Wednesday, November 30, 2011

2nd Impressions.

A little over a month ago, on Friday, the 28th October 2011, I treated Miguel and Rene to lunch at Impressions in commemoration of the 1st year of my legal consultancy for LBC Express. Santi and Enky were supposed to join us but Santi got way too busy that noontime and Enky suddenly had another lunch to attend. This was second time at Impressions, the first time having been in a dinner celebration of Catha's birthday in late August 2011.

Naturally, we started off with a bit of bubbly, in the form of Miguel's bottle of Segura Viudas Cava Reserva Heredad Accolades. My notes from a year ago are still applicable:

Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad Accolades - From Aaron. A quick look at the producer's website shows that:

Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad is a limited production méthode champenoise wine originally reserved for members of the Segura family and their friends. Reserva Heredad is made exclusively from grapes grown in the estate's vineyards at Torrelavit in the Alt Penedès region of Spain. Only the first pressing of the Macabeo and Parellada grapes goes into the making of the cuvée. The yeast is added and the wine is allowed to develop in the bottle for up to four years.

Medium bodied and mellow with a perfumed bouquet, character and depth. A good fruit intensity on the palate and a long and slightly yeasty finish. Reserva Heredad comes in an exquisite hand-blown bottle with a slender, tapered neck. The bottle is emblazoned with the pewter crest of Segura Viudas and rests on a pewter base inscribed with grapes.

Further, this is made up of macabeo (67%) and parellada (33%), so, apparently, there is none of the usual xarel-lo in this cava. Fuller, heftier, relatively creamy and notably round, its fruit, like the Reserva Real's, has a slight dried/candied character to it. The Reserva Real has, to my recollection, a bit more depth, complexity and heft, but the subject cava does, in my opinion, have marked similarities. I liked this a lot and certainly wouldn't mind buying some for the house. Very nice.

My 1st course: Crispy Prawn Wrapped in Fresh Herbs, Rougail Salad and Citrus Dressing.

Mig & Rene each had the Soft Boiled Farm Egg w/ Sea Urchin, Green Pea Broth & Mashed Broccoli for theirs.

For our main courses, we each had the Roast Rib-Eye Beef.
Excellent, especially the rich, savory glaze.

For the rich beef, we opened two bottles of Bordeaux rouge:

1994 Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande - Having had this just a month and a half before during my 2nd son's birthday dinner, my notes then are as follows:

To my mind, vintage 1994 is an under-appreciated year for Bordeaux, unfairly and pre-maturely judged by many. Many bottles I’ve had over the past 3-4 years have shown that there are, indeed, gems from this misunderstood year, the subject wine and those of Châteaux Haut Brion, Angelus, Vieux Château Certan and Léoville Barton, to name a few, included.

The wine’s notable depth and velvety dark fruit married well with our respective main courses of French Pigeon (above) and 24-Hour Steak (below), buttressed by the former’s firm structure and fine, age-resolved tannins. Its balancing acidity and clean lines gave good cut to the rich dishes; its cedar-violet finish gracefully lingering nostalgic.

2003 Château Ducru Beaucaillou - From Rene, via Clem Nieto. Smokey, roasted-ripe blackcurrants, black cherries and a bit of raspberry, slight underlying tar and pencil lead shavings, bit of mocha, violets and cedar. Full-bodied (a bit on the alcoholic and cumbersome side after the '94 Pichon Lalande), forward, roasted-ripe fruit. Structure is actually pretty good, but the wine's fruit was a bit too sweetly ripe and the alcohol a bit obtrusive for my taste. Rene seemed to like it well enough though.

We got a cheese plate to share in order to finish up the reds. Enky had caught up with us by then and joined us for desserts, which were:

Majestique Chocolate Cake,

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Profiteroles

and Salted Caramel Crème Brûlée.

Until the next!

Dinner for Tita Rose @ Hanakazu.

I was lucky enough to get a free evening during Tita Rose's (Miguel's mom) busy schedule this trip. I was supposed to take her to Mamou, but, by then, she was already "over-steaked" and preferred lighter Japanese fare. Thus, since she enjoys Hanakazu, on Tuesday, the 22nd November 2011,we had dinner there where Miguel got us a private room. We were only 3 that night as Catha couldn't join us as she had to tend to her mom and Ria couldn't either as she was busy helping their kids with homework.

