NOW! Bali’s wine columnist and expert, Widya, heads to the cliffs of Uluwatu to review the own-branded wines of the renowned Karma Group, settling into Karma Kandara resort’s di Mare Restaurant with Chef Joseph Antonishek.
It took me a moment to fully appreciate the spectacular clifftop views, high above the Indian Ocean, when I arrived at the sparkling di Mare Restaurant at Karma Kandara. It was a beautiful afternoon, perfect weather for a wine tasting. Through their global network, the Karma Group has secured a selection of its own-branded wines, white-labelled bottles prepared just for them in partnership with hand-selected vineyards.
Seated in the restaurant’s cosy, air-conditioned wine cellar, Veritas, I put these wines to the test, and tasted my way through Chef Joseph Antonishek’s intriguing menu to find some great food pairings to match. Though they have a few in their collection, I savoured three ‘Karma Private Collection’ wines available at the restaurant: a sparkling, a sauvignon blanc and a rosé.
The first is the sparkling: Undurraga Brut NV, a dry Chilean sparkling wine with the blend of chardonnay and pinot noir, made through the tank method where the bubbles are produced through a second fermentation in a pressured tank. It has a beautiful pale yellow colour, with fresh bouquet of apple, lemon, white blossom and brioche; nice crisp acidity, very refreshing with a very fruity note in the middle of the palate. A superb wine for a sunny day.
The second wine was the wine labelled as ‘Karma Attitude’. Sauvignon Blanc Pascal Jolivet Attitude 2021 comes from Taurine in Loire, France, with terroirs that feature a blend of limestone and clay with flint. It’s a classic Sauvignon Blanc, light in body, very refreshing, high acidity of lemon and gooseberry with lots of herbaceous character of grassy and green bell pepper. The rich terroir gives it a hit of saltines, that’s the soil’s minerality coming through in the wine — a great pairing with the grand ocean views!
The last wine is a popular one, especially down at the beach club, the Karma Rosé. This is the beautiful Mason Castel Rose D’anjau 2021, an off-dry rosé with a Gamay and Grolleau blend with maritime Loire Valley influences. The wine presents mixed berries and citrus in the aroma and on the palate, with a hit of tannin and balance sweetness. Overall the wine is very enjoyable through its fruitiness with fresh high acidity. Real harmony across the palate.
With the wines now tasted, their freshness and acidity making my palate ready for some food, it was time to explore the menu. The dishes at di Mare, as you will see, feature some creative and uncommon ingredients which immediately grabbed my attention.
First on the menu was the the Yellowfin Tuna Tartare, featuring a combination of fresh tuna with a dash of lime, ginger flower and watery sweet watermelon. What I love most is the the rock salt and the crunchy tapioca coral crackers, which gave this dish a great variety of taste and textures. This paired beautifully with the ‘Karma Attitude’(Sauvignon Blanc Pascal Jolivet Attitude 2021), presenting a perfect balance of acidity in the food and acidity in the wines; with hits of sweetness that balance with the ginger flower, the rock salt enhancing the minerality in the wines. The combination is so good that really creates an all-new flavour on the palate, a synergy of food and wine, where something new is created out of the two.
Another seafood dish was the delicate Butterfish Aburi. I first noticed the smokiness of the fresh white fish, complemented by the addition of sugarcane, coconut vinegar and sweet matoa fruit, but levelled up by the cubes of bangkuang (or jicama) that gave this whole dish a lot more complexity. I found the Karma Rosé (Mason Castel Rose D’anjau 2021) the perfect pairing for this dish: the hits of tannin balance the complexity of the dish very well, the dressing well-integrated with acidity and wine’s off-dry character.
Next was a real surprise, as it is rare to find rabbit on any menu. Kelinci Kasian, is a rabbit terrine with foie gras and Balinese cashew nuts, balanced with a mango compote and carrot kaffir lime gel. Chef Joseph cheekily adds a candied carrot beside the terrine… I guess he’s teasing the ‘poor rabbit’ (which translates to Kelinci Kasian). But all the more ‘kasian’, if this dish is not tried, and Chef has really made something delicious with this rare meat. The creaminess of terrine and foie gras are a perfect match for the Karma Sparkling (Undurraga Brut NV), the hits of fresh mango compote and carrot gel giving enough support of acidity for the dish that balance the acidity in the wine.
Continuing on the surprising protein choices, Chef serves up some Frogs Legs! This is served wit a classic garlic butter, a mixed sprinkling of hot and fresh chillies, balancing the kaffir and curry leaves. I really loved this dish, superbly complex flavours, pairing really well with the Karma Rosé. The hits of sweetness balanced with the surprising spiciness of this dish.
Chef Joe continues to delight us, this time with Ayam Cemani Angnolotti. This needs some context: ayam cemani is a rare breed of chicken in Indonesia, known for being jet black due to hyperpigmentation, and used for ceremonies in Bali as part of special offerings, rituals and is also associated with black magic! This is the first time I have seen it on a menu of 5-Star resort. The cemani chicken is stuffed into the agnolotti pasta with mascarpone, served with sage, black truffle and burnt candlenut foam. With its creamy mushroom flavour, this dish paired very nicely with the Karma Rosé, the tannins balancing nicely with the food. Though a Burgundy Pinot Noir would’ve been the ultimate choice!
Sadly we reached our last dish. Delicious Sumbawa Oysters poached in bonito butter, served with butternut squash gyoza, fried enoki mushroom with the adding ‘bling’ of gold flakes and smoked shoyu. A lot of textures, soft oyster, crunchy gyoza and enoki. The Karma sparkling brut would close this afternoon pairing very nicely.
Filled with surprises, flavour and amazing stories, the dishes created by Chef Joseph and executed by his team make for a rare dining experience. Recognising local flavours and culture, and twisting them into a globally-welcomed culinary approach. As famous chef José Andrés once said, “Food is about making an interaction with ingredients. If you talk to them, they will always tell you a story.” Chef Joseph has certainly done this, a storyteller through his dishes. Go and savour these dishes and the Karma wines for yourself — until the next pairing!
di mare Restaurant, Karma Kandara
Jalan Villa Kandara, Banjar Wijaya Kusuma, Ungasan
+62 361 848 2202