April 30th marked another grand new milestone for Eastern and Oriental Hotel Penang for successfully hosting the first Bordeaux Rendez-vous in Penang (includes a master class for 26 labels of wines and wine reception with buffet dinner). It is not usual for them to have more than 20 labels of wines but they do have some wine pairing events from time to time (once every 5 to 6 months). The 150-people dinner was held at Eastern and Oriental Hotel’s (Penang) Macalister Ballroom, Level 5, Victory Annexe. Bordeaux Rendez-vous 2013 is said to be probably one of the most important Bordeaux wine events ever organized in South East Asia, where the event has been held in 4 countries and 5 cities (Singapore, Penang, Bangkok, Jakarta and Bali) in South East Asia since April 26th, 2013.
It was my honor to be invited as media to the event, to sample some of the greatest wines flying from respective regions in France. The event has certainly received supports from many wine enthusiasts. Guests were first being welcomed by cocktails, tidbits and Conti Neri-Prosecco Sparkling Wine.
The meticulously designed elegant setting of the night.
The event started with an opening speech by the President of Bordeaux Rendez-vous 2013 and a group photo by fellow representatives from each Chateaux.
A Chateau representative was arranged at each table respectively to give a more in-depth explanation on their own brand of wine. Mr. Aymar De Bailenx, President of Chateau Beychevelle was the representative to sit with us that night. He was kind enough to share some of his experiences with us. A summary of his wise words about wine:
“ Wine is art. A good wine is a wine you like and it can be determined by many factors, such as food (pairing), flavors, your (drinker’s) mood, the year of harvest etc… I believe wine has magical powers, it breaks the ice between people and unites us in a way.”
Mr. Aymar De Bailenx.
The first wine we get to sample was this Chateau Beychevelle 2003 (Rm 800/ bottle- price of the night). Despite the facts that this full-bodied wine has a very spicy and strong flavor to a not-so-frequent drinker like me, but I do like the well-balanced complexity of meaty and fruity taste hidden. We just could not have enough but to help ourselves with a second glass.
We also get to sample the most expensive wine of the night- Chateau Leoville Poyferre 2003 (Rm 1,010/ bottle- price of the night). Hinted by the price, clearly it’s not one of the undiscovered gems but in fact, loved by many wine lovers. The tobacco and oak flavors were subtle to me; I guess I will prefer the previous wine instead.
We just could not drink too many, hence, I have decided to give it a shot on one of the white wines available that night-- Chateau Guiraud 2001 (Rm 350/ bottle- price of the night). This fruity sweet wine has a mild hint of honey but not too sweet, a prefect wine for girls. The flavors stayed for an extremely long period of time and leaving you to ask more of it.
Some other labels available that night.
The Buffet Dinner prepared by Chef Petr has a wide spread of delectable dishes but finding a decent one to go with the wines was tricky. I was shocked to see them preparing Sambal Belacan, Nyonya Kuih, Curry Stew and even Popiah for that night. They just don’t seem to be complementing each other well though. I was hoping to have some Steak, Grilled Lamb or Smoked Salmon but unfortunately, they were nowhere to be seen. Fortunately, they do have some decent cheese and crackers to pair with the wines.
Among the wonderful dishes prepared, their Salmon and Prawns are the recommended ones; the Salmon slices were prepared in a wonderful manner, although slightly harder in texture, but they were good in juggling between the sweetness and sourness of the sauce. Prawns were equally great either, very fresh but some of the ladies were reluctant to go for the prawns as they had to be extremely careful on their outfits so I guess it would be better if they could serve some de-shelled prawns.
Move on to the desserts, the Crème Brulee was a prefect dessert, with the right texture and flavors (slight too sweet to my liking though) but I beg to differ on the serving Sago Pudding with Palm Sugar, no, not about the taste/flavor but it does not seem to be right seeing them in a wine-related event. Overall, I was quite satisfied and happy with the foods but of course, there are still rooms of improvements in terms of choosing the right dishes.
Last but not least, I would like to thank the management of Eastern and Oriental Hotel Penang for reaching me and inviting me to this wonderful event.