Toast To Trade is a wine and spirits tasting event hosted annually by Wine Warehouse, the largest distributor of wine in the Philippines. This year’s tasting event did not disappoint. There was a lot of ground to cover and a considerable number or wines. A wine and spirit list was presented to guests upon entry along with wine glasses for tasting that they got to take home. The order of wine displays was reflected on the price list, so it was easy to find the wines that you wanted to taste and was organized by region. It was like a trip around the world through wine.

Toast to Trade

Here are the standout wines from the bunch:

The journey across the globe started in the Australia, where they had a good selection of wines from different regions (Victoria, Clare Valley, Yarra Valley, Mclaren Vale, Barrosa Valley), but the remarkable wines were mostly Shiraz. Out of vast range of Australian Shiraz, well-established winemakers from Barossa Valley St. Halletts’ Blackwell Shiraz and Faith 2009 are noteworthy.

Barossa Valley St. Halletts’ Faith 2009

Another great wine from the Barossa Valley, Grant Burge The Holy Trinity, is made of Grenache, Shiraz, and Mourvedre grapes. This grape combination is always nice, but since the grapes are grown in Australia, the wine has its own unique smooth and fruity style that would accompany beef, lamb and game dishes.

Grant Burge The Holy Trinity

Ending the Australian part of the journey is the winemaker Kilikanoon from Clare Valley, whose Kilikanoon Oracle Shiraz was the shining star—a velvety, complex, full body wine that you want to pair with heavy cheese or a good dry aged steak.

Kilikanoon Oracle Shiraz

Moving on to the United States of America, where, apart from winemakers from Napa Valley and Alexander Valley, they showcased some great wines from Columbia and Oregon as well. Here, it’s the Cabernet Sauvignon that is topnotch. Napa Valley’s Stags Leap Wine Cellars Artemis Cabernet Sauvignon stood out. Full body, oaky with a pleasant note of dry fruits and a hint of spice and tobacco, it is best paired with meat and cheese and rich dishes.

Stags Leap Wine Cellars

The two winemakers from Columbia State: Columbia Crest Winery and Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery had a beautiful combination of new and old world wines. All their grapes and methods originate from France, and they mostly use the French oak as well, making them notable in the wine world.

Columbia Crest Grand Estate Cabernet Sauvignon has a medium body, light on tannins, and fruity with floral and earthy notes. Chateau Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon has medium to full body, oaky, with hints of dry fruits and light mineral notes. Chateau Ste Michelle Canoe Ridge Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is full-bodied, complex, oaky with hints of spice and tobacco is becoming a significant competition to some well-known Napa Valley winemakers.

Next up was South America, where Chile and Argentina were showcased. The South American wine journey kicks off with Chile’s Lapostolle Cuvee Alexandre Casablanca Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Full-bodied, typically very oaky and with heavy dry fruit notes, it will go great with blue cheese or a nice rich beef stew. Viña Undurraga – T.H. ‘Terroir Hunter’ Cabernet Sauvignon from Central Valley is full-bodied, fruity and oaky, and would go well with grilled meats and smoked cold cuts.

For Malbec lovers, Argentina’s remarkable Altos Las Hormigas Reserva Malbec is a very nice, full-bodied Malbec, with hints of spice and tobacco, but is at the same time fruity and earthy.

Italy’s selection of wines from Tuscany and Abruzzo, featured some great Brunello, Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Barbera D’Alba, Montelpuciano, and Chianti.

Castello Banfi Brunello di Montalcino has the typical fruitiness and elegance of Brunello and is perfect with cheese. Castello Banfi “Aska” Bolgheri, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, is robust, bold and heavy but is also a velvety and elegant wine that you could enjoy with the range of meats and cheeses.

Mauro Molino winery impressed us with their Classic Barolo and Barolo Gallinotto. The Classic one was very floral and very pleasant with earthy flowery notes and a smooth finish. The Gallinotto, on the other hand, was more complex and beats some more expensive Barolos in value for money.

Next stop was South Africa, where the wines are gaining popularity all over the world and are finding a receptive market here in the Philippines. La Motte Wine Estate Shiraz, Anwilka Petit Frere (made of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot grapes), and Klein Constantia Estate Cabernet Sauvignon were the noteworthy wines for those who like wines from this region.

Klein Constantia Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and Anwilka Petit Frere
Anwilka Petit Frere and Stellenbosch

Next stop on the wine tasting journey was Spain, where the standouts were Viña Bujanda Rioja Tinto Joven Tempranillo and Finca Valpiedra Cantos De Valpiedra Tempranillo, both very nice wines with the right acidity, fruitiness and earthiness, and pleasant with a smooth finish.

The last destination was France and Portugal. France, of course, showcased many wines from all central regions. Louis Latour Marsannay Pinot Noir Burgundy, Ogier Héritages Côtes du Rhône Rouge (Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre grapes), and Pascal Jolivet Attitude Pinot Noir stood out on the French Section, and are great wines to add to your restaurant wine list or personal collection.

Louis Latour Marsannay Pinot Noir Burgundy (RIGHT)
Ogier Héritages

Portugal is mostly known for Port, and Dow’s three expressions were winners: Dow’s Fine Tawny Port, Dow’s 2011 LBV (Late Bottled Vintage) Port, and Dow’s 10-Year-Old Tawny Port. Rich and full of flavor, they are all of excellent quality and value for money and is one of the Port wines in the Philippines that is really worth trying.

Dow’s Fine Tawny Port, Dow’s 2011 LBV (Late Bottled Vintage) Port, and Dow’s 10-Year-Old Tawny Port

It wasn’t all wine the whole time. Crazy Carabao Brewery was there to showcase their new Lapu-Lapu Lager. And there was a spirit section where Apotheke Craft Spirits had a vast and exciting selection of gin, vermouth and different kinds of tonics. They brought in 28 Hong Kong Street’s Yoma Rivera to make cocktails for guests wanting something other than wine. Janneau Grand Armagnac and Hine Cognac were also present.

Lapu-Lapu Lager
Apotheke Craft Spirits
28 Hong Kong Street’s Yoma Rivera
Janneau Grand Armagnac

The event was well-organized and attracted various F&B personalities and media, other wine suppliers in the Philippines, as well as a lot of restaurant owners and managers. It was where everyone could meet and discuss the wine, share a gin and tonic, or enjoy a nice sip of finer spirits accompanied by the delicious snacks from the buffet provided by the kitchen of Discovery Primea Kitchen and very lovely and attentive staff of the hotel. It was such an enjoyable and satisfying evening, and we’re looking forward to the next Toast to Trade. 

Photos by Star Sabroso

Titas Inokaitis is a sommelier and the general manager of Smith Butcher and Grill Room. He has over 10 years of experience in the hospitality business, having worked in various high-profile bars, clubs, hotels, and restaurants in the UK, US, Lithuania, and now the Philippines, including Playboy Club London and Bo London, where he worked alongside Chef Alvin Leung (who received three Michelin Stars for Bo Innovation and one Michelin Star for Bo London) and head sommelier Cedric Beaumond (of Savoy Grill and Greenhouse).

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