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.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Stags' Leap at Stoked - Great Whites, Forgettable Food and Reds

10th August 2016

This one promised much. Yankee wines that we don't often see with an inventive menu of food dishes to match. Sounded good. 

Ended up disappointed. Raised expectations killed me again. Not that the food or wine was bad - just that the excitement of the chance to taste some allegedly top end American reds and whites gets a bit out of control and the result at the table didn't quite match the visualised gourmet heaven that was anticipated. Hai yaaaaa….   When will I learn? 

We signed up pretty early via the usual email and got a table with some of our usual suspects from the IWFS (Texas, May, FBQ, The Governor) in addition to the Baron and a new friend from Korea. I dropped Lenglui at the entrance and spent ten minutes trying to find somewhere to park. DBKL is doing something along the main Jalan with the result that the erstwhile parking on the roadside now no longer exists. Jalan Kasah is clearly popular with all its eateries and trying to find parking near the Stoked after 7pm is presently a nightmare. 

Walking through to the private room at the back (where we were seated for the night) I didn't see too many familiar faces. Totally different crowd. Which is good, I suppose. Got sat with a glass of the delicately pleasant fizz just in time to witness the Wine Man getting introduced and giving us a quick run down of what was in store. Very smooth and seasoned and handles a crowd well. He stopped talking before we got bored, which shows good audience sense. Can learn from this. Didn't catch his name, though his accent proclaimed Horse-Traylian. No Yin-How tonight - apparently overseas doing something on his MW. 

The delightful Trio of Canapes
The Trio of Canapes were delightful and excellently tasty - a shaved slice of fresh truffle on a spring crispy sushi roll was the winner, though the softened pecan nut on wholemeal rustic bread came close. The duck with seaweed wrap on some sweet green spongey possibly durian something made for a tasty morsel and went very nicely with the soft and delicately bubbled fizz. Seems a lot of time and labour goes into creating this Domaine Brut - my notes say 22 days on the lees and hand riddled. The website notes give it "delicate flavors of apples and citrus and lively acidity… the perfect accompaniment for… spicy fries, artichoke or cheese dips, calamari, salty snacks." Whilst it lacked the full meat and bones body of a Champagne (the Ste Michelle is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris) it was far from lightweight and made for a pleasant aperitif and partner to the delicate flavours of the canapes. On reflection, maybe should have bought this one, but then… Nah - we have loads of bottles of fizz in the fridge at home waiting to get drunk. Never seem to find the occasion. Need more parties. A lot of the table left their canapes on the plate, so I happily scarfed up any sushi truffle and pecan nut toast within reach. No reason was given for their refusals to eat. My rule is: if it's good, don't waste - there might be something not so tasty ahead!

The Eroica Riesling is "a labour of love" between the Old World Dr. Loosen Estate of Germany and the New of Chateau Ste. Michelle in USA's Washington State. Taking inspiration from Beethoven's Third Symphony, the name seeks to reflect a shared heritage and history in which both producers are rooted - 200 years of Dr Loosen production and the championing of the grape by Chateau Ste. Michelle since the 1970s. Eroica made its debut in 1999. The website talks about the wine being a result of "where old and new philosophies intermingle to create exceptional techniques" which I didn't quite understand. Never mind, I'm sure someone will explain should the need arise. Goes well with "Asian dishes, Indian curries, crab and scallops" apparently...

On its own, it was a darling - light, fragrant, quite fruit driven, with a long spritzy and somewhat sweet finish. Stealing up on the senses and bewitching them beautifully. The wine notes suggest "sweet lime and mandarin orange aromas with subtle mineral notes (and) mouth-watering acidity… beautifully balanced by flavourful Washington Riesling fruit." 

The Sweet Japanese Prawn had been doused with what felt like some light syrup (which might have been the shellfish oil), aided by some lychee, with some blackened salty garlic and a smear of pureed unagi for contrast. The Prawn itself was excellent - texture, taste, nice little slimy give on the bite - and the flowers and fresh herbs added to the combo made for understated umami with the garlic and unagi spanking the sweet and coating the tongue and cheeks with smoky sweet sour tingles. Belter. 

The excellent Sweet Japanese Prawns
The pairing with the Riesling felt like a battle of sweets - sweet prawn, sweetish wine - and neither really helped the other as a result. The black garlic seemed to bring out a salty dimension to the wine which was quite pleasing, but other than this the match felt a bit snuzz and underwhelming. Something a shade more racy might have given a necessary zing to the proceedings. There you go - these things are often more educated guesswork and crossed fingers than anything. My understanding is that rarely does a restaurant get to try wine-dinner wine beforehand and look to match dominant styles and tastes. At least that is my experience of food and wine tastings for the IWFS - we go to taste food at a prospective restaurant (bringing our own wines) then assess what style (if any) made for a match and go see what we can get from the cellar or elsewhere. 

There was initially some strong rumour that the Free Range Chicken on the plate was apparently once a rooster but had became a eunuch having presumably been castrated by the overzealous farmer. Poor thing. The castrated Kampong chickens are a sought after delicacy in Malaysian Chinese circles because the texture of the meat is both firmer and juicier. And consequently more expensive. The excitement level was reaching a fever pitch when word came out that the rumour was unfounded - the bird on the plate was definitely not male. Suitably deflated, the hordes started attacking. Whatever the sex, the texture of the meat was amazingly tender and finely chewy in the mouth and on the bite. Was just a darn shame there was not much taste on the thing - it was pretty bland. The lettuce and broth lent vegetal crunch and green goodness, and once the caviar started crushing over the combo one did get a sense that there was some sense in the ensemble. I think I got it - textures over tastes. The table was not impressed - no taste was the refrain and chorus. More booze in the glass seemed to help quell this rising symphony. Perhaps we should have had the Eroica playing over the sound system - might have spruced up the chicken.

