I had the pleasure of being invited by Wine Depot for an evening of wine and classical music at the exceptional fine dining restaurant Antonio’s in Tagaytay over the weekend.
Almost a hundred guests were personally welcomed by Wine Depot Philippines owner Brett Tolhurst and lovely wife Hazel at Wine Depot on N. Garcia (formerly Reposo). We enjoyed some champagne before boarding the coasters where more champagne was served (!) on the way to Tagaytay.
It was such a joy to visit Antonio’s in Tagaytay again. It has always been one of my favorite restaurants in the Philippines, a true example of fine dining and it was great to see that its charm is as enigmatic as ever.
Dinner included Chef Tonyboy’s much loved classics. We started with the Black Prawn Nori Arugula, with greens fresh from the Antonio’s farm next door, of course, and the most juicy prawns in Metro Manila. This was followed by a truly succulent mushroom broth whose aroma and taste reminded one of why Tonyboy Escalante is regaled as Manila’s best chef.
The palate cleanser of Mango Sorbet had my tablemate Simon Cote, formerly of Shangrila, nodding in amazement. “This is really good!” And the Rougie Canard Leg Confit reminded me of the good ol’ days when we would drive all the way to Tagaytay just to taste the duck at this restaurant.
Dinner was paired with Ogier wines: Cotes du Rhone blanc, Ogier Lirac, Ogier Gigondas Rouge, Ogier Heritages Chateauneuf-du-Pape Red and Clos de L’Oratoire Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rouge.
The Cotes du Rhone blanc and Lirac have both won Gold at the Concourse International de Lyon while the Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rouge won Gold at the International Wine & Spirit Competition.
The blanc is a nice and easy white, perfect to start off a simple dinner. Wine connoisseurs describe it as having a “fresh, long, minty fruit finish”. The Lirac, which is a village in Chateauneuf du Pape, is relatively new, created in 1980 and called the “baby Chateauneuf”. It is comprised of what the producers call GSM (Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre) as well as Cinsault. While an easy wine, it has a long vanilla flavor on the finish.
The Gigondas Rouge (Gigonas is another village) is also a GSM. Princess Tenajeros, Export Manager of AdVini, explained that because the terroir Gigondas has more altitude, this wine is more concentrated than the Lirac, with a lot of fruitiness.
My favorite for the night was the Ogier Clos de l’Oratoire des Papes Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2015. After the dinner, I checked Vivino and was happy to see that it had a 4/5 rating. Some give the tip to have it in 5 years yet. A blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Cinsault, it is described by Wine Depot as “brooding black fruits … (with) fruity, spicy and complex layers of flavor” and having “sweet red cherry aromas”. A reviewer at Vivino observed it as fruit forward, with a pronounced sweetness, a “cool grenache nose” and a surprisingly supple finish.
What makes this wine even more interesting, though, I learned after chatting with Princess, is that the wine is named “du Pape” because the Chateauneuf du Pape commune was where the summer palace of the Pope was in the 14th century, just an hour from Avignon. There is actually a ruined medieval castle that still exists above the village which was built in the 14th century for Pope John XXII, the second of the popes to reside in Avignon. Possibly as an ode to this memory, the label of the Chateauneuf du Pape, which makes reference to the castle for the Pope, has not been changed since 1926!
After dinner, where the stars of the show were the wines, we walked to the beautiful gardens of Antonio’s where the stars were two opera singers, graduates of the University of Sto. Tomas (UST) accompanied by a 10-piece orchestra from the Manila Symphony Orchestra. It was just magical. I had never seen Antonio’s closed for an event or the garden closed for an event. It was so beautiful. It rained, though, so we had to transfer to the Cabana. Which I think was a blessing in disguise because the acoustics got better.
It was truly a magical evening! I may have finished this magnum … shhh!
Congratulations on another successful wine and opera event, Wine Depot! Hopefully, another one next year? 🙂