Mission: To respond thoughtfully and responsibly to my experiences of drinking and dining at restaurants with regard to the quality, service, preparation, presentation and overall experience received thereat. The standpoint is one who respects the crafts of the chef and sommelier and who seeks to understand their choices in the kitchen and cellar and grow in knowledge. In this, I will seek to be fair, reasoned, direct and constructive and aim to keep my ego in check on our mutual journeys through the worlds of food and wine.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Banfi Wine Dinner - Excellent Food, below average wines

Banfi Wine Dinner at Favola, Le Meridien June 11th 2013

I don't know what it is about Banfi wines. I see them in the supermarket and look at their prices and think I don't really want to pay that price and question whether the wine is that good for the price they are asking?  We tried one of the low end ones one time with a dinner at the Vila Danieli Restaurant at The Sheraton Kuala Lumpur and it was fairly non descript but okay enough to push the food down. So it was with a mix of apprehension with intrigue we greeted the knowledge that some of them would be offered with the quality Italian food at the Favola. 

Guillaume Blanchard of Castello Banfi
The Doc again had texted the deal and booked for us so as to get a discount on the deal. A 7pm start was observed by us but few others as is customary in KL - Malaysian time is legendary - though we got served with some most pleasant fizzy something or other. Being the only ones there, we got loaded up with the appetisers and were in early danger of getting too full for dinner. As it was, some of the appetisers for me ensured no repeat servings, in particular the Salmon, Mushroom and Tomato Bruschetta. These were fresh and lively though the Bruschetta bread had WAY too much pepper for the tongue. Other appetisers of Tempura seafood were good with the Prawn proving crunchy, fresh and excellent. Third appetiser was a mouthful of Buratina with olive oil and Pine Nut that was mouth tingling and creamy gooey and got washed down nicely with the pleasant fizzy something or other. Couldn't find any info on the website. New friend from Banfi Guilaume Blanchard in his opening address said it was a blend of Muscat and something and had a natural fizz about it which sweetly swooshed the cheese coating from the roof of the mouth and went most pleasantly with the Tempura. It was sweet, honey, cleansing fizz, though it needs to stay very cold - once it warmed in the glass it tasted like syrup water.

The 2012 Banfi Fumaio Toscana IGT is a blend of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, with the SB more in evidence on this presentation. This presented a somewhat confused result of raw apples and sharp limes and a sour sherbet tongue and finish. Lots of minerality and granite, but somewhat lacking - neither one nor the other and a marriage that did not work for me. Bit confused with this one. Think the wine also was a bit confused. A confused wine who doesn't really know who she is. Definitely a she, this one - a blonde, cute, but a shy and uncertain she. 

Antipasti Marinated Butterfish and Octopus
The Antipasti Butterfish was magnificent, all soft flesh mouthmeltingly sweet and given a mustard pop by a wasabi pesto sauce. The octopus was a bit firm, but went equally well with a cheesy butter wasabi dip to which Caviar pearls gave a sneaky salty kick. Both tamed the Fumaio's acidity a shade, though not really enough to raise it to real drinkability. We all refused top ups, which for us was a definite first - don't remember ever refusing a top up before.

The Colle Pino blend of Sangiovese and Merlot had a big dark cherry nose with chocolate and gunmetal on the palate. A smooth and easy drinker with a clean early though slightly harsh finish thanks to enthusiastic tannins. A decent quaffing wine, though not one that the table felt enthusiastic enough to rave about. Again, top ups were refused. 

Beetroot Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Cheese Sauce
The Beetroot Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Cheese Sauce were an excellent match, with beetroot sweetness undercutting gnocchi fresh potato bite. It was all smooth cream and sweet beetroot with slightly firmish gnocchi all combining into a milky chew which blitzed the mouth a real treat with exploding lush waves of something that left you sucking your cheeks hoping the whole thing would not end. Great texture and fantastic mouth feel. The combo took the tannin off the wine, though as with the first wine and Antipasti not really enough to do much with it. Maybe a quaffing wine for pizza and pool parties, but would need a good chilling - at room temperature it drinks a bit harsh. 

The 2009 Chianti Classico was a bit farmyard stinky at first and opened out only slightly. It felt a little bit fausty in the mouth, as if in need of a decant from too long in the cellar. Sour cherry mouth and tartish finish, though the table seemed to enjoy it well enough. Lacked a bit of finesse for me. Not sure of the price point of this one, but assuming around RM120 there's better on the supermarket shelves and from the distributors at this price. 

Roast Cod on Green Polenta Cake
The Roast Cod on Green Polenta Cake is buttery sweet and fleshy flakes of ultimately bland tasting fish. Light and with good bounce on the bite, it didn't really pair well with the wine. Had the Chianti been a bit more refined, then maybe. As it was, there was not enough in the fish to cut through the 2009. It was a bit too aggressive. The Polenta was a shade on the stodgy side whilst the sauce felt a shade thin and tasting of Red Peppers. Shellfish felt a bit old - it had that overcooked and soft bite feel which always makes me not quite trust it. Even so, no one else on the table said anything. Too distrustful of shellfish is my problem.

The Vigne Regali Rose Regale came across like fizzy high end cough syrup - cherry popsicle with gobs of honey but having a good dose of acidity that kept the whole thing in a nice sweetly crisp balance. 

Milk Risotto with Cherry Parfait
The Milk Risotto with Cherry Parfait Dessert was fabulous - sweet cherry and dark chocolate with fresh milky cream rice pudding. It was reminiscent of the rice puddings with a dollop of strawberry jam we got at school dinner pudding but way, way better. This one was totally epic. 

Not sure who took the decision to pair the Rogale but it got completely killed by dessert. Too much sweetness. Shame there wasn't any more of the first available - a freezing cold drop would have made for an interesting comparison. 

In sum, excellent food with below average wines. They came across as ordinary and a bit snuzz and, apart from the first and last, not really enough in them to warrant a purchase. The food was way better and excellent and deserving of some higher end wine to do it justice. One would hope that AsiaEuro offer a better selection if they run a Banfi wine dinner in the future. Certainly, those bottles in the supermarket won't be getting bought by me.

As a post script, the stomach was a bit grumbly during the night. Not sure if it was the wine but it did feel reminiscent of the way we would feel as students after a night on the Manky Red we would drink as students at Piero's Wine Bar in Cardiff. Good nights, but the wine was rough as buggery. Felt the same. Maybe it was the cumulative effect of all the wines, but the experimenting with the grape blending didn't work for me. Fair credit for trying things out and going against traditional blends, but I don't think I'll be drinking much Banfi in the future. Leastways not the lower end. Have to wait until someone splurges a punt on one of the higher end ones. 

Marinated Octopus and Butterfish
2012 Banfi Fumaio Toscana IGT

Beetroot Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Cheese Sauce
2011 Banfi Colle Pino Toscana IGT

Chicken Breast with Chestnut and Truffle
Roasted Cod on Green Polenta Cake,
Seafood in Saffron and Tomato Broth
2009 Castello Banfi Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG

Milk Risotto with Cherry Parfait
2012 Vigne Regali Rosa Regale

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