Slow Cooked Free Range Chicken. Not male.
Perhaps the bird's blandness was deliberate to show off the Stags Leap Karia Chardonnay, which at first blush was stellar. The winemaker calls the Karia "graceful" with "a broad, expressive nose with lemon, stone fruit and vanilla aromas. Medium bodied, this wine has a lovely texture and flavors of red apple, light citrus and Asian pear that lead to a long finish with a hint of creamy oak. There is a nice balance to the acidity and minerality that enhances the freshness and elegance of this wine." Best paired with roast or grilled chicken with lemon or dill salsa and tomatoes, the Karia has been acclaimed as "a picture perfect, well balanced, ultra-premium wine" (WW91) and " fresh and very seductive" (RP). I got big tropical fruits nose and great balance with a sharp orangey fizz fresh spritz in the mouth and a lush long lingering finish. This taste put me in mind of how some of us men feel about our old flames - a little bit bitter and ultimately quite a bit sweet. Wine Man said can keep for three to five years. Hmmm...  maybe. I give it two. Couldn't find much on the meaning behind the name - from a Greek Turkish word "karuwa" meaning "steep country" that gave the name Carian to a people in the Ionian region of Greece. Is also a village in Kenya and an Estonian global meat supplier. Yes. 

It didn't really go with the chicken on the night. Actually, with its orangey fizz mouth I couldn't think of what Malaysian or any food dish it would easily pair with. Maybe Duck a l'Orange or the cracking Lemon Chicken we get at the Hoi Kee (click here to read more on Hoi Kee), but not one that smacked of an easy food match. Perhaps some salt on the chicken might have brought wider dimension and depth. Lovely to guzzle, but not for us.

Wine Man seemed to be doing a big selling job on the 2012 Merlot. Talking about the grapes enjoying hot days and cold nights, lovely Cabernet feel and nose, very nice Merlot etc etc. Nice story that Cold Creek was no longer a creek and had been dry for many years. The webbies claim that Cold Creek’s 40-year-old vines deliver an intense, big and concentrated Merlot giving black fruit flavors and layers of complexity and great age-ability. WS (91pt) calls it "Fresh and inviting, focusing the black cherry, black currant and coffee flavors into a tannin-wrapped package that carries through a long, well-modulated finish. Best from 2017 through 2022. " whilst WE (90pt) gets "Cocoa, plum and vanilla aromas… followed by creamy-feeling blue-fruit flavors that display a mixture of fruit and barrel. The barrel influence is heavy but it’s delicious all the same" and a Best Buy. Wow and yes. They clearly love it. 

I got soft, sweet, smoky spice and plum, some oak, and quite young and fresh. In many senses, a delightful wine and reflective of the views expressed by the above Powers that Be. But it all made me realise that my senses are not a good match with this single varietal - for me there was something missing. It was like our friend the Kampong Chicken - no balls. I clearly need a bit of oomph in my booze and oomph seemed to be lacking on this expression. Bit leaning toward the bland and needing some fire. Like a secret scarlet woman in search of a scarlet man to complete and release the scarlet her. Wow. What?

My salmon came out a bit old and cold, though well seared. My tempura batter was mushy and equally cold. Perhaps the kitchen had been kept waiting by Wine Man's admittedly entertaining spiel and things went a bit south on the plate as a result. The combo of Salmon, Mushroom and Polenta worked well - the textures contrasted well and the mushroom seemed to dominate. But again, there seemed to be an overall lack of taste in the thing. I rarely add salt and pepper at the table because if the chef has decided that the seasoning is enough then that is what I want to taste. But I was quite tempted tonight. The evil Capsicum got discarded - perhaps this was the taste bomb? They crease me - get windy for days.

Roasted Atlantic Salmon
Didn't also get much sense of match between food and wine here. Thin meets bland. Can't think of much else to say. "No taste" seemed to be becoming a mantra.

Which carried through to the Beef Rib - mine had fair heat, though a shade tough and not much in the taste department. Same with the jus - bit thin. No notes, and now cannot remember. Sorry.

Stags' Leap has been iconic since it scooped the pool at the Paris blind tasting of May 1976, with its 1973 S.L.V. Cab whacking the best that Bordeaux could produce. The Artemis (which is the name of the Greek goddess of the Hunt) is an annual eagerly awaited favourite, and Wine.com's Wilfred Wong declared the 2013 one of his favourites of the vintage. A superior year with a new winemaker, it exceeded expectations and is a fine addition in keeping with the best traditions of the Stags' Leap wine making heritage. 

The Winemaker's notes says the 2013 Artemis "offers inviting aromas of blackcherry and plum with hints of vanilla. On the palate, the wine has a soft entry with ripe mixed berry and plum flavors. The wine has a medium-bodied mouthfeel with round, satin-like tannins." Can be paired with grilled braised short ribs, or pasta with wild mushrooms and prosciutto. So we were well on brief as far as the pairing was concerned. 

Angus Short Ribs
I didn't get it. I mean, I got to taste some of the wine, but I didn't get the enthusiasm for it. When paired against other Napa Cabs I have had the luck to taste, this felt thin in both fruit, nose and weight contexts. Not unpleasant nor badly made, just not the Cab I was expecting given the iconic-ness of its brand. It did improve with the food, but would not be one that would get ordered from a wine list in the future. I go straight for the Phelps - massive wines of wonderful structure, layers and length. 

Half way through it struck me that perhaps the Artemis was the Scarlet Man that the Scarlet Woman Merlot was seeking, so I poured a bit of the one into the other. And so it proved - as they made love to each other in the glass their fusing released a rich firm mouth of berries and spice with length and breadth and by a long stretch the best tasting wine of the night. 

The look of shock and horror on the face of Wine Man when I confessed - no, I DECLARED this - was palpable, though he recovered to say that this was how wine was made. 

Which on one level is true, though I bet few others would have dared such a transgression. Come on, guys, it's only wine. For me, if you don't try, you never know, and O Lord let us never blindly adore our wine idols simply because everyone else idolises them. Only way to keep things honest, which now I think of it is a large part why I write. 

The Plums in the Dessert came across as a shade sour, though the rest of the ensemble produced an ice creamy smooth sweet cold crunch and made for a good contrast between the sweet and the sour. Put me in mind of the rhubarb crumble we would get in school - sourish, probably very good for the system, but not an entirely sweet note on which to end an evening. Indeed, by this time a lot of people had left before the dessert hit the table. Shame. They missed some delightful Petits Fours and some excellent coffee.

Roasted Plum Crumble - creamy, crunchy and boozy
So…  the general judgement of the table was that the food lacked taste. Nothing was bad, just mostly bland and could have done with a good shake of seasoning. For me, I found the earlier dishes very good (canapes, prawn) whilst I think I have to agree that the mains needed a shake of something. I think it is good to support Chef Yau in his experimental ventures, but I remain waiting for them to really connect across the entire menu. I might hazard a guess that his Japanese training and experience has perhaps geared the emphasis more toward textures; it might be good to give taste aspects a bit of a jigger, certainly on the showing of the mains on the night. 

