I thought this year’s theme was absolutely perfect for the 19th Grand Wine Experience: Generations.
Jorge Joseph, Area Sales and Marketing Manager of Philippine Wine Merchants, has been incredibly eloquent about the reasons behind this year’s theme (see here) capitalising the concept of legacy.
For me, it translated to something simpler.
When someone says generations, it makes me think of three things: The past, the present, and the future.
Coincidentally, the drinks I’ve had (and the people I’ve seen) during the event were representative of them.
I think it’s important to connect with the past because it gives one a sense of familiarity, and therefore comfort… I’m an anxious person by nature, and I cannot stress enough how important it is for me to make sure that I’m in a comfortable situation.
It could be through catching up with people I’ve known for years, such as Johnny Revilla and one of my besties Inès Cabarrus-Habayeb who hosted the evening’s festivities; Or even friends from various industries (fashion, literature, psychology, photography…) who hang out with me during these events because wine is an awesome thing to have in common.
Comfort, however, can also be achieved through imbibing in time-tested favourite drinks… Preferably ones that call to mind good memories. I had a little Montes Alpha (while wondering how many ribs I needed to lose to fit in the Montes Angels’ dresses), a brand close to my heart because it reminds me of just how breathtaking Chile was during my 2014 trip.
I also had, for old times’ sake, wine from the brand I used to represent, Concha Y Toro. My first Carménère was the Casillero del Diablo, which was a good and bad idea because it was such a stonking benchmark for the grape. It spoiled my palate hopelessly… Unless I decide to go up the Concha Y Toro scale and pay a pretty penny for a Carmin de Peumo (which my old colleagues hooked me up with, thanks Boss Jun and Joel!), naturally. PS, I also realised that I wouldn’t have met most of the people I know now (including my husband!), nor would I understand how the local wine trade works, if I hadn’t worked for CYT, so… Thank you. #grateful
Then, there was Zonin. Edna Diaz who is the lovely importer of the Prosecco is my friend, sure, but I love how easy it is to find Zonin in every leading supermarket I go to. This translates to stocking up at home, and… Well, the homebody in me has downed one too many of the bottles with friends and family who come over.
I have been reading up on Eastern philosophies, and one of the things I learned is to fully immerse oneself in the present.
Presently, I am grateful for people in the industry I get to work with (and hang out with, too!) on several projects. I saw some of them during the event. Kath Eckstein (I know I mention her so often in my articles but hey, not only is she a friend and a kick-ass mixologist, she shares my views on gender equality in the industry) now endorses Lakan. I am over-the-moon excited about this because it’s the marriage of sheer talent and good product… Which I will expound on in future articles. For now, I can assure people that I am in love with the cocktails she came up with for the brand.
I saw my fellow #titawhowines, Chie Gatchalian of 5 and a Half Twists. We share the same views on the Manila wine scene as well as wine education, we have husbands who work in multinationals, we’ve both had international exposure when it comes to wine and wine education… It’s easy to understand why we clicked.
I also saw Enzo Lim. We’re not that close, but speaking of mixologists who leave a mark… I am in awe of his skills behind the bar (plus a distinct brand of snark that makes me miss my East Coast friends), which he displayed in the Mars Whisky booth in the form of cocktails.
Then, there are the drinks I’m currently obsessed with learning about: Wines from more obscure regions. For the record, I do not – and will not – shy away from good wine from the more known countries… But there’s something about, say, Macedonian or Thai wines that appeal to my pseudo-cerebral wino side.
Take for example Yarden wines from Israel, which I’ve alluded to in a previous post. I have to say that the Yarden Syrah was my favourite from the bunch because of its smoky, spicy, earthy, and cherry notes; followed by the creamy Yarden Chardonnay that had enough balancing hints of crisp pears to offset what would have been an overwhelming apricot bomb. I was also surprised that they make an Icewine in the form of Yarden HeightsWine, which had enough acidity that made the dessert wine pleasant.
I also managed to explore the Greek wine available locally through the Kir-Yianni booth. I liked how the Kir-Yianni Ramnista Xinomavro from Naoussa (trivia: PGI Naoussa mandates that their Xinomavro bottles should be made from 100% Xinomavro) was easy to drink, with its surprisingly delightful freshness and delicious vegetal notes. I can easily imagine it to be one of those rare reds I would drink without food, but I know it would still work with mildly flavoured cold cuts. Then, there was its cousin, the Diaporos Single Vineyard (PGI Imathia, which allows for blends), a Xinomavro blended with Syrah that gave it a richer, chocolate profile making it perfect to be paired with richer dishes. What surprised me to no end, however, is the fact that they make Vin Santo, an amber coloured sweet wine I usually associate with Tuscany and ancient mass rituals. The Sigalas Vin Santo from Santorini was definitely worth trying out.
The last thing I managed to explore were the Chinese wines Deep Blue, and Chairman’s Reserve from Grace Vineyard. Confession: I have yet to get to a point of wanting to buy a bottle of Chinese wine for myself simply because it’s not my style, but I’m excited to see how Chinese winemaking will develop in the future. Judging from the Chairman’s Reserve alone, I could sense that there’s a lot of potential.
In the immortal words of Whitney Houston, “I believe the children are our future.” Well, Thirdy Ramirez, Ophelie Bueno Lopez, and Jean Park are certainly not children anymore (there is, after all, an age requirement when working with wine), but these award-winning Enderun students (Ramirez and Lopez are back-to-back Whisky Live Cocktail Competition Champions, while Park placed first in last year’s Junior Sommelier Competition) are definitely making waves in the alcohol industry (PS, Jean also contributes to the site, so do catch some of her work here!).
I love wine, don’t get me wrong, but one can argue that the near future of alcohol is sake. There are plenty of thoughts as to why it has become a trend, including a very candid comment by a fellow alcohol professional saying that it was brought about by the ageing Japanese population… Simply put, sake masters and aficionados are beginning to die out. Now, there are a lot of sake related activities and even a brand new WSET Sake Certification course.
Do I like it? I like the drink, for sure… It’s one of those rare alcoholic beverages that don’t cause a hangover (unless mixed with other alcohol in large amounts like a raging drunkard would do), and as soon as I get over my head’s refusal to absorb the Japanese words involved, I think I’d love to explore it on a cerebral level.
Which reminds me, I have to post that article on everything I’ve learned in the WSET Sake Certification Program Preview conducted by my AWSEC WSET3 mentor, Steve Mack.
Having said that, here’s to what was an amazing 2019 GWE, and boy am I looking forward to the next one (sake in hand). Cheers!