G1-01-3, Ground Floor
Menara Kencana Petroleum,
1 Jalan Dutamas 1,
Millesime toasts the debut of its monthly wine events with an all-white affair.
NOW that Millesime at Solaris Dutamas, Kuala Lumpur, has found its footing in the local restaurant scene, chef cum co-owner Max Chin plans to consolidate his restaurant’s position by hosting more wine-related events.
“One of our targets for this year is to organise wine-centric activities ranging from wine tastings to food and wine pairing dinners,” says Chin. “Customers were receptive to last year’s Wine on Wednesdays promotion, so we want to raise the bar and try something new like this all-white wine dinner with Hugel.”
Considered the most prominent vintner in Alsace, France, Hugel et Fils was established in 1639 by Hans Ulrich Hugel. Renowned for their late-harvest Vendange Tardive and Sélection de Grains Nobles white wines, the family-owned and -run Hugel estate is now helmed by the 12th generation with Etienne Hugel as its current chief.
“Hugel’s light, fruity and crisp wines go perfectly well with Asian cuisine,” says the Hugel family scion.
To accommodate the label’s all-white line-up, Chin had to blend some Oriental influences into the French-based techniques and ingredients in his cooking to show how Hugel wines complement Asia’s wide-ranging culinary offerings. Luckily for us the chef’s picks resulted in more hits than misses, starting with the canapés.
The Tuna Tartar and Scallop with Caviar on Japanese Rice Crackers was served with the Hugel Gentil AOC 2009. The dry white wine’s crisp floral, fruity and spicy bouquet certainly enhanced the seafood’s delicate sweetness. The Cajun Spiced Crisp Venus Clam with Smoked Garlic Galette and Heart of Palm was, on the other hand, paired with the Hugel Riesling AOC 2009. It proved to be another winning match. Brimming with grassy-floral and citrusy nuances, the wine, with its refreshing acidity and subtle flintiness, was a nice balance to the rich-tasting dish.
With its chiffon-light texture and crackling burnt sugar-top crust, the Foie Gras Creme Brulee with Berry Salad and Pickled Beets could easily have been passed off as a dessert but it’s not, of course. We noted how the goose liver’s fat, velvety richness held its own against the nectar-like sweetness of the Hugel Vendance Tardive Gewurztraminer 2005, amplifying the wine’s ripe lychee-melon-mango aromas and supple viscosity. And any residual cloying aftertaste there might have been dissipated, thanks to the mildly tart berries and pickled beets.
“This wine is the holy grail of our wine production,” Etiene Hugel explained.
“Vendance Tardive or ‘late harvest’ in French, constitutes over-ripe grapes that are carefully hand-harvested to produce a distinct honey-sweet wine. This became our estate’s signature speciality once Jean Hugel had strict stipulations drawn up to regulate its production.”
Since Hugel touts its Gewurztraminer AOC 2009 as the tipple of choice for robust, spicy fare, Chin was challenged to spice up the menu without compromising his own culinary approach.
“That’s when I discovered vadouvan, the French’s answer to Indian marsala,” he said. “A combination of onions, shallots and garlic with Indian spices such as cardamom and nutmeg, it blends well with the vintage’s saffron, almond and jasmine overtones, and dry astringency. I also concocted my own granola of pulses, nuts and puffed rice to add extra crunch to the Butter Poached Marron Lobster with Carrot, Sweet Peas and Vadouvan Granola.”
According to Hugel, Gerwurztraminer means “spiced” Traminer (the grape genome) in English.
“The cream of our vineyard’s crop, the wine’s concentrated flavour is splendid with piquant Indian and Malay food such as laksa, satay and fish head curry.”
Chin hit the mark again when he paired the Golden Snapper Fillet, Gingered Cabbage and Sour Plum Madeleines with the Hugel Tradition Riesling 2007. “Although ginger and sour plum have strong flavours, both ingredients go superbly well with the fish as well the Riesling’s expressive lemony-lime and grapefruit accents,” he said.
Then a mildly herbaceous Poussin Roulade (young chicken meat rolled with savoury stuffing) with Chorizo-Chickpeas Hash and Duck Fat Potato followed to complement the Hugel Tradition Gerwurztraminer 2008. Fresh and unctuous on the palate with hints of rose, pineapple and oriental spice notes, the pale green wine left a nice, long-lasting finish.
For the finale, the Vendance Tardive Gewurztraminer 2005 made another appearance alongside Chin’s Chocolate Crèmeux with Banana, Amarena and Sesame dessert. Denser than a mousse but creamy on the palate, the chocolate pudding with tiny chocolate pearls, sesame seeds and cherry ice cream stirred up some love-hate debate on its suitability with the syrupy wine.
Hugel was noncommital in this regard, and sensibly too.
“Regardless of what the experts may say, it’s best to drink what you like and enjoy it fully,” said Hugel while Chin concurred with a smile.