Petits Fours
Wine-wise, I enjoyed the whites - delicate fizz, clean razor like Riesling and tropical citrus Chardonnay. Though outside of the Brut, I felt the whites were not quite value for what they were offering. Yes, they were well made and drank nicely but did not strike as wines to drink at home or elsewhere with food (though maybe good with friends at a party). The Merlot was...  probably a good Merlot but ultimately meh in weight and fruit terms for me. The Cab was… also missing something - great forward fruit, but no real whack. Both would have done well with soft cheese, which perhaps explains their terroir and origins - made for the cheese eating crowd who happily consume both at the Napa vineyards. Would definitely not mind to try this lifestyle sometime. Maybe in the next life. If there is one. Ommmm….

There seemed to be fair distribution of the whites, though it did feel that the surplus red didn't much make it past the first few tables (we were sat at the back in the private room). Which is where the main wine buyers seem to get sat. Which is fair enough - they are the prospective buyers, so should naturally get the lion's share of the surplus booze. Maybe next time I should ask to sit in the open area? No - no point to be greedy. 

Wine Man and...  Wine Ladies, I guess...
The wines were being offered at 30% discount on the night. I didn't see too many orders going in. We certainly opted not to buy. Couldn't think of an occasion or food match where the wine would fit. Also, notwithstanding the regard in which both the Ste Michelle and Stags' Leap output is held, they didn't seem to stun sufficiently to warrant the price being asked. Though the Fizz did come close for me but not for Lenglui. Maybe have to buy a secret few and stash them for surprising when the occasion presents. Nah.

STOKED! Restaurant & Bar
Jalan Kasah
Medan Damansara
50490 Kuala Lumpur
Tel 03 2096 1645

"I now pronounce you...blended!"
Chateau Ste Michelle + Stags' Leap Cellars at Stoked Restaurant and Bar

Trio of Canapes
Domaine Ste Michelle Brut NV, Columbia Valley

Sweet Japanese Prawn
Lychee, Black Garlic, Shellfish Oil
Eroica Riesling 2014

Slow Cooked Free Range Chicken
Caviar, Grilled Lettuce, Lettuce Broth
Stags' Leap Karia Chardonnay 2014

Roasted Atlantic Salmon
Polenta, Maitake Tempura, Capsicum
Domaine Ste Michelle Cold Creek Merlot 2012

Smoked & Braised Grain Fed Angus Short Ribs
Dauphinoise Potatoes, Broccolini, Natural Jus
Stags' Leap Artemis Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Roasted Plum
Crumble, Gingko Nut, Cognac, Cream Sauce

Coffee or Tea
Petit Fours

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Oriental Pavilion Jaya 33 in PJ - fantastic!

August 17th 2016

Fantastic meal at the Oriental Pavilion in Jaya 33 last night. Great taste, delightfully presented, superb service, no corkage - and we had the badminton on the TV, cheering for anyone who was whacking perceived future threats to Malaysia's quest for Olympic Gold. Good food, wine, raucous company and great service - doesn't get much better.

Not actually sure how this group came together, but it has been going fairly strong for a couple of years now. Mostly focused on Chinese banquet style restaurants and people bringing their wines and they tend to be good fun evenings. No agendas, just catching up with each other and sharing the food, booze and the bill. If someone has a birthday then they get a free and the bill is shared by the remainder. Which on reflection is also a good way to ensure attendance so that you don't miss your birthday special! Good fun group, though there is one little blip in the pond whom we shall call The Comedian. He does have a sharply dry and cynical perspective on the world which occasionally can be quite acerbic and mildly funny. But he is dam stingy and cheap and occasionally pompous in his opinions, which is a total red button to me - the countless opportunities I have squandered and let slip through my life due to my weakness and seeming necessity to explode people's pomposity with some smartass verbal riposte has pretty much defined my life. Can't help it - total red rag weakness for bursting people's self important balloons and bringing them back to earth.  Dam sad on my part - I could have been global…  I thought I had mellowed with age - the Comedian is proving me wrong in spades.

The Oriental Group has been around for a good while now, with restaurants dotted at Malls around the city and possibly beyond. They tend to be large venues geared for celebrations with private rooms for those who want a bit of quiet away from the great unwashed or to sing their hearts out to the Karaoke. The last time I had been to the Jaya 33 outlet must have been about eight years ago, about the time I started doing Tai Chi - it was a celebration dinner with a Tai Chi demonstration with about nine tables. Though I had done the Bangsar version about three years back with Dr Gan and Lorraine and Kien. No complaints - good solid Cantonese cuisine well prepared and presented. For some reason, it just fell off the eating map as Marco Polo took centre place as the default Chinese of choice given the service and value we get there. This foodie group is good for keeping us in touch with the higher end Chinese eateries. No bad thing.

On this occasion, there were originally supposed to be 12 of us, but a nasty flu bug had decimated (actually double decimated according to the math) the group on the night to nine. For some reason, the wines came out to be mostly Italian, with a lovely Chianti starting the evening followed by a robust supermarket NZ SB, a Montepulciano white from me (accidental - I thought I had ordered red from the supplier but white got delivered) and two odd reds to finish. As usual, the Comedian didn't bring any booze - his batting average is grim - two vinous contributions to the six dinners shared (and bottom end supermarket standard). I suspect the thinking is that because his wife doesn't drink then no need for him to bring every time, which also presumably justifies his happy chugging of whatever everyone else has brought. Dam cheap chinaman logic, assuming this is the thought process. But the rest of the group seem to cheerfully put up with him - I ignore him and he ignores me and so detente exists. Doesn't stop me throwing cheap shot barbs at his cheapness when the occasion presents - not sure if he gets them but I think he does. So now I bring a bottle of cheap RM30 stuff which I pour just for him. And the wife when she deigns to break her non drinking rule. Mean spirited? Maybe. Yes. No one likes a stinge.

Anyhow back to the food. Someone had brought some home made prawn crackers which were light and delightful as canapes with the first glass. Crispy, delicate, full of prawn and salt and fresh oil but all in perfect ratio and balance - best I have tasted for a long time and setting a great tone for the evening. 

