The Baron and the Jewel

On the special occasion of a visit to Cambodia by Amélie Duboc, Asia Pacific Export Manager for the Edmond de Rothschild Heritage Group, Thalias Hospitality Group invited Amélie to present some of the highlights of her portfolio of wines over a magnificent dinner at Topaz restaurant, recently voted into the prestigious list of Asia’s Top 100 Restaurants.

In 1868, James de Rothschild of what was to be known as the ‘French branch’ of the Rothschild family purchased Chateau Lafite. This was 15 years after his son-in-law, Baron Nathaniel de Rothschild purchased Château Brane Mouton in the Medoc region of Bordeaux and renamed it Château Mouton Rothschild. Thus, commencement the family’s dedication to the wine industry, a passion that has become the stuff of legend and continues to this day.
The Baron James’s great-grandson, Edmond de Rothschild furthered the family endeavors in 1973, when he purchased, Chateau Clarke, (Listrac) and Chateau Malmaison (Moulis-en-Medoc). In 1997, the family entered into a partnership with the Rupert family to acquire the Friedrickburg Estate in Franschhoek (South Africa) and just one year later, formed a group of investors and founded the Clos de los Siete in the Uco Valley (Argentina), where they produce the wine Flechas de los Andes.
They then acquired the Château des Laurets and Château de Malengin in Saint-Émilion, (France) in 2003, and then joined others members if the Rothschild family in the creation of the Champagne Barons de Rothschild. In 2012, 24 hectares of Malborough Vineyards in New Zealand were purchased to produce the Rimapere wines.

The company expanded into Spain with the launch, (along with Vega Sicilia) of the winery Bodegas Benjamin de Rothschild Y Vega Sicilia – Macán in La Rioja in 2017 and the opening of the hotel Palacio de Samaniego in Rioja Alavesa in 2021.
The company, Baron Edmond de Rothschild Heritage combines the non-banking, lifestyle assets owned by the Edmond de Rothschild Group, including wine, hospitality, restaurants and farming. The wineries owned by Edmond de Rothschild Heritage produce some 3.5 million bottles of wine every year.

Topaz Restaurant hosted a celebration on April 18 with a mouth-watering 5-course menu designed and executed by Head Chef Sopheak POV, paired with wines from the vineyards of one of the greatest names in winemaking in the world.

On the special occasion of a visit to Cambodia by Amélie Duboc, Asia Pacific Export Manager for the Edmond de Rothschild Heritage Group, Thalias Hospitality Group invited Amélie to present some of the highlights of her portfolio of wines to their management and service teams over a magnificent dinner at Topaz restaurant, the French Jewel in Cambodia’s culinary crown, and recently voted into the prestigious list of Asia’s Top 100 Restaurants.
After welcome drinks in the garden, we moved inside for what promised to be a magnificent degustation and wine tasting.
Ms. Duboc is an exquisitely charming presenter of the wines who enlightened guests on the long history and complex family tree of the Rothschilds empire and their many connections to the wine industry.

The first wine was a Right Bank Bordeaux from an exceptional vintage; the Chateau des Laurets, from Passaging, Saint Emilion, a blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc, the 40-hectare plot of vines are grown in excellent clay and limestone soils. The Chateau was built in 1860, and is noticeable for its octagonal tower, which look out over the grounds.
Cold soaking and then fermentation tool place in in oak and stainless-steel vats with automatic temperature-control. Post-fermentation the wine underwent micro-oxygenation during maceration followed by malolactic fermentation in oak and stainless-steel vats. Maturation was 14 months in: 30% new barrels, 30% second fill barrels and the rest in vats. The alcohol comes in at a very healthy 14.5%.
2015 is universally regarded as an exceptional vintage in Bordeaux and especially on the right bank which houses Saint Emilion, I have enjoyed wines from this vintage for many years now and found the Chateau des Laurents to be drinking absolutely at beautifully, peak drinking and a great way to start, this was going to be a hard wine to top for the evening.
Deep ruby in colour with aromas of forest berries, (mulberry, logan berry, Boysen berry) and wild violets, complimented by hints of vanilla, cooking chocolate and coffee grinds. The palate shows ripe, generous fruit, with good intensity and concertation of flavours, the tannins are very fine, like satin giving the wine a silky mouthfeel. The fruit flavours are still fresh and vibrant, lingering attractively on the back palate.
The next wine was the Aguaribay Malbec 2018, Uco Valley, Argentina. The Aguaribay tree, (also known as the ‘false-pepper tree’ or Schinus Molle) is something of an emblem in the area and the label is from the Baron Edmond Rothschild owned, Flechas de los Andes winery.
The dish: an exquisite grilled Mekong lobster with a beurre blanc sauce.
A straight-forward, fruit driven Malbec, with good weight and power, the fruit is ripe, juicy and straight ahead with plum, black cherry, leather, roasted nuts and spice. A bargain hunter’s Malbec and a good asado accompaniment.
The dish: baked Burgundy escargots in garlic, parsley and butter.
Then we moved back to Bordeaux, the Left Bank this time, (Listrac-Medoc) for the Chateau Clarke 2011. The vineyards have a long history, dating all the way back to the 12th century, when Cistercian monks of the Vertheuil Abbey planted the first vines. The chateau takes its name, (Clarke) from the Irish family who purchased the property in the 18th century. After more than two centuries of wine growing tradition and successive owners, the property was purchased by Baron Edmond de Rothschild in 1973. Whilst a majority shareholder in Chateau Lafitte, Baron Edmond saw this property as his own personal adventure and had a great affection for the property and an unbounding belief in its potential. The Baron wanted it to be his masterpiece and the vineyard was completely restructured, with massive investment was undertaken in order to restore and renovate buildings and improve the wine making and storage facilities.