Tita Rose can't drink anymore so she just had some juice. Mig & I finished 2 bottles of this chilled sake (depicted here with the fried, lightly-battered tuna appetizer). Didn't take particular note of it, but it was a fair enough sake - certainly light years better than the usual house sakes around Metro Manila.

A big platter of Sashimi to start: Toro (Japan), Uni (Japan), Wagyu (Japan) & Shake (I don't know from where the salmon was from). Everything was deliciously fresh; the wagyu like butter.

Hamachi Sushi

Grilled Hamachi Belly

Ebi Tenpura

The sashimi was so good, we simply had to order a second round of it. Mig and I skipped dessert; Tita Rose had some mochi balls which she said were nice. One of the reasons I love Japanese food is that, not only is it a cuisine of freshness which extols nature's beauty, one can also pig out on it and get full but not feel so heavy or guilty after.

Great to have seen Tita Rose on this trip. Hopefully, we get to see her again soon, whether here or in Barcelona next year. In either case, until the next!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

La Commanderie de Bordeaux Manila: Brane Cantenac & Clinet Dinner.

Last night, the 26th November 2011, was La Commanderie de Bordeaux Manila's 3rd Gala (Induction) Dinner. Venue was the Ayala Museum, dinner by Gaita Forés, the wines from Châteaux Brane Cantenac (Margaux) & Clinet (Pomerol); to be inducted into the Commanderie were 9 new members:

Catha & I arrived around half an hour after cocktails began. Becoming quite the rage in Metro Manila (and with good reason as it presents a remarkable QPR in my opinion), the bubbly poured was Champagne Ayala Brut Majeur NV.

Le Menu et Carte du Vin.

Gerry & Tina de Jesus

Edouard Miailhe w/ Catha

Juan Carlos de Terry & William-Alain Miailhe de Burgh

Don & Dorothy Santos

1st Course: Handmade Pappardelle, Bacon, Asiago Cream, Bicol Pili & Watercress

2nd Course: Duck Confit, Potato Gratin, Organic Greens.
This was served with 2006 Château Brane Cantenac and 2007 Château Clinet.

2006 Château Brane Cantenac - From the Margaux appellation, a 2nd Growth under the 1855 Classification, the estate's history can be traced to over 300 years, and came to the family Lurton in 1925 through a purchase by François Lurton together with his father-in-law, Léonce Recapet. Currently, Henri Lurton (François' grandson) owns and controls Brane Cantenac. I vaguely recall being introduced to him by Edouard Miailhe at the dinner of Frédéric de Luze the night before the official start of Vinexpo 2007.

Initially somewhat tight and reticent on the nose, one can perceive the firm tannic structure, neat/classic lines, focus and good acid balance in this. Notable typicity. The cabernet sauvignon dominance is apparent and I do appreciate its typical old-school style (no ham-handed over-extraction, excessive use of new oak or over-indulgent over-ripeness that, lamentably, many Bdx producers resort to in order to garner higher Parker points). Refined, masculine, very clean. Probably 5-6 more years before this starts to come into its own. JC thought this was quite a well-made wine.

2007 Château Clinet - Actually, one of the better (if not the best) 2007 Bdx I've had thus far. 2007 was a very challenging vintage - I know as it was consistently/unusually cold and rainy while I was in Bordeaux for 10 days in June 2007. The nose was not much interesting (probably needed more aeration) but it was quite nice on the palate. Good concentration and over-all showing for the vintage. Surprisingly open at this very early point (like their 2006 when I tasted it in 2007), given my experience with Clinet's older vintages. My hand-written notes state: "Tobacco and greenish plum nose, but in the mouth, nice and round - mocha, (dark) plum, (pipe) tobacco, bit of cinnamon. Good length."

