PHUKET: Pip Austin, General Manager of New Zealand’s Asia Pacific Sileni Estates wine company, was in Phuket last week to host a wine dinner in conjunction with Mom Tri’s Villa Royale in Kata Noi. She spoke to The Phuket News about the company’s ambitions and increasing involvement in Phuket.
Tell us about Sileni
Based in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand, Sileni was founded by the Avery and Edmonds families. Graeme Avery’s former business was medical and pharmaceutical publishing, however his great love of wine led him to establish Sileni Estates with winemaker Grant Edmonds in the Hawke’s Bay area in 1997.
Grant was the former chief winemaker of the Villa Maria Group (New Zealand’s second largest winery). Sileni’s first vintage was in 1998, and until 2002 all of Sileni’s wines were made from its own vineyards in Hawke’s Bay. In that year though, Sileni started making Sauvignon Blanc in Marlborough today is New Zealand’s 8th largest wine company, currently exporting to 60 international markets.
What wines does Sileni specialise in?
The classic French varietals, including Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Syrah. All of Sileni’s wines, with the exception of the Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, are grown in Hawke’s Bay and are characterised by their food friendly style. At Sileni we like to describe our wines as having New World fruit with Old World elegance.
We are also one of the founding winery members of the Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand initiative and all of Sileni’s wines are sustainably made. This means that the wines are made in such a way that they have a positive impact on the environment both in the vineyard and the winery.
What is Sileni Estates’ involvement in the Asian and Phuket markets?
Sileni has been exporting to Asia for 10 years, and it has always been a very important market for us.
As we were producing more red wines in the early years, Asia became a natural fit for us as red wine was more popular than white, and the fruit driven and elegant qualities of our wines appealed to the consumer, and worked well in the warm and humid climate.
We have been exporting to Thailand for around eight years, and Phuket has always been a very strong market with many hotels featuring Sileni wines.
We were one of the first New Zealand wineries to enter the Phuket market,
and we see a natural fit between our wine and the relaxed alfresco lifestyle here.
What are the key ingredients involved in hosting a successful wine dinner?
A great wine dinner is about the wine and food matching seamlessly together.
When selecting a wine to go with a particular dish it is always important to look for similar aroma, flavour and textural elements in the food. This often means that the old adage of white wine with white meat and red wine with red meat is completely incorrect.
A great example of this is the barracuda fillet that was served with Sileni’s Cellar Selection Hawke’s Bay Pinot Noir at the wine dinner on Saturday evening.
Normally one wouldn’t expect a white fish to be served with a Pinot Noir, however this dish includes some complementary flavours in the cauliflower and beetroot purée and the wine is featured in Pinot Noir reduction.