In the middle of my weekly sports training for the upcoming Intramural Games, thesis work, and other academic responsibilities, I received an invitation to attend Via Pacifica Selections’ celebratory dinner at The Social. My love for wine and a good meal runs deep, so I ditched an org meeting and soccer & softball practices to make it to the event.
David Duckhorn, President of Via Pacifica, said that the dinner was a celebration of sorts for the opening of their first office in the Philippines in Cebu a couple of months earlier. One of the company’s goals is to change the Filipino mindset of wines from the ordinary supermarket selections bought only during special occasions to a richer set of choices that go with any meal. To cement the connection between wine and food, they are partnering with restaurants before going into retail, and dishes served by The Social go quite well with the different wines they have.
The five-course meal whipped up by Chef Rob Leonhardt last Thursday complimented the wines perfectly and even with the lack of rice (which I am so used to having), the night ended with me stuffed to bursting and well-sated. I’m falling short at the number of words I can use to describe everything I ate, but it was a gastronomic delight and the short-rib is something I wouldn’t be opposed to having again at a later date.
Six wines (three white and three red), all from California, were served. We had Chenin Blanc while we got acquainted with each other, and a glass of 2012 Chamisal “Stainless” Chardonnay from Edna Valley went with the salad course. The third course (Smoked Lapu-Lapu, Organic Japanese Tomato Consomme, Calamanci & Seaweed Sorbet, Nori Salt) was paired with a glass of 2012 Oberon Sauvignon Blanc from Napa Valley.
The short-rib came with one of Duckhorn Vineyards’ best wines, the Merlot. Mr. Duckhorn, who frequented our table with a tidbit or two about the wines we were having, shared that unlike other countries that have a regulation on the number of grapes to be used in wines, the US leaves that decision to the winemakers. As such, Duckhorn Vineyards produces a stronger and more fruity kind of Merlot in comparison to European ones.
A glass of 2012 Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon from Symmetry, Alexander Valley went with the lamb. Before we all sat down to eat, I had a conversation with Mr. Duckhorn about the difference between Chilean and Californian Cabernet Sauvignon. He shared that while the Californian wine was thicker and stronger while Chilean wine was more feminine, it did not mean that the former was better. “It’s like art,” he said, “You can’t compare two different styles and say one is better than the other. It would be like comparing Picasso and van Gogh.”
For dessert (Dark Chocolate Souffle, Salt Caramel Sauce, Pandan Ice Cream), we had a glass of 2009 Seghesio “Old Vine” Zinfandel from Dry Creek Valley. Of the three red wines, this one was the “weakest”, and by virtue of that, it appealed to me most.
When it comes to wines, my personal favourite has always been – and most likely always will be – white wine. I like how the flavour is neither too rich nor too lacking, the zest in every sip, and most of all, the ease in which I can swallow it. Red wines (for me) are too thick, and they leave a fruity aftertaste at the back of my throat.
Until recently, my preference was a bottle of Moscato d’Asti, but after this dinner, the Chenin Blanc-Viognier has taken its place with the Oberon Sauvignon Blanc a close second. 5 stars, would drink again.