Tag Archives: Chile

Vinexpo 2016 Part 2: The People Behind the Glass

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Here’s the thing about me: I rarely get star-struck.

When I do, I tend to babble incoherently. People get giddy with actors, personal heroes (my husband swears he’d probably freak out if he meets Elon Musk)…

I’m a beverage geek, and I get star-struck over legendary winemakers, wine critics, and head distillers.

Here’s how much I could prattle on: During the Vinexpo, I simply HAD to go the Errázuriz booth and check out Seña, the multi-awarded wine I wrote about early this year.

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Photo courtesy of Seña Wines

Lo and behold, both Eduardo Chadwick (President of Viña Seña) and Francisco Baettig (Seña Head Winemaker) were there, in the flesh.

I sat on one of their bar stools while waiting for a turn to meet them, explaining to the two lovely ladies behind the counter who I was, and that I wrote an article about their wine (with help from their wonderful colleague, Veronica Steinbrugge).

During the course of the conversation, I found out that the people in Errázuriz liked the article so much that they featured it on their newsletter.

Flabbergasted, I proceeded to thank them (I totally felt unworthy) while they treated me to some of their best wines.

At this point, I broke my promise of not drinking wines during the expo and just drank… Seña across all vintages is just so divine that it would have been criminal to spit it out.

One of the women who poured wine into my glass was Magdalena. Young but not new to Asia, we got to chat about the possibility of her visiting the Philippines to enjoy our awesome beaches and underwater caves…

Then Eduardo himself came to the table.

I rambled about how I was such a fan, telling him that I was from the Philippines, and that I wrote about him but never got to meet him in person, and how it was truly an honor to finally have met him in the flesh…

Then Magdalena laughed and told me, “He’s my father”.

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Eduardo and Magdalena Chadwick, with their legendary wine

It was one of those moments in a person’s life when time stands still, and everything was blurry (maybe it was the alcohol?), and all I could think of was trying to find a way to get my foot out of my mouth (or possibly blame it on the alcohol).

We proceeded to have further conversation, more of their awesome wines (did I mention how magnificent the 2013 vintage is?), and promised to keep in touch.

Willing myself to avoid being too much of a fangirl for the rest of the expo, I went out and decided to look around the Chilean booths.

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Tasting room of Via Wines in Chile (photo from an old article)

I stumbled upon Via Wines, which I’ve featured in a past entry as one of the more breathtaking places I’ve visited in Chile.

 

I told the person behind the table that I have actually been to their gorgeous tasting room on a lake, and that I loved every minute of that gastronomic treat.

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Oveja Negra – Pastures New: One of my new discoveries from an old favourite

The person introduced herself as Adriana Coderch, CEO of Via Wines. We shared so many stories about my trip to Chile (including the flights) over a glass of their Oveja Negra – Pastures New: This lovely and powerful blend of Garnacha, Mourvedre, and Syrah was amazing, and made me crave for one of their tasting room’s empanadas to go with it.

After this, I decided to take a break from Chile a bit (I was beginning to miss South America) and decided to check out some of the spirits.

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Up front and loving it! (photo from an old article)

After our favourite couple from Singapore* opened my eyes to the beauty of Islay, my world was never the same. I still love my Asian whiskies, Lagavulin, and many others, but I’ve come to appreciate the peaty, intense, smoky notes of a good Islay.

In the article I wrote about whiskies in that region, I posted a photo that had Smokehead in the front. It was my first Islay, and, as they say, you never forget your first. I remember the smoke characteristics from that glass, balanced out with a certain finesse that allows a drinker to enjoy more than a glass of the scotch without getting overwhelmed by the intensity.

Fast forward to the Vinexpo and me finding their booth… I had to stop and talk to anyone there.

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Iain Weir of Ian Macleod Distillers

I ended up meeting Iain Weir, Marketing Director of Ian Macleod Distillers (the distillery that makes Smokehead) and told them how much I loved their whisky. I was treated to a glass and great conversation (including a bit of self-deprecation involving my lack of skills in pronouncing Islay).

 

Fangirled out, I decided to call it a day and return the next day to learn about other wines and spirits…

…Which I’m saving for a next entry.

