Tag Archives: Singapore

Bubbles and Barcelona

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Guaps,” I texted our friend from Barcino’s, “what do you suggest I do in Barcelona for 72 hours?”

Hola guapa! Wanna visit any winery??? It’s to die for!” he replied.

Honestly, when I sent him the message, my intentions were purely to get recommendations for restaurants and activities, but hey… Who was I to pass up an opportunity to sample wines straight from the source?

Backtrack: The trip technically involved me tagging along while Chad attended the Mobile World Congress with some of the most awesome tech writers from Manila.

So, the trip had nothing to do with alcohol… That is, until we spent an interesting unplanned 10 hour layover in Singapore. What was there to do while agonizing over a major airline gaffe?

Raid SilverKris Lounge’s bar, of course.

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Photo courtesy of Michael Josh Villanueva of Gadget Match

They had a selection of decent wines representing some of the nicest from the regions they came from, and a bar with sufficient ingredients to make a killer martini.

Several hours and an unintended stopover in Dubai later, we finally arrived with 62 hours left in our Barcelona trip.

Prior to that excursion, everything I knew about the place I learned from friends who were from/have been/are still there. I heard about legendary tapas and an extremely relaxed lifestyle enjoying cerveza and glasses of cava.

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Alhambra in a restaurant along La Rambla

That being said, I decided to spend an afternoon lounging about and people watching in La Rambla over beer and tapas*. I ordered a bottle of Alhambra Reserva 1925 to go with my pulpo (octopus). This award-winning beer has a rich, amber color and bottled in a sparkling green label-less bottle. The intensely flavored extra lager made me think of orange trees, caramels… And an intense desire to stay there forever.

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Cava Sangria

For dinner, I met up with some friends for Cava Sangria. Barcelona has an interesting take on Sangria, using readily available cava instead of still wine to create a beautiful, sparkly cocktail.

Since I’ve been going on about cava, let me go back to the initial master plan: A quick afternoon trip to Sant Sadurní d’Anoia for a visit to Vilarnau.

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Messi versus Messy: Messi won 😉

I’ve been to a lot of wine houses on earth, but I’ve never been welcomed in a more awesome manner. I managed to pop in just in time for the manager and winemaker, Damià Deàs, to let me join in a truly Catalan tradition: partaking in calçots (onion shoots, which were char-grilled) with salvitxada (a salsa with tomatoes, olive oil, and nuts as some of the ingredients), and drinking wine out of a porron (a traditional glass wine pitcher). Damià said he was like the footballer Messi when shooting wine straight from the porron into his mouth… I said I was just plain messy (like the amateur that I was… Maybe I needed more practice).

I knew Vilarnau in an intimate way. Years ago, I was first introduced to cava (the exquisite Spanish take on sparkling wine involving some of Catalan’s indigenous grapes: Macabeo, Xarel-lo, and Parellada) through the brand… And you know what they say: you never forget your first.

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The fantastic Eva Plazas of Vilarnau as we sampled wine straight from the vat… #lifegoals achieved 😉

Needless to say, I was thrilled when the fabulous Eva Plazas showed me around their property, explained their winemaking procedures, and had me try their wines before and after the secondary fermentation (done in nothing less than the traditional method, a delicate procedure that involves doing the secondary fermentation in the same bottle which introduces bubbles into wine).

Enough text. I’m letting the photos say the thousands of words.

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Sharp still wine after the first fermentation. This will undergo a secondary fermentation to get fabulously bubbly.

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Riddling Tables

4 - up close and personal settled yeast

Up close and personal: Yeast slowly settling to the bottom of the bottle

6 - frozen yeast neck of bottle ready for releasing

Frozen yeast, ready to be disgorged and topped up

7 - what mushroom looking corks look like before process

How corks actually look like before being plugged into a bottle of sparkling wine (before looking like a ‘shroom!)

 

10 - rose with gaudi and cava using chestnut barrels

Left: Brut Reserva Rosé, designed as an homage to renowned Catalan artist Antoni Gaudí; Right: Xarel-lo Castanyer, which made use of chestnut tree barrels for fermentation, giving it a nutty, creamy taste and texture

 

I feel like the 62 hours were certainly not enough to explore Barcelona’s awesome food and wine scene. I guess that’s my way of saying, moltes gràcies, i que tornarem Barcelona.

 

*tapas: bite-sized snacks popular in Spain

 

Muchas Gracias to Ricardo Infante of Barcino’s for setting the trip to Vilarnau up. Moltes Gràcies to Eva and Damià for showing me a wonderful time. Special shoutout to Karen and Ice for showing me around (we owe you another dinner), and the fabulous Michael Josh Villanueva of Gadget Match for making the awful layover more fun with martinis and wine.

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!

 

“Whatcha Upto?”

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This was the message I got from a friend last week, after I seemingly dropped off the face of the earth.

Truth is, this year’s Christmas season has been unusually frenetic for our family… Unusual amounts of travel added a certain element of chaos to the usual holiday rush of Christmas presents/parties, which is the reason why I haven’t been around.

To answer my friend’s question, here’s what I’ve been “upto”:

 

Christmas Gift Giving

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Christmas Presents All in a Row

It’s that time of year when my home office evolves into a part restaurant/beverage consultant’s office, part French student’s study nook/library, part beverage blogger’s writing haven, and Santa’s workshop. I have shopped for, wrapped, and delivered as much Christmas presents as I could before traffic and even more travel happen.

Those looking to give wine or coffee for Christmas can look at my previous entries (here and here) for recommendations (I would like to add Wine Depot as a great wine source as well… Bulk buyers can be offered discounts, and the items they have on sale are pretty good).

 

Wine Dinner

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Good Dinner, Good Wine, Good Service…

 

I was fortunate enough to catch a break and attend a multiple course “Modern Basque” themed dinner in the Tasting Room. Each delectable course was paired with beautiful Spanish wines, punctuated by great company and stupendous service… All in all, it was a fabulous treat.

 

Cocktails and Presidents

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Chic-looking Sangria over Books and History

 

Chad and I attended the book launch of “Eldpidio and Alicia – The Love Letters”. Elpidio Quirino was the 6th president of the Philippines during the postwar reconstruction.

It was difficult to find literature on his wife, Alicia Syquia, who was killed (along with three of their five children) by Japanese snipers during the Battle of Manila in 1945. It was great to see their love story, and the life of the Filipinos during the American occupation, through these intimate letters.

The launch happened over cocktails on a Saturday afternoon in Ayala Museum (I highly recommend people to see their diorama on Philippine history). I couldn’t resist taking photos of the chicest looking sangrias I’ve ever seen.

 

Singapore

I had a great (albeit short) time in Singapore… Chad had a meeting, and I took advantage of Singapore’s massive holiday sales to shop for Christmas presents (and stuff for myself, of course). I just HAD to buy a Laphroaig PX (a tremendously smoky, slightly sweet powerhouse of a single malt Islay… Just the way I like it), and a bottle of Hibiki Suntory Whisky Master’s Select (a fruity Japanese whisky with the smoothest texture on earth).

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Whisky Shopping!

On a non-alcoholic note, I did find a lot of liquor infused chocolates, and ended up getting myself an Amarula chocolate bar. 😉

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Amarula Chocolate Bar #nomnoms

We also managed to catch up with some girl friends over coffee… I loved Coffee Club’s Aged Sumatra Mandheling. “Aged” coffee is made out of green coffee beans stored over time. This particular coffee has low acidity, extremely flavorful, and has quite the body.

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Aged to Perfection Coffee

What’s next on my agenda? Another trip out of the country, and part 2 of my “proudly pinoy” story arc.

Cheers!