It’s September, which means one thing in my country: It’s the beginning of the longest Christmas on earth! This means the beginning of Christmas decorations being put up all over the place (some pinoys don’t even bother to put them down during the year), the start of carmageddon (pro-tip: Avoid malls during the weekends and rush hour as much as possible!), pre-Christmas sales (see comment on avoiding malls), and endless parties (with booze, of course!).
Having said that, the tricky part about owning a beverage site during this time of year is managing it through all the hoopla (and mandating a little rest here and there because, introvert + age + my liver), especially since I’m planning to introduce a few new things to the site (I think I’ve got a bit of a masochistic streak for deciding to do all this during the busiest time of the year).
With that in mind, I decided to slowly incorporate the “new things” by introducing a new collaborator to the site: Judd Labarda.
I first met Judd in our WSET2 class in The Study, Enderun. He made such a huge impression on me because he not only did splendidly in the class, but he also understood my jokes (I learned that getting wine certifications from British professors really dries up someone’s sense of humour).
Bonus points for the wine-themed shirts he makes, which I think we will see much more of in some succeeding entries. 😉
Anyway, he added me on FB and I found out through his posts that not only is he a brilliant wino, he’s got a knack for eloquently expressing himself and his wine observations… So much so that I
bullied begged him to write a few things for the site.
While we’re working out the kinks on the technical side of the blog, I’ll likely introduce him whenever he writes for us (which I hope happens more often). 😉 Without further ado, here’s Judd with his observations on choice Australian wines from Winery Philippines:
When I was first getting into wine, I constantly spent a good hour or so at the wine section of grocery stores. Stumped by what to ask the staff, I’d often feel so lost among the sheer number of labels I had to try to decode myself (and price tags I felt obliged to internally justify).
With online wine and spirit shops everywhere, things got a bit easier in that you can scroll through a wine selection and place your order from the comfort of your couch while you’re in sweatpants, binge-watching “Friends” on Netflix (social anxiety, you’ve met your match!).
But the landscape, for the most part, is similar to your shelf-to-cashier wine shop: You’re usually left to decipher hundreds and hundreds of wines in a large portfolio by yourself, hoping you’d pick a good bottle.
Enter Winery Philippines. I came across their curated online marketplace late last year. I could rave all day about how pleasantly straightforward their website is, but what sets them apart is how consumer-friendly the info page for each wine is. They won’t bog you down with the geeky stuff (don’t get me wrong, I’m all for geeking out about wine), but respect the consumer enough to know that they need more than vague, flowery text from the back of a bottle to make a decision.
I had the pleasure of attending a special tasting of their Winery.ph-exclusive wines last August 24, which featured 15 wines from different regions, but I thought the standout performers came from their Australian range. It was tough picking out my favourites, but here we go:
Chrismont “La Zona” Prosecco NV
“Prosecco from Australia?” Yes, and it worked. With Chrismont Wines’ story beginning with its founder Arnold Pizzini moving from Trentino (a region in Italy that produces Prosecco) to King Valley, their wines have Italian roots despite being made in Victoria. On the palate, this Prosecco was crisp (read: high acid) and delicately effervescent, with notes of honeydew melon, red apple, and a faint floral component.
Chrismont “La Zona” Pinot Grigio 2018
Among the selection of white wines, this (and the next item on the list) had the room divided as to which white was the favourite, so I decided to include them both. The La Zona, with its light-bodied mouthfeel alongside refreshing high acidity and notes of green apple, pear, and citrus, was a real crowd pleaser and an excellent wine for the opulent grazing table.
Printhie Mountain Range Pinot Gris 2018
I liked that this was labeled “Pinot Gris,” because it made for an interesting conversation as to the difference of this style versus the “Pinot Grigio” (for the record, these two were vastly different). For starters, this one had a heavier and more textured mouthfeel versus a Pinot Grigio – largely in part due to some noticeable residual sugar, but likely because of the lees stirring* and malo** as well. On the palate, there were notes of peach and ripe pear with a toasted quality to it. Its racy high acidity gave these aromas more lift on the palate (this was my pick among the whites).
Printhie Mountain Range Shiraz 2016
My pick of the reds, this wine stood out as being a definitive Aussie Shiraz, but with a style that’s unique from Orange, which is not a region we typically hear much about. This Shiraz had pronounced aromas of nutmeg and preserved black raspberry. On the palate, it was rich, full-bodied, and spice-driven with chocolate and blackberries. There were also nice earthy nuances and cedar. It was high on the tannins but was provided balance by some generous acidity. Translation: I could drink this all day (but I won’t, because we imbibe responsibly).
All Saints Estate “The Keep” Golden Cream
It technically was a Cream Sherry (a good one at that), but legally, it shouldn’t appear on the label***. Notes of honey and raisins immediately came to mind, but then there were flavours of pancake and maple syrup popping up mid-palate. It was medium-sweet, so I could imagine pairing it with cream-based desserts, or maybe blue cheese, or pâté.
People interested in the wines I’ve mentioned can make their next wine purchase with Winery Philippines by logging on to winery.ph, or by giving them a call at +63917-5004657 or +632-5069185. They offer free shipping within Metro Manila for orders above Php2,000.
*Lees stirring is the practice of stirring the dead yeast (lees) in the vessel the wine is fermented in to ensure it imparts flavour and complexity to the wine.
**Malolactic Fermentation is the process by which malic acid is converted to softer lactic acid often leading to a creamier texture in the wine.
***A change in 2011 to the Wine Australia Corporation Act 1980 states that, while ‘sherry’ can no longer be labeled “Sherry,” the terms “Cream” and “Apera” among others may still be used.
All photos courtesy of Judd Labarda