This is making me think about my other heroes and what drinks I would have with them… Maybe that’s a good idea for an article. 😉

 

*Congratulations to A & B! Cheers to your new life together! Love, light, music and Scotch!

Vinexpo 2016 – Part 1

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One of my ultimate #lifegoals was to go to Vinexpo, the biggest wine event participated by different wine producers and buyers from all over the world.

I say “ultimate” because, having been around since 1981, this event has grown so large and has developed a massive network of participants that it is regarded as one of the best venues to learn about wines and spirits… From Bordeaux powerhouses, to obscure but ethereal Greek wines, to trendy whiskies and sakes.

That being said, when I was invited by my Hong Kong client Sun Shui Fung International to source wines for them (with allowances to go around and learn by myself), I was there. I consider Hong Kong my second home, and Vinexpo only happens in that part of the world every other year (alternating with Bordeaux for the other years). It’s too close (just an hour and a half away from Manila by plane), and I was sponsored a ticket… It would have been criminal to pass that up.

As I sat down and tried my best to summarize and turn my Vinexpo experience into digestible pieces, I realized that it was impossible… I had so many wonderful experiences in the event that I couldn’t fit it in one entry. So, I did what any non-writer would do: Organize, outline, and divide the entire piece into different parts.

 

Vinexpo Highlights Part 1 – Reunited with Drinks so Good

 

I knew that I’ve gone to a few wine expos prior to this one, plus a number of wine tours in different parts of the world… But I didn’t realise how many friends I’ve made, and how small the world actually is.

Here are some of the friends I’ve reunited with during the event:

Chateau Ste Michelle

I met (and bonded with) David Andrews about a year ago during an event held by Wine Depot. We hit it off with our mutual love of wine, and a casual (yet still professional, I promise!) approach to it.

I couldn’t help but pass by his booth and, after seeing that his signature triangular soul patch is alive and well, I decided to bend his ear a little bit.

Classic David (a popular fixture in events like these) had to run around and network, leaving me with bottles of Intrinsic lined up in a row.

I did what any normal woman would do in my situation: make an artsy shot by lining up three bottles in an effort to be artistic:

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The three intrinsically artsy ladies of the bottle

When David got back to me, I showed him the photo I took (which I immediately posted on the blog’s Instagram account). David then took off with my phone, looking for Brett Scallan, Vice President of Marketing.

I know it seems like the beginning of an article on mugging, but that’s one of the best things I appreciate about the people of Chateau Ste Michelle: There’s so much love, humour, stories, and attention to detail that it translates into their wines.

Take Intrinsic, for example. This gorgeous wine got its name for being the ultimate showcase of what “intrinsically” makes a Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapes that went into Intrinsic enjoyed optimum conditions that allowed a beautiful, truthful illustration of its essence.

It also helped that at the helm of its winemaking process is multi-awarded Argentine winemaker Juan Muñoz-Oca, who was inspired by street artists (and their ability to work with whatever environment they are dealt with to create works of art).


Newsflash: They’ve come up with a new wine called “The Pundit”. This Syrah is a perfect blend of the power and spice typical of a new world Syrah, but rounded out by an elegant, smooth texture… Absolutely unique. Also, who wouldn’t want a photo of this mysterious looking owl in their cellar?

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Coming Soon: The Pundit

 

Cremaschi Furlotti

I love the Executive Oenology Director of Cremaschi Furlotti, Christian Cremaschi. I initially met him for an interview (graciously set up by the Embassy of Chile in Manila), then saw him in a previous HKDTC event, then saw him again in this year’s Vinexpo.

Our friendship over the years has reached a point where we could sit down, talk about flights, the Philippine wine market, his experiences in Asia, and food.

All of these conversations, of course, were done over some of his best wines.

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The legendary Christián Cremaschi of Cremaschi Furlotti

There were so many to choose from, but my two favourites were the Edición Limitada Carignan and the Edición Limitada de Familia. The Carignan is unusual… Admittedly, I had hesitations in trying out a predominantly Carignan red because normally, the grape is used for blending, and I’ve tried some from other wine makers that were incredibly off-balanced… So much so, that I promised myself never to write about them. Cremaschi Furlotti’s take, however, balanced it out with a little bit of power and a stronger texture, then anchored it with earthy, masculine, woody notes.

