A Symphony of Wine: Chateauneuf du Pape at Antonio’s in Tagaytay

Margaux Salcedo appreciating Chateauneuf du Pape

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.

The lovely Hazel Tolhurst of Wine Depot Philippines welcoming guests to the Symphony of Wine Dinner 2017
The lovely Hazel Tolhurst of Wine Depot Philippines welcoming guests to the Symphony of Wine Dinner 2017
Champagne at Wine Depot ReposoChampagne at Wine Depot Reposo
How cute are these tiny bottles of our welcome champagne? I was tempted to drink it straight from the bottle! Perfect too for the cooler on the bus 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.

The Symphony of Wines 2017 dinner was held at the award-winning fine dining restaurant of Tonyboy Escalante, Antonio's in Tagaytay.
The Symphony of Wines 2017 dinner was held at the award-winning fine dining restaurant of Tonyboy Escalante, Antonio’s in Tagaytay.

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.

Tonyboy Escalante's classic menu at Antonio's in Tagaytay
Tonyboy Escalante’s classic menu at Antonio’s in Tagaytay paired with Ogier wines.

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.

Ogier wines were served by Wine Depot at the Symphony of Wines at Antonio's in Tagaytay.
Ogier wines were served by Wine Depot at the Symphony of Wines at Antonio’s in Tagaytay.

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!

Ogier Clos de L'Oratoire Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rouge
Ogier Clos de L’Oratoire Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rouge

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!

And I definitely made new friends, which is always wonderful 🙂

Simon Cote and Niguel Arevalo at the Wine Depot's Symphony of Wine 2017.
Niguel Angelo of Wine Depot and Simon Cote, who will be in charge of the expansion of Wine Depot to spirits
Simon Cote from Quebec and Princess Tenajeros from HK at the Wine Depot's Symphony of Wine 2017.
Simon Cote from Quebec and Princess Tenajeros from HK at the Wine Depot’s Symphony of Wine 2017.

Congratulations on another successful wine and opera event, Wine Depot! Hopefully, another one next year? 🙂

Margaux at Mireio: Chateau Giscours & Chateau Du Tertre for the Commanderie de Bordeaux

Chateau Du Tertre at the Margaux at Mireio dinner of the Commanderie de Bordeaux hosted by Gigi Montinola

I had the pleasure last Friday of attending a gathering of the Commanderie de Bordeaux entitled ‘Margaux at Mireio’, a beautiful dinner prepared by Mireio Chef Nicolas Gretin paired with Margaux Grand Cru Classe wines Chateau Giscours and Chateau du Tertre.

The Commanderie de Bordeaux is an international organization of wine lovers founded in Bordeaux, France with chapters in major cities of the world, now including Manila, Philippines.

Chef Cyrille Soenen, Mireio Chef Nicolas Gretin, Chateau Giscours and Chateau Du Tertre Alex van Beek, Commanderie De Bordeaux President Aurelio Gigi Montinola
Margaux at Mireio. Right to left: Commanderie de Bordeaux’s Le Maitre or The Master and founding commandeur Gigi Montinola, guest of honor Alexander van Beek, director general of Chateau Giscours and Chateau Du Tertre, Mireio Chef Nicolas Gretin, Maîtres Cuisiniers de France Chef Cyrille Soenen

I attended as guest of current Commanderie Le Maitre (The Master) and one of the original commandeurs, Mr Aurelio ‘Gigi’ Montinola (former President of BPI). “I thought of you because the dinner tonight is all about Margaux,” he said very generously to this Commanderie first timer.

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Left side, L-R: Jimmy Panganiban, Margaux Salcedo, Gigi Montinola. Right side, seated (R-L): Ernest Cu, Arlene Cu, Alexander van Beek of Chateau Giscours and Chateau Du Tertre, Chef Cyrille Soenen ... Chateau Giscours, Chateau Du Tertre, Grand Cru Classe Margaux at Mireio, Raffles Makati
Commandeurs and guests. Left side, L-R: Jimmy Panganiban, Margaux Salcedo, Gigi Montinola. Right side, seated (R-L): Ernest Cu, Arlene Cu, Alexander van Beek of Chateau Giscours and Chateau Du Tertre, and French Master Chef Cyrille Soenen. (Sorry did not meet the guests at other end of the table!)

The guest of honor was Alexander van Beek, Director-General of Chateau Giscours and Chateau Du Tertre, who flew in all the way from Bordeaux.

Mr Alexander van Beek, Directeur Général, Chateau Giscours and Chateau Du Tertre with Commanderie de Bordeaux president and one of the original commandeurs Mr Aurelio 'Gigi' Montinola
Mr Alexander van Beek, Directeur Général, Chateau Giscours and Chateau Du Tertre with Mr Aurelio ‘Gigi’ Montinola, Le Maitre de la Commanderie de Bordeaux aux Philippines

MIREIO AT THE RAFFLES

The evening began with cocktails at the romantic Mireio terrace. Even past sunset, the terrace is beautiful – that view! And we were lucky the weather was just perfect. Guests “warmed up” for a night of wine appreciation in the unusually chilly Manila weather with Ayala champagne and salmon hors d’oeuvres.

Then it was time for the real thing: check out this menu.

Note that the first two bottles are 2009 vintage and the last two bottles are from ten years earlier.