Robert Burroughes w/ Cyrille & Anna Soenen

Jay Labrador w/ Jen Burroughes

The Spouses Ong

The 3rd course was US Angus Bone-In Tenderloin w/ a Cabernet Reduction, Melange of Mushrooms, Organic Baby Carrots & Tagaytay French Beans - served with 2004 Château Brane Cantenac & 2005 Château Clinet, all of which I forgot to photograph. The 2004 Brane Cantenac, again, showed admirable typicity in its hallmark elegant, decidedly masculine style. Given its structure, I would say this will start entering into maturity in around 3-5 more years and last for many more. This is a wine for those who remember, can appreciate and prefer the classic Bordeaux of yore as I do.

The 2005 Clinet, for me, was, among the youngsters, the most open, easily accessible, "crowd-pleaser"; I'd say it was the most immediately enjoyable wine of the night. My notes state: "Very good balance (for such a roasted-hot vintage), very nice, precise weight, rich but controlled, (underlying) milk chocolate notes" (also observed by Jojo Madrid). When exactly did Clinet start producing wines in the early-drinking style? This was certainly not the case before.

Edouard Miailhe & JC de Terry

Sheila Ramos (husband Ivan was camera shy)

JC de Terry w/ Catha

The 4th (cheese) course was a plate of Caramelized Brie de Meaux w/ Dried Fruit & Nuts, which was paired with 2000 Château Brane Cantenac and 2003 Château Clinet. The 2000 Brane Cantenac was my personal favorite of the night, also favored by several other participants I spoke with (including, as I hazily recall, Tito Yuchengco, Sunny Garcia and David Ong) - but, then, that is no great surprise as it is 11 years from an exceptionally good vintage. The 2003 Clinet, I suppose, was fair enough a specimen for the vintage - a vintage I have generally never been fond of as regards wines not only from Bordeaux, but from Burgundy, Alsace, Rioja and Napa as well. I recalled Anne Gros telling me that, in her experience, given 2003's weather, it was very difficult to make a balanced wine that year.

The 5th (dessert) course was Tarte au Chocolat, Raspberry Coulis, Dulce de Leche, Negros Sea Salt Glace. The tarte itself reminded me of the German Cherry-Chocolate Cake that Tina de Jesus makes so well. Delicious. I rarely finish my dessert, but, this time, I did - and quickly.

We, JC de Terry, Don & Dorothy Santos, Christine Miki & Catha,
the few and persistent, were the last to leave (as usual).

Jojo Madrid & yours truly - Until the next!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

IWFS Philippines President's Dinner 2011.

Thursday, the 20th October 2011, was the International Wine & Food Society's (IWFS) Philippine Branch's Annual President's Dinner at Colin Mackay's Sala Restaurant.

Having arrived around half an hour late, I caught up with a glass of Champagne Ayala Brut Majeur - as I wrote a few days ago, this bubbly is "(h)ands-down the very best deal in the country for a non-vintage champagne; available at Premium Wine Exchange for only P2300/bottle retail. Fresh, creamy fruit, notable focus, vivacity, fine mousse, mid-palate and balance. Can't go wrong with this, especially at its very reasonable price."

During cocktails earlier on, it was served with served with canapés of Choux aux Fromage with Almonds, Hot-smoked Tasmanian Ocean Trout with its own Eggs, Oysters with Mignonette.

The Menu

Amuse Bouche

The first course was a Salad of Cured Tasmanian Ocean Trout, Beetroot Jelly, Blue Swimmer Crab & Fennel Remoulade which was paired with 2008 Marc Colin St-Aubin Premier Cru En Remilly. Lightly buttered and baked apple, pear, bit of citrus rind underneath with moderate vanilla, underlying minerality, marzipan and hint of cinnamon. Hefty middle, moderate finish. Acidity and structure were decent enough. Over-all, pretty good, though slightly too forward, low in acid and oaky for my own taste, whether alone or as the pairing wine.

Emcee Bill Stone w/ Hans Brumann (standing), Dong Puno, Gerry de Jesus & David Lim.