I was sold.

I really don’t need to talk about their Familia wines because it has won double medals in the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America for Best Blend of the Show.

Cremaschi Furlotti has garnered multiple awards over the years for their Single Vineyard Carmenere, Vénere, and other wines… Unsuprisingly. Christian, after all, has fabulous taste.

 

G.H. Martell & Co.

I got an invitation to this year’s Vinexpo from Rodolphe Le Pesant, who I’ve met in 2014. He’s a very funny guy, and was always willing to let me practice my basic (occasionally horrendous) French on him.

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Don’t be fooled by his humorous expression: Those are seriously good bottles of Champagne

His company, G.H. Martell, carries some of the most beautiful boutique Champagne I’ve ever tried. I was partial to the Château de Bligny Le Millesime, which “delightfully combines tropical fruit flavours that bring out all the sensuality of this unique champagne”, the even more unique Paul Louis Martin Le Bouzy Rouge – Millesime (made from 100% Pinot Noir… I’ve talked about the concept of Bouzy Rouge in a previous entry), and the funky bottled La Vielle line.

 

Quinta Das Apegadas

I met Cândida and António Amorin in my very first wine expo in 2013. I was going around the different Portuguese booths and I happened upon theirs, Quinta Das Apegadas.

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I actually got António to smile for this photo!

After my usual opening line (“Can you please tell me about your wines?”), I was shown their lovely Touriga Nacional, a powerful rustic red typical of Portuguese wines.

A particular bottle caught my eye, however, displayed in a different, evidently more special way.

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My own bottle of D 60… I was told the winemakers will never make this again, so I had to get one

I had to ask them about it.

António said that they made a very special vintage in celebration of their 60th anniversary, which they called simply Apegadas D 60.

It was what I fully expected of an unshakeable, long-lasting relationship: A strong, comfortable, intense combination of 50% Touriga Nacional, and 50% of “the oldest vines from Quinta Velha”. I truly felt that their passion and love (for each other and the wines) were truly expressed in the bottle.

In fact, it was so good, that it ended up winning awards as well: A silver medal at Mundis Vini 2012 in Germany.

I had to get myself one, and I refused to get it for free.

Hey, support true love and good wine, yes?

 

So, yes, I may seem to have a fantastic relationship with wine, but I’d like to think that it’s easy enough to do with amazing people behind them.

On that note, part 2 featuring the people behind some of my favourite wines in a next article. Cheers!

Let’s Talk About Awards

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I just got off a major awards season high with Leonardo DiCaprio FINALLY winning an Oscar.

I was also thrilled to find out about Bear Story winning Best Animated Short Film for two reasons: Bears (because bears are cute!), and that it’s the first Chilean winner of an Academy Award.

That’s not the only thing Chile has won in the past few months.

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Award-Winning Seña

Seña, Chile’s first icon wine and a collaboration between legendary vineyards Viña Errázuriz and California’s Robert Mondavi, has gotten the highest score of 96 points for their 2013 vintage.

Some people write off these kinds of reports as just a bunch of numbers, but let me explain the process to understand why this is such a big deal.

Getting recognition from The Wine Advocate, the publication by the well-known wine critic Robert Parker (whose tastes and opinions on wine constantly influence the global wine industry), is quite an achievement for any winemaker. The process of selection is quite grueling… In this particular case of Seña’s, it involved Luis Gutiérrez (critic in charge of rating South American and Spanish wines for Parker) tasting almost 900 wines from different Chilean wineries, while going around Chile for two weeks and meeting winemakers and other personalities in the wine industry.

Gutiérrez described the wine as “Linear, juicy, sharp, and long, very tasty and with very fine, slightly grainy tannins. There is superb balance, classical proportion and symmetry. I have not tasted all of the vintages of Seña (one day…), but out of all the years I’ve tried, this is certainly the best.” He added, “I tasted what can be the finest vintage to date from Seña with winemaker Francisco Baettig. He’s doing a great job.”

