Fifth Floor, Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur Hotel,
Jalan Sultan Ismail,
Tel: 03-2717 9922
Business hours: Mon-Fri noon-2.30pm,
closed on Sunday and public holidays.
LET’S talk about desserts. This part of any meal is often said to be sinful, rich and to die for. Those were fitting descriptions for my dessert in a recent wine dinner at Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur’s Villa Danieli.
Allowing the food to speak for itself, the plating was simple and unpretentious. We were served a trio of desserts consisting of a Chocolate and Peaches Melting Heart Cake, Iced Sweet Ricotta Cheese Mousse with brown sugar and wedges of roasted peach.
The cake’s molten core was sour with a strong taste of peach while the pastry dissolved quickly in my mouth. Contrasting to the warm cake, was the cool ricotta cheese.
Its fluffiness and subtle flavours ensured it did not overwhelm the palate and the roasted peach gave the dish a sweet end.
Of course, we were not there just to savour the food but more importantly, the wine. As a companion to the dessert, we were served Michele Chiarlo’s Moscato d’Asti Nivole. Incidentally, this was also my favoured drink of the night.
The five-course dinner was held to introduce Michele Chiarlo wines which made its debut in Malaysia recently and can be found at selected establishments only.
Originating from the Piedmont province in Italy, the winery is managed and owned by the Chiarlo clan. The winery is one of Piedmont’s most famous and its award-winning red Barolos are often the talk of the town.
Back to the Nivole, its sales and marketing manager Alberto Chiarlo said it was named after his daughter Nivola. However, the name also translates to ‘clouds’ in the local dialect — a direct tribute to its sweet aroma and light taste.
In Italy, Moscato d’Asti wines are found in both frizzante (lightly sparkling) or spumante (fully sparkling) style, with the Nivole as the former.
Moscato grapes picked from its 25-year-old vines were gently pressed and fermented in temperature controlled steel tanks until the alcohol content reached 5% abv (alcohol by volume). At this point, fermentation is stopped to retain sweetness.
Nivole displayed a fragrant bouquet of grapefruit, meringue and peach, which perfectly explained the use of peaches in the cake. In essence, the wine is simple and great to have even on its own as an aperitif or a digestive.
My other favourite wine and dish was the fourth course — Barolo Cerequio with a small slab of beef cheek and crispy risotto. As mentioned earlier, the winery is famed for its Barolos, with some scoring high in the Wine Spectator and Decanter magazines.
A sip of the Cerequio turned out, for me, to be the most complex and intriguing wine for the evening. The lively garnet red wine has a sort of personality of its own.
It has a heady aroma of ripe fruits such as blackcurrant and apricot with strong hints of spice, tobacco, and wood-smoke. It is also dry, full-bodied and high in tannin and acidity.
Such features made it the perfect pair to red meat especially beef. The restaurant’s chef de cuisine Alessandro Graziosi noted the beef cheek as a dish traditional to the region in Italy where the vineyard is located.
With the right amount of fat in the meat, the beef indeed melted in my mouth. It came with tarragon glazed vegetable mirepoix (freshly chopped celery, onions and carrots). As for the rectangular risotto, it was seasoned with saffron and accentuated with air of leek.
When asked, Graziosi shared that his favourite wine was Barbaresco Asili, due to his love of strong meats.
The red was served with Roasted Lamb, eggplant and zucchini tarte tatin and crunchy sage. Barbarescos are also prized products of Michele Chiarlo.
Harvested from the Nebbiolo vines, the Asili has hints of red-berried fruit, violet and delicate spices and often served with meat sauce based pasta and ripe cheese. Graziosi said the lamb was the only change Alberto made in the original menu.
“Initially, I suggested a freshwater fish to go with the wine. However, he (Alberto) feels that a red meat brings out the wine better, so I didn’t argue with the expert,” he quipped.
As for the first and second course, we were served a white and a red respectively.
A trio of appetisers — Smoky Atlantic Salmon with Citrus Honey Gelatin, Tuna Loin Tartar with Red Currants and Crystalised Leeks, and Truffle and Potato Mille-feuille with a Seared Tiger Prawn — complemented the fragrant Gavi Rovereto well.
The Rovereto is made of Cortese grapes and is light-bodied with slight notes of grapefruit, white flowers and anise. Yields are kept low and grapes undergo cold maceration before pressed to preserve its unique aroma.
The second course was the only vegetarian dish on the menu and gave a nice balance to the overall meat-oriented menu.
A single ravioli was stuffed with roasted pumpkin, amaretto and pistachio as well as cinnamon braised red onions. The accompanying thyme and parmesan sauce was rich and creamy.
The nut and fruit stuffing was wonderfully crunchy and complemented the red Barbera d’Asti Nizza Superiore La Court. Produced solely from the finest Barbera grapes, it has an intense ruby red colour with a bouquet of maraschino cherry, black-berried fruit, chocolate and coffee.
I also found it to have hints of vanilla and spice, which adds to its complexity.
And for those who put stock in scoring, La Court has high marks in major wine magazines.
Other selected Michele Chiarlo wines are also available at the restaurant.
This is the writer’s personal observation and is not an endorsement by StarMetro.