Varron: Toasting between the aisles

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Sunday, March 29, 2015


AND I do mean grocery aisles. Thank your Bacchanalian gods, the idea of buying good wine at a supermarket in Cebu is no longer farfetched.

Rustan’s Supermarket Ayala invited the Cebu press to the wine festival launch for a pleasant afternoon of wine-tasting. The wine from the supermarket’s distributors was presented in neat, no-nonsense displays with tasting stations for everyone to experience the different featured varieties and opt to either spit or swallow. 

The brief wine appreciation class was hosted by Camille Delbecq, a chic French lady hailing from Bordeaux, who is the supermarket’s wine specialist and category manager for wines. Also there to lend a hand was connoisseur Jose P. Meneses, president and chief executive officer of Titania Wince Cellar Inc., who, to my great delight, spoke about my favorite subject of terroir and was there to entertain the guests with his encyclopedic repartee.

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The event featured three basic pairings: Champagne with foie gras paté, crianza with manchego cheese and shiraz with blue cheese.

The featured champagne was Moët & Chandon Champagne Brut Imperial, a wine that is crisp and fresh yet has a backbone of sumptuousness, with vivid flavors of citrus, apples, pears and peaches seducing the palate. The vibrant bouquet of citrus lures you to its very cordial heart, and the acidity is just perfect with the foie gras. (Please remember that my tasting notes are the scribblings of an inconsequential amateur.) Now, for the crianza, it was from the Beronia range, whose winery is in Ollauri, in the Rioja Alta. The Tempranillo grape’s rustic quality shines through spectacularly in this wine.

The bouquet is quite earthy and woody, with hints of oak, vanilla, deep berries and spice. True to its roots, it is a wine for hearty dining at a country estate, with a palate that is round and full, with notes of chocolate and fruit. It holds its ground against the intense flavor of the manchego, balancing the cheese with its depth and velvety finish. The Flametree Shiraz was a delight as well, very easy to drink as with most good wines of this variety, with a gentle, restricted bouquet peppered with spicy notes that opens up nicely when in the palate, when it becomes full and flavored with essences of ripe fruit (some might even say prosciutto). This 100 percent Margaret River Shiraz is one to remember (great for its price and unusual considering the unfair reputation of Margaret River wines)—it has been described by the Sydney Morning Herald as “a very classy wine”. It paired beautifully with the creamy blue cheese we were offered, surprising for a shiraz, but then this shiraz already exceeded so many expectations to begin with. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the wine and the discussions—my idea of a nice escape from a hectic work day. Between aisles of organic marmalade and frozen salmon, I made my little French exit, passing by the Montes shelf for one last sip goodbye. 

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 30, 2015.

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