Five-course Chinese dinner menu paired with Pascal Jolivet wines

French winemaker Pascal Jolivet

AS far as wines go, it is each to his own when it comes to what is palatable and what is not.

However, more often we come across wines that are too acidic or high in tannins.

To say that I have tasted the best wine, which transcends the various regions, might sound like a bit of a stretch, but Pascal Jolivet wines certainly hit the right notes.

Drinking exquisite wine is one thing, but when you pair it with refined and impeccable food, the experience is ethereal.

The InterContinental Kuala Lumpur recently treated invited guests to a delectable dinner at its award-winning Tao Chinese Cuisine, in collaboration with Albert Wines & Spirits featuring wines from the Pascal Jolivet winery.

The five-course dinner menu was designed by executive Chinese chef Wong Lian You, who cleverly tweaked traditional Chinese dishes into contemporary morsels or edible art.

Also making an appearance was none other than Pascal Jolivet himself, who regaled everyone with his expertise in vinification throughout the evening.

The featured wines at the dinner comprised the Pascal Jolivet Attitude Sauvignon Blanc (2012), Sancerre Blanc (2010), Sancerre Blanc “Clos Du Roy” (2014), Sancerre Rouge (2010) and Sauvage Sancerre Rouge Grandes Cuvees (2011).

Jolivet’s winery, which sits in Loire Valley in central France, is one of the youngest wine estates in the region.

“My philosophy of wine-making is very natural. That is why the taste is balanced, fruity and pure,” he said.

They were, indeed, as the first sip of the “Attitude” Sauvignon Blanc was crisp, fresh and breezy. Jolivet described his wines as restrained on the nose and elegant.

This was paired with canapes of Chilled Cherry Tomato, Marinated Jellyfish Smoked Duck Roll with Mint Sauce, Deep-fried Homemade Beancurd Skin Prawn Date with Lemon Sauce and Chicken Lotus Root, Crushed Black Pepper and chef Wong’s Brown Glaze.

According to Jolivet, they have the best combination of soil and microclimate.

“In Sancerre, we produce the best Sauvignon Blanc in the world,” he said.

They are also organic and natural when it comes to wine-making.

“The less we do, the better. We get the grapes, press them and while the juice is very cloudy, it is then placed in a temperature controlled stainless steel tank.

“We don’t add any enzymes and as we don’t add cultured yeast, too, the (natural) fermentation process takes about two to three months, instead of one week.”

The wine is then aged in stainless steel barrels, where the wine’s acidity is well integrated with the fruit. Jolivet started his wine business in 1987 and he owns a 70ha vineyard.

Next was the Sancerre Blanc, paired with the first course of Chilled Octopus with Granny Smith White Wine Jelly, Deep-fried Oyster with Coriander, Red Chilli and Mango Salsa, as well as Steamed Caviar Bird’s Nest with Crabmeat Gravy Dumpling with Superior Stock.

The second course had Braised Australian Five Head Abalone and Morel Mushroom Dumplings, Baby Pak Choi and Edamame Beans, paired with the Sancerre Blanc “Clos Du Roy”.

More importantly, Jolivet explained, they control everything they do.

“Ninety per cent of our production is white wine. But we work hard in the winery to make a good Pinot Noir. We have to work a bit harder to strengthen our red wines, which will take about two to three years,” he added.

When it comes to reds, Jolivet’s range is pleasing to the palate. The Sancerre Rouge is fruity and spicy which enhanced the flavours of the third course comprising Aromatic Peking Duck Rolls and Foie Gras garnished with Korean Pear, Red Wine Jelly with Pancake as well as Baked Garlic “Man Tau”.

Meanwhile, Wong, who has been specialising in traditional Chinese cuisine for 15 years, said it is important to adapt to new and fresh cooking styles.

“We are migrating to more modern ways in presenting dishes. My team and I tweaked our traditional menu into a refined style to suit Jolivet’s wine for tonight,” said Wong.

The main course had Spiced Lamb Rack with Chinese Herb Sauce as well as Mixed Wild Rice and Sauteed Vegetables, featuring Sauvage Sancerre Rouge Grandes Cuvees red wine.

The wild rice resembled lo mai kai (steamed glutinous rice wrapped in lotus leaf wrap). It had the perfect balance of taste and was even more flavourful with the wine.

For dessert, a delectable trifecta of Red Date Mousse, Pinot Noir Infused Strawberry and Honey Wolfberry Dressing, accompanied with Tao Black Tea was served to complete the dining experience.

For details on the wines, call 03-6276 3993 (Albert Wines).

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