Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Range to Grange

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A cup of opal
Through which there glows
The cream of the pears,
The heart of the rose;
And the blue of the sea
Where Australia lies,
And the amber flush
Of her sunset skies,
And the emerald tint
Of the dragonfly
Shall stain my cup
With their brilliant dye.
And into this cup
I would pour the wine
Of youth and health
And the gifts divine
Of music and song,
And the sweet content
Which must ever belong
To a life well spent.
And what bread would I break
With my wine, think you?
The bread of a love
That is pure and true.

Bread and Wine by Ines K. Hyland (1863-92)

Indeed, there is so much passion ingrained in the hearts and souls of the people behind the iconic Penfold’s brand that it inspires beautiful poetry.

The thing is, their winemakers are so zealous that they’ve made wines from so many different parts of Australia, including Adelaide, Barossa, Clare Valley, Coonawara and Limestone Coast and McLaren Vale, with the aim of creating some of the best wine Australia has to offer.

This is a lovely notion, but it does tend to overwhelm buyers.

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Penfolds Wine Dinner, Old Manila, Manila Peninsula

Well. Never fear, because we are here to run through the different labels for everyone. This is a collection of information based from books, and experiential knowledge obtained through a dinner we were privileged enough to attend on 27 August in Old Manila, Manila Peninsula.

Icon Wines

Bin 95 Grange Shiraz

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Top of the Penfolds line, the iconic Bin 95 Grange

First released commercially in 1952, this predominantly Shiraz powerhouse is a multi-regional blend, with grapes coming from Barossa Valley, Clare Valley, McLaren Vale, Coonawarra, Padthaway, Robe and Magill Estate. It was named after the Grange cottage built in 1845 and initially labeled as Grange Hermitage until the 1989 vintage (an interesting tidbit for would-be collectors). It was also the first Penfolds label to be available in a Magnum size.

“I hope that the production and the acceptance of Grange Hermitage as a great Australian wine has proved that we in Australia are capable of producing wines equal to the best in the world.”Max Schubert, winemaker and creator of Grange Hermitage, after achieving the 100th Gold Medal Award in November 1975

“Grange is one of the singular great wines of the world.”Josh Raynolds, Editor of International Wine US

Personally, I lost sense of poetry when I had this during the dinner and told my BFF, “Grange will change your life.” He agreed.

Bin 144 Yattarna Chardonnay

This beauty has been around since 1995 and is similarly a multi-district blend, with grapes hailing from Adelaide Hills, Tumbarumba, Henty, and Derwent River Valley. When it was first released, it was deemed as the “most eagerly anticipated white wine in Australian history”. Consistently, Yattarna is an elegant, intense, linear style Chardonnay with apple and white peach flavour profiles, and a pure fruit expression complimented by crystalline freshness. “Yattarna” is from an indigenous word meaning “little by little” or “gradually”.

Luxury Wines

Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon

Since 1964, this South Australian (Barossa Valley, Coonawarra, Padthaway, Robe, and Wrattonbully) Cabernet Sauvignon is made with so much pride that they refuse to make this label unless the harvest is phenomenal. Their goal is to release the Penfolds style at its most powerful.

“Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon is completely unadulterated. The blend offers one of the most distinctive expressions of this variety in this world.”Peter Gago, Penfolds Chief Winemaker

“The original Bin 707 was a marvellous wine; it comprised mostly Block 42 Cabernet. The first releases had the richness and ripeness expected of a warm- to hot-climate fruit. A gradual move to Coonawarra during the 1980s changed it to a more elegant cool-climate wine. During the mid-1990s it seems to have reverted back to its original style; a distinctive Penfolds wine divorced from other Australian Cabernets.” Don Ditter, Penfolds Chief Winemaker (1973-1986)

RWT Barossa Valley Shiraz

RWT stands for Red Winemaking Trails, but is more famous as being the “Baby Grange”. It’s a cellaring style wine whose first vintage is 1997. “Whereas Grange uses American Oak, RWT definitely shows off French oak like a French lady showing off her mink coat” – Neal Martin

Bin 169 Cabernet Sauvignon

Made from grapes harvested from prime Coonawarra vineyards, it’s an excellent alternative to a Bin 707, although it uses French oak, and is distinctive for having gorgeous scents and rich concentration.

Magill Estate Shiraz

A single vineyard wine with grapes from Magill Estate, Adelaide, and South Australia, and has been in production since 1983. The concept involves making a “chateau-style” red wine distinctly different from the top-of-the-line Grange style, which resulted to a gentler Grange in terms of texture, without compromising the powerful notes and flavours of a Penfolds Shiraz.

