Meeting a Winemaster Emeritus doesn’t happen on a daily basis. More so, to sit beside him and to know a thing or two, over a sumptuous meal, where everything was almost paired with elegant, balanced and rich wines.

Last Friday, 22 November 2013, my lunch was an extraordinary one at Cirkulo Restaurant in Makati. I was fortunate to catch things up with two women that I’ve known for few years. I was even more blessed to have an opportunity to dine with them again, and meet few people, together with Beringer Winemaster Emeritus, Mr. Ed Sbragia from California, who was brought to Manila by Happy Living Philippines, the exclusive importer and distributor of Beringer wines. So glad to rekindle my limited wine-and-food-pairing-appreciation skills!

The engaging meal started with a very subtle Beringer Chardonnay 2012, bread and herbed butter. Our casual talk with Ed Sbragia became more interesting as he spoke a bit of how Beringer’s vineyard in Napa Valley was put up 137 years ago, and how he worked his way, mastering every factor that could contribute to the making of a great wine, to his inspiring tales of being the Beringer’s winemaker who fulfilled his lifelong dream of establishing his very own small winery. He shared a lot of fascinating stories on how grapes are put into bottles.

Beringer Chardonnay 2012 Napa Valley.

“Beringer Chardonnay 2012 Napa Valley. Refreshing, crisp citrus notes accentuates this lively Chardonnay. A medium, rounded mouthfeel is highlighted with flavors of lemon, meringue and a pleasing acidity.”

Then everyone in our intimate group became even more privileged when the chef behind the delightful dishes at Cirkulo (also of Azuthai, MilkyWay Cafe and Tsukiji restaurants) found time to briefly introduce his masterpieces. Apparently, Chef J. Gamboa‘s culinary expertise worked seamlessly with all Beringer wines. The wines we sampled didn’t overpower his dishes, making an enticing and harmonious gustatory experience!

Left to Right : Beringer Winemaster Emeritus, Ed Sbragia, Chef J Gamboa and media person, Paula.

Chef J. Gamboa explained his first offering – 65 Degree Egg with Cabeza de Cerdo. It’s a clever presentation of the local favorite pulutan, Sisig, basically from pig’s head. However, its taste and serving would make anyone crave for more!

65 Degree Egg with Cabeza de Cerdo. Paired with Beringer Founders’ Estate Pinot Noir 2011.

Beringer Founders’ Estate Pinot Noir 2011.

Beringer Founders’ Estate Pinot Noir 2011. Bright ruby in color and displays ripe currant flavors rounded out by aromas of cedar and spice. This wine has immediate fruit-forward flavors that balances well with the toasty smokiness of the oak.”

That flavorful Beringer Founders’ Estate Pinot Noir 2011 was also paired with Chef J. Gamboa’s platter of Jamon Iberico, Salchichon, Chorizo Iberico, Quezo Manchego. Wine and cheese and meat platter tasted like match made in heaven! :)

Jamon Iberico, Salchichon, Chorizo Iberico, Queso Manchego.

Next up was something fibrous!

Insalata Gorgonzola with Apples, Walnuts, Pickled Carrots, Gorgonzola Cheese.

Right after the salad, we were served with Patatas Riojanas or Braised Potatoes with Chorizo Sausages, paired with Ed’s very own vineyard’s pride – the Sbragia La Promessa Zinfandel 2010.
Sbragia La Promessa Zinfandel 2010.


Sbragia Family Vineyards La Promessa Zinfandel 2010 Dry Creek Valley. With aromas of wild blackberry, raspberry and pomegranate that carry through the flavors, accompanied by notes of brown sugar, molasses, vanilla bean and cocoa. This is a rich, juicy wine  with mouth-filling, forward fruit, a streak of acid that keeps the wine structured, and moderate tannins that make for a nice smooth finish.”

Patatas Riojanas. Braised Potatoes with Chorizo Sausages.

The main entree was the most glorious of  ’em all! For the record, it’s the most delicious lamb dish that landed on my taste buds. It’s so tender and flavorful yet, no after-taste unlike the usual of its kind.

Cordero Lechal Al Horno. Roast Suckling Lamb with Garlic and Rosemary and Chimichurri Sauce.

Paella Montana. Rice with Portabella Mushrooms, Asparagus, Garlic and Truffle Oil.

I was honestly controlling my appetite to eat more of that Cordero Lechal Al Horno. It’s satiatingly good particularly when served with Cirkulo’s Paella Montana, plus paired with Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2009!

Hallelujah! :)

Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2009.

Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 Napa Valley. This presents aromas of ripe blackberry, sweet pastry and espresso, accented by hints of lavender, cedar and graphite. The palate is concentrated and dense with flavors of dark fruit and spice notes. A rich texture and mouth-coating tannins linger in the elegant finish.”

Desserts were served hot and divine!

Warm Chocolate Truffle Cake with Liquid Center.

Warm White Chocolate Bread Pudding.

Baked Brie with Dried Fruits, Nuts and Caramel.

I took the effort to discreetly find any fault at what was served to us but I failed. Every dish paired with wine was great! Every minute spent was intelligent and delicious! It was indeed a sensory feast!

The few guests from the media including yours truly, were given a bottle of Beringer Founders’ Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2011 each, that came with a free corkscrew. We didn’t miss the chance of having THE Beringer Wine God, Ed Sbragia sign our wines!

Beringer Winemaster Emeritus Wine God, Ed Sbragia signing my bottle!

My loot was autographed! I was a fan after the lunch!

Thanks, Mr. Ed Sbragia! It’s a pleasure meeting you! Thanks to Ms. Nana Nadal for taking this photo.

Beringer Wines are served in major hotels and restaurants here in the Philippines. Among the retail outlets that carry the brand are Cav Wine Bar, Gourdo’s, S&R Membership Shopping, Unimart, RustansSupermart, SM Supermarket, Landmark Supermarket, Metro Gaisano Supermarket, The Tinder Box in Cebu, Culinary Connection/La Vetta Restaurant in Cagayan de Oro, Iloilo Supermarket and Altura’s in Bohol. Email or log on to  for more information.

*Special thanks goes out to Ms. Kathy Yao-Santos, the Marketing Director and COO of Happy Living Philippines and Ms. Nana Nadal for the invitation.

Cirkulo Restaurant | 900 Arnaiz Avenue (Pasay Road) corner Paseo de Roxas, Makati City 1200 Philippines| website :



  1. this is my kind of dining. tasting menu with wine pairings – i have expensive taste LOL!

    i’ve been to the beringer winery in napa. while i drink wine, i am not particular about the brand, but more so about the grapes.

    really happy to see you enjoyed the wine pairings.

    btw, no bs, when i was stressed out and was having so many psychosomatic aches and pains i went to my doctor. he didn’t give me any pain medications, his only rx was a glass of vino a day. it helped.

    1. hi maria, i remember you actually, when we were having this lunch, and ed sbragia was talking about sonoma valley and napa valley.
      i know you’ve been there and enjoyed the vineyards and the wines of course.

      regarding your doctor’s prescription, i cannot agree more!

  2. I tried wine with dinner, still do, but my preference is whiskey – it wets my appetite and makes my dining companions look more pleasing to the eyes LOL.

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