When three hens get together, expect wine to flow

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THREE HENS are going to try to get your tongue buzzing and your lips moving with a wine brand called, well, Three Hens.

In a launch last month, BusinessWorld met up with the Llamas sisters, Jenny and Monica — both of whom use their married name, Garcia, though their husbands are unrelated — along with their business partner, Margie Sadhwani, in Makati for a hazy wine lunch at The Picasso Residences’ Pablo Bistro in Makati which served as the brand’s official launch.

Three Hens currently has two varieties: a white and a red. Both carry a denominacion de origen (DO) from Spain’s La Mancha region, plains that have the distinction of being Europe’s largest single demarcated DO region (as well as serving as the setting for Don Quixote). Monica Llamas-Garcia quoted My Fair Lady’s song “The Rain in Spain” (“The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain”) to explain why they chose the region to create their wines. “It produces really good quality wines,” she said, which it owes to the climate and altitude.

The white, an airen, is slightly acidic, with a metallic edge. It went well with crisp, thin-crust pizza, and made a spicy paella even more lively. It’s perfect as a food wine. As for the red (a blend of merlot, syrah, and tempranillo), it is rich and has a well-rounded finish, and gives depth to the same pairings. This reporter’s notes said “Ay!” upon tasting the red.

As a Philippine brand, it’s easy to assume that it simply relabels and rebottles the Spanish product, but Monica shook her head. “We are working directly with the winery.” Her sister said that they helped develop the wine’s tasting profile through “months and months of e-mails.”

“We couldn’t call it a DO from La Mancha if it wasn’t bottled [there],” said Monica. Her sister, meanwhile said that the taste profile they longed to develop was “relatable, accessible, but with a twist.”

“We wanted people to enjoy it all the time,” she said.

Now, Spanish wines are famously temperamental, and not always easy to pair with food, and could be a little complex. The secret, according to elder sister Monica, was selecting wines that were a bit younger; their fruitiness allowing them to blend with food more. This age also makes the wines less complex, pairing it well with food and good times.

Jenny said that they started the brand because they have “a love of hanging out together, being with each other, and drinking wine.”

Her sister said, “I think it’s really capturing that experience in a bottle.

While Jenny works as a property developer, her sister Monica is connected to Don Papa Rum — her husband serves as Managing Director for Asia Pacific for that company, while she works as its Brand Director while wine and spirits share a category but differ in discipline, Monica still credits her experience in the business. “It’s a lot of experience with on-premise accounts such as restaurants and bars. There’s a lot of learning to get [from] there: what they’re looking for.”

Since the Philippines is not a wine-producing country, it’s easy to turn one’s nose up at a bottle that’s developed by Filipino minds. Asked how they combat the stereotype, Jenny said in jest, “Because we’re so cute!” On a serious note, however, Monica Llamas-Garcia said that Filipino palates are growing up. “With a more discerning public, it’s not necessarily ‘Filipino? Is it quality?’.” They’d be like, ‘Okay, is it a good brand? Do they deliver on the promise?’ And if they do, great.”

The wines are available in select supermarkets, and online through boozy.ph. — Joseph L. Garcia