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Penfold’s Grange sipped

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Australian Business Association of Cambodia (ABAC) Secretary Derek Mayes holds up a bottle of Penfold’s Grange. Photograph: Stuart Alan Becker/Phnom Penh Post

Australian Business Association of Cambodia (ABAC) Secretary Derek Mayes holds up a bottle of Penfold’s Grange. Photograph: Stuart Alan Becker/Phnom Penh Post

It was with a mixture of amazement and disbelief that I discovered I had won a free pass to the Penfold’s “Rewards of Patience” wine tasting event on Thursday night at Hotel InterContinental, tickets for which were US$60 for members and $80 for non-members.

Australian Ambassador Penny Richards was in attendance, flanked by all kinds of Australians, including Penfold’s family member Steve Penfold, as well as a smattering of other nationalities as the country’s most famous wine brand was served, eight glasses in all, ending with the famous Grange.

The Australian Business Association of Cambodia (ABAC) put on the carefully prepared evening, with snacks in the foyer first, including potatoes drizzled with melted cheese – a very popular choice – flanked by Cambodia Beer, one of the sponsors of the event along with EZECOM, Infinity Insurance, ANZ Royal and Penfold’s Wines.

ABAC President David Carter, who frequently cleansed his palate between the eight glasses of various types of Penfold’s wine, using Cambodia Beer, as if the practice were somehow condoned by the wine tasting community, contributed to a Penfold’s rap performance for which himself and Wine Master Darren Gall assembled in supporting roles while Todd Smith from Ripple Effect Consulting hammed up a unique combination of American-style rap with Australian verbal usages.

Wine Master Darren Gall, who attributed adjectives to the description of wine perhaps never before heard anywhere, also had the gall to say that the use of American oak in the wine ageing process, like Americans, tended to cause a taste that was more “in your face” than French oak. His comments were richly appreciated by the largely intoxicated group consisting primarily of Australians, some of whom issued peals of hoarse laughter.

The grand finale came when the famous Grange variety of Penfold’s wine was presented at the end. Even the more cynical, including this writer, had to agree, that the Grange was spectacular. The Penfold’s Grange wine is regarded as perhaps the most famous wine produced by Australia, certain vintages of which have been known to fetch upwards of $50,000 per bottle.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stuart Alan Becker at stuart.becker@gmail.com

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