The second course was a delicious Confit & Breast of Duck, Root Vegetable Pavé & Quince Sauce which was paired with 2002 Château d'Issan. This, like the Domaine de Chevalier, is one of the very best 2002 Bordeaux rouges I've had thus far. Almost legitimately full-bodied, this is a trim, smoothly muscled light-heavyweight of a wine without the over-wrought, over-extraction of, say, the 2002 Lynch Bages. Warm asphalt, discreet licorice and slight, moist Cuban tobacco infuse its quietly intense black fruit (blackcurrant, black cherry, minor dark raspberry) and underlying dark plum, adorned with gentle cedar and violets.

The fruit is already soft, structure decent, the wine already open and giving. I do not think there is much need to wait longer before enjoying this wine. Very impressive considering the vintage.

Richard & Yuki Joye, Robert & Jen Burroughes, Noel Laman
Martin Kleger & James du Vivier at far right.

Manfred & Chinggay Rode.

The third course was Roast Black Wagyu Striploin, Cereliac Purée
& Morel Jus
paired with...

Vintages 1995 & 1996 Pavillon Rouge du Château Margaux.

Unlike good friends and fellow members, Rene Fuentes, Jr. and Richard Joye, I, personally, have never been a fan of Château Margaux's second wine. In fact, of the 1855 1st growths' second wines, I've only ever purchased Latour's Les Forts and have not, through the years, been able to understand the attraction of Carruades de Lafite (though it is, admittedly, pleasant enough).

Be it as it may, both wines were nice enough specimens, the 1996 much more appealing to me than the 1995 - the latter, as also noted by Richard, being rather tight and reticent (something I've consistently, as compared to their respective 1996s, noted in several 1995 Bdx rouges such as Ducru Beaucaillou, de Fieuzal, Cheval Blanc and Mouton Rothschild, to name a few). The 1996 had notably firm structure, acid backbone, warmly comforting silken fruit, discreet gravel and tobacco notes, graceful violets and cedar. Medium-bodied, self possessed and with good acid balance, it made for a fine match for the melt-in-your-mouth steak and earthy morel jus. To my mind, this was a case wherein the pairing itself transcended the sum of the parts. Good call.

Cecilio Pedro, Louie Lee, Jun Sison, Chinggay & Manfred Rode.

Colin Mackay very busy yet far from flustered in both the kitchen and bar.

My evening's table-mates Brendan Egan & Ernie Fajardo.

The cheese course, Brillat Savarin with Sala's deservedly famous Fruity Bread,
was served to me with (though it should have come much later)...

...a (heavily sediment suspended) vintage port, 1992 Graham Quinta Malvedos.

Louie Lee mugs it up.

The dessert course was a refreshing and complex Stone Fruits Poached in Ederlflower and Vanilla with Mascarpone & Pistachios, which was paired with 2004 Château Doisy Daëne. I've written about this wine several times in the past, so there is no need to repeat myself. I noted that this was the third time we had exact same wine paired with dessert, it being served during last two years' IWFS President's dinners as well.

Mignardises were absolutely lovely Earl Grey & Orange Flower Macarons, Raspberry & Rose Macarons, and decadently complex, Laphroaig & Candied Orange Truffles. Snifters of 1974 Domaine de Jouatmaou Bas Armagnac followed (but I forgot to take a photo of the bottle).

Rene Fuentes, Sr. & Jojo Madrid.

Bill then asked Colin to make an appearance
for which he received a hearty round of applause... well as a special certificate of appreciation from
8 consecutive term IWFS President & Wine Master Bernie Sim...

...after which Oscar Ong led a rousing toast.

Mike Whiting, Brendan Egan, Richard Joye & Manfred Rode.

James du Vivier & Oscar Ong.

Ernie Fajardo, Edwin Ong & Noel Laman.

A bunch of us eventually moved to the patio for some Cuban cigars w/ the Bas Armagnac.

Bill & Uncle David.

Bill Stone, Brendan Egan, Dieter Lonishen
Jay Labrador & Louie Lee.

We, the few and persistent, lingered long after everyone else, including Colin, had left. It was yet another wonderful evening altogether. Though, due to work, I have not been attending our events as regularly as before, I do make it a point to clear the nights for the annual President's Dinner - and I've never yet been let down. The organizers always do a great job. Until the next!