Wine review: Chandon Brut (Australia)

As promised in a previous post, the review of @494, the wine at the Grand Hyatt in Bangkok we are following with a review of the Chandon Brut from Domaine Chandon in Yarra Valley of Australia. As I may have mentioned before I am often not a fan of Moët Chandon but they should be given credit for what they have done to develop the Australian sparkling wine industry. The Chandon Brut is part of their basic assortment from Australia. I would not characterize it as a bad wine, just not a very memorable one. It is a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay made with the méthode traditionnelle (champagne method). The grapes are from various cool climate vineyards in the southern wine regions of Australia (according to Chandon from the Yarra Valley, Strathbogie, the King and Buffalo Valleys (Victoria) and Coonawarra (South Australia). I have been trying to find out what the mix between Chardonnay and Pinot Noir is in the specific one I had but not been successful yet. In general the mix is around 60% Chardonnay and the remaining 40% Pinot Noir. The wine is aged on the yeast lees for 15 to 18 months and there is a small amount of dosage added. After an additional 3 months of bottle aging the wine is released. The color is perhaps best described as straw yellowish. The bouquet (nose) is influenced by the Chardonnay and is somewhat fruit driven with citrusy notes and hint of pear and nectarine. I could also sense a slight whiff of yeast but very faint. It is a dry wine but not overly so and retains a fairly nice balance with a creamy character and zest to the finish. Lacks complexity and the finish is a bit short. Nice to drink properly chilled but not at all a remarkable wine. It is however nice to enjoy cool on a hot day. While not at all a poor choice, I would not actively seek this out. However, here in Thailand this seems to be one of the better options at a reasonable price level. We had it the @494 wine bar for 349 THB (roughly €9-10). A bottle in a store would set you back around 800 THB. From what I can see online it is otherwise mainly available in Australia and Hong Kong at prices starting from €17 and up to around €25. In that price range I would rather have some very nice cava but as that is not really an option at my current destination this is a decent option. Quality wise I would give it a rating of 3 as it lacks some of the complexity I like in a sparkling wine. Looking at value for money it is a 2.5 but it is of course relative as I find it excellent value for money in Thailand (more a 4 or even a 5 compared to what else is available, see for example our most recent Wine warning ) while the rating of 2.5 is how i view it if in Finland, Sweden or the UK.

Finally a Decent Glass of Wine

After feeling a sense of despair over the quality and prices for wine in Bangkok we ended up stopping by the @494 bar at the Grand Hyatt. I was a bit skeptical that it would be anything reasonably priced as it is, well, the Grand Hyatt. But as it was a stone throw away from our hotel it was still worth stopping by. Upon entering we first saw a bar with blinking disco lights and young thai women walking in to it. I felt rather skeptical as it looked like a totally different type of establishment. After a bit of looking around we realized that it was however not the bar we were looking for. We had to ask and then found a much quieter and more relaxed bar at the left corner on the ground floor. We were quickly seated and handed menus for wines by the glass. One for regular wines and one for exclusive wines.

Browsing the one for regular wines we found around 35 wines by glass and most ranging in price from 199 THB to 399 THB (one was 999 THB and that was the Moët champagne). It was a big surprise and they had some fairly decent things on the list, normally I would not have been very excited, but seeing that the average quality in Bangkok is so poor this was a pleasant surprise. They also had some decent offers for bottles, several around 1400 THB. We could also see a tasting machine in the corner, which is used for the exclusive wines.

Service in the bar was friendly and they spoke pretty decent English. It was however a bit too loud to have any real discussions about the wine so cannot speak for the level of knowledge. The crowd was otherwise rather mixed, appeared to be both wine interested locals, expats, some hotel guests and some younger affluent Thai. A pretty pleasant atmosphere and despite the music being a bit too loud for my liking it was at least possible to carry on a conversation with the person next to you. It would however not be optimal for a larger group. It may be that it is calmer earlier in the evening but this was a Monday night so hardly the busiest night of the week either. A plus is that they also provide some free nuts as snacks.

After some short deliberation we opted for some Sparkling. The selection was not great but they had 4 by the glass, one Prosecco, two ‘traditional method’ sparklings from Australia and the Moët. The sparkling from Australia was Chandon so same owner as Moët but even though I do not really hold them in high regard I was excited to find something that could be decent at least. We opted for one glass of the regular Chandon Brut and one of the Chandon Rosé Brut. Reviews will follow either from me or S.

In general a pretty nice wine bar and in Bangkok. It excels compared to the competition so will be high on my list when in BKK next time and feeling like some good wine at decent prices..