Philippine Wine Merchants

The 18th Grand Wine Experience
By Earl D.C. Bracamonte

The Philippine Wine Merchants, in collaboration with Marriott Hotel, launced the 18th installment of its annual wine festival at the Cru Steakhouse very recently. Simply dubbed "Diversity," the grand wine experience will feature more than 500 wine varieties from vintners all over the world. The media luncheon proffered concoctions carefully prepared by executive chef Aleik Brammer and his F and B team.

"Today, we celebrate the burgeoning wine industry in the Philippines; slowly changing the wine culture in the country to be like the rest of the world," declared Marriott general manager Bruce Winton, in a message.

The gustatory journey started with Bonito Cured Atlantic Salmon, a perfectly plated entree with shrimp crackers, local anchovy dressing, and bits of compressed apples. This was paired by the Spanish champagne, Freixenet Reserva Real. The sparkling wine melded seamlessly with the cured morsels of salmon.

"My team took extra effort in creating the dishes for this luncheon. We are also celebrating the diversity of Asian cuisine. The wine selection is perfect for the meat. We needed to plan a year in advance for the wine and food pairing," shared chef Brammer.

Our appetizer was followed by a delectable cup of Mushroom Espresso. The truffle brioche toast with parmesan really perked up our digestive juices; wheying the appetite for more.

Prior to our main course, two Italian wines, from the Bolla label, were proffered to the attendees. First came the Le Poiane 2011 Valpolicella Ripasso classico superiore, from a vintage grown in the north of Verona. Next was the Amarone 2012 Della Valpolicella Classico, a full bodied red variety first released in 1953. This wine had more complexity and alcohol content at 15-16 per cent but remained elegant.

Bolla is a family-owned Italian label that started in 1883. Ownership changed hands for a while until its reacquisition in 2006. It is one of the first Italian labels to reach the US and some parts of Europe. Today, the Bolla family owns fifteen wineries under its extensive portfolio.

The well marbled portion of the US-certified Angus rib eye came with sidings of potato confit, Provencal vegetable ragout, and shiraz wine sauce. Prepared medium well, the main course blended superbly with the Pirramimma Iron Stone Shiraz from the McLaren Vale in Australia.

The early afternoon luncheon ended on a very delightful note with the meticulously crafted Citrus Egg Nest. At first glance, you'd think it was an egg but it's not. Everything in it, including its shell was edible. The nest was put together with olive oil and white chocolate for the shell, light mandarin orange mousse for the yolk, then lemon cream, orange compote, and vanilla panna cotta for the albumen; all resting atop a spread of Kataifi nest, chocolate shell, and orange gel.

The tasty treat paired well with the dessert wine Montes Late Harvest 2014. The botrytised grapes of the Gewürztraminer variety hailed from the Curico Valley in Chile.

The Grand Wine Experience started in 2001. The 18th edition of the annual event will unfold on November 16, 2018 at the Marriott grand ballroom in Resorts World Manila.


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