Oriental Four Seasons
The Four Seasons were individually very good, though the soft shelll crab took honours given its texture and crisp salty shell. It was like a brilliant crunchy croquette with a hint of chili and season and no oil - so, so good. I found the Fish Maw in Lettuce lacking something, though the solution was at hand - the chopped garlic in soy sauce gave it the necessary kick to elevete the crispy vegetal crunch and soft flaky eggy combo into something larger and memorable. Both the Chicken and Scallop were fantastically fresh and full of taste - a great starter and well supported by the surprisingly good Chianti. The wines brought by this group tend to be workmanlike good rather than connoisseur level standard, but on the clear thought that had gone into the purchase of this Chianti some of the group have been learning. Light yet firm in body, good spice and nicely chewy, this made for a good partner to tame the general salt of the Four Seasons. Dam shame we had to share it with the Comedian.

Roast Suckling Pig Finest Macau Style. Yes.
People have varying opinions as to the best Siew Jie (Suckling Pig) in the city. Most seem to prefer it with more emphasis on crispy skin rather than juicy tasty meat. Which I kind of get - the texture is the critical factor and the result is generally less "porky" on the nose and mouth. In the West, though, the skin is but the prelude to the meat, and is prepared accordingly. Anyone who has tasted the Lechon style in the Philippines will understand. Tonight's preparation was somewhere between the two, having more meat under the skin and on the bones than one might see in (for example) Marco Polo. This was apparently Macao style (no, make that FINEST Macou Style), and was served with Chilled Citrus Juice which tasted remarkably like the Schweppes bitter lemon mix one might pour over Gin and ice. The pig was good - the meat soft and juicy with skin that crackled and bit saltily into the tongue. Different style of preparation which took it from the ordinary to one for the memory. Can still taste it now - smoky, juicy, sucking on a leg like a Viking and totally focused on this delightful chunk of meat. Not quite stellar, but still darn good. Took the Suckling Pig in Malaysia to a new level. Gin and Bitter Lemon - now I am feeling thirsty…

The brilliant Crispy Tuna Fish
Next up was the Crispy Tuna in Pomelo sauce and this was a star. One thing Lenglui and I lament here in Malaysia is the general lack of a good Fish and Chippie anywhere in either the city or the nation. I love the taste and texture of battered fish - comes from growing up with it as a kid and getting sent to the local chippie to pick up Cod or Hake and chips (the chippie here was Dowdings on Holmsdale Street - story was that Old Man Dowding decided to retire and the family sold the business on, though it was still a chippie when I was last back there about eight years ago). Tonight's offering had a soft underbelly to the batter crust which made for a texture that was at once firm yet soft in the mouth. It also made for a lovely chew when combined with the Tuna - and this made for a first time with battered tuna for me. Who'd have thought Tuna could get battered? Should have known - Chinese can batter anything. Tastewise it came across as Kurau but with more of a firmness on the bite - full on the mouth, though neither overpowering nor fishy. Not close to the taste of the Cardiff past, but excellent nonetheless. 

But the real delight was the Pomelo sauce. Tasting like sweet citrus and with bits of Pomelo strewn across the sauce, it was a sweet fruity sharp and tangy counterbalance to the oil and batter and fish. The use of the fresh Pomelo also gave a pithy, pippy bite and crunch to release the citrus into the mouth. Very, very good, and the whole combo went most agreeably with the remains of the Chianti and the newly opened NZ SB. Combine this with the increasing noise level as the Malaysian Hope got closer to the winning line, it was shaping up to be a good night.

Steamed River Fresh Water Prawns
Most people seem to rave about Fresh Water Prawns, and in some cases I understand why. When done properly, the texture is heaven and the sweet taste when perfectly steamed is unforgettable. In my experience, less is usually more when it comes to these. Tonight's preparation was a bit gingery which for me got too much in the way of the prawn. The texture was good, taste was there, just that the ginger dolloped over the top got a bit too much in the way for taste. Though none of the group made any complaints - just wolfed the thing down with approving noises and grunts. The white Montalcino was a bit on the oily and heavy side for the prawn - the Comedian loudly proclaimed that he didn't like the Montalcino, saying that he was more of a supermarket wine drinker rather than a connoisseur like me. We used to call this inverted snobbery in the old days. Today we just smile and think "Dick". Though I think I responded with something like "at least I bring two bottles of wine," which he seemed to pretend not to hear. Dick. 

The fluffy pancake-y Red Bean... doughnut, I guess
Dessert was Red Bean Soup and a kind of a pancake bun that was all egg and fluffiness and surrounding a dollop of red bean paste. And it all made for a good end to the evening's food adventures, with a little bit of sweet from the red bean coming up against the egg tarty pancake. There have been a lot of new preparations and presentations tonight - kudos to the kitchen for its inventiveness!

The service of both food and wine was pleasantly efficient, with fair glassware and ice buckets available. One girl in particular stood out for consideration and pleasant engagement with us and who got tipped accordingly when asked to write out in English the menu for me to prepare this report. Think her name was Christina. Also got a copy of the bill for the written Chinese version for production next time I go there with Lenglui and a different gang. Total after some discounts from our evening's organiser was RM1173 (RM131 each for nine) which felt all right for an evening of very tasty and well prepared food. Lots of parking in the complex, paid around RM6 for four hours parking.

I'd go back for pretty much all of the dishes on show here, though a group is necessary to share the bill for things like the Siew Jie and Steamed Fish. A pleasant surprise from an old restaurant friend. Well worth a shot. 

Fresh Water Prawn with Glutinous Rice. Loads of ginger and cilantro
Just a footnote on Jaya 33 - a smallish shopping complex that's been around for about twenty years and whose main tenants are a supermarket on the Ground Floor (with supermarket wines for the Comedian) and ACE Hardware on Level One. There's also the more recently constructed Plaza@ Jaya 33 which houses the excellent Kampachi and Noble Mansion restaurants. Jaya 33 has lots of little eateries (both halal and non) on the frontage (including Vintry which is of note for its excellent ribs and dwindling but still good wine selection). A high end photography shop somehow survives there as does a DVD store and Pharmacy, but there were lots of empty shuttered outlets on this visit. The Retail Economy doesn't look too good. The supermarket houses a non halal section where to my delight I found a taste of my childhood - lots of boxes of Brains Faggots parked almost out of sight in a cold box and retailing at RM12 a box. Bargain. These are (or were) tasty balls of chopped up bits of meat and fat in gravy which come in foil boxes of six - just heat and eat, traditionally with vinegar. Which I intend to do soon. Never seen them in Malaysia before and haven't seen them anywhere for decades. I bought two boxes. Let you know if they still taste as good as I remember. Cheers!

