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Chateau Dinner


Red Domination

At a Chateau Cantemerle wine dinner, it's red all evening, with seven wines from 2006 to 1996, writes TAN BEE HONG

FOR its last wine dinner of the year, Hotel Equatorial Kuala Lumpur organised a Chateau wine dinner recently at its Chalet Swiss Restaurant.

The dinner featured a set menu complemented by seven red Chateau Cantemerle classified growth wines brought in by Prestigious Wines (m) Sdn. Bhd.

Chateau wines started in the early 18th Century in the Bordeaux area and the grapes from this region are known as classified growth as they are special only to this area. In Bordeaux, red wine is made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, with small quantities of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot for blending. Unlike most wine dinners where the sommelier pairs the wine with the food, the wines are instead served according to age, beginning with the youngest. And the wines are poured with scant regard for the serving of the food. This way, diners can decide for themselves which wine best complements each dish. Les Allees de Cantemerle 2006, described as a perfect luncheon wine with soft, round tannins devoid of any harshness, makes it an ideal accompaniment to the seafood starter. As it's a relatively young wine, it was opened earlier for allow it to breathe.

To start off the six-course menu, chef Val Murugan teased appetites with slivers of chilled black Atlantic cod, leaves of lamb lettuce, a lukewarm Australian marron and a baked Washington oyster under a hot, cheesy, creamy blanket. This is followed by delicious truffle goose consomme that's accompanied by, strangely, a Peking duck roll. Chateau Les Hauts De Pontet 2005 is almost as young but has hints of black berries and vanilla. In contrast, the Chateau Pontet-Canet 2004, is a great vintage with an intense nose and persistent lingering aroma. There's a refined complexity with spicy notes of liquorice mixed with blackberries and toasted cherries. We refresh palates with a sherbet sprinkled with bits of black cavair, served in an ice dome. Chateau Cantermerle 2003 is largely dominated by Cabernets which gives its fine character. It's fruity but has a slight green aroma that I'm not too fond of though.

I love the Chateau Pontet-Canet 2001. With a deep ruby colour, the Vintage 2001 is characterised by a vibrant structure with a long finish. Charming and stunning with my roast rack of lamb that's still beautifully pink in the centre. The lamb is served with stewed barley grains, broiled vine tomato and a caramelised garlic sauce.

I hear it goes well with the prime tenderloin beef Wellington, served with morel cream sauce and vegetables.

The Chateau Cantermerle 2000, dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon, brings out the good side of the meat too. The wines shines with sparkling aromas of spices and ripe fruit like prunes. Smooth and soft, the tannins give a tender and delicate impression, giving the wine the special appeal of aromatic richness and great delicacy. The last wine of the evening is Chateau Pontet-Canet 1996, a good classic wine with a deep ruby colour and intense nose of candied fruit, citrus fruit and tobacco. The Vintage 1996 has a well balanced taste with a long finish. The arrival of an anti-cyclone (a weather phenomenon that results in slight warming) in Medoc from Aug 26 that year contributed to the quality of this vintage as grapes harvested in the rain from were rich in sugar with high acidity and dense skins.

For dessert, we had chocolate lavender mousse with walnut crisp and cherry sauce. Winemaker and general manager of Chateau Cantermerle, Philippe Dambrine, talked about the wines. "Ironically, the global warming has helped us make better wines as varietals like cabernet sauvignon grow better in tropical climate," he says.


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