Drinks: The Olive: A taste of Chile at an elegant Montes wine dinner

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on April 4, 2018.

(From left) Resorts World Genting resident sommelier Kevin Yee, Khew, Garre and Leong were among the guests feted with delicious Chilean food and top Montes wines in Genting Highlands last Thursday.

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IMAGINE a specially-curated menu at The Olive — amid the cooling foggy weather in Resorts World Genting (RWG) — paired with premium Montes wines. Almost 50 guests were delighted to have experienced this occasion at the award-wining dining outlet last Thursday.

Apart from top wines from Montes — a pioneering and innovative brand that has helped lift Chilean wines’ stature globally — the evening also paid homage to the South American nation’s incredible produce and recipes which have captured gourmands’ attention worldwide.

Special guests Elena Garcia Garre, Asia export manager of Montes, Leong Kheng Mun, managing director of Nam Lee Cheong Sdn Bhd and Khew Choon Teck, vice-president of food and beverage RWG were present to sample the carefully-curated six-course menu designed for the evening.

Joining Montes’ Shanghai subsidiary in 2013, Garre serves as the brand’s ambassador in Asia. At the event, she related the story of how Aurelio Montes, Douglas Murray, Alfredo Vidaurre and Pedro Grand banded together in 1987 to realise their dream of producing wines superior to other Chilean wines of the time.

Their first wine, Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon, was a trailblazer, raising the bar for Chilean winemakers and gaining international recognition.

Garre said the Montes winery and cellar in Apalta is also uniquely designed around feng shui principles, with Chilean feng shui expert Sylvia Galleguillos consulting to ensure the prime elements of water, fire, earth, metal and wood are in harmony across the property.

“Tonight (last Thursday), chef Gary has elevated the Montes Alpha wine series to new heights by flawlessly combining bold and unique flavours of each of the Montes wines perfectly in his creations,” she said.

She added that the Montes trademark angel featured prominently on every bottle of Montes wine represents a guardian spirit behind Montes’ continued success and symbolises the communal spirit among members of the Vina Montes “family”.

“While other wineries planted vineyards on valley floors, we plant our grapes on hillside and use an innovative drip irrigation method resulting in smaller yields yet higher quality grapes; [this is] ideal for creating signature premium wines like Montes Purple Angel,” Garre said.

Thanks to chef Gary and his team’s deft hands and creative minds, the meal honours Chile’s varied cuisine, beginning with a spectacular seafood serving of homemade squid-ink pasta with lobster, little neck clams and grass prawns served in a crustacean broth.

This delicious fare was paired with the crisp Montes Alpha Chardonnay 2015 — the Alpha prefix indicating its premium quality, the first Chilean wine brand to achieve such a recognition in 1987.

The guests then proceeded to enjoy the roasted duck breast and confit duck leg served with carrot textures, Porcini mushrooms and a thyme carmenère reduction, echoing the Montes Alpha Carmenère 2015’s earthy flavours.

As a tribute to the vast Chilean grasslands that support high-quality livestock and farming, the third course — wagyu beef flavoured with the Chilean Merkén spice blend, and served with a refined take on Queso Azul Cromesquis (blue cheese croquettes), zucchini and green asparagus in a charqui jus — was a treat. It also went well with a glass of Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 that brought out the meat’s hearty flavours.

The final entrée of lamb with Queso de Cabra (goat’s cheese), polenta, endive and plum in a rosemary jus boasted diverse flavours — savoury and sweet, gamey and creamy, silky and crunchy — and the dish was paired with Montes Purple Angel 2014, the super Carmenère that Montes ranks as part of its “ultra premium” selection.

Halfway through the evening, the guests were treated to a surprise sampling of another top Montes wine — the Montes Alpha M with 18 months ageing in French oak barrels. Originated from the Colchagua Valley, Montes Alpha M is one of the best and most awarded wines from Chile with its intense red appearance, a well-defined character concentrated with dense aromas of cedar, vanilla, dulce de leche and a silky-smooth ending.

The dinner ended on a sweet note with Leche Asada, an ubiquitous milk flan found all over Chile. However, the version served at The Olive was a refined interpretation of the traditional sweet delight that included milk chocolate espuma, papaya and butterscotch. This was paired with the Montes Late Harvest 2014, made from 70% botrytised (Noble Rot) grapes; the wine’s delicate syrupy notes complement the dessert.

Before leaving, the guests received a gift from Garre, a heartwarming Montes angel figurine handmade by the wives and mothers of Montes workers and specially flown in from faraway Millahue de Apalta. Elegant and delectable, it was a memorable dinner.