Oriental Pavilion Restaurant
1st Floor Jaya 33
3 Jalan Semangat
Section 13
Petaling Jaya
Tel 03 79569288

Oriental Pavilion Four Seasons
Deep Fried Soft Shell Crab
Jelly Chicken
Deep Fried Fish Maw with Egg and Lettuce
Baked Scallop with Bacon

Crispy Tuna Fish with Pomelo Sauce

Roast Suckling Pig 
Finest Macao Style served with Chilled Citrus Juice

Steamed River Fresh Water Prawns 
with Glutinous Rice

Red Bean soup
Some Dessert that was like Egg Pancake Baked around Red Bean paste

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

A Tale of Three KL Steaks - Soleil, Chambers and Lucky Bo

July 29 (Soleil), August 5 (Chambers), August 14 (Lucky Bo) 2016

This was originally to be a tale of two steaks comparing Soleil and Chambers, but then walking past the Lucky Bo en route to one of the other eateries on the Bangkung Row, the Tomahawk Steak was spotted on the menu and reservations made almost immediately.

Lenglui and I like our steak. We have had some amazing chunks of beef both in Malaysia and on our travels, and they do take up quite a lot of my fantastic food memories. Porterhouse and Wolfgang's in New York, House of Prime Rib in San Francisco, Canlis in Seattle, Chez Paul in Paris, Charolais Beef in Beaune, and the greasy midnight specials of my youth at the El Greco and Clifton Street in Cardiff. More locally, we have enjoyed great steaks at Prime in Le Meridien, the Prime in the Bangkok Hilton, Florentine Beefsteak at Osteria RealBlue in Publika, and brilliant Rib Eye at the Mortons and Wolfgang Puck in Singapore. There are a few other places in KL whose names presently elude me, and most of which have either now sadly closed down or their prices have gone astronomical and beyond which I prefer not to bear. Up until about 6 months ago, it was increasingly difficult to find a "great" steak in Kuala Lumpur. Lots of good ones, but very few that elevated themselves into the "great" category.

Then, for some reason, the "Tomahawk" steak became incredibly popular almost overnight. Served with the meat still attached to the long rib, it quickly became de rigeur to be offered at many restaurants who until that time had done little in the way of decent meat. The margins must be good. Also, the bone makes for a good souvenir, and the number of foodie friends who seem to have recently become dog owners has increased dramatically. 

Tomahawk Steak at Soleil. Looks Wagyu, tastes... can't remember...
We had had the Tomahawk at Soleil previously on two reasonably recent occasions and it was stunning. They do it with a beef equivalent of Chee Hor Jiak - those little deep fried chunks of fat you get with Chinese Pork noodles like Hokkien Fried Mee. Except these puppies were deep fried chunks of beef fat rather than pork fat. Darn tasty and a great textural bite to ease the passage of the meat. 

Soleil Sides - crunchy beans and somewhat stodgy spuds
Our friend the Rubber Baron also likes a steak with a good bottle of Red, so he and his dear lady joined us at the Soleil. We shared some starters, and friend Lucy had the Turbot whilst he, Lenglui and I ripped into the steak. The Rubber Baron brought a 2006 Dominus and I brought a 2007 Joseph Phelps Cabernet. Both were silky, rich, full bodied and stunningly wonderful, the Phelps taking it for me on the night with smooth tasty mouth exploding fruit and immense silk on the tannins. 2007 was a belter of a year in the Napa - all the wines we have had from this vintage have been stellar. Dominus was still too young. They didn't charge us corkage.

Spaghetti and Crunchy Beef Fat - O Lordy Lordy...
When the meat came, the Baron asked for some spaghetti and promptly mixed all the fried fat and bits into it which became total genius - carbo and fat with crunch and bite which all together felt like a blast from Gabriel's trumpet - repent and believe in the truth that is laid before ye! If St Peter has a restaurant I hope it serves this as an entree, though the anorak wardens at the Gate would probably deem it too sinful to serve. Wonderful wonderful. 

Soleil Cheese Platter and Bone to Go
Whilst the Soleil preparation and presentation and wine service were at their excellent best, regret to report that the meat on this occasion felt a bit forgettable. Not sure why, just not nearly as memorable as previous. This last time out also felt a bit of a whack in the wallet. Two shared starters, turbot for one and steak for four with an excellent cheese platter to finish came out at nearly RM1600 total for four. I guess the meat was wagyu; it was over RM1000 for 1.3kg of the meat. Service charge alone was over RM200. Hmmm…  Bit below par and didn't quite feel value on this occasion. 

Soleil Apple Crumble
In contrast, the T-Bone at Chambers was full of taste, aided by a spoon of ash woody black salt to bring out its delightful best. In addition, the sides of French Fries were crisp and full bodied, the spinach was freshly delicate and rich in serious iron, add the fact that no corkage got charged because we got recognised by the Sommelier as regulars (outstanding!!), and the whole thing (courtesty of a Hilton card membership) came in at under RM200 (under the Card, one person in your group gets to dine for free; so three people, only pay for two). We shared a 500g T-Bone (RM248) and sides which proved enough. A beautiful steak, perfectly done, with superb accompaniments and some excellent service from all the staff. Chef Marc came out to say hello and accepted a glass of our 1997 Clerc Milon. All in all, another hugely memorable evening at the Chambers. Definitely would go back on this form. Silly, silly price for two people. And the ambience of the Chambers is classic upmarket New York compared to the low key subdued continental Brasserie feel of the Soleil - more breezy than easy, though conversation can get a bit difficult - ask for a table near the kitchen. 

[Sidenote - Lenglui and I have been off and on Hilton Card holders over the years.The reason we let it lapse was the idiotic car park charges that kept getting imposed. Now with Hilton there is flat rate with the rubber chop. Seems someone finally listened. The card is not a bad deal for two who like to eat there. Which we do - the Iketeru Japanese Teppanyaki beef and fish are consistently good and with a bottle of Sake makes for a good night. The Graze is…  okay, but now with Chambers there is a serious contender to the Prime in the next door Le Meridien. Given that the carpark charges there remain (to my knowledge) fierce, going for steak at the Chambers is now a no brainer.]

Lucky Bo interior
As said, Lucky Bo was a chance meeting on the way to eat the Guinness Stew at the neighbouring Jarrod and Rawlins. Lots of glass frontage with somewhat subdued lighting that made the menu a bit tough to read. Though our table friend Rose was able to call out the dishes for us. 

