a relaxed way of tasting wines, with the food being buffet style.
Taking the Holiday Inn first, their event was held in the Havana Bar and featured seven Californian wines. These were brought out at 20 minute intervals and the attentive staff brought them out in style.
The vineyards were Californian and most had that light ambience that one grows to expect from our brethren across the pond. Remembering that wine appreciation is a very personal experience between the wine and your palate, one should not expect consensus with one’s fellow drinkers.
The whites began the evening and the Moute Premium white (Columbard 60 percent and Chardonnay forty percent) got my nod in the whites.
Into the reds and for me, the Moute Premium Red (Cabernet 90 percent and Merlot 10 percent), medium and not heavy with tannins, was my wine of the night – but read my cautions above!
Holiday Inn F&B guru Dan Boswell presented an excellent buffet to go with the wines, topped with the BBQ ribs, a most unexpected pleasure.
And so to the Mantra at the end of the month where we were challenged to pit Argentina against New Zealand. This made me think back to the Falklands war between Argentina and Maggie Thatcher’s Britain; however, New Zealand was also in there, as in 1982 NZ Prime Minister Rob Muldoon seconded the frigate HMNZS Canterbury to the Royal Navy for the duration of the Falklands War.
There were five wines to experience, with two from the Argentines, two from New Zealand and a ring-in Aussie, a Jacob’s Creek Moscato to sweeten anybody up.
As opposed to the Holiday Inn modus operandi, the wines were held in stations at both ends of the Mantra mezzanine, and diners selected what and when they wanted it. There was a sheet on the tables with suggestions to commence with the NZ Brancott Estate sauvignon blanc, and then followed by a Graffigna Centenario chardonnay. This did mean that if one particular wine was to your liking, then you could indulge!
In the reds, the standout for me was the Graffigna Centenario Malbec. A good strong, full bodied red (that made me think of an Australian red).
This meant that Argentina won the whites and won the reds as well. The Falklands war had been avenged!
The Jacob’s Creek Moscato was not included in the red and white competition because, as mentioned previously, it was an Australian wine, and anyway, it was pink.
The buffet was given high marks by those diners I spoke to. Chef Shaun Venter is another of those creative chefs, coming up with items such as a Roast beetroot, glazed goats cheese and balsamic caviar, which he just passed off as just something he whipped up with what he had in the fridge. South Africans have a great sense of humor.
The wine buffs in Pattaya have many more choices than they ever had before. (Advance notice: I have been told the next Holiday Inn wine event will feature Stonefish wines. These are not to be missed.)