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The wine specifically made for Christmas

/ 05:10 AM December 03, 2017

Hazel Tolhurst—PHOTOS BY MARGAUX SALCEDO

Guess what wine has been regarded as the “go-to for Christmas” by The Guardian. No, it’s not the expensive Chateau Margaux or Chateau Latour. It’s a way more accessibly priced wine: The Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

Wrote Fiona Beckett of The Guardian: “If there’s one wine that’s guaranteed to put a smile on the face of your nearest and dearest on Christmas Day, it’s a bottle of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Practically everyone’s heard of it, it looks the part and its high alcohol and warm, ripe fruit make it the perfect match for turkey.”

It was perfect timing then, as we count the days until Christmas, for Wine Depot to highlight this wine when its Toast Club and special guests gathered for the Symphony of Wine dinner cum opera hosted by owners Brett and Hazel Tolhurst at no less than Antonio’s Fine Dining in Tagaytay.

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Ogier wines

The dinner last Saturday featured wines from Ogier, a 150-year old winery: Cotes du Rhone blanc, Ogier Lirac, Ogier Gigondas Rouge, Ogier Heritages Chateauneuf-du-Pape Red and Clos de L’Oratoire Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rouge.

These wines are reasonably priced by Wine Depot. The Cotes du Rhone blanc is only P790, the Ogier Lirac is less than P1,000, the Ogier Gigondas Rouge is P1,854, the Ogier Heritages Chateauneuf-du-Pape Red is P2,145 and the Clos de L’Oratoire Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rouge is P2,695.

The Cotes du Rhone blanc and Lirac have both won gold at the Concourse International de Lyon while the Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rouge won gold at the International Wine & Spirit Competition.

The blanc is a nice and easy white, and can play the role of a welcome committee at a simple dinner. Wine connoisseurs describe it as having a “fresh, long, minty fruit finish.”

The Lirac, created in 1980, is relatively new, and called the “baby Chateauneuf.” It is comprised of what the producers call GSM (Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre) as well as Cinsault. While an easy wine, it has a long vanilla flavor on the finish.

The Gigondas Rouge (Gigondas is another village) is also a GSM. Hong Kong-based Princess Tenajeros, export manager of AdVini, which distributes Ogier wines, explains that because the terroir of Gigondas has more altitude, this wine is more concentrated than the Lirac and has a lot of fruitiness.

Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Wine of the Pope

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The wine paired with the dinner piece de resistance of Rougie Canard Leg Confit was the Ogier Clos de l’Oratoire des Papes Chateauneuf-du-Pape. We were served the very young 2015. It would be best if this is appreciated after another three to five years, albeit the wine review app Vivino had enthusiasts giving it a 4/5 rating. A blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Cinsault, it is described by Wine Depot as “brooding black fruits … [with] fruity, spicy and complex layers of flavor” and having “sweet red cherry aromas.” A reviewer at Vivino observed it as fruit forward, with a pronounced sweetness, a “cool grenache nose” and a surprisingly supple finish.

What makes Chateauneuf-du-Pape most interesting, though, I learned after chatting with Princess, is that the wine is named “du Pape” because the Chateauneuf du Pape commune was where the summer palace of the Pope was in the 14th century, just an hour from Avignon. Chateauneuf-du-Pape translates to “The New Castle of the Pope”.

If you visit the area, you will see a ruined medieval castle that still exists above the village which was built in the 14th century for Pope John XXII, the second of the popes to reside in Avignon. Possibly to embrace this memory, the label of the Chateauneuf du Pape, which makes reference to this very castle for the Pope, has not been changed since 1926.

Symphony of Wine

After dinner at the main dining hall of Antonio’s, the Tolhursts invited guests to the restaurant’s garden to appreciate the beautiful singing of a soprano and a tenor accompanied by members of the Manila Symphony Orchestra. This was an ode to one of the oldest French opera festivals, Les Choregies d’Orange.

The experience of listening to a live orchestra under the stars while sipping wine was magical. After a few songs, we all moved to Antonio’s Cabana where the acoustics were even better and the musical program continued, ending with everyone in Yuletide spirits as the singers sang a few Christmas carols.

It was a really lovely evening with Ogier wines and music.

Wine Depot, N. Garcia St., Barangay Bel Air, Makati City, +63 2 8973220. Online orders also accepted at www.winedepot.com.ph. Metro Manila orders over P2,500 are free of charge. No pick ups and deliveries on Sundays and holidays. Allow 2-4 working days for orders within Metro Manila and 5-7 working days for provincial orders.

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TAGS: Chateau Margaux or Chateau Latour, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, christmas, The Guardian, wine
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