Charcuterie Platter - hmm...
We started with a fairly forgettable Charcuterie platter of mediocre cheeses and what could only be described as Iberico Duck shavings - had the oily and greasy texture of Iberico Ham but was apparently duck. Tasty, but barely enough on the plate to satisfy. The toasted wholewheat bread ahead of the platter was good, though perhaps a dint of French butter rather than the standard Balsamic and Olive Oil from BIG or wherever might add a classy touch. FBQ added a side of onion rings which came out in a conical tower and actually looked quite phallic. Yeah okay, maybe it is the mind it goes into, and no one else commented on the…  engorged visual aspect, but first thing I saw was virile and penile, especially with the, er, crowning glory. Definitely a candidate for being haramised at some of the more sensitive eateries. Or at least toned down on the visual side. But kudos to the creative mind behind it.  Tastewise they were okay, but maybe needed a shade more defrosting. Either that or hotter oil. 

The phallic Onion Ring Tower
The Lucky Bo meat was classic Angus medium rare, seared with loads of salt which made for a very tasty chunk of bone-in to share among the four of us. Nice touches with the broccoli and chunky roast potato and roasted garlic and lemon adds on the wooden platter. Texas Ranger had ordered a pricey Malbec to match but it had all got drunk by the time the meat hit the table. So rather than fork out for another, I brought out a 2010 Alles de Cantermerle brought for the nonce and the heck with the RM60 the corkage. The darling Rose came on her own to tell us no corkage would get imposed as we had already bought one from the wine list! And she brought out fresh glasses for the new wine! Put the Lucky Bo way up the rankings with this. Actually, Rose our wine and food waiter was outstanding - she always kept an eye on the glasses and food and was unfailingly helpful throughout the evening. Worth to visit Lucky Bo to get served by her alone.  The Malbec was muy macho, tasting a bit like dusty pine needles with a big whack of beautifully blended dark plum and rich chewy tannins. The Alles de Cantemerle was softer, though with enough oomph to ease the meat without overwhelming and make for a most pleasant food partner. Good wine, this one - maybe can keep for a while, but is drinking very nicely now. 

The Lucky Bo Tomahawk - good solid meat
Total for four was RM900 inclusive of the RM250 Malbec and RM130 GST and service charge. Ambience borders on French bistro, cafe style tables with tablecloths, fair glassware, but sat near the door meant we got regularly blasted by the warm Bangkung Row evening air every time someone came in or out (which was quite often - seating was also available outside). On our Sunday, it was full with two Birthday celebrations and a family with a small child whose mother kept adding to the door opening on too many occasions for comfort. Still don't understand why parents need to bring almost new born children to a noisy restaurant. Is it a bonding thing? Though our little cherub was delightfully silent through the night, notwithstanding the noise being made by our Birthday neighbours. Lucky Bo seems indeed to have luck and looks like it is flourishing - hopefully it has ditched the jinx that seemed to bedevil its previous incarnations as a seafood restaurant (Four Seas), a modern European style eaterie (Madisons) and (if I remember correctly) a halal Chinese cuisine hangout somewhere in between the two. 

Leonardo's Chocolate Lava - so sinful
The desserts looked a bit sad so at the suggestion of the FBQ we opted to go to Leonardo's upstairs and next door for their Chocolate Lava dessert which was absolutely magnificent with an Espresso - all rich thick gooey bitter chocolate sauce and creamy ice cream with little dabs of mango and strawberry sauce. Another one for the Pearly Gates Restaurant. 

Tastewise and everything else wise, Chambers completely knocked it out of the park. The range of salts to taste, excellently charred and seasoned meat, brilliant sides and superb service and under RM200 for the two of us. Unmitigated Bargain of the Decade and darn straight we be back soon. Lucky Bo was fair value and worth a return visit when the need to whack a large chunk of the Angus is felt by a group. As for Soleil, I don't think we'll be back there before they move - there did feel a slight slip somewhere. See what happens when they move to the new place. 

Soleil Restaurant
Business Hours
12.00 Noon - 2.30 pm | 6.30 pm - 10.30 pm (last order) | Off Day - Sunday
Address : Ground Floor, 22A, Jalan 17/54, Seksyen 17, 46400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia.
GL +603 7932 5989 | F +603 7932 0877 | HP +6012 612 5989
E enquiries@soleil.my

Chambers Bar and Grill
Open Daily Mon - Sat 12.00 to 2.30pm, 8.30pm to 10.30pm
KL Hilton Hotel
3 Jalan Stesen Sentral, Kuala Lumpur 50470, Malaysia
+603 2264 2264

Lucky Bo
Business Hours
Daily 11am to 4pm, 6pm to 11.00pm
65 Jalan Bangkung
Bukit Bandaraya, Bangsar
59100 Kuala Lumpur
+603 2092 1222
Lucky Bo exterior in Bangsar

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Noble Mansion - great wines, mostly good tasting food

July 28th 2016

For the July event, the IWFS decided to revisit an old friend of a restaurant, the Noble Mansion in Petaling Jaya. We last visited the place almost three years ago to the day and had a great night of excellent food and wine, with some lovely dishes and booze on show - click here for that report.  This time would see the pairing of the restaurant’s Shunde Cuisine with some equally excellent wines from the Baron de Rothschild selection. Vice President May Peng has been the spearhead for organizing this dinner in conjunction with the visit of the Asia Pacific Export Manager for Baron Edmond de Rothschild, one Florent Mougin who would present the wines at the dinner. 

Short version is that the wines were stellar, which helped make the company have a lot of boozy fun. The service was swift and efficient. Only downside was the later dishes - my tenderloin felt like it had been tendered by a three wood, and my lamb tasted like it had been drenched in the same sauce in which the tenderloin had been soaked. Seems the battered crispy pork rib was the better choice. A frisky fruity dessert made up for things though most people were locked into the vertical by this point.

Dr Rajan, Stephanie, Eric and Ebbie
May be repeating myself here from the previous visit, but no matter - Noble Mansion is an eatery within the Oriental Group of Restaurants, and first its constituent restaurants. The Noble Mansion focuses on the Shunde style from Guangzhou Province, which aspires to be finer than the more traditional fare one finds elsewhere. Shunde has long been widely regarded as the basis for exquisite Cantonese cuisine. While the cuisine of Guangzhou has been historically very minimalist in the use of flavorings, food from Shunde is celebrated for its liberal use of ingredients such as sun dried tangerine peel and dates, resulting in simple but powerful flavours.

