Cork Wine Bar & Shop’s impressive collection of French wines drew everyone’s attention to this relatively new wine player’s display
Food & Drink Features

What do women love to drink? We found out at the IWFS Wine Crawl

When women are in charge of choosing the wine, you get the metro’s ultimate cellar door experience
Marilen Fontanilla | Mar 30 2019

It was just an ordinary Saturday afternoon earlier this year, but at the Axon @ Green Sun Hotel in the middle of bustling Chino Roces Avenue Extension, the mood was closer to a Friday night gathering. As I entered the familiar lobby and cavernous space beyond it, I spied quite a number of women already swirling wine in their glasses, taking careful sips and exchanging cheerful banter.

Le Cellier

What drew me to this corner of Makati was the ninth iteration of the IWFS Wine Crawl organized by the International Wine & Food Society Manila Ladies Branch (IWFS-MLB), an international wine organization with an all-women local chapter brought together by the members’ love for wine and food.

Former board member Nicole Morris, one of the originators behind this ingenious concept alongside Cyrene de la Rosa, recalls how the idea took off after she mused aloud about doing a wine tasting along Pasong Tamo Extension, where a number of wine purveyors had set up shop, with participants hopping from one wine shop to the other to sample their wines.

Over the years, the literal wine crawl continued to attract wine enthusiasts until it settled into its present home in Axon. The crawl element may have evolved to a more leisurely pace with participants stopping by wine tables rather than wine shops, but the same curious spirit and boundless energy for sampling and tasting still remains.

This year’s Wine Crawl included an impressive lineup of 12 wine suppliers, both familiar and new, selected by the IWFS members and invited only after careful curation of the wines they would be offering that day.

Sommelier Selection

Our top picks at the Wine Crawl are a representation of fine wines that clearly represent the heart and soul of their winemakers. We hope that it also offers you the chance to discover exciting wines that combine quality, value, and that elusive X-factor.


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The unexpected finds

There are just some bottles that beckon and enthrall you, especially when you aren’t expecting them to captivate you in the first place. These wines were just some of those that managed to stand out for different reasons.

From Premium Wine Exchange, this elegant and well-defined off-dry Donnhoff Riesling 2016 from Nahe, Germany displays a soothing acidity and crisp minerality. It was quite a bargain (which explains the rapid pace at which it sold out), suitable as an everyday tipple
South Africa is famous for its Pinotage varietal which can produce serious structured reds with the right winemaking touch. Zen Asia’s Kanonkop Pinotage 2016, with grapes from 20- to 50-year-old vines, does not disappoint with complex red fruit flavors, and elegant, ripe tannins
From Estate Wine, The Merchant’s Range New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc 2016 is an exceptionally pure style of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc with classic aromas and a vibrant palate, producing a compulsively drinkable wine


California and beyond

Premium Wine Exchange, The Wine Steward, and Happy Living Philippines offered different styles of Californian wines, plus something a bit rarer from the Pacific Northwest.

From Premium Wine Exchange, Cristom is one of the finest wineries in Willamette Valley, Oregon producing wines with natural methods, native yeast, and minimal handling. The Mt. Jefferson Pinot Noir 2016 displays a lively palate highlighted by seductive ripe fruit that can already be enjoyed upon opening
A clear favorite that afternoon from The Wine Steward was the Eden Canyon 2005 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles, a sturdy wine with savory aromas reflected in the palate layered by subtle and balanced tannins. This is an award-winning wine made by a Filipino winemaker, no less. 
Happy Living Philippines includes one of its steady bestsellers, the 2016 Ferrari-Carano Chardonnay from Sonoma, a fine example of creamy, toasty Sonoma County Chardonnay with round and rich flavors.


The French connection

It was a pleasant surprise for me to discover a number of suppliers boasting of an all-French wine list (or a predominance of French labels) such as Le Cellier, which Enderun Colleges Dean Bel Castro admires for its extensive collection of Beaujolais wines.

It was wonderful encountering a bottle of Aligoté, an underrated French grape varietal which, when made well, can be truly refreshing and invigorating as seen in this zesty Bourgogne Aligoté 2016 AOC by P. Ferraud & Fils
Past chairman of IWFS and founding member of the Philippines branch Fil Juntereal enjoyed this Domaine du Chalet Pouilly 2015 from the Pouilly-Fuissé AOC, with its fresh and vibrant palate that combines delicacy with an intense finish
From Sommelier Selection, the Château Lamartine 2015 Expression Malbec from Cahors appellation in southwestern France is an expressive wine with polished tannins and balance from elegant fruits and acidity


IWFS-MLB President CJ Juntereal also found a number of French bottles from Cork Wine Bar & Shop worth mentioning for their standout flavors. The 2013 Château de Rolland from the Sauternes AOC shows a beautiful balance of softness and acidity. The 2009 Le Petit Lion du Marquis de Las Cases from Saint Julien, Bordeaux is a more approachable second wine from Château Léoville Las Cases, soft and round with fresh, ripe flavors. The 2017 Grand Bateau Bordeaux Blanc from Château Beychevelle offers an elegant and refreshing white with the subtle aromatics of a classic Sauvignon Blanc. 

Cork Wine Bar & Shop’s impressive collection of French wines drew everyone’s attention to this relatively new wine player’s display


A Spanish wine affair

For a fine selection of Spanish wines, Txanton is always a required stop. The list that day included wines from Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Rias Baixas, and Jerez, such as the Bodegas Tradición Fino Sherry NV, with its bold, spicy, and complex notes. Terry’s is another purveyor renowned for its extensive Spanish portfolio, from everyday pours to special celebratory wines (and anything in between).

From Txanton, the Garmón 2015 from Ribera del Duero is an intense, tight, and structured red with bold and exotic aromas
Available at Terry’s, the Bohórquez Reserva 2009 from Ribera del Duero D.O. is an exquisitely complex red, elegantly rich, balanced by subtle spice notes and smooth tannins from a small family winery 

As a specialist in Italian wines, iTrulli had an interesting selection of vintages from the Venice region, while Premier Wine & Spirits offered classic labels from Australia, New Zealand, and Rioja.

Of course, the Wine Crawl isn’t complete without food, with the wine suppliers serving cold cuts and cheese to nibble on in between sips of wine. Participants also partook of the pica pica spread prepared by Soma Bistro of Green Sun, as well as samplings of cochinillo and fabada courtesy of Mr. Cochinillo.