Simply deVine Dahlings


It was the British actress Joanna Lumley, in the television series AbFab, who would say “Simply divine Dahlings” and after an evening at the Royal Cliff, enjoying their deVine Wine Dinner I can honestly say that it really was “Simply deVine Dahlings”.

This latest wine dinner was entitled Les Domaines Barons de Rothschild – “The Lafite Spirit, A Tradition of Excellence,” and tradition is something Les Domaines Barons de Rothschild certainly has, beginning with Château Lafite Rothschild which was the first Château acquired by the Rothschild family in 1868 followed by more vineyards. The expertise and tradition upheld for five generations by the Rothschild family are applied to all of the properties (with 1,200 hectares of vineyards) with the objective of producing high quality wines and elegance in the “Lafite Spirit”.

Fabrice Papin, a most amusing Frenchman.

The new resident manager of the Royal Cliff Grand, Prem Calais welcomed the deVine members and guests assembled in the Grill Room and Wine Cellar for the dinner and introduced Fabrice Papin, the Asia area manager for Les Domaines Barons de Rothschild and the wine specialist for the evening. Born and raised in France in a family of winemakers as well as owners of vineyards in Bordeaux and Cognac, he began his professional career in 2004 after studying at the wine school of Montagne Saint-Émilion in California and working in Germany for a famous Frankfurt wine shop. Passion for fine wines brought him to join Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) in 2014. He was obviously well qualified to comment on the wines.

At the reception, Fabrice was seen in deep discussion with our old friend Ron Batori of BB&B, another wine expert, who ran through the selection of wines we were to have on the evening.

The first of these was a Chilean, and was Los Vascos Sauvignon Casablanca Curico 2014 which went well with the French oysters from Executive Chef Walter Thenisch’s kitchen. I could have happily spent the evening with oysters and a couple of bottles of Los Vascos.

French Oysters at the reception.

However, knowing the inventive nature of Chef Walter we all trooped into the Royal Grill Room and were served with a Confit of Petuna Ocean Trout and poached river prawns, green pea mousseline fennel and citrus salad eaten with an Aussieres Blanc Vin de Pays d’Oc 2012. A very light wine and right at the point in its life where it should be drunk. For some members this was their wine of the night.

The Lamb tenderloin was very tender.

The next course (of five) was a Fricassee of Maine lobster and crab quenelle in a Nantua sauce taken with a Legende Bordeaux blanc 2014. With wine appreciation being such a personal thing, again this was loved by some and passed over by others.

Chef Walter spoiled us with a Herb crusted grass fed Australian lamb tenderloin, French flageolet bean stew. A fabulous dish taken with the Aussieres rouge Vin de pays d’Oc, 2014. This first of the reds was more to my taste and this was a wonderful course.

However, the next course was my dish of the night. Red wine braised Wagyu beef ribs with bone marrow, silky mashed potatoes and glazed baby carrot. When I say you could cut the meat with a spoon, I am not exaggerating. This was taken with the Legende Bordeaux rouge 2014, which again I ranked below the Aussieres, though still a very pleasant wine.

We finished up with a Gourmet cheese selection, with about six different cheeses and a Los Vascos Cabernet Sauvignon Colchagua 2013. A good finish to this wine and a great finish for the deVine club dinner.

What makes dinners at the Royal Cliff so outstanding? If we discount the standard of the wines and the gourmet food, it comes down to the service one enjoys at the Royal Cliff. Professionalism exhibited right from the top to the most junior. Professionalism is instilled in the staff to make all dinners memorable, and this one was one of the most memorable. Great wines, brilliant food and outstanding service. Absolutely “deVine Dahlings!” (Imagine Joanna Lumley again!)

You can make contact with the deVine Wine Club through the Royal Cliff GM Antonello Passa email [email protected].