Category Archives: 2shotsinChile

When 2shots took Chile, one drink at a time

Go Tell It On The Mountain

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This month marks one year since my trip to Chile. It was admittedly one of the best moments in my life… The people, nature, weather, food, wine, and the mountains were so memorable and amazing.

I was looking at the trip diary I made, and I wanted to share an excerpt of it here:

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Gorgeous mountains and vineyards in Chile

 

“Breathtaking.

 That’s all I could muster after an exhausting 26-hour flight (excluding a 6 hour layover in Dallas) to Santiago, Chile. For a nanosecond, I marveled at how a city girl like me could be rendered speechless by the sight of the Andes, which greeted us like heavenly angels as we touched down.”

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Breathtaking Montes Vineyards

So, what’s a wino doing, rambling about mountains? In Spanish, mountains translate to Montes, and I figured talking about the beautiful highlands of Chile is a great way to set the mood for talking about Montes Wines.

With the same overwhelming emotions that I had landing in Chile, I felt awestruck as soon as we got to Montes Winery: Vineyards as far as the eye could see, and a zen-like feeling was everywhere (explained by the feng shui that was involved in designing the winery).

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Wine tasting conducted by Jorge Gutierrez

During the visit, I was privileged enough to join a wine tasting participated by wine aficionados from different parts of the world. We enjoyed a powerhouse Montes lineup, wonderfully presented by Jorge Gutierrez, Montes’ enologist.

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Another day in the office

The Montes showcase included Outer Limits, a brand that boasts of a selection of wines made in such an unconventional manner, producing divine Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Cinsault, and the delectable Carignan Grenache Mourvèdre (simply called the CGM). Gutierrez also presented the famous Montes Alpha line, which included a revamped, significantly more elegant 2013 Chardonnay.

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(L-R): Outer Limits, M, Purple Angel, Montes Folly

We were then treated to a Montes Alpha M, a phenomenal blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot (which I could not stop raving about on my technical notes, punctuating my descriptions with “beautiful” and a smiley face). I fell in love with the 100% Shiraz Montes Folly (so much that I had to buy a bottle to take home).

The best was saved for last: The Montes Purple Angel. Made from Chile’s signature grape Carmenere and a hint of Petit Verdot for structure, it was a dark, red fruit and dark chocolate symphony that made me think of angels singing a hallelujah chorus in the background…

Maybe it was the multitude of angels decorating the place, or the fact that the mountains give you an altitude that brought visitor closer to the heavens. Whatever it was, Montes to me perfectly bottled up all the wonderful emotions I associate with my Chilean adventure.

What is your favourite Montes Wine? If you haven’t decided on one, check out any Ralph’s wine store (I personally decided to relive the Montes trip by buying myself a bottle of Outer Limits from one of the Makati branches). Salud!

Devils, Cellars, and Wine (The 2shotsandapint #Halloween2015 Special)

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I have a confession to make: Second to Christmas, Halloween is my favorite holiday. The costumes, the candy, the parties… Our home is notorious for throwing geeky Halloween parties full of board games, our friend Paul’s cooking, lots of booze, and horror movie marathons.

Speaking of booze, here is one wine that comes to mind that fits the Halloween concept: Casillero del Diablo. Roughly translated, it means “cellar of the devil”. Made by arguably the best wine house in Chile, Concha Y Toro (seriously, if you ask a Chilean which of their wine brands is the best, they would point you to Concha Y Toro), this powerhouse brand has an amazing narrative behind the label that’s worthy of a Halloween campfire story.

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The hair-raising entrance to the casillero

Legend has it that back in the old days (before high tech security systems, and during a time when people easily believed “spiritual” stories), the founder of Concha Y Toro, Don Melchor Concha Y Toro had a problem: his wines were so phenomenal that people kept stealing them from his cellar.

To solve this, he spread word that there was a devil (diablo in Spanish) that lurked in his cellar (casillero). To further substantiate the rumors, he made noises late at night, which got people to believe the tales.

When I first heard about this story, I made it a mission to check out the cellar myself (and made it a part of my bucket list). ProChile, during my press tour last year, made it happen for me.

