TASTING a full bodied Shiraz paired with an assorted cheese platter is a treat to the taste buds.
A charismatic Shiraz is by Chapel Hill, an Australian winery housed in a desanctified Christian house of worship in McLaren Vale, about 35km south of Adelaide.
Made without tannin additions, The Vicar Shiraz 2014 was bottled unrefined and unfiltered, and evoked sweet but tart flavours of blueberries with subtle notes of fennel seeds.
Complementing this savoury wine is a cheese platter of sliced Iberico rocinante, talleggio, gorgonzola and Pont l’Eveque with crisp bread and cherry tomatoes.
Combined with the salty creaminess of the cheeses, the wine gave off hints of cured ham.
This magical sensation could have been kickstarted by the Iberico cheese, a Spanish import made of milk from sheep of the Manchega breed, whose bloodline is said to be almost pure despite the onslaught of domestication and industrial argriculture.
This was the buildup to a five-course food and wine pairing session hosted by Drift, a three-year-old bar-cum-diner located in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. The meal began with a light Chardonnay 2017 paired with a starter of Smoked Salmon with Rocket Leaves, Slivers of Orange Sacs and Capers.
This white wine is reminiscent of a fruit salad with hints of melon. This light, fruity character is the result of not only careful barrel fermentation but a cooling period of eight months in stainless steel tanks.
The Parson Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, a medium red blend of Grenarche, Shiraz and Mouvedere grapes came soon after.
Known in wine circles as the GSM blend, the root of its flavour lies in the blending of three grape varieties with Grenarche as the lightest, followed by the medium character of the Shiraz and the bold style of the Mouvedere.
This label’s GSM is lively and fruity with a splash of spicy notes.
Complementing it is a dish of Steamed Manila Clams in a Saffron Cream Sauce with Serrano Ham.
Chapel Hill Winery chief winemaker Michael Fragos said it all boiled down to the grape when it came to blending wine flavours.
Of Greek descent and having grown up in a family of vine growers in McLaren Vale itself, Fragos said the gist of a good wine starts with the way the fruit is grown. No fertiliser and no insecticides are used.
They use compost derived from the stems and skins. Basically, one needs insects to control pests that can harm the grapes and the grass to break down, adding compost to the soil.
The label’s respect for the vine and land comes across in The Parson Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, a full bodied red. This was paired with Lamb Rack on a bed of Mashed Potato with a Rosemary-infused Brown Sauce.
Described as broodingly complex with the expressive and alluring aromas of liquorice and mulberry, this Cabernet Sauvignon brought out the pleasant gaminess of the meat. The herbaceous element in the rosemary, combined with the fine toasted oak finish of the wine, left a grassy linger on the palate.
A prelude to the finale was the McLaren Vale Shiraz 2014 sourced from vines aged between 12 and 36 years. The grapes from these vines were fermented separately according to the origin of their parcels, retaining their unique characteristics.
The Roast Pork Belly in a Sweet Yakitori Sauce was paired with this lovely Shiraz. While the pork crackling lacked crunch the peppery nuances from the wine made up for it.
The end of the night saw the restaurant founder, Robert Gilliland, an Australian native, receive a standing ovation for this food and wine pairing. Diners eager to try the range of Chapel Hill wines can find it here.
DRIFT DINING AND BAR, Ground Floor, 38 Bidara, Jalan Bedara, Kuala Lumpur. Tel: 03-21102079. Business hours: Noon until late. Non-halal.
This is the writer’s personal observation and not an endorsement by StarMetro.