The American Wine & Food Festival

Napa Valley's best at Oakroom
By Earl D.C. Bracamonte

Beringer wines from Napa Valley and classic American steakhouse fare eclipsed the 4th of July fireworks at the Oakroom restaurant in Ortigas Center's bustling business complex. The Fil-Am Friendship Day event green-lighted the American Wine & Food Festival for the month of July.
“I am thrilled to present this wine and food festival in time for the July 4th celebration in the United States. Being an American, I am excited to impart to Manila's dining world a major piece of our history and culture through gastronomic traditions. Food has a universal appeal and great food always make memorable get-togethers, especially with the right kinds of wines. Beringer's rich heritage makes them perfect for this special occasion,” declared Oakwood Premier GM Brian B. Connelly, during the no-frills media launch.
The luncheon began with Chop House Salad, a traditionally-cut concoction with Iceberg lettuce, crumbled blue cheese, dried cranberries, diced avocado, smoked bacon bits, chopped pecan and tomato slices doused with balsamic vinaigrette. The salad was paired with Beringer's California Chardonnay 2005. An immediately pleasing wine, this white variety is an enticing blend of ripe stone fruit and vivid citrus flavors. The bright citrus perfectly offsets the honeyed apricot, culminating in a smooth and delicious wine with a lasting finish. It is a wonderfully approachable and refreshing blend, full of lush fruit flavors and aromas that conjure up the bounty and sunshine of California. 'Twas the perfect meal opener!
We then sampled Beringer's California Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 with its full body of jammy black fruit flavors, making this red varietal enticing from the first sip. The rich vanilla and richness of the black oak flavors blended seamlessly into the wine, offering just a hint of spice. Easy-drinking and satisfying, it was well suited for our main course: a duet of grilled U.S. Angus filet mignon and Alaskan crab garnished with onion rings, smashed roasted-garlic potatoes and grilled asparagus Bernaise sauce.
Beringer is the only wine-maker in the world to have been awarded Wine Spectator's 'Wine of the Year' award for both a Chardonnay and Cabernet. It was also voted “Winery of the Year” by Wine Enthusiast and Wine & Spirits magazines.
“For this festival, we paired the wines with the dishes' sauces to get the right match. It's not done very often, but it works. To fully enjoy wine, proper storage and serving temperature are of utmost importance. We ship them via refrigerated vans and maintain the quality & consistency of the wines by storing them in three temperature-controlled facilities,” apprised Katherine Yao Santos, marketing director of Happy Living Phils. Corp., distributor of the featured wines.
Our intimate lunch ended with a very happy note: Donut Cheesecake served with maple ice cream and blueberry coulis. The sweet ending went flawlessly with Beringer's Chennin Blanc 2009. A well-balanced wine with aromas and flavors of crisp citrus, melon and spicy ginger, it is meant to be enjoyed with a variety of foods, from Asian to Mexican to a casual backyard barbecue and friends. But, like port, it can meld seamlessly with dessert too!
The Beringer vineyards is the oldest continuously operating winery in Napa Valley, being founded by the brothers Jacob and Frederick Beringer in 1876. Originally from Germany, they migrated to California where they found conditions ideal for growing wine grapes: sunny climate, volcanic soil, and hills that could be dug out to provide storage and aging tunnels that would maintain the constant temperature needed to produce fine wines. Even today, the average 58 degrees Fahrenheit inside the tunnels makes them the ideal place for the vineyards to age fine wines. The Hollywood movie A Walk in the Clouds (with Keannu Reeves and Aitana Sanchez-Gijon) was shot within the family's sprawling estate.
Aside from the hotel's monthly featured wines, Oakroom has its own 'Bring Your Own Wine' special promotion wherein diners enjoy waived corkage fees for up to two bottles of their favorite wines with an order of a main course for dinner from 6 PM to 11 PM on Saturdays and Sundays.
The American Wine & Food Festival is a project of the Agricutural Trade Office, the United States Department of Agriculture and wine distributor Happy Living Philippines Corporation.
The aforementioned wine & food festival runs 'til July 30 at the Oakroom, located on the 6th level of the Oakwood Premier Joy~Nostalg Center along ADB Avenue in Ortigas Center. For details and/or reservations, simply call the restaurant's direct line at 719-1160 or through the trunk-lines 637-7888 and 910-8888 extension 8604.


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