Saturday, March 7, 2015

Uncorking the Secret of Wine with Manila Wine and Brasserie Cicou

A famous novelist once described wine as "bottled poetry," and for one evening, I gain a deeper understanding on this most elegant, and even sublime, libation made from fermented grapes. 

Brasserie Cicou and Manila Wine, an online wine store offering an extensive selection of premium French wines with nationwide delivery, collaborate for a special Wine Tasting Workshop paired with a curated menu for an eye-opening and insightful experience.

Bernard Flour (L), Manila Wine's Wine Specialist, takes us through the intricacies of French wine, revealing the subtle nuances and character of each vintage from the different wine regions of France. Each sip delivers a unique taste of France, reinforcing the country's rich wine heritage.

I've always felt somewhat intimidated with wine, picking out the right notes just doesn't come easy. But Bernard Flour's casual and laid-back approach to wine tasting calmly eases your apprehensions, and there's nothing like a few sips to get you into the groove. And it all starts with the terroir, derived from the French word "terre" or soil. But then, it goes much deeper than that, as Bernard Flour explained the collective combination of key factors, like topsoil, subsoil, climate, the slope of the hill and the altitude of the vineyard that define the character of the vintage. It's what distinguishes each wine from the different regions of France, each having its own distinct notes. And everything you need to know is clearly outlined on the label, detailing the wine region (like Bordeaux, for example), and appellation, or the legally defined geographic location (like Saint Julien or Pouilly-Fuisse), and the Chateau, or the wine estate (like Leoville Poyferre). Each region would have its own grapes, or varietals, distinct to the area. Understanding the label gets you closer to understanding wine.  And that all important year indicates the time of harvest, not the time the wine was bottled. After going through the label, it's then time for a sip...

For the Wine Tasting Workshop at Brasserie Cicou, Manila Wine's Bernard Flour shares five distinct wines from different regions, with three reds from Burgundy, Loire, and Rhone; and two whites from the Loire and Burgundy regions. Wine is a sensory experience, and to better appreciate wine, one must look at the color, smell the aroma, and finally, sip and taste the wine. Bernard Flour starts with the two whites, the Pouilly-Fuisse appellation from the Burgundy region made with 100% Chardonnay grapes, and the Sancerre appellation from the Loire Valley made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc grapes. Both are traditional whites, yet each has its own clear and well-defined characteristics, with the Chardonnay's light and pale tone and its refreshingly crisp and dry fruity notes in contrast with the Sauvignin Blanc's deeper golden hue and intense floral notes. For the reds, the Pinot Noir from the Burgundy region has a lighter red hue with robust ripe fruit hints, the Cabernet Franc from the Loire is bright red with pronounced deep and earthy notes, and the Shiraz from the Rhone region is noticeably darker in color with a bold smoky hint. The terroir and varietals each contribute in shaping the unique flavor profiles of each wine, and these subtle nuances come through when paired with the dishes at Brasserie Cicou.

Bernard Flour reminded the group that there are no fixed rules in wine pairing, and it's best to follow what you enjoy most. With that, Brasserie Cocou then served the first course for the evening...

The dinner pairing began with Brasserie Cicou's Pork Head Pate and Sweet Potato Salad drizzled with rich Mustard Vinaigrette paired with the Chardonnay and the Sauvignon Blanc. The light and delicate flavors of the pork head pate, the nutty sweetness of the sweet potato puree, and the mildly sharp mustard vinaigrette combine for complex flavors, and the Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc's dry, clean and crisp notes seem to heighten the salad's flavors. The fruity, sweet yet dry character of the Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc perfectly complements the freshness of the salad, and another sip leaves a lingering sweetness in your mouth.

For the second course, the hearty and comforting One-Hour Slow-Cooked Egg, Roasted Pumpkin Puree, Cauliflower Cream Foam, Chorizo Crisps, and Red Pepper Tuille, delivered rich and rustic flavors, with the indulgent creamy texture of the dish contrasting with the crisp chorizo. The richness of the dish is perfectly balanced by the bold, salty notes of the chorizo, with the subtle layer of sweetness from the pumpkin puree completing the dish. A glass of the refreshingly crisp Pouilly-Frisse Chardonnay further cuts the richness of the dish, cleansing the palate for yet another generous spoonful. The contrasting notes of both the dish and the featured wine combine for a delightful pairing, with each sip allowing you to taste more of the rich flavors of the dish.

For the evening's main dish, Brasserie Cicou served its flavorful Sous-vide Pork Belly Marinated in Red Wine, Carrot and Beetroot Mash, Red Onion and Apple Confit, Sauteed Assorted Mushrooms, Red Wine Sauce. The delicate flavors of the fork tender pork belly are boosted by the sweet red onion and apple confit and the nutty sauteed mushrooms, and a deeper, full bodied red compliments the upfront flavors of the dish. The light Pinot Noir pairs well with the light and mildly sweet notes of the pork, while the robust Cabernet Franc and the full-bodied Shiraz complements the pork belly and the rich sauce. 

The wine tasting menu is then capped with Brasserie Cicou's signature L 'Original Kouign Amann (L), caramelized laminated sweet dough topped with homemade Salted Caramel and Muscovado Ice Cream. Brasserie Cicou's new flavor of the month, the Peanut Butter and Banana Kouign Amann (R) was also served.

An eye-opening and insightful evening with some of France's best wines from Manila Wine and classic French cuisine at Brasserie Cicou combine for a memorable pairing of flavors. And just in case you're interested, Manila Wine also exclusively distributes Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's favorite rose wine, the Chateau Miraval, as part of their extensive selection. The best French wine, plus an equally impressive selection from the new world as well as premium Belgian beers, are what you can expect from Manila Wine, conveniently delivered right to your doorstep within 24-48 hours. Bernard Flour and Manila Wine will be holding another Wine Tasting Workshop on March 21, 2015, paired with a luxurious lunch at Brasserie Cicou, all-in for only P 1,999. Simply visit their website at or call +63915-749-2232 to register or call Brasserie Cicou at 661-9200 to reserve a slot.

And if you're looking for even more French flavors, Brasserie Cicou joins over 1,000 chefs from five continents in a simultaneous one-day celebration of French cuisine, Gout de France, on March 19, 2015, with a special dinner menu. And now that you have a little idea on wine, you might want to check your skills at decoding the label with Brasserie Cicou's one-time Gout de France dinner and impress your friends. Or simply go with the flow and enjoy what you like best. After all, there's nothing like good food paired with a little bottled poetry...

Check out the extensive selection of premium wines from Manila Wine for orders and delivery at their website here at or call +63915-749-2232 for orders and inquiries. Delivery is free in Makati, Pasay, Taguig, BGC, Manila, San Juan, Eastwood, Ortigas, Pasig, Mandaluyong, Quezon City, and Greenhills. Manila Wine delivers nationwide with secure packaging.

Brasserie Cicou is located at 57 Annapolis Street, Greenhills, San Juan, Metro Manila or call 661-9200 for inquiries and reservations. 

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