Hola Bombon shakes things up in Poblacion!

Sometimes, a girl just gets lucky. Last Monday, I scored the holy grail of work lunches: the perfect combination of good food, great wine and excellent company. Last November 18, I was invited to a sneak preview of Hola Bombon, an adorable gem of a resto in the heart of Makati’s bustling Poblacion accompanied by an exclusive pairing of wines from Spain hosted by AWC Philippines and the charming Director General of Bodegas Roda and Bodegas La Horra, Augustin Santolaya.

Both vineyards only grow Spain’s iconic grape - Tempranillo. Sometimes known as Tinto Fino, Tempranillo has to be one of my favourite grape varietals as it has this incredible chameleonic quality and is able to truly express the characteristics of the terroir and the changing climates of each season. We were fortunate enough to taste four wines coming from Bodegas Roda and Bodegas La Horra each respectively situated in two of Spain’s most famous winemaking regions – Rioja and Ribera Del Duero.

We began with their entry-level wines, which are Roda and Corimbo. Roda’s 2015 vintage is soft and friendly with lovely red fruit notes that are so pleasant and easy to drink. This paired surprisingly well with the Pulpo – braised octopus on a chickpea purée. Due to the higher altitudes and drier conditions of Ribera del Duero, Corimbo had much more black fruit like black plum and blackberry plus some spices and balsamic herbs with more tannins and structure. Hola Bombon’s manchego croquetas with a rich and smooth béchamel was a perfect match to this more full-bodied wine. Both wines also paired nicely with the excellent tortilla de Jamon and Idiazabal cheese. Among all the dishes this was probably my favourite – with the perfect runny centre encased in the fluffy egg and potato omelette.

Main courses were nicely plated individually as opposed to the more usual sharing style of Spanish restaurants. I really enjoyed the Pollo in Pepitoria with a heady saffron sauce and toasted almonds. Augustin had mentioned that this “was one of the most oldest preparations of Spanish cuisine as it is made before the discovery of the New World.” This was followed by a dish of slow braised beef cheek with a manchego mashed potato.

Both Roda I and Corimbo I were served at the same time and it was truly lovely to compare the different expressions of Tempranillo. Both 2012 vintages were elegant, silky and beautiful but each with distinct characteristics. Roda I has a gorgeous vibrant nose with red fruit and spicy and herbal notes – because of the warmth brought by the Mediterranean influence you have these lovely round tannins while retaining a nice freshness. Corimbo I was distinctly richer with ripe black fruit and some chocolate. It has a beautiful balanced structure with really elegant tannins showing that it could age exceptionally well. This wine was such a dream. Sophisticated yet intense with lots of promise. Like a refined and intelligent man that you happened to be seated next to at a dinner party. Someone who had the ease of conversation however without the need to show off or be boisterous and had the quality of staring at you intently as if you were the only person in the room.

Because I always think of wines as people, whenever I meet a winemaker, I often ask them which person or personality would best embody their wines and on this occasion Augustin is a man that is as elegant as the answer he gave me.

“The most important thing for me with wine is that it is the only dynamic way to bottle up time. What I mean to say is, there are many static ways to capture time – like a photo that will always remain the same,” explains Augustin. “However, a wine will continue to change like we change. When it is very young, it has the very strong and loud voice of youth. You hear it from afar but often times, what it’s saying is not that interesting. And then with life, as it gets older, the voice is not as powerful but the message becomes more relevant. Then when you get more mature, you almost don’t hear the voice but you mustn’t miss a single detail of what is being said. This is the great relation between wine and people.”