Zoltan and Vanichwathana take us to the Royal Cliff

Two highly respected professionals, Prem Calais (left) GM of the Royal Cliff Hotels Group and Zoltan Zakor, Director of Business Development at Vanichwathana.
Two highly respected professionals, Prem Calais (left) GM of the Royal Cliff Hotels Group and Zoltan Zakor, Director of Business Development at Vanichwathana.

The November dinner hosted by the Royal Cliff’s deVine Wine Club introduced Santa Carolina to the members and guests in the Royal Grill Room and Wine Cellar. Excellence and Heritage is the style set by the Royal Cliff, and Vanichwathana fitted in well in that situation.

It was of interest to see that the Santa Carolina vineyards date back to 1875, and to keep us on the right track, Zoltan Zakor, the Director of Business Development at Vanichwathana advised us that his company had been founded in 1975. A century is a short time growing grapes!

Santa Carolina has also won the award as the Best New World Winery in 2015 and it was going to be interesting to see just how the members of the deVine Wine Club rated these Chilean wines.

The evening began with the reception which featured deluxe canapes from executive chef Peter Held’s kitchen. Oysters washed down with a Santa Carolina Brut NV was a wonderful start to the evening and was as good a reason as any to be on time in the future!

The guiding principle in a wine dinner is to marry up the wine and the food and we began with a Santa Carolina Sauvignon Blanc ‘Reserva’ 2015 with a honey and thyme infused goat cheese mousse on caramelized beetroot and mesclun leaves. This sauvignon blanc was sensational and to cut through the goat cheese mousse it did with no fuss. For me, this was to end up as the wine of the evening. The beetroot? A little chewy.

The next wine was the Santa Carolina Chardonnay ‘Gran Reserva’ 2017 taken with crustaceans and fish in a light saffron and vegetable stew. For me this was more like a French bouillabaisse with extra crustaceans to go with the fish. It was very enjoyable, but I personally found the chardonnay lacking. However, as I always say, wine appreciation is a very personal thing and chatting with some of the members present, they described the chardonnay as being “delicious” and much better than the sauvignon blanc.

After an interesting Pisco sorbet (made from an amber colored brandy produced in the winemaking regions of Chile), came a grilled Chilean sea bass on a bed of spicy corn and tomato salsa. The wine to go with this was the Santa Carolina ‘signature’ Carmenere ‘Gran Reserva’ 2013. We were informed by Zoltan this grape from Chile supplies 90 percent of the world’s carmenere production.

The next course was a pulled pork on a corn polenta taken with a Santa Carolina Cabernet Sauvignon ‘Reserva de Familia’ 2015. At Zoltan’s beckoning we sampled this wine, straight from the bottle and then again 10 minutes later after the wine was decanted. The difference was quite obvious, and came as a reminder for all of us to decant before drinking!

The final course was for all the chocaholics and taken with a Santa Carolina Sauvignon Blanc ‘Late Harvest’ 2015.

The chocolate was lovely but the sauvignon blanc fell by the wayside. I returned to the decanted cabernet sauvignon.

It had been a most enjoyable evening and the Royal Cliff just does everything so well, without fuss and without peer.

You can contact the deVine Wine Club through [email protected]