Upon inspection, my first thought was, man… Those thieves had serious skills. The cellar was 45 feet below the ground, awfully dark, one door, and several tiny vents.

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Even with a high-powered flash, I couldn’t seem to take photos in certain parts of the cellar. Hmmmm….

Here’s the creepy part, though: When I started to take photos, my camera malfunctioned in certain parts of the cellar.

Was it the work of a devil?

Whether or not an evil spirit actually skulked around in the cellar, one thing is certain: Concha Y Toro wines are legendary.

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A perfect glass of Sauvignon Blanc for a sunny day

In my trip, I was treated to a glass Trio Sauvignon Blanc. The Trio line is never a single varietal, but a masterful blend of three different grapes combined together to make gorgeous easy drinking wines.

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Beautiful bottles of Casillero del Diablo Reserva Privada and Gran Reserva

I also had the Reserva Privada version of Casillero del Diablo, and their Gran Reserva Carmenere (a respected wine critic once told me that the ultimate benchmark for a proper Carmenere will definitely come from Concha Y Toro).

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Epic wine tasting with the Marques de Casa Concha line

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Marques wines with beautiful cheese to match

The house was also kind enough to treat me to a wine tasting of their slightly upscale line of Marques de Casa Concha wines (Chad can only drink a Marques Chardonnay or a proper Chablis), with the supervision of their sommelier, Soledad Manríquez León.

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Boxes of the celebrated Don Melchior wines

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I think collectively all these bottles of Almaviva would have amounted to my life savings

It was amazing to have a wine tasting in the presence of their top of the line wines, Don Melchor and Almaviva (a multi-awarded collaboration between Concha Y Toro and famous Bordeaux wine house Baron Philippe de Rothschild).

If you want to experience the thrilling cellar for yourself, you can book a tour through their website (and since you’re halfway around the world from Manila, do go around Chile, it’s BREATHTAKING). On a budget? Concha Y Toro wines are available in most leading supermarkets and theyr’e pretty affordable.

What are you drinking this #halloween2015? Does it come with a horror story too? Cheers!

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Sommelier Ms. Soledad Manríquez León (officially one of my idols in the wine business), and Marketing & Export Coordinator Mr. Jose Tomas Cancino

*If I haven’t said it enough, Muchos Gracias to ProChile (Mr. Patricio Fainberg and Ms. Maria Jose Hernandez Alcaino), you were so amazing to let me check off one thing in my life’s bucket list. Ms. Soledad Manríquez León, thank you for making the experience even more fantastic. Mr. Jose Tomas Cancino, thank you for going to work on a Saturday to accommodate me (we still owe you a tour in one of our beaches).

120: A Celebration of Fiestas Patrias

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Note: This was written long before the recent earthquake… I asked a Chilean amiga whether or not to release this (might be in horrible taste), and she reminded me of something I already knew about their people: They are extremely resilient. Chile being part of the ring of fire, they are used to natural calamities, and are incredibly prepared (I was personally amazed at how they used Facebook to indicate they were safe, how their government managed to get people to safety in such an efficient and effective manner, resulting to minimal casualties). In relation to the celebrations of El Dieciocho, I’ve seen some news that it will be scaled down a little, but they will still go on. As my amiga said, “You know what, people there (her fellow Chileans) will probably just drink to forget… You should put that in the article.” 

So I did. 🙂

I realise that the article is timely… Today, not only is this post a celebration of their fighting spirit over 200 years ago to liberate themselves, but their irrepressible nature that resonates in today’s times.


In line with Chile’s Independence Day (or Fiestas Patrias, also called El Dieciocho), I decided to feature a wine that truly captures the spirit of the celebration: The Santa Rita 120 Carmenere.

A bit of history: Chile celebrates its Independence in two days, the 18th and 19th of September. The 18th commemorates the proclamation of the first governing body of 1810, and the 19th is a celebration of the “Day of the Glories of the Army”.

The 18th of September 1810 is also the beginning of the Chilean War of Independence, which lasted until 1821, when royalist forces were expelled from Chile; or 1826, when the last of the Spanish forces surrendered.