“These are complete expressions of Cabernet Sauvignon. There’s nothing quite like this in Australia”James Halliday, The Australian

St. Henri

Released commercially since 1957, this blend of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon is a multi-district blend. It was initially named “Claret” until the 1989 vintage. Describing it is a challenge to wine professionals, as it’s consistently a contradiction of old-fashioned and contemporary wine styles. It’s also easy to spot from the Penfolds range because of their distinct, curved logo.

Reserve Bin A Chardonnay

“All finesse and elegance. They reflect the exciting and ongoing changes in Australian style.” James Halliday, The Australian

This minerally, fresh style of a Chardonnay has had a huge fan base since its release in 1994. It is everything contrary to a flabby Chard: Flinty and aromatic, with a sharp acidity.

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A wine soaked dinner courtesy of Penfolds

Special Bins

These are wines that Penfolds releases only during really good years… Part of my ultimate wino dreams is to be able to sample some of these.

Block 42 Kalimna Cabernet Sauvignon: 1953 as a Grange Cabernet, 1961, 1963, 1964 as Bin 707, 1996, and 2004
Bin 60A Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz: 1962 and 2004
Bin 620 Cabernet Shiraz: 1966 and 2008
Special Bin Wines: One-off releases (often limited to a single barrel or micro-blend), starting with the 1948 Kalimna Cabernet Sauvignon. There are many, including the 1958 Bin 136 Magill Burgundy, 1957 Bin 14 Mincinbury Dry Red, 1962 Bin 60 (the “off-blend”), 1962 Bin 434 Coonawarra Cabernet Shiraz, 1967 Bin 7, 1973 Bin 169 Coonawarra Cabernet Shiraz, 170 Kalimna Shiraz, Bin 80A, Bin 820, Bin 90A Bin 920, 2008 Bin 620, 2010 Bin 170.

Cellar Reserve Wines

These were similarly “one-off”, experimental wines, targeting hardcore wine enthusiasts.

Cellar Reserve Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir
Cellar Reserve Barossa Valley Sangiovese
Cellar Reserve McLaren Vale Tempranillo
Cellar Reserve Barossa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Cellar Reserve Coonawarra Cabernet Barossa Valley Shiraz
Cellar Reserve Barossa Valley Grenache
Cellar Reserve Kalimna Block 25 Mataro
Cellar Reserve Adelaide Hills Merlot

Bin Wines

Trivia: The word BIN actually stands for Batch Identification Number, a system which most wine makers use to identify barrels in their (normally) vast cellars.

Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz
Bin 150 Marananga Shiraz
Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon
Kalimna Bin 28 Shiraz (a personal favourite, proving affordable wines can be delicious)
Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz
Bin 138 Barossa Valley Grenache Shiraz Mataro
Bin 23 Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir
Bin 2 Shiraz Mourvèdre
Bin 8 Cabernet Shiraz
Bin 311 Chardonnay
Bin 51 Eden Valley Riesling

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Adam Clay, Winemaker, Penfolds

Koonunga Hill

Beautiful entry-level wines that don’t compromise quality

“No guilt, no apologies. Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet is a real Penfolds red wine.”Peter Gago, Penfolds Chief Winemaker

Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet
Koonunga Hill Seventy-Six Shiraz Cabernet
Koonunga Hill Autumn Riesling

Fortifieds

As mentioned in a previous blog entry, Penfolds started their foray into winemaking by making fortified wines. It does make sense to continue this tradition by steadily creating a line of fortifieds.

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The iconic Grange, and a Father Grand Tawny for dessert

Club Tawny
Club Reserve Tawny
Father Grand Tawny
Grandfather Rare Tawny
Grandfather Rare Tawny Series 12 and 13
50 Year Old Rare Tawny
1940 Grandfather Aged Tawny Port
1945 Bin S6 Grandfather Aged Tawny Port

So there you have it, a little cheat sheet on the Penfolds line.

I’m holding on to the edge of my seat, excited for what they have next for the world. 😉

What’s your favourite Penfolds wine? Cheers!

*Resource: The Rewards of Patience, Seventh Edition by Andrew Caillard, MW

L’art du partage (The Art of Sharing)

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Anthony Bourdain once said in his Paris episode of The Layover, the biggest mistake anyone could make (and a surefire way to have a terrible Parisian holiday) is to over-schedule. I made that blunder several times before, which admittedly caused me to fall out of love with the city.

My first trip was in 2012 when I was wide-eyed and touristy, forcing myself to accomplish all the “must-do in Paris” items from a stereotypical guidebook (I climbed the Eiffel Tower and saw the Mona Lisa in the Louvre). It made for great photos, but it was a “meh” experience. I had a succeeding trip that I called “disastrous”, which happened when I over-scheduled my itinerary in a similar fashion. My third trip was equally catastrophic, because we decided to cram two days’ worth of activities in one day.

