Gonzales Byass Dinner at Drift Dining & Bar

[Food & Beverage]


Headed over with Sylvia to Drift Dining & Bar – a modern Australian restaurant located near Changkat Bukit Bintang for the Gonzalez Byass dinner on 22 April 2015.

The restaurant is located right behind Istana Hotel and not along the Changkat Bukit Bintang stretch. Before the dinner with the principal from Spain, the nice folks at Iconic Wines Malaysia, someliers, and restaurant owners, we got to enjoy some Tio Pepe Fino sherry together with some canapes in the form of marinated olives and crispy school prawns with harissa aioli.



Before I get to the dinner and food pairing itself, here’s a little info on Gonzalez Byass.

Manuel María González (1812- 1887) was a young man of only 23 years old when he set up his own company in 1835 under the name of Manuel María González under the counsel of his uncle, D. Jose Angel (who was to become the famous Tío Pepe). Understanding that the company’s future would depend on exports and that the main market was the United Kingdom, in his first year in operation (1835) he exported 10 barrels to London. The following year 62 barrels and in 1839, the amount grew to 406 barrels. Manuel’s business associate was Robert Blake Byass who he started working with in 1836, but it was not until 1855 that Robert was made a partner in the company giving birth to González Byass – a company that currently operates under the direction of the González family, now in its fifth and sixth generation.

González Byass is situated in the city of Jerez, Andalusia, in the heart of the D.O.Jerez – Xérès- Sherry. The region is geographically limited to the “triangle” which is made up of three cities, Jerez de la Frontera, El Puerto de Santa María and Sanlucar de Barrameda. Their production facilities in Jerez span a surface area of 374.535 square meters, including both wine and brandy cellars. with experience of more than 175 years dedicated to the production of quality wines and brandies, from Tío Pepe to the 30 year old range of Sherry wines.

Jerez has a particular microclimate influenced by the surrounding Atlantic ocean and rivers Guadalquivir and Guadalete. The prevailing winds are moist and warm, westerly or southerly, and now and again, dry and hot Levante winds from North Africa. Temperatures are warm, with 70% humidity and annual rainfall of 600 litres.

The three grape varieties cultivated in the Jerez Region are the Palomino, Pedro Ximenez and Moscatel. Palomino accounts for 95% of the grapes cultivated by González Byass vineyards the other 5% being Pedro Ximenez. González Byass is the only winery to have Pedro Ximenez planted in Jerez.

All the Palomino grapes used for the production of Tío Pepe are hand picked and carefully placed in special plastic crates which are quickly transported to the pressing plant. Since the Palomino grape has a very delicate skin, great care is required to avoid any oxidation resulting from broken skins.

The Pedro Ximenez grapes undergo a different process called “Soleo” before vinification. They are picked later in the season, when more mature, and once harvested they are laid out in the vineyard and left to dry in the sun so that the water evaporates and the sugars concentrate. The grape is then used to produce naturally sweet wines.

More then 85.000 American oak barrels are in use to carry out the long and meticulous ageing process so important to Sherry wines. Sherry Wines Pressing and vinification takes place in Las Copas, where González Byass uses Willmes pneumatic presses for the delicate pressing of the grapes, providing the highest quality must.

Once the musts are fermented they are sampled by the winemakers and the first of many important decisions is taken to determine the type of ageing the wine will undergo. The palest, lightest wines will be classified to age as Fino or Manzanilla, and will be fortified with wine distillate up to 15% alcohol. Those wines with more body will be classified as Oloroso and fortified up to 17,5% or even higher.

The wines are then transferred to oak barrels called botas where they will remain for the first period of their ageing in what are called Sobretablas. The ageing takes place in 600 litre capacity barrels which are filled up to 500 litres, leaving some space for air inside the barrel.

So now that you know the background of the sherry, on to the dinner.


A pic with Sylvia
A pic with Sylvia


Harcuterie – jamon serrano, villar chorizo and bresoala

Oh how I love my meats! Really couldn’t get enough of the savoury and salty meats which went well with the meats and of course the sherry.



Seared haloumi with eggplant, semi-dried tomato, tahini



Torched salmon, cucumber, black vinegar, fresh horseradish


All three (3) dishes above were served with the Gonzalez Byass ‘Vina AB’ Amontillado.

Here’s what Robert Parker has to say about it:

The NV Vina AB Amontillado is the youngest of the Amontillados in the Gonzalez-Byass lineup. Produced from Palomino grapes, it has four years of biological (under yeast) aging, and a further four without flor. It has a deep yellow color, a clean, discrete nose of Fino, chalky with its salty notes, but the palate is clearly an elegant, light Amontillado, with intense, piercing flavors, and it fills your mouth, ending very dry. Very drinkable and good value entry-level Amontillado. A leader in young Amontillado category. Drink 2013-2015. (8/2013)



Steamed Manilla clams, soy, garlic

This was served with the Gonzalez Byass ‘Leonor’ Palo Cortado. The sherry has an amber colour with hints of orange, a strong nutty aroma of toasted hazelnuts and almonds with some spicy character on the palate. The finish is very long and smooth. Went well with the clams in the savoury but oh so addictive sauce which was so good I even used some bread to mop it up.



Semifreddo, chocolate ganache, candied orange

Simply decadent…Sylvia liked this one and actually so did I even though I’m not really a dessert person. As it wasn’t very sweet, the sweetness of the sherry was not overpowered.



Gonzalez Byass ‘Solera 1857’ Cream

This was an elegant, smooth mahogany coloured cream which has an intense, clear, velvety aroma, with a full-bodied palate. Slightly sweeter than all the sherries before this and this served as a delightful little aperitif to end the meal with.




Tio Pepe sherry is distributed in Malaysia by Iconic Wines Malaysia.

For more info or to purchase wines from Iconic Wines Malaysia, you may contact them at

More info on Tio Pepe at


Drift is located at :

Ground Floor Bidara Condo

38, Jalan Bedara (Off Jalan Nagasari and directly Behind Hotel Istana)

Bukit Bintang,

50200 Kuala Lumpur,




Telephone: +603 21102079 after 2pm

Mobile: +60192936430



Leica X (Type 113)

Photos shot with the Leica X (Type 113)

For more info, head over to or visit the Leica dealers at Starhill Gallery, Avenue K and Suria Sabah.

Leica @Starhill:
Leica Store@Avenue K:
Leica Boutique@ Suria Sabah:


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