French vineyards and the Grand Wine Experience

French vineyards and the Grand Wine ExperienceAt the recent media launch of this year’s edition of the very popular Grand Wine Experience, I enjoyed the “Wine 101” impromptu “seminar” of Moët Hennessy Philippines' international account manager, Matthieu Lerat, as he chatted with me about the beautiful vineyards of France.

I learned from him how factors like the type of soil and the locale›s year-round climate combine to give wine grapes distinct characteristics, and how these contribute to the flavor that a particular wine is known for. He also told me that certain types of grapes grow best in certain areas. As an example, the red wines of Bordeaux are usually blends of two or more of five grapes that grow best in the area: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.

French vineyards and the Grand Wine Experience
Manila Marriott's sommelier, giving me a taste of what to expect at the Grand Wine Experience.
The vineyard's altitude is another important factor to the wine's unique flavor and aroma. In wine-making lingo, “altitude” means that a vineyard is on a slope. A vineyard on a flat surface, even if it's 4,000 feet above sea level is less desirable than one at 4,000 feet on a gentle slope. Why so? Because drainage is important to the vines which don't like to grow on a wet surface. Slopes also enable a gentle breeze to easily blow through the entire vineyard and help protect it from heat-stress when the weather gets too hot.

Lastly, I learned that the vineyard's location in the globe is the most important factor to consider when growing different kinds of grapes. The area's distance from the equator is the first thing to consider. Wine grapes are most commonly successful in countries found within 30 to 50 degrees north and south of the equator. Europe is between 40 and 50 degrees north of the equator, thus most of the best wines in the world come from there.

It was such a learning experience chatting with Lerat for just a few minutes, after which I felt like I just graduated from a semester's course on wine-making. In fact, it made me more curious about the wine-making processes involved that, when I got home, I decided to research more on it, which I plan to share with you in some future column.

On to the matter at hand... I certainly am looking forward to what has been bannered as the biggest and grandest wine gathering in Southeast Asia. As in the previous years, this year's edition of the Grand Wine Experience will be at the Grand Ballroom of the Manila Marriott Hotel on Nov. 16.

This vintage brew's yearly spectacle is presented by Philippine Wine Merchants of the Joseph brothers—Robert, Ralph, Ronald, and Raymond—the largest family-owned wines and spirits distribution company, servicing the top markets, convenience stores, restaurants, and hotels throughout the country since 1975. The company leaves no stone unturned, attending to the thousand-and-one details involved in the preparations, to ensure a grand celebration that is always raved about, even several weeks after the event, by celebrities and stalwarts in business, government, and social circles.

And why not? During the event, one has the privilege of discovering new selections guaranteed to whet one's appetite. There will be approximately 500 wines, spirits, beers, and Japanese wines (sakes) on display, along with a bountiful buffet of culinary specialties that will pair very well with the many wine selections.

During the media launch the other day, I learned that even wine connoisseurs from other countries make it a point to attend the event because there is no other event of this magnitude anywhere else in Asia. It certainly has become the GRAND event that it claims to be.

Taking a look at its history, in the year 2000, the four Joseph brothers put up The Grand Wine Experience mainly to raise local awareness of wines and spirits. Since then, it has evolved from what used to be just a small gathering to what it is today, the biggest wine event in Southeast Asia, featuring wines and spirits from 22 countries, and attended by winemakers, wine connoisseurs, oenophiles, celebrities, and government dignitaries.

Of course, the Joseph brothers always ensure that the event is not just about lavishness and extravagance but is also for a good cause. Foundations like Lingkod Kapamilya of ABS-CBN is one of its beneficiaries. More importantly, since Philippine Wine Merchants chairman Robert Joseph is a well-known tourism advocate, he uses this event to help promote the country's tourism industry, in cooperation with the Department of Tourism.

So, the stage is set. I'm ready...for some Grand Wine Experience!

French vineyards and the Grand Wine Experience
Vineyards on a slope in southwest France.
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Give a man a fish and you will feed him for the day. Teach a man to fish and he’s going to spend a fortune on gear he’ll be using only twice a year!

Topics: Grand Wine Experience , Wine 101 , Moët Hennessy Philippines , Matthieu Lerat

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