That’s when I gave up. I got tired of Paris. I enjoyed the vineyards (and the people) in the wine regions of France, bien sûr, and saw Paris as just a means to get there. In fact, when I got invited to join one of my culinary BFFs/occasional client/partner in crime for all things gastronomy in Paris to do “research”, I looked at is as simply that: Research. Work.

Oddly enough, that’s when I fell in love with Paris all over again.

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Restaurant de Philippe et Jean Pierre, 7 Rue de Boccador, Paris 8e (photo courtesy of Chef Jonas Ng)

It happened like this: Given that my friend would spend most of his time working in one of the best Parisian restaurants, Restaurant de Philippe et Jean Pierre, I had most of my days free.

That’s when I decided to truly embrace Bourdain’s advice and do as little as possible in Paris.

Oh, and eat and drink my way through the city.

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But first, a café (near the Butte Chaumont park) to spend a few hours like a flâneur

Paris offers endless possibilities to fully immerse oneself in their food and beverage culture: One can live like a flâneur in cafés that have been around for hundreds of years, explore markets for amazing food and wine paring options, or sample endless amounts of epicurean delights…

But what is the key to understanding Paris’ love affair with food and beverage? Is it through immersing oneself in their rich culinary history that somehow seamlessly blends with an eagerness to push the envelope? Is it through the appreciation of their amazing technical and artistic skills? Is it through accessing beautiful fresh ingredients and authentic, regional wines, found anywhere from a neighbourhood Carrefour to an artisanal cheesemonger?

Personally, I think the answer lies somewhere in the art of sharing. As with everything else, the French have a lovely translation for the act of sharing that just rolls off the tongue: “Partager”.

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A carefe of Cahors and a Magret de canard from Chez Papa (our favourite branches are in Madeleine and in Bastille)

I came up with this theory after re-evaluating all my favourite moments in my Parisian trip… There was a time when I took my friend to one of our family’s best-loved restaurants for French comfort food (and thus letting him in on our little Parisian secret): Chez Papa. We split escargot, tripe, and their signature magret de canard with a carafe of Cahors (an appellation in southwest France famous for strong, red wines).

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Truffles and Champagne and Rose, oh my! Maison de la Truffe, 14 Rue Marbeuf, Paris 8e

 

We also shared this discovery: A restaurant that served different interpretations of truffle, Maison de la Truffe. We had a risotto with truffles, and the richest, prettiest foie gras terrine. We paired them a rosé (as a nod to the warm weather), and their house champagne… Then left room for dessert in the form of truffle ice cream. Granted, in books, none of these are classic food and wine pairings, but it all turned out so good. Afterwards, as a welcome respite, we decided to treat ourselves to ice cold Martini cocktails along the Seine.

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Yup, it’s possible to drink along the Seine

On our way to a house party, we saw the tail end of an event along the street. It wasn’t like anything I’ve ever seen: We saw locals having a blast sitting along the road, doling out glasses of impeccable white wine and shells upon shells of oysters to their friends.

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…or along the road. 

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It’s better to drink with good food (photo courtesy of Chef Jonas Ng)…

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…and with good company (photo courtesy of Chef Jonas Ng)

The house party we went to was hosted by people my friend met in Manila. It was an awesome night where opinions on culinary philosophies, tastes in music (where I learned about Wintergatan, a Swedish folktronica band), food, and wine were exchanged. I knew I was in the ultimate spot in Paris because that’s where I had some of the best home cooked vegetarian food I’ve ever had in my life (I’m not too fond of vegetables, but the way they prepared and cooked the food was amazing). We had wine (as one should in France) paired very casually (with none of the frills of making sure they paired accurately with the food). Plates were cleared to make way for delicious cheese… Followed by artistic and delectable pastries from one of the evening’s guests, famous pastry chef Gaétan Husson.

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Versailles Market

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The feast we prepared from our Versailles Market finds

Speaking of people my friend met in Manila, we also spent one morning in the Versailles market, where we were shown how to shop in a real French marché. I know I’m not talking about Paris anymore, but amazingly, it only takes less than an hour away via train from Paris to get to Versailles… It’s totally worth the travel to purchase some of the freshest produce, the best cheese and charcuterie, and to choose from a large selection of regional wine. We decided to grab some roast, figs, cheese, cold cuts, and a Monbazillac (my cheap alternative to a Sauternes for really strong cheese).