Nonetheless, war was still raging during the year 1814, when 120 exhausted Chilean patriots reached the land belonging to Santa Rita. The patriots were weary after an extensive and difficult battle for Chile’s independence, and sought refuge in Santa Rita’s cellars.

Today, these cellars still make beautiful, everyday drinking wines in honor of the patriots, aptly called 120.

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From Chile to Manila! Special thanks to the wonderful marketing team of Future Trade Inc., Mr. Eric Kahn and Ms. Kristine Tayag

For a truly Chilean celebration, try having 120 in the quintessential Chilean grape, the Carmenere (more info on the grape here). It goes divinely with lamb, aged cheese, chicken, stews, and tomato-based pasta.

For a truly Chilean feast, pair it with easy-to-make empanadas (I recommend this recipe from the wonderful people of QueRicaVida). While it’s easy to buy one from a few restaurants in Manila, I must say that nothing comes close to the authentic Chilean ones. The dough is soft, and the filling is wonderfully hearty.

Santa Rita’s 120 wines (Carmenere, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Sauvignon Blanc) are found in leading supermarkets nationwide.

Santa Rita also has sophisticated, beautiful higher end labels. The Reserva, Medalla Real, and Casa Real are available through Forth & Tay (+632 826-1067, or orders@forthtay.com).

But if you feel like celebrating in Chile (I hear the parties involve so much alcohol), book a trip and join in the revelry (Chileans are so hospitable, warm, and kind… It’s impossible not to join the fun). These are just a few of the sights you can see in Santa Rita’s property:

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The gorgeous mountains serving as an impressive background to Santa Rita’s entrance

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Magnificent gardens, lush greenery

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The many things this vine must have seen…

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Love, Lake, and… Ducks!

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Beautiful church erected for a wedding held in the property many years ago

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The famous underground cellar of Santa Rita

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(l-r): Medalla Real Chardonnay, Floresta Sauvignon Blanc (coming soon to the world market, so honoured to be one of the first to try it), Medalla Real Cabernet Sauvignon, Pehuen Carmenere, Bougainville, and Casa Real

No wonder it was the perfect haven for the 120.

Let me give you another number worth noting: They are now celebrating 205 years of independence.

To our amigos and amigas in Chile, salud to your spirit!

Regional Pairing: Segunda Parte

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I was thinking about the best ways to do a proper Chilean wine pairing (to further substantiate my previous article), and I realised… I can’t do an authentic version at home. The ingredients in that part of the world are unique to their climate and surroundings, that admittedly, what I attempted to do was not as genuine (no matter how many times I hit it with merkén).

So, instead, let me talk to you about the real deal based from my experience in Morandé.

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Funky looking egg-shaped barrels

The store, restaurant, and cellar of Morandé are located in Casablanca, a few minutes drive from the capital, Santiago. It’s an ultra-modern facility, complete with concrete egg barrels. Egg barrels allow for a different mouthfeel with the wine: None of the wooden characteristics from oak barrels, none of the harsh textures from steel vats.

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Taken from Morande’s website

They also have a tienda (store) that I can only describe as a foodie’s dream come true (I was able to take home a bottle of Izzaro EVOO and an apron).

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Delectable amuse-bouche

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Big, fruity, powerful, and delectable

What really struck me about Morandé was their passion for gastronomy. They treated me to a fantastic lunch, a multi-course menu paired with their wines. It was, an epicurean feast: A lively, gentle, perfectly refreshing Morandé Reserva Pinot Grigio for their amuse-bouche, followed by a big, fruity, powerful Morandé Edición Limitada Syrah Cabernet Sauvignon.

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The icon wine, House of Morandé

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…Perfectly paired with roast pork

The showcase for the afternoon was their icon wine*, the House of Morandé. This breathtaking, robust beauty was in a class of its own: It does not beg to be paired with food, but can fabulously compliment red meat dishes. It’s a perfectly blended Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Carignan, Syrah, and Carmenere wine, which harkens memories of lower-midrange Margaux wines.

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Dessert Sampler: The Perfect Ending

A dessert rule is to make sure that your wine is sweeter than the dessert, and a wine made using botrytis cinerea is perfect for it.

