Wines to get you in the mood for Christmas
Another great wine tasting evening was hosted by Artisan Cellar Door, this time at Sage of Shangri-La Makati, to demonstrate how California wines, specifically Twomey Pinot Noirs and Silver Oak Cabernets, can be paired with different types of meat.
Truth be told, I was lured by the invitation to have another taste of Mayura Wagyu, which was on the menu. This steak, distributed exclusively by Artisan Cellars and Fine Foods, comes from Wagyu cattle from Japan that are raised in Australia and literally live the sweet life of eating Cadbury chocolate as part of their daily diet.
Unfortunately, Shangri-La Makati does not carry this yet so you will have to head over to Artisan Cellar Door to try it. (Better to buy the steak and cook at home.)
What Sage did offer was an excellent 36-hour braised lamb shoulder, prepared by Argentinian chef Sebastian Barcudes. This was paired with the most memorable wine of the evening: the Twomey Pinot Boir Bien Nacido 2017.
Several wines were showcased for the dinner: Twomey Pinot Noir Russian River 2017 and Twomey Pinot Noir Anderson Valley 2017, both of which were paired with roasted duck breast. Then Twomey Pinot Noir Bien Nacido 2017 and Twomey Merlot 2015 were paired with the lamb. Then the Silver Oaks —an Alexander Valley Cabernet 2015, a Napa Valley Cabernet 2014, and an Alexander Valley Cabernet 2009 were paired with the Mayura.
The Bien Nacido has especially memorable characteristics.
Alice Ferrand, the lovely French manager of Artisan Cellar Door, immediately noted its Burgundy profile. Vivien Gay, director of International Salces of Silver Oak and Twomey Wines, said Burgundian varieties of grape wines are in fact a signature of Bien Nacido Vineyards, where the grapes for these bottles come from. Aside from being a single-vineyard wine, it is also notable for having spent more time in the barrel (French oak).
Another favorite of mine from the lineup was the Alexander Valley 2009 Cabernet. I have read reviews saying it was past its peak but it did not feel that way at all. I have made a mental note of how 2009 was an excellent year for France and Vivien was quick to point out that it was a good year for California, too.
This 2009 cab is complex with a lovely structure. We all loved how it lingered on the palate; and it had a beautiful nose that, appropriately for the evening, hinted of sage.
For everyday celebrations, the Twomey pinots from Sonoma are recommendable. The very young Russian River 2017 at this tasting was paired with duck but it seems it can also easily be paired with Chinese food, with its delicate nose of white pepper, cardamom, prosciutto and fruity palate.
Meanwhile, the Alexander Valley 2017 appears to be better with barbecues because of its refreshing acidity. But it also has a vibrant medium-long finish, accented by a bit of chocolate orange peel and oak flavor that makes it easy to appreciate.
Now that Christmas is approaching, it’s time once again to explore all these wines. I hope that like me, you get a head start on wine tastings. Let’s get into the spirit of the season. Cheers!