“Who is that handsome guy in the picture?” Andrea teasingly asked me when I showed him a photo I was uploading on Instagram.
It was a photo of me and him.
What a charming Romano, this guy! :)
Andrea Manuali, the brand ambassador for Bastianich, is here in Manila for the grand launch of Joe and Lidia Bastianich’s wines. Finally, the Philippines is now able to enjoy the highly-rated bottles from Bastianich Winery, voted Winery of the Year 2006 by Wine & Spirits Magazine.
Andrea explained that in Italy, wine is a way of life. It is very much part of the culture and Joe has remained true to this philosophy and to the traditional style of wine-making that is lost in modern days. “Bastianich is rooted in history.” He had me at this 5-worded statement.
To enjoy the wines, a delectable 6-course dinner was prepared for us by the Makati Shangri-La’s newest European restaurant Sage. Daniel Blais, the Head Sommelier and Director of Beverage, after his welcome speech, promised us a gastronomic tour of Italy without buying a plane ticket. Well, well, what do I say? Buon viaggo and buon appetito to me!!!
Sage Restaurant at Makati Shangri-La
Dinner started with a beautiful plate of gambas ceviche with celery, lime and cucumber. I have eaten many a ceviche in my life, but nothing as well-curated as this. The sweet shrimp slices were topped with a ball of celery cream and a lime-cucumber sorbet. The combination gave the dish a luscious yet refreshing play on flavors, textures, and temperatures.
Gambas ceviche with celery, lime and cucumber
The raw seafood was paired with 2010 Vigne Orsone Sauvignon Blanc, which was fresh and crisp with aromas of mango, grapefruit and mint. It was very easy to drink and I had two glasses with my tapas even before dinner started. Yes, that easy.
Bastianich 2010 Vigne Orsone Sauvignon Blanc
The Saint-Jacques scallops rested on a bed of leek spaghetti sitting in a pool of coconut cream. The soft and fleshy shellfish was mildly sweet and paired well with the citrusy and lively 2010 Vespa Bianco. This 45% Chardonnay, 45% Sauvignon and 10% Picolit wine from a 200-year old vineyard is, according to Andrea, the most elegant wine of the Bastianich estate. I also tasted almond and vanilla.
Saint-Jacques scallops, leek spaghetti, coconut cream
2010 Vespa Bianco
With the tender and gamey pan-fried US duck breast and caramelized fennel, almond, navel orange confit, caraway seeds and fennel puree, we had 2010 Vespa Rosso – the Italian version of Bordeaux. The full-bodied merlot-dominated blend was spicy, flowery, a little bit earthy.
Pan-fried US duck breast, caramelized fennel, almond, navel orange confit,
caraway seeds and fennel puree
2010 Vespa Rosso
Our fifth course, the super soft US beef tenderloin topped with Roquefort and marrow gratin in a Calabrone red wine reduction was complemented by my favorite wine of the evening – the Calabrone Rosso 2009. This estate reserve is Bastianich’s rarest wine with only 4000 bottles produced. It tasted like all the wonderful things I love combined – chocolates, coffee, red fruit. Such a bold, powerful, intense red!
US beef tenderloin, Roquefort and marrow gratin in a Calabrone red wine reduction
We had an assortment of Italian cheeses with the Aragone 2008 from La Mozza Estates in Tuscany’s Maremma. La Mozza is a collaboration between Joe and Lidia Bastianich and Mario Batali, the chef and owner of Babbo, Eataly, Lupa, Osteria Mozza, Manzo, among many others.
Italian cheese plate
La Mozza Aragone 2008
For dessert, the most important part of a meal for me, a thin apple tart with cinnamon, cider granite and milk sorbet, which we paired with Tocai Plus 2008. This velvety wine made from a single vineyard of 60 year-old vines tasted like oranges, melons and pears.
Thin apple tart with cinnamon, cider granite and milk sorbet
Tocai Plus 2008
As I looked around Sage and saw all the familiar faces, all smiling, all enjoying, all chattering (about food, I am sure!), I remembered what Daniel said about the secret to a good wine pairing dinner. “The magic of pairing wine with food is in this equation: good food, good wine, and great company.”
Indeed, it was a magical dinner.
Sage kitchen staff
Markus Gfeller, Jin Lovestoeat, Nana Ozaeta, Lesley Tan
Marilen Fontanilla, Nana Ozaeta, Bobby Cuenca, Lesley Tan, Alicia Sy, Jin Lovestoeat
Conrad and Kay Alcantara, Chele Gonzales, Besay Brito
Malou Fores, Raul Fores
Ito Feliciano, Jose Nolan, Jin Lovestoeat, Margaux Salcedo
Jin Lovestoeat and Margarita Fores
Carlo Calma, Cheryl Tiu, Lesley Tan
Tina Pamintuan and Brady Wheeler
Andrea Manuali with Benjamie Ong, Roxanne Lee and Rey Lee of Artisan Cellars and Fine Foods
Bastianich and La Mozza wines are exclusively distributed by Artisan Wine and Fine Foods. You may contact them at 522-3920 to 27 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sage Restaurant and Bar is located at Makati Shangri-La, Ayala Avenue corner Makati Avenue. For reservations, please call 813-8888 or email email@example.com.