KLANG VALLEY, Malaysia – Lavo, part of The M Group, is shaking up KL’s food and beverage scene in its own right. With over 1,000 varieties of wine gracing their wine library, it was truly the perfect setting for a re-education in just how dynamic a wine pairing dinner can be.
Lavo and wine brand Tempus Two teamed up to bring us a wine pairing that threw our preconceived notions out the window. From unorthodox combinations to heavily spiced food, they had it all.
As a company with just two decades under its belt, Tempus Two is the face of controlled rebellion. “It’s hard to compare to the old world of wine, because we’re considered new world. The old world has to adhere to traditions, the new world’s kind of lucky,” Andrew Duff, Tempus Two’s winemaker tells us.
“It’s an advantage in a way that we can express ourselves and choose to do things differently, or change our style.”
Traditional wine pairing menus go the safe route of subtle flavours. This time, however, the menu was packed with robust spices and unorthodox matching.
The meal started off with a bang.
While Pan Seared Scallops may sound innocuous enough, these were blanketed by a fiery Thai sauce that was balanced with citrus. If you’ve never enjoyed scallops, this would have converted you wholeheartedly.
Paired with Tempus Two’s 2015 Varietal Semillon Sauvignon Blanc, it was an exquisite combination. The hint of sweetness from the wine was perfect for cutting through the intense spice.
The Fragrant Clam Soup that followed was reminiscent of a more delicate tom yam, with the lemongrass taking centre stage in the broth. The clams were some of the freshest we’ve had in KL.
Served alongside this peppery explosion of flavour was the 2013 Pewter Semillon, which is a dryer white than the Sauvignon Blanc. Semillon is a Tempus Two specialty, and it shows quite clearly through their wines.
The norm for wine pairings is to have white meat with white wine, and red meat with red wine. For the mains, the bold pairing of reds with seafood was a stark departure.
“Essentially the best way to do anything with food matching is just to give it a go. The more you try, the more your palate will work out what you like, and generally what you like is usually what’s right,” Duff inspires us to go down the yellow brick road.
Pan Seared Halibut with Mango Salsa Verde was served with the 2011 Copper Series Shiraz for an extremely interesting pairing. Because the fish boasted such bold, fusion flavours, the combination was quite enlightening.
It’s an idea that takes getting used to, because the twittering at the table left no doubt that the white-on-white, red-on-red norm is deeply entrenched.
Calamansi Lime Sorbet, speckled with basil, acted as a refreshing palate cleanser.
Followed by a glass of 2013 Pewter Cabernet Sauvignon to match the Prawn Pasta. Steak would have been the easy choice for the Cabernet Sauvignon, but it would have been a safe one.
Duff also tells us a little bit about what makes Tempus Two so different, “There’s definitely been rules put in place, but we’re at an age now where we go to break those rules, to really find our true identities, and be that little bit different.”
“There’s no real rules, and it’s like wine itself going back to the start. The best thing about wine is, it’s personal preference.”
The wine paired wonderfully with the sambal (chilli paste) sauce in the pasta. Both played off the boldness of the other. The sauce itself was impeccable. However, it’s the melt-in-your-mouth fresh water prawn that took it over the edge.
The meal ended on a sweet note, to place everyone back in their comfort zone.
A definitive dessert wine, Tempus Two’s 2013 Pewter Botrytis Semillon boasts a delicious prune-like sweetness, and would have been the perfect end to the meal on its own.
The addition of the Lychee Watermelon Cake was the only thing that could have made it better. Aside from how much we love cake here at The Binge, this had an actual slab of watermelon between the layers of rosewater-infused sponge cake.
It’s this refreshing addition that allowed a dessert to be paired with a dessert wine without being cloying in the sweetness of the combination.
The sheer quality of the food and free-flowing wines made the price point of RM88 (USD20.50) an absolute steal. We’re all too happy to hear that these pairings are a regular occurrence!
Menara Lien Hoe
No. 8, Persiaran Tropicana
Tropicana Gold and Country Club
Petaling Jaya, Malaysia
Tel: +6010 311 1888
We were guests at Lavo for this review, but that in no way influences the opinions expressed here.