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A feast of thick, juicy steak, paired with a bottle of Pavillon du Glana Saint-Julien, Le Flamboire, 54 Rue Blanche, Paris

Cheese is so ingrained in French culture that they even have an expression for the appropriate consumption: “Pas de bon repas sans fromage”, which roughly translates to, “It’s not a good meal without cheese”. This is something I learned over dinner in Le Flamboire with someone my teacher (and friend) told me to seek out in Paris. Over some of the best, well-cooked steak I’ve ever had (thick as the side of a dinner fork), a bottle of Saint-Julien (in celebration of my return from Bordeaux), and delectable desserts, we swapped stories about how one’s mother’s cooking (whether it’s mousse au chocolat or kare-kare) is universally the best. He also taught me the “correct” way of eating crème brûlée (one should daintily break the crust first before taking a small bite).

 

“They are friendly, the French. They surround you with a civilised atmosphere, and they leave you inside of you, completely to yourself.” – Gertrude Stein, Paris France (1940)

So, what is the secret to understanding French gastronomy? Ask the French, they are more than willing to share it with anyone keen to understand and appreciate. Find someone to share a meal with you and talk about it… Or even listen to a vendeuse as she explains her charcuterie to you (she will most likely let you taste some). The key is to slow down and indulge your senses… In doing so, I discovered, not only did I fall in love with Paris all over again, but with life as well.


Special Thanks:

  • My buddy, Chef Jonas, for sharing Paris, photos, and friends with me (see him on the Lifestyle Channel in his show Chef Next Door, or spot him around his restaurant, Le Jardin, in Fort BGC)
  • Babette Isidro of Jeron Travel
  • Renato S. Dollete, Food and Beverage Manager of Etihad Airways
  • Tim and Justine for opening their home to us
  • Claire for showing us around her hometown
  • Eméric for sharing a beautiful meal with me 
  • Chia for taking me on an epic Parisian adventure

Wine-ing on TV Part 1

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Granted, my video editing skills are terrible, but I FINALLY managed to fix the video and upload it to YouTube.

At the risk of sounding too full of myself, here’s my first TV interview talking about my passion, wine.

Part 2 coming soon. Cheers!

 

*Extra special thanks to the fabulous Consul Annette Ablan for the interview, and the wonderful crew of GNN for making me feel right at home. 

Home, Jetlagged, and Procrastinating

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Finally home in Manila. I’m a little exhausted from the flight and forcing myself to adapt to the time difference.

I promise to be coherent enough and come out with something by next week.

Admittedly, some days, I just want to delegate blogging to our Yorkie, Schrumpf.

Oh well. 😉 Cheers!

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Schrumpf tries to blog about wine and fails

Lupang Hinirang, Bordeaux Style

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I’m fully aware (based on stats from the blog) that we get readers from different parts of the world.

That being said, I’m positive that most readers know I’m a Filipina wino who loves good wine… And I would never shy away from going to the ends of the earth (as long as it’s feasible) to get my fill.

For those who want to have a little insight of Filipino culture, I have a treat.

I would like to present something that is truly close to our hearts, our national anthem.

I’ll do one better: Courtesy of our wonderful friends from the legendary Château Angelus, here is our national anthem, as played by their bells all the way from Bordeaux, France.

 

 

That patriotic introduction aside, let it be known that this was one of the most outstanding experiences in my life as a wine specialist. I will never forget this memorable welcome especially for me by Château Angelus for as long as I live… I’m deeply humbled and moved (yes, that was my voice in the background gushing like a fangirl).

I’m still in France, and I’ve finally begun the vacation leg of my trip. This very short article is my own way of giving people a sneak peek into the upcoming French-related articles.

That, and I still owe readers the edited version of my interview with GNN.

How’s that for a teaser. 😉 Cheers!

*Château Angelus is available in Wine Story branches. Price available upon request. Special thanks to the people of Wine Story for making this possible, especially to Ms. Carla Santos and Ms. Jo-Ann Ramos.

Bonjour Bordeaux!

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Bonjour from Bordeaux!

I’m currently having a blast (and getting infinitely starstruck) with the places, people, and wine I’ve seen/met/had here in Bordeaux. My mind has been blown away by my experiences and I’m eager to scribble them down at the soonest… It’s just not currently possible as of the moment. I am, however, keeping the Instagram account updated (as much as I could), so my adventures can be seen there in real time.

Will post something more concise as soon as I could.

Meanwhile, I’d like to thank once again the lovely people of Wine Story for helping put this together… To experience Bordeaux in Manila, people can purchase bottles from their stores in Rockwell, Serendra, and Shangri-La Mall.

Better yet, they have awesome classes available for all levels of wine enthusiasts.

Cheers!