As said, IWFS KL was last at Noble Mansion about three years ago to the day and on that occasion got forty to pitch up. So we were somewhat surprised when 60 said they would turn out for this one. Traditionally, the IWFS KL finds Chinese cuisine dinners a tough sell to the Rakyat. The story seems to be that they cannot see the price being justified when they can go to their favourite twin fan and burner eaterie and get better food for a third of the price. Fair enough. But you don't get the ambience of a Mansion House, or the glassware, or the efficient (though somewhat serious faced) pouring of top class wine. I think that this was the kicker - May had struck a deal with Michelle at AsiaEuro to snag some Magnums of an under known Chateau at a sparkling price and get the whole night for under three hundred ring per pax. The Magnums were also in vertical - 2006 to 2008 and we could get to compare them on the table. 

Dato Jeremy Diamond and Lenglui - everyone loved the outfit. Hers, not his...
In my role as IWFS Secretary and emailing of the dinner notice, I had asked attendees to deck out in their best Chinois finery, and Lenglui made sure I came resplendent in Black Silk and Gold. Haven't had so many comments on what I was wearing in my life. It is a very nice jacket though - black silk with dragons embroidered on both breasts. Very Jackie Chan. 

Mingling around the tables with a glass of Rimapere SB and nibbling on some salty mushroom and money bag things. Well, had I been earlier I would have - when I got to the plates it was mostly crumb and crisp. But tasty enough to tame the low acidity and ease one's way into the evening. 

First course of Prawn Cake had a lovely lemongrass hit on what felt like nitrogen frozen and sugar frosted Basil (though it may just have been parked in the freezer for a couple of hours) and other veggie bits. The whole thing was parked in a de-stemmed cocktail glass sitting on a bubbling bowl of dry ice. The Prawn Cake was fresh, soft and crunchy, with salt hits that made it magnificent and close to being the dish of the night. It paired nicely with the light and fruity Rimapere - bit low on the acidity but in excellent blend making for a friendly dash of easy drinking and perfect with the salty prawn cake.

Pan Fried Prawn Cake with Long Beans and Icy Vegetable Shunde style
The soup had a mix of shell fish bits in a nicely seasoned and creamy broth that felt totally devoid of any oil. It also felt reminiscent in texture of a Heinz mushroom soup but way more refined and ticklish in the mouth. Wonderful texture. The shellfish was okay, but lost a lot of taste in the broth. 

Double Boiled Scallop, Razorback Clams and Crab Meat in Superior Crab Soup
It was paired with the Baroness Nadine Chardonnay which had been billed as similar to the Pulignys of Montrachet. The nose certainly promised much with its clean oaky butter, and the body was firm in the mouth and finish. Got spritzy lemon and mango banana in the mouth. Neither soup nor wine did much for each other, but I have had worse matches - at least neither killed the other on this pairing. I did throw some of the remains of the aperitif crackers that were still on the table into the broth for the sake of experimentation. Didn't work - too much oil and salt in the cracker which clashed fiercely with the cream in the soup. Add the oaky butter in the wine and pffffftttt… more damp squib than firecracker.

Pan Fried South African Fresh Abalone Shunde Style
I found the pan fried South African Abalone a darn tough beast to carve and eat. I have had these in Tokyo and they were belter, all firm bite and tender chew. Tonight's felt more like biting into a Springbok rugby player than a shelled seacrawler. Not sure if others felt the same or whether I had just drawn the tough one - no one said anything negative, so maybe I was just unlucky. Also not sure where the Shunde style crept into the preparation, though my notes say it tasted the same as the prawn, a salty crunch and zip on the lips and mouth. Tasty, but darn chewy. Having said all this, the Baroness started to sing with the Abalone. There were flowers on the nose and in the mouth, the fruit softened from citrus to tropical yet it retained great acidity which clung to the cheeks like a frost on a winter car windscreen. Still citrussy, crisp and fresh, in lovely balance and nicely elegant from start to finish. Clean, crisp, clear and cutting - a cracker of a wine drinking wonderfully on the night.

Andy, Jaya and David
We were now on to the main event - the vertical magnums of Chateau Clarke from 2006 to 2008 which would all be paired with the beef, the lamb (or pork) and the fried rice. They were all poured one after the other so all stood on the table waiting to be judged by the assembled. 

It made sense to try each of them one by one and then go on to try them with the dishes as and when they made the table.

The 2008 felt tight and lean and taut, with the forward tannins tending to upend the balance and tilt the wine toward a somewhat reedy feel. Felt like it needed more time, though one for the austerity fans rather than the fruit bomb lovers.

The 2007 had better fruit and came over rich and bold. Big friendly nose of forest berries, clean firm and fresh with a lot of cassis in the mouth and on the finish. Excellent drinker, very friendly.

The 2006 had a firm nose, and initially felt a bit claggy and sour on the throat as if there were some elements that were a bit off. Got a hint of cat-pee on the nose and mouth with pretty forward tannins, suggesting a need for a good few more years for its austerity to come fully to the fore. Perhaps one for the purists - lean, mean and a little bit green.

The Beef Tenderloin came out smothered in what was billed as Foie Gras sauce and with a quail's egg. Mine must have been a darn big quail, was almost the size of half a golf ball. Also seemed a good waste of what might have been decent Foie Gras - felt a bit like the restaurant was being opulent for the sake of being opulent. But kudos for the experiment. Perhaps if it had been hotter it might have made a difference. The meat was…  no, on reflection I didn't really like it. As said earlier, well over tenderised and having so been beaten thunderously with the hammer of Thor it tasted like something out of the Fray Bentos factory. No bite or chew, like biting through processed spam. And it was cold. Fail. 

Pan Fried Beef Tenderloin with Foie Gras Sauce and Fried Quail Egg
The lamb was an improvement, and quite nicely done but the sauce remained way too sweet. It was like lamb chop toffee apple, all sweet caramel with a hit of cinnamon. The sauce might be belter on a pork rib but I don't get why it needs to be almost constantly paired with all other meats. Apparently the Pork Rib was very good. And strangely without sauce...

Grilled Lamb Cutlet with Green Garden Salad
The fried rice tended toward the salty but the texture had a good vegetal crunch to it thanks to what felt like celery chips thrown into the mix. Might have accounted for the salty feel on the thing.