2009 has a reputation of being an excellent year for Bordeaux wines – evidence that the commandeurs really know their wines! And while 1999 was a shadow vintage (I will explain later), 2000 was likewise an excellent year.

Margaux at Mireio. Chateau Giscours, Chateau Du Tertre wines for the Commanderie de Bordeaux.
THE Menu for Margaux at Mireio. Gigi Montinola had to approve this menu by Mireio Chef Nicolas Gratin paired with vintages of Chateau Giscours and Chateau Du Tertre chosen by Director General Alexander van Beek. But how can one disagree?

CHATEAU DU TERTRE

Du Tertre, Alex explained, means “little hill” or “hillock” (Google translates it to “the mound”; Wikipedia says “tertre” means a hilllock or rising ground). As such, it is an ideal location to make wine because the elevated parts allow for better drainage but also better exposure, resulting in wine with texture that is soft without sacrificing depth.

Alex, who is Dutch, on the mic shared an inside joke that the owners personally like this location not just because of the resulting excellent wine but because atop the hills is where the Dutch can “look down” on the French (that was a joke made in loving jest, of course – the Dutch loved the wine so much they purchased the chateau!).

Here is a quick Wiki on how Chateau du Tertre was acquired by a Dutch family:

“Le Tertre (or Du Tertre) passed through the ownership of the Arrérac family and Marquis de Ségur until the 1855 classification. When the estate was owned by Charles Henri, Le Tertre hold a good reputation and was in demand on the Dutch market.[1] It was sold to Henri de Koenigswarter in 1870 under whose ownership Le Tertre’s reputation increased further … in 1961 Château du Tertre was acquired by Philippe Gasqueton, who restored the vineyards and château with the backing of Belgian business partners. Following Gasqueton’s death in 1995 his widow sold the property to Eric and Louise Albada Jelgersma, owners of the neighbouring estate Château Giscours.

And from the Chateau Du Tertre website:

In 1997, a Dutch businessman, Eric Albada Jelgersma bought the estate and invested in the large-scale overall restructuring, thus returning its noble personality to the Chateau du Tertre.

Chateau Du Tertre at the Margaux at Mireio dinner of the Commanderie de Bordeaux hosted by Gigi Montinola
Chateau Du Tertre. Spelling looks like “Duterte” but it’s pronounced like ‘daughter’ in French-Bisaya accent: “Du-ter”, as in “my du-ter Sara” – hehe! Plus a very soft T in the end.

As I mentioned earlier, we started with a 2009, comparing this to the Chateau Giscours of the same vintage.

The 2009 Du Terte was easy to appreciate with its soft texture, good nose and a spiciness in the end attributed to the higher content (vs other labels) of Cabernet Franc which, in Alex’s words, “adds freshness and energy to the wine”.

For the main course of pan seared duck, a 2000 Du Tertre was served, which had the same definitive bouquet and spice notes that hit the roof of your mouth though this vintage is more creamy and tannined. I would buy a case of this for a holiday family dinner.

CHATEAU GISCOURS

This 2009 Du Tertre was compared to the 2009 Chateau Giscours, whose estate is located just beside Chatea Du Tertre.

My two seatmates – Gigi Montinola and Jimmy Panganiban – and I were all more drawn to the Giscours. (Nothing to do with the label sounding like the name of the incumbent president.) After Alex described the Giscours, I understood why: it is because the ’09 Giscours – in Alex’s words – is “INTELLECTUAL”! Hmmm!

What does that mean?! I asked. It meets our IQ requirements?  Alex explained: It means that while it is not as easygoing and immediately enjoyable as the Du Tertre, its complexity makes it more appealing. In other (Alex’s) words, the Du Tertre is the girl who is immediately likeable while the Giscours is the one you appreciate more as you get to know her better – like moi! a real Margaux! CHAROT! Haha!

Beef carpaccio consomme by Chef Nicolas Gretin for Margaux at Mireio
Beef carpaccio consomme by Chef Nicolas Gretin. Guests were impressed by the unique combination of consomme with a carpaccio while Alex van Beek, Dir. Gen of Chateau Giscours, expressed how he appreciated the soup with 2009 Giscours.

But the most appealing drink of the night for me (and my most esteemed seatmates) was the 1999 Giscours. It was just so beautifully balanced, so refined and elegant. Alex says the wine “dances on the palate”. – I’m not quite sure what that meant but I am guessing the wine comes alive in your mouth. What he said that I did understand is that this vintage of Giscours – although 1999 was not as exceptional a year as 2000 for Bordeaux in general and therefore called a ‘shadow vintage’ – has “perfect harmony”. That was easy to understand; it was immediately evident 🙂

“With this wine,” Alex said, “You will understand what Margaux is about.”

I definitely went home with a better understanding of Margaux, and an eagerness – a thirst – to learn even more! I’ve heard this said about me I didn’t realize it also applies to the wines – you really can’t get enough of Margaux!  😉 😉 😉

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Margaux at Mireio. Gigi Montinola welcomes the Commanderie de Bordeaux for an evening with Chateau Giscours and Chateau Du Tertre, Margaux
Commanderie de Bordeaux Le Maitre Gigi Montinola welcomes the commandeurs (and their ‘commanders’ aka wives – it is a predominantly male association) and guests for an evening of Chateau Giscours and Chateau Du Tertre