What a fantastic evening all-around at the Centara Grand Mirage Beach Resort Pattaya on Friday, September 27th. We were fortunate enough to be invited to one of Centara’s famous wine dinners at Acqua Restaurant, this particular evening featuring wines by Tenuta Sette Ponti (Tuscany) and Feudo Maccari (Sicily).

The evening featuring an introduction by 3rd generation owner, Mr Alberto Moretti, who was also kind enough to come around each table and give a bit of history about each of the wines as well the vineyards themselves.

I have to say I wasn’t familiar with the wineries and my preferences generally lie with Australian and Californian wines, but these were some of the most palatable Italian wines I’d had in many years.

We were treated to six different wines – four reds, a white and a sparkling and all had their own distinct flavours and were paired very well with an excellent menu provided by the superb chef and kitchen staff.

The evening began with a Feudo Maccari Grillo 2016 Sicily which was a paired with a lovely marinated tuna with avocado, tomato tartar, robiola cheese and balsamic. An excellent white that pairs perfectly with seafood, particularly one with an Asian flavor.

The next course was a small course consisting of two prawns wrapped in smoked ham with sage, bean puree and garlic, paired with a Feudo Maccari nero d’avola 2016 Sicily, this was the freshest of evenings reds and a great introduction to the line of reds available. The dark ruby colour implied a heavier taste but I was surprised by the light berry aromas and a very bright taste.

A lovely fish ravioli dish was then paired with a Tenuta Sette Ponti Crognolo 2015 which I must say was my favourite wine of the evening. A bit heavier than the previous red, this one had a nice peppery, earthy taste with a nice dry finish. This type of red wouldn’t normally be high on my list, but this was very structured and had almost leathery undertones. Very nice an interesting pairing with a fish/pasta dish.

By far the best course of the evening was roasted rack of lamb in a herb crust served with creamy carrots and thyme. The meat was perfectly cooked medium rare and really was succulent. Again this was paired with a Tenuta Sette Ponti, this one Orma Bolgheri 2014. Again, a bold flavoured red that was ideal for a lovely lamb dish.

The final wine of the evening was a Tentuta Sette Ponti grappa Crognolo. As with the other Sette Pontis, a nice bold taste without entering into jammy territory. I found this one a bit brighter than the previous ones. Probably for the best as it was served with a lovely hazelnut mousse with ice cream, candied peanuts and chocolate. Very good dessert and having been off carbs, for the most part, the past six months this was a very welcome treat.

A great evening all around – the guest relations staff here really are a friendly lot and deserve a lot of praise. Again, hats off the kitchen – some of these wine dinners can be a challenge in getting the food out correctly and the right temperature and they did a fantastic job.

We will certainly be keeping an eye out for future wine evenings at the Centara Grand Mirage. At only 1,999 THB++ it’s extremely good value in a great setting at one of the area’s best hotels. And it must be said I had a hangover-free Saturday which was certainly welcome…certainly a sign of a quality winery.

By Stu Sutton