Deep Fried Pork Ribs with Ginger Shunde Style
Dessert was cute - traditional bits of ginkgo, bean and iced jelly in syrup but served in an apple hollowed out to take the mix. This gave it a refreshingly green crisp chilled cider twist that made for a very pleasant and tasty closer. 

Chilled Sweetened Fuji Apple with Snow Jelly
So… overall not stunned by the food - the first few courses were good, but the beef having been mashed with a three wood rather than tenderised took all the texture out of the thing. Also, not sure how Shunde the food was. Dr Gan would probably have said not even close. Ah, Dr Gan…  still missed.

Lovely wines all through the night - soft Sauvignon Blanc, full on Chardonnay and an excellent Bordeaux vertical. Don't get this too often and kudos to May for getting this excellent evening together. Great food and wine service and the applause felt quite genuine when the staff came out to take a bow. 

The aircon initially felt a bit cool, but evened out as the food got to the table. Very pleasant ambience helped immensely by members who had got into the spirit and dressed up for the night. 

Didn't get much in the way of complaint from the assembled, who were all happily guzzling the remains of the Clarke. All were happy with the food and the friendly cost of the evening (RM298 for members) and AsiaEuro made everyone happier by saying the wines would be available at special price to everyone. 

Oh, so drama one...
David asked me to get up and give an opinion on which of the vertical was the best. Yes. I managed to turn it around by asking everyone what they thought a) of the wines on their own and b) did that opinion change when drunk with the food. There seemed a consensus that the 2007 was the better on its own because of the fruit but that the 2006 sang with food. Some people preferred the 2008 over everything which only goes to prove the truth that we all taste things differently and from a different expectation perspective. All booze is good, and only experience and preference born from hard time served swilling it will tell us which for us is better. Yes. What?

We decided to leave everyone to the boozing and slipped out, albeit with a reluctant glance back at the revelry that looked clearly to be heading toward the early hours. There you go - now at the age where pacing becomes important. There was no need for a marmite sandwich for supper, and the two panadol with the 6am pee mitigated the headbang of the morning after though it remained a very muzzy day. Maybe there's a blogpost in here somewhere - how to manage the morning after. Cheers!

Yam Seng!!

Noble Mansion
Level One, Plaza@Jaya 33
1 Jalan Semangat 
Section 13, Petaling Jaya
Phone:+603-7932 3288


Deep Fried Beancurd Skin Roll
Golden Crispy Shimeji Mushrooms
Crispy Prawn Cracker 
Rimapere Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013

1st Course
Pan Fried Prawn Cake with Long Beans & Icy Vegetable Shunde Style
2nd Course
Double Boiled Scallop, Razorback Clams & Crab Meat in Superior Crab Soup
3rd Course
Pan Fried South African Fresh Abalone Shunde Style
Baroness Nadine Chardonnay 2012

4th Course
Pan Fried Beef Tenderloin with Foie Gras Sauce & Fried Quail Egg
5th Course
Deep fried Pork Ribs with Ginger Shunde Style
Grilled Lamb Cutlet with Green Garden Salad
6th Course
Shunde Style Fried Rice

Chateau Clarke Baron Edmond de Rothschild 
Vertical of 2006, 2007 and 2008 vintages in Magnum

Chilled Sweetened Fuji Apple with Snow Jelly, Gingko, Fresh Lily and Red Date


Rimapere Sauvignon Blanc 2013 
Rimapere is a partnership between Chateau Clarke in Bordeaux Craggy Range in Marlborough NZ. The name means "five arrows" in Maori, these also being the emblem of the Rothschild family, symbolizing the five brothers and sons of Mayer Amschel Rothschild (1744-1812, Frankfurt, Germany).

Rimapere grapes are carefully grown and the wine is made under the direction of the Craggy Range winemaking team. The cool climate of the Rapaura area in the heart of Marlborough is perfect to ripen high quality Sauvignon Blanc and give these grapes their classic lemon and grapefruit flavours and crisp acidity.

Pale yellow in colour with an intense nose of lemon, grapefruit together with mineral notes. This wine shows great balance and freshness thanks to a good acidity level. Well paired when chilled with white meat, grilled fish, or seafood.

Rupert & Rothschild Baroness Nadine 2012
100% Chardonnay.  The grapes were hand picked from end January to beginning March 2012 with an average yield of 7 tons per hectare. After whole cluster pressing only the free-run juice was used. 20% was fermented and matured in concrete tanks. The remainder was fermented in stainless steel tanks and thereafter matured in 300 liter French oak barrels for 11 months of which one third was new barrels.

A fusion of citrus blossom aromas with macadamia nougat and baguette crust on the palate. Soft, fine structure and a creamy roundness with an elegant, lingering lemon zest finish. Recommended with seared sesame crusted tuna or melon and prawn salad. 

Chateau Clarke Baron Edmond de Rothschild "Anglais" Listrac Medoc 2008, 2007, 2006
The origins of the Chateau Clarke estate date back to the 12th century when the Cistercian monks of the Vertheuil Abbey planted the first vines. The land was bought by the knight Tobie Clarke in 1818 (hence the name) and sold to the Baron Edmond de Rothschild in 1973. The neglected vineyard was completely recreated between 1974 and 1978 to attain a final wine producing area of 54 hectares.

Today the vines are planted on clay-limestone hilltops that enables the Merlot grape to express itself at its best, The ancient buildings have been restored and the techniques and equipment used in the winemaking process have been brought up to date. 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from 30yo vines are handpicked and meticulously sorted before vatting through simple gravity into  wooden vats for vinification. Pumping over and pigeage. Malolactic fermentation and maturation in new French Oak Barrels for between 14 and 18 months. 250,000 bottles produced.

2008 notes - super powerful, intense and complex nose, with mature red fruit. Notes of violets and spicy oak. The attack on the palate is dense and rich with tight tannins. Freshness and persistent flavours of fruit. Merlot makes a nice sweetness and is enhanced by beautiful spices that give a kind of "Margaux style". 

2007 notes - intense deep purpled red, complex nose, concentrated fresh blackcurrant fruit and smoke, full body, good depth, dense with a beautiful ripeness. Decanter 16.5.

2006 notes - minty, new wood aromas show this wine as modern and smooth in style. The tannins are a touch woody rather than fruity suggesting a need for time to integrate. Sweet plum, cassis, violets, dusty tobacco, fruit depth with vanilla spice and toasty oak. Good balance and texture.