Baron Edmond de Rothschild brought in such esteemed consultants as Emile Peynaud and then Michel Rolland, (who continues to advise on the vineyard management and winemaking for the estate). Today the wines of Chateau Clarke are thought to be amongst the very finest in this sub-region. Following the death of Edmond de Rothschild, the estate was inherited by his son, Benjamin de Rothschild and Ariane de Rothschild. Such was Edmond’s passion for this project and estate, he chose Château Clarke as his last resting place and is buried in the grounds of the chateau.
In a region famous for Cabernet Sauvignon, the soil profile of the vineyard’s soil profile and temperature was more suited to Merlot and so, a planting mix favouring the variety was undertaken. The wine is 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. After vigorous selection and sorting the wines are fermented in large vats and matured in predominantly new oak for 14 to 28 months.
Crimson in colour with complex aromas of sweaty saddle, damp earth, cedar, tobacco leaf, cigar box, prune, plum, dried herbs, mocha and a hint of spice. I’ve had many Chateau Clarkes that were much better, this one comes from a tough-to-love vintage for Bordeaux. This bottle of 2011 looks a little past its best tonight, but it’s hanging in gamely. Tannins are very fine, the fruit supple and complex, the wine is very dry with dense fruit that is complex and well-balanced.

The dish was a magnificent pig’s trotter with morel mushrooms and foie gras.
We then moved to South America for the Flechas de los Andes Gran Malbec, Uco Valley, Argentina 2014. The name “Flechas de Los Andes” or “Andes arrows” refers to the 5 arrows, the symbol of the Rothschild family (representing the five brothers at the origin of this family dynasty of entrepreneurs).
Planted in the crisp, cool air at 1100 meters above sea-level, in the gravel-strewn alluvial terrain at the base of the Andes cordillera. The grapes are handpicked and hand-sorted, bunches are destemmed and then fermentation takes place in large, stainless-steel tanks. Malo-lactic conversion and maturation use the ‘thirds’ rule to obtain oak-fruit balance: one third in new French oak, one third in second-fill oak and one third in tank, for 12 to 18 months.
Dark ruby in colour with a glowing magenta rim, the wine is big, brooding with aromas of plum, cherry, cola, coca, vanilla, pan spices and saddle leather. Bod fruit flavours of plum and cherry flood the palate and seep into the corners of your mouth, before more complex noted of spice and tar come to the fore, with hints of dark chocolate and licorice. Tannins are soft and subtle with some bright acidity and clean ripe fruit lingering on the finish. A very fine Argentinian Malbec indeed.

The dish was a superb roasted lamb rack and glazed spring vegetables and a lamb jus with mint.
The final wine of the night was to be the Flechas de Los Andes ‘Gran Corte’ 2015, Vista Flores, Uco Valley, Argentina. The wine is a blend of 55% Malbec, 40% Cabernet Franc, 5% Shiraz/Syrah and the wines is matured in new French oak for 24 months. This strikes one as an opulent, majestic wine, the collaboration between Baron Benjamin de Rothschild and Laurent Dassault culminating in the creation of this exceptional blend, with its heart in the clouds -high up in the Andes mountains, and its head in the great growths of the Medoc, Bordeaux.
Dense ruby in colour with crimson hues, the wine is powerful, complex and yet silky and seductive, aromas of blueberry, dark chocolate, spices, vanilla. The palate is rich, powerful, complex and graceful with dark fruits and forest berries, field herbs and spices, tobacco leaf, coffee grinds, dark chocolate and vanilla pods. The wine has excellent length, tannins are persistent yet fine and supple, the fruit flavours linger for an age on the back palate.
The first wine of the evening was always going to be hard to beat but this wine of incredible vision and scope may just have knocked it over; it was epic and I loved it.
The wine was served with a baked Brie de Meaux with black winter truffles.
The team from Thalias were impressed and appreciative in equal measure, as was this wine-critic. Amélie Duboc’s company had been both illuminating and enjoyable, the food from Topaz was once again, exceptional, and the wines a revelation, a couple of them, absolutely outstanding. This all elevated the evening beyond the realms of a mere trade visit and wine tasting, this was a memorable degustation of food, wine and company, that the team will remember with great joy, for a long time to come.

written by Darren Gall

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