Gutiérrez wasn’t the only critic to take notice of this phenomenal wine. James Suckling, wine critic and former European Chief of Wine Spectator, was responsible for awarding Seña with 99 points, the highest score ever obtained by a Chilean wine in international rankings.

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(L-R): Eduardo Chadwick, Owner and President of Viña Seña; and Francisco Baettig, Head Winemaker

Owner and President of Viña Seña, Eduardo Chadwick, had this to say: “Seña was created with the vision to be a world-class wine like none other in Chile, and that would change the way the world thought about Chilean wines. I am very happy about these recognitions. This is not only a great milestone for Seña, but also for all Chilean wines in our pursuit of excellence and recognition of quality at the highest level.”

Seña Head Winemaker Francisco Baettig added: “Finesse and elegance are the two words that best describe Seña 2013, a perfect blend of structure, persistence, and depth along with freshness and balance. These are the most wonderful recognitions to all the Seña team, for all of these years of hard work and dedication.”

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Tonight’s Bottle!

 

Awards by esteemed wine critics and a reason to drink (yay, Leo!)… Excuse me while I hotfoot to the nearest wine shop for my own bottle. Felicitaciones, Chile! Salud!

*Muchas Gracias to Ms. Verónica Steinbrügge

The Year That Was (2shots of 2015)

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“To take wine into our mouths is to savor a droplet of the river of human history” – Clifton Fadiman

 

If that is the case, then 2015 was the year I became a true historian. 😉

Here are a few of some of my favourite moments in 2015:

 

Tons of Travel

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Amsterdam, Sancerre, London… Oh My!

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Singapore, Hanoi, and Napa

I thought 2014 was an amazing traveling year (I wound up halfway around the world on the opposite hemisphere!), but 2015 was just as fun. I enjoyed being part of a Vietnamese tea ceremony and partaking in my favorite Singaporean libations. I loved drinking through London, Paris, Sancerre, and Amsterdam. It was also a blast to end the year with a trip to Napa.

 

Healthy Living

Sharing my discoveries on health benefits of different beverages (juicing, chia, tea, etc.) was a rewarding experience. If you meet me in person, I’m far from being an Adriana Lima (I always use her as my ideal body peg because man, she’s healthy and sexy), but I’ve been consistently happy with my yearly checkups… I just have to be more mindful about the stuff I eat with wine (eheh).

 

Friends and Family

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Titas Drinking Spritzers for Lunch (How The Mighty Have Fallen)

Some of my favourite articles included chronicling a wino friend’s pregnancy and looking back on the drinking habits of our youth. Chad, the rest of our family (I’m still eternally grateful for the surprise trip to Napa), and our spectacular friends have been loving and supportive (even drinking with me and sharing their discoveries, all in the name of beverage research of course) throughout 2015.

 

The Great Chilean Adventure

CHILE COLLAGE 1

Gillmore Winery, Valdivieso, Via Wines, Montes, Lapostolle, Caliterra

CHILE COLLAGE 2

Morande, Sta. Rita, Tremonte, Uva Dulce, and Valparaiso

 

CHILE COLLAGE 3

Checked One Thing on my Bucket List: A Visit to Concha Y Toro!

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My First Foray Into Becoming a Legit Non-Writer Writer 😉

Narrating my Chilean wine adventures throughout 2015 was marvelous. To this day, I still can’t get over the beautiful sights, wonderful people, and phenomenal wines of Chile. The icing on this cake was the Lifestyle Asia article about the trip (OMG I’m a legit non-writer writer now!)… It was fabulous to share my experience with so many people.

 

Local Flavours

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The Beginning of a Fantastic Pinoy Adventure!

The epiphany I had in looking in my own backyard for beverage inspiration has led to many adventures (from coffee to craft beer and everything in between). I’m not done writing about them, and I’m excited to talk about even more truly Filipino drinks (and explorations) to the world.

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Ville de la Reine (available in Wine Story branches)

That being said let me do something quintessentially “new year” with you, my dear readers, by toasting with a glass of Champagne. This bottle of Ville de la Reine is a creamy blanc de blancs (translation: made from 100% Chardonnay grapes) perfect for toasting as the clock strikes 12, or with tasty hors d’oeuvres.

Cheers to 2016!

 

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!