The latest wine dinner for the members of the Royal Cliff’s deVine Wine Club was held in the Royal Grill Room and Wine Cellar. Always an elegant venue, it has had a refurbishment making it even more elegant than before.
The event was overseen by the man who knows more about wines than anyone else in Thailand, the irreplaceable Ron Batori, an American of Italian heritage with a background in the Napa Valley wines. He moved to Thailand in 1992 and is now President of Bangkok Beer and Beverages. He is leaving his liver for the advancement of medical science.
Ron took the diners through the history of the Australian Penfolds Wines (1844) and dispelled the myth surrounding the “Bin” system. There is no real correlation between the Bin number and quality.
Mention was made of Penfolds history making wine maker Max Schubert who visited Europe following the end of World War II to learn about sherry production; however, it was the time spent by Schubert in Bordeaux that eventually led to the production of Penfolds’ and Australia’s most famous wine, “Grange Hermitage”, later renamed simply as “Grange”. In the 1960s the company introduced a series of red wines: Bin 389, Bin 707, Bin 28 and Bin 128, that became the highlights of the Penfolds brand.
Right from the first course, it became evident that there had been some culinary changes of direction, with new young chefs strutting their stuff, following the retirement of Executive Chef Walter Thenisch, with the diners being given salmon tatar, shaved horseradish, trout caviar, pumpernickel, green apple and dill. The accompanying wine was the Penfolds Koonunga Hill Autumn Reisking 2016.
The next course featured Turbot, Miso, lime beurre blanc, sea asparagus, Coral Sea urchin and scallop croquette. The wine was also from Koonunga Hill, but this time their Chardonnay 2016. Most preferred the chardonnay.
A passion fruit sorbet revitalized the taste buds for the main course, a lamb shoulder prepared sous vide style for 48 hours, herb coated lamb loin, Celeriac potato puree, Brussels sprout, cipollini tomatoes, Pancetta au jus. This was superb and the wine with it, also superb, being a Max Schubert’s secret wine, a Cabernet Sauvignon 2014. (Sous-vide French for “under vacuum”) is a method of cooking in which food is vacuum-sealed in a plastic pouch and then placed in a water bath or steam environment for longer than normal cooking times (usually 1 to 7 hours, up to 48 or more in some cases) at an accurately regulated temperature much lower than normally used for cooking, typically around 55 to 60°C (131 to 140°F) for meat, higher for vegetables. The intent is to cook the item evenly, ensuring that the inside is properly cooked without overcooking the outside, and to retain moisture.)
The post-main was a baked Tasmanian Camembert, puff pastry, Fig jam and frozen grapes taken with a Bin 128 Coonawarra shiraz 2014. Again a great combination.
The dessert was another interesting dish with a vanilla panna cotta, honeycomb, meringue, berries, lemon and flowers. This was accompanied by a Penfolds Club Tawny Port NV, which was a little thin for my taste, but as always, wine appreciation is very personal thing.
This had been an excellent Australian Penfolds wine dinner which promised “A story in every bottle,” with Ron Batori the man who knows them all.
You can direct enquiries regarding the Wine Club to [email protected]