At the risk of sounding like an answer to my wine exam, botrytis cinerea is a fungus that attacks the grape berry, which would either cause grey rot (bad), or noble rot (good). Noble rot concentrates the sugars of ripe grapes, facilitating the production of the finest sweet wines (thanks, WSET textbook).

Technical, but bottom line is, botrytis dessert wines are gorgeous, succulently sweet, and often pricey.

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Morandeé Edición Limitada Golden Harvest

The Morandé Edición Limitada Golden Harvest dessert wine is made from Sauvignon Blanc, and the wonderful end result of having been subjected to the glorious noble rot is some of the most subtle flavors of apricot, honey, and smoke that went beautifully with the dessert sampler I was given.

Heavenly.

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I could have eaten and sipped wine here forever

The view from my seat during lunch was not bad, either. I would have sat there all afternoon, enjoyed glasses of wine, some conversation (in my broken gringa Spanglish), and the environment.

What are your favorite food and wine pairing discoveries? Salud!

*Icon wines are the most expensive, highest quality wines made in a particular wine house, often using classic grapes

        

Throwback to France… And Chile (A Look into French Winemaking in the New World)

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I think the reason why I fell in love with France is that the French people (or the ones that I’ve met anyway) have shared my love of history, art, culture, gastronomy, and wine. Similarly, they have also embraced my predilection for the unusual.

That being said, this being my last entry in my #throwbacktofrance series, I decided to do something bizarre and highlight the art of French winemaking in the New World.

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Rows of barrels in Lapostolle’s ageing room

The wines of Lapostolle are a collaborative effort between the makers of Grand Marnier (the Marnier Lapostolle family), thus combining French winemaking sensibilities and the glorious terroir of Chile. Their slogan says it all: “French in Essence, Chilean by Birth”.

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Visiting their property after going to different vineyards around Chile was mind blowing… Prior to Lapostolle, the vineyards I was brought to had the look and feel of being in South America.

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Experimental concrete “egg” barrel amidst all the traditional wooden ones

As I stepped inside the Lapostolle property, however, I momentarily questioned where I was. It was so chic; I really thought I was back in Reims (complete with Fiona, their French sommelier, who let me brush up on my French salutations… Bonjour, choupette!).

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This beautiful fusion translates to their stunning wines. I loved the Casa Grand Selection Sauvignon Blanc, which was a wonderfully gentle take on a typically acerbic wine.

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Bottles in their state-of-the-art cellar

I was also partial to the Canto de Apalta, which is a powerful blend of the signature Chilean red grape Carmenere, with the French staples Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, and Merlot.

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We got to taste ALL that!

The pièce de résistance, however, was definitely the Clos Apalta. What I can only describe as a big and robust, yet elegantly fancy, this is blended in the Bordeaux tradition, but with a Chilean twist (the addition of Carmenere to the Bordeaux powerhouses Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot). I felt that it captured the spirit of the house… Clos Apalta was very “French meets Chile”, and absolutely exquisite.

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Entrance to the Lapostolle Residence

Bonus: Should people decide to fully immerse themselves in the Lapostolle experience (have phenomenal gastronomic experiences, marvel at the Chilean landscape, escape the city for a while, and drink all day… Order of activities unimportant), their property has a residence people can stay in.

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Gorgeous view… Vineyards as far as the eye can see

What’s your favorite French-New World wine collaboration? Cheers!

Tomás’ Tremonte

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I love watching fathers dote on their children… There’s something about the joy in their eyes, the passion emanating from their bodies as they discuss the development of their kids, and even watching them in varying levels of protection, correction, and nurture.

I know this seems like a hard-sell segue from father’s day to wine, but I promised myself to tell you about a winemaker that acts like such a father to his wines, Tomás Uribe Martinez of Viña Tremonte.

Now, I’ve met several winemakers from different parts of the world, and all of them have a certain personality: There are really professional ones who know all there is to know about their wines. There are those who have inherited and are running family owned estates (I appreciate those the most for their no-nonsense, personal touch). I’ve met a man in Chianti who was too embarrassed to sell me his limited edition bottles for 8€ a pop (after we came from Burgundy, it was a STEAL).

Tomás was different… A very good kind of different.

