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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.