Ma. Stella F. Arnaldo | Nov 1, 2019
It's not usual for wine shops to be thought of as a theme park.
But that’s how businessman Romy Sia describes the second branch of Wine Story at Uptown, BGC—“the world’s first and only Bordeaux theme park!”
While there are no daredevil dives, spiraling roller coasters, or skycoasters here, for a growing number of people, just learning about the history of Bordeaux wines, the story behind the grape vines and the chateaus that own them, while entering cellar upon cellar of wines in bottles great and small and of various vintages, is a thrill ride in itself.
At Wine Story (www.winestory.com.ph), one is immediately transported to the Bordeaux region, with images of vineyards and chateaus projected on the wall, while bunches of wine grapes and preserved vines rest on several nooks of the store. Going through another door takes guests to the store’s heart, the cellars laden with bottles of wine. “It’s a beautiful cellar,” Sia said during a recent press lunch to mark the opening of the new store branch.
“The first wines you see outside—that is what I call the ‘everyday wine.’ Go to another cellar, that is your ‘every other day wine’ [because it’s a bit more expensive]. Then through that cellar is another, smaller cellar—you have your ‘lucky day’ wine. If someone opens a bottle for you from that cellar, it’s your lucky day,” he said only partly in jest.
Appropriately enough, he names the cellar for those “lucky day” wines as the “Billionaires’ Wines.” In it are bottles of Petrus, Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Chateau Margaux, and the like, where a 750-milliliters bottle produced before 2010, would cost at least P70,000 to P100,000.
A salad with Philippine Smoked Kesong Puti, paired with a Ferran Blanc 2015.
Sia proudly proclaimed that Wine Story is the “exclusive distributor and the only distributor of Petrus in the Philippines.” It is an achievement not just for the store but for the country itself, which is now officially recognized as a developing market for the very expensive wine chateau. From just an allocation of 12 bottles in 2014, Wine Story now gets an allocation of 24 bottles from the chateau.
Aside from wines from Bordeaux, Wine Story also sells wines from the Burgundy region and champagnes from well, Champagne. (If produced outside of the Champagne region, you basically have sparkling wine.)
At Wine Story, one eliminates the trial and error of purchasing wines as the customer is ably assisted by the store’s friendly and knowledgeable “wine angels.” Sia stressed that all of the store assistants are certified by the Wine & Spirit Education Trust. Founded in 1969, WSET is a global organization which arranges courses and exams in the field of wine and spirits. “They will be able to explain to you how the wine tastes like, what are its nuances, what food goes best with it, because they have tasted the wine. When they recommend a Petrus to you, it’s because they have tasted it!”
Wine Story hosted a press lunch with dishes created by Chef Margarita Fores using Philippine ingredients: the Duck breast “a la Mangue” is paired with a La Fleur de Bouard 2014
What makes Wine Story unique and special, he continued, is that its provenance is assured. “Our wines come directly from the Bordeaux chateaux and also from reputable wine merchants in London. Wine Story does not buy from third parties, private collectors, or in Asia. This is to guarantee authenticity.”
Sia underscored the impeccable quality of the wines due to the strict storage conditions at the store. “From the moment the wines leave Bordeaux to the time we receive and display them in our stores, the temperature is kept strictly between 14 and 18 degrees Centigrade to assure quality.”
Wine Story also has the widest and best selections of mature vintages (20 years and older) and large-format bottles (1.5-liter to 18-liter bottles) that are not found anywhere else. Sia later gamely posed with a million-peso bottle of wine, a 2005 Chateau Haut-Brion from the Pessac-Leognan region of Bordeaux, in a hefty 18-liter format. The wine is rated 100 by wine critic Robert Parker Jr., who describes it as “exquisite” and “a tour de force in winemaking.”
In the Philippines, the market for wines has definitely expanded, Sia noted. “Filipinos get more disposable income—they also want to enjoy life and wine is part of that enjoyment. We now have a population of 100 million. So if I can just tap 2 percent of that, that’s 2 million [people], that’s a whole lot of sales.” Young people are also a growing market for wines because when they travel, they are exposed to food and wine abroad. “When they come back, it’s not so much about the price, it’s about exposure and education. So now that they’re familiar with it, they’re not afraid. So the market is big and getting bigger,” he stressed. Wine lovers will be able to hang around Wine Story, order small bites, a charcuterie board, or even steak, all of which can be paired with a bottle or two from the store’s cellar.
And if you’re keen on increasing your knowledge about wines, Wine Story has WSET-approved courses that will suit every level from basic beginners to master classes.
So, are you ready to come along for the ride of your life?