I met him in Chile last November. By that point in the trip, I had just gotten over my jetlag, established a rapport with the ProChile representatives (with my silly gringa Spanglish), and was used to being shuttled around in established vineyards via open white 4x4s.

Tremonte is a boutique winery, and as such it was a little challenging to spot it from the highway (note to self: spot the red truck). Our apprehension disappeared after being welcomed personally by Tomás (Manager of Operations and Winemaker, Tremonte). He had this big, wide smile, open personality, and a huge amount of eagerness to show us his “babies”.

As we toured his vineyards in his SUV (which he said he also used to shuttle his own family around), he spoke so warmly about his “untended” vines that were growing the way he wanted them to (and were due for pruning).

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Tomas’ Babies

We got off the car, and he encouraged me to look around, take photos, and por favor touch the baby grapes if I wanted to.

As I excitedly did just that (I promise I looked like a little kid let loose in a toy store), I looked back at Tomás, who brandished a cutter and was pruning away at his vines.

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I’ve never seen that happen before. I mean, you could see his genuine delight in applying measures to ensure a phenomenal growth to his vines by pruning erring ones. It was just that it has never happened to me in the middle of a vineyard tour. It was an awesome sight to see.

Even the way he introduced me to the barrels of wine that were in the process of ageing was so paternal. He spoke about each wine, grape, and vintage like their characteristics are human personalities; even justifying why certain ones won’t meet preconceived notions.

They will be beautiful but different, and he made no apologies for that.

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Sampling wines straight from the barrel

We went around his cellar to try his wines straight from the barrel (how cool was that).

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Tremonte, Monte Rekewa, and Inkari

I loved his Monte Rekewa Gran Reserva, a mix of three powerful grapes (Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Shiraz). It was so big, so robust, and begging for food to be paired with.

He also let me try his Malbec, something he was passionate about. Malbec is normally associated with Argentina (Chile’s next-door neighbor that also produces wine). While it is produced in Chile, Chileans have a tendency to make Malbec with their own personal touch (a little less violet on the nose, but with the soft textures of its Argentine counterpart).

Tomás’ Malbec is in its own league: jammy, with significantly smaller hints of that spicy characteristic I am accustomed to, and quite smooth on the mouth. It was an unorthodox interpretation indeed, but absolutely gorgeous.

Then, there was his Inkari. A bold, well-balanced Shiraz, it had delectable notes of ripe fruits, tapered by intense tannin. I described it in my head as a “no-holds barred, in-your-face Shiraz”.

I loved everything.

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Inside Tremonte

I also loved the fact that Tomás made most of the things in the vineyard himself: The barns, the patches of flowers, and the layout of the oak barrels resting in his cellar… Home Improvement meets winemaking.

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Excited to see these babies in bottles!

When he welcomed us, he did mention that his vineyards and wines are “up and coming”. I am personally excited to watch him and his wines establish themselves in the wine scene.

Like a new dad watching his kids grow up.

Happy Father’s Day, everyone! Cheers!

Sun. Food. Lake. Wine.

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I know… I’ve been complaining so much about the migraine-inducing heat these days.

We’re averaging at a high of 35°C with a real feel of about 43°C lately, and I couldn’t help but get wistful… I wish I were in a cooler area, surrounded by a tranquil body of water, the sun being there but not brutally burning me, with a glass of wine and good food.

As I wondered why this image is so vivid in my head, I remembered: I was in such a place once.

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Gorgeous view from our lunch table in Maule

Via Wines in Maule, Chile.

There was nothing more splendid than having one of their gorgeous wines while trying to take a bad photo of the place (it was impossible, by the way… It was too picturesque and perfect).

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A fabulous bottle of Oveja Negra

The wine we had that day was perfect for the sunny afternoon, the appropriately named Oveja Negra (“Black Sheep”). It was one of those unusual but beautiful wines… A white made out of both red* and white grapes. It was a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Carmenere, which was both refreshing and full-bodied enough to pair well with the traditional Chilean empanadas we had.

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Soft, deliciously superb, traditional Chilean empanadas

What do you want to do to cool off right now? Cheers!

*Facty-fact: You can make white wines out of red grapes by removing the skin before fermentation 😉