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Going around the world via wine

Jose Antonio Allona of Sierra Cantabria wines holds a San Vicente magum with Txanton's Besai Gonzalez

Jose Antonio Allona of Sierra Cantabria wines holds a San Vicente magum with Txanton’s Besai Gonzalez

The world of wines is absolutely fascinating. I am partial to French wines, mainly because it would be a disservice to my name to love anything other than Margaux, so I blame my parents for this narcissism and discrimination.

But I am fast learning the joys of wines from other parts of the world.

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Take Italian wines. Gale Atienza of I Trulli, over dinner pairing La Castellana Riserva with the restaurant’s Parma hams and Italian cheese, explains that while there are around 25 varieties of grapes for French wines, the Italians have over 800 varieties.

I Trulli, an Italian deli located at the LRI Building on N. Garcia St. (formerly Reposo) in Makati, has over 60 labels of Italian wines, some from autochthonous grapes, i.e., varieties only from a particular region in Italy. “Sangiovese,” she expounds, “you can find anywhere. But Nero d’Avola is only in Sicily.”

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If you would like to learn more about Italian wines, look for I Trulli’s managing director who is also a sommelier and wine instructor, Andriano Stefanutti. With over 60 labels at I Trulli, you can expect to leave the deli quite knowledgeable on Italian wines.

Across the street over at Wine Depot, Brett Tolhurst makes the case for Australian wines: “I believe for some time now, Australian wines have been the equal to Old World wines such as French. I constantly look for old world qualities in the Australian wines that I drink and I find those qualities time and time again.”

He even goes so far as to propose a blind tasting of much revered wines such as Chateau Latour against his Australian picks, betting the Aussie wines will be able to hold their own.

A favorite of late is the Sanguine shiraz. “I love finding wines that
transcend region and country,” Tolhurst shares. “What attracts me to Sanguine is that it is a New World wine with Old World Qualities.”

The terroir of the Sanguine estate boasts of a rich red soil and a balanced, cool climate, therefore the estate’s wines have great character and complexity. Tolhurst goes so far as to say that Sanguine wines are “quite similar to the best Côte-Rôtie of Rhone Valley, France.”

If you fancy to experiment with Sanguine Estate wines, Tolhurst recommends the shiraz, although they also produce a Chardonnay and a Cabernet blend. I personally loved the D’Orsa, the estate’s flagship wine, but Tolhurst suggests the Progeny because this “offers the opportunity to drink a wine of serious character and balance at an affordable price.”

Over at Pasong Tamo Extension is the classy Txanton, showroom of premium Spanish wines and jamon.

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At an indulgent dinner with very prominent guests, Besai Gonzalez opened a 2008 Alabaster, which sells at P12,000 a bottle. This was the piece de resistance for a six-course vino-paired meal starring Sierra Cantabria wines.

Guests said hello over a 2012 Calados del Puntido from Rioja, a wine, though young, with lots of minerality and great aroma. Tapas were appreciated with a 2007 San Vicente, already elegant albeit still considered young, even after a decade of being in the bottle.

You can appreciate its length; it really embraces your tongue and kind of just stays there for a while. This was perfect with Txanton’s various Ibericos, especially the Riota, which had been cured for 36 months.

Jose Antonio Allona from Sierra Cantabria also enlightened guests on a 2007 El Puntido, which he describes as “more expressive and more elegant on the nose;” a 2008 La Nieta (he explains that La Nieta meant “granddaughter”); a 2008 Victorino, which was the favorite of guests; and a 2008 Alabaster, my personal pick for the night because it is so beautifully balanced.

Wines of Sierra Cantabria are made by world famous winemaker Marcos Eguren. The wines are not as creamy as French wines, if that is what you are used to, but these wines are competitive in terms of length—they really linger in the mouth—and very elegant.

The best part about learning about wines is that there are no right or wrong answers. What you like is what is good, Robert Parker notwithstanding. With wine estates seeking to reach a bigger market, the even better news is that wines are also becoming more accessibly priced.

So go out there and research. Educate yourself on terroir and taste by drinking and drinking and drinking more wine!

I Trulli (for Italian wines, cheese, etc). Ground Floor, LRI Design Plaza, 210 Nicanor Garcia (formerly Reposo), Makati City. For inquiries, call landline (02) 8329600.

Sanguine Estate Wines available at Wine Depot. Makati branch at 217 Nicanor Garcia Street (formerly Reposo), Barangay Bel-Air, Makati City. Contact (02) 8973220. Visit www.winedepot.com.ph
for other store listings.

Sierra Cantabria Wines available at Txanton, 2nd Floor Alegria Alta, 2294 Chino Roces Ave Ext., Makati. For more info, visit txanton.com.ph or call landline (02) 8776928.

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