Yes, you heard that right, San Miguel, the giant behind familiar canned goods, beers, and spirits, plans to corner yet another segment with wine. It looks to be an easy task: first, a projection by Wine Brothers Philippines General Manager Jonathan Nisperos places Filipino wine consumption at 24 million liters a year, with a growth rate of 8% to 9% every year. Second, the Australian wines that San Miguel brings in are actually quite good.
Here’s how it started: a couple of years ago, San Miguel’s packaging arm, San Miguel Yamamura Australasia, bought independent wine filling facilities in Australia, enabling them to take in clients, mostly wine companies without their own bottling facilities. As for the creation of the brand, Mr. Nisperos said, “The rationale is, the more wine we fill in our facility, the better for San Miguel.” From there, Wine Brothers Philippines was established, and it gave birth to a brand, Woomera (which is both the name of a place and a weapon in Australia).
The wines currently sell three varieties: a rosé, a red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and a white Sauvignon Blanc. There are plans later this year to release more varieties — these ones in the middle pricing range, as well as a more expensive range, tentatively called “Executive” by Mr. Nisperos.
As for the wines — they were paired with dishes like scallops, tenderloin, and chicken dumpling soup (as a reinterpretation of Australian meat pie) at a wine tasting on Oct. 1 at Sourdough Café in Quezon City. As expected, most of the food came from San Miguel’s various other interests, such as in meats and dairy. Each guest in the event was given free reign to pair whichever wine they liked with whichever dish (and then voting on a card for the best one).
The red Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot blend had a sort of salty, sea-air aroma, and had a minimal bite and a piquant end note. The rosé had a floral aroma, and somehow reminded one of color and scent of lilacs. It had a crisp bite and a clear finish. The Sauvignon Blanc, meanwhile, had a well-rounded scent reminiscent of apple pie, and a lovely ending note, with the same sensation of the first bite into an apple.
Speaking about the dominance of San Miguel in the beverages sector, counting this young player, Mr. Nisperos said, “Filipinos like fun. We drink beer, gin, and other liquors… the proposition here is really about enjoyment.”
The three Woomera wines are already out in the market, with further varieties to be released in the Christmas season. — Joseph L. Garcia