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FICOFI: Domaine Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne 2017, 2011, 2001, 1994

October 14, 2019

FICOFI hosted an excellent dinner event at The American Club, Singapore, on 08 October 2019 that featured the wines of Domaine Bonneau du Martray with its general manager M. Thibault Jacquet in attendance. For many, this domaine is synonymous with Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru. Occupying 9.36 ha mid-slope on the Corton hill that is largely south-facing all the way from the lower border adjoining Corton Grand Cru (where pinot noir is planted) to the top of the hill more than 300 metres high, Bonneau du Martray is the largest landowner of these hallowed grounds. Its unique location facilitates even exposure to both the morning and afternoon sun. Biodynamically farmed since 1994, the slower-maturing grapes favour a longer growing season, resulting in wines that harbour fuller flavours and finer acidity. To this day, even after Jean-Charles de la Moriniere had sold out to American (shudder) Stan Kroenke in 2017, the white of Bonneau du Martray remains the yardstick by which all other wines of Corton-Charlemagne are judged. And, lest we forget, this domaine also produces a Corton Grand Cru from three separate plots (one of which actually lies within Corton-Charlemagne) totalling only 1.5 ha. They drink well but it is the Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru that will, rightly so, be forever worshipped by wine lovers throughout the world. Prices have jumped significantly since the takeover. One often hear of people talking about the greatness of pre-phylloxera wines. In the case of Domaine Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru, will it be a case of the pre-2017 wines that will always hold a special place in our hearts? Only time will tell. Merci FICOFI.

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2006 Philipponnat Clos des Goisses Brut. Poured from magnum. Highly aromatic, exuding a great lift of peaches and exotic tropical fruits with distant notes of icing. Open with very fine bubbles, underscored by subtle crisp acidity with the darker traces of pinot noir distinctly discernible. Very well textured with citrus and sweet white floral tones at just the right intensity with further notes of gentle yeast and toast coming on late. Excellent.

20191008_200617.jpg2017 Domaine Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru. Pale. Distinctly minerally in its sharply-defined lifted bouquet, almost flinty, with a hint of oiliness. Displays very good concentration of supple white fruits and clear citrus with delicate precision within a slim profile, imparting great subtlety and transparency, evoking further notes of nutmeg, heated gravel, crème de la crème and sake that hinted at fabulous future complexity. Beautifully balanced and proportioned. Already imbued with that extra dimension found only in the best vintages, this wine clearly has plenty of understated reserve but just only revealing teasing glimpses of its potential greatness at this stage. Outstanding.

2011 Domaine Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru. Lovely clean feminine lift of white flowers. Superbly proportioned with rounded restraint within a slim profile where layers of delicate fruit are readily discernible with excellent inner definition and precision. Highly poised and elegant, exuding tremendous subtlety throughout with controlled power and concentration even as it developed an expansive tone of white pepper at the finish. Highly cerebral. Very correct in every way, like the perfect demure beauty with brains. A connoisseur’s white. Outstanding.

2001 Domaine Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru. Pale luminosity. Gentle complex of distant nutmeg and icing, reminiscent of sake. Open with supple concentration, instilled with moderate intensity of clear citrus as well as a deeper streak of refined minerality on a backdrop of distant white floral tones. Took on greater intensity and definition over time, eventually settling with a Zen-like calm to a waxy finish amid faint traces of white pepper. Excellent.

1994 Domaine Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru. Clear luminosity. Shy, rather evasive on the nose. The palate is distinctly minerally with gentle chalky tones, somewhat narrow in profile, showing good transparency though its concentration appears to be flagging a little, tapering to a quiet nondescript finish. Feels tired. A second pour from another bottle fared only marginally better, perhaps a little more even in tone and concentration with a more pronounced chalky glow amid overtones of nutmeg but decidedly restrained, developing greater intensity but still missing in true complexity and tertiary development.

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2017 Domaine Bonneau du Martray Corton Grand Cru. Glorious clear deep purple. Forward in ripe raspberries, dark cherries and currants. Rounded and supple, showing good control of power and concentration with fine presence, subtly intense, oozing sweet understated tannins but lacking structure and inner detail. Somewhat short.

1994 Domaine Bonneau du Martray Corton Grand Cru. Showing early evolution in colour with quite a lovely deep bouquet of bright red fruits, cherries and some raspberries. Open and fleshy, softly rounded with good suppleness, displaying fine tertiary development but not spectacular, missing inner detail and depth as it finished on a quiet note with good linearity.

Bual 1969 Blandy’s Madeira. Deep seductive bouquet of glowing ember and burnt toast, layered with glorious concentration of fruit that is still remarkably fresh, exuding a lovely rounded burnished richness amid light medicinal tones with traces of sweet tobacco snuff. Excellent but really more of a connoisseur’s drop.

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1978 Hautes-Cornieres Santenay Gravieres, 2007 Comte Lafon Meursault-Charmes, 2002 Emmanuel Rouget Echezeaux…

October 7, 2019

These tasting notes stem from a dinner at Jinjo on 12 September 2019 in the presence of Desmond Lim (still over the moon about his restaurant Les Amis obtaining its third Michelin star) and Grant Ashton (founder of 67 Pall Mall), where the highly satisfying Japanese cuisine was matched by a diverse Burgundian line-up. Prior to that, we’d already downed a couple of large format sake as aperitif and it’s a miracle we were still sober enough to find our way home. The wines are detailed in the order drunk. Many thanks, everyone, for your generous contributions.

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Jinjo: fried rice with truffles

2007 Domaine Comte Lafon Meursault-Charmes 1er, courtesy of Pipin. Liquid gold. Lovely mouldy old feel on the nose with overtones of goat cheese. Very fresh, displaying superb transparency of clear citrus on the palate with a certain delicate elegance and understated intensity at the side. Took on a distinct sheen of paraffin, finishing with lovely supple intensity. Excellent.

1995 Domaine Coche-Dury Meursault, courtesy of Sir Robert. Superb clear luminosity, marked by sophisticated creme de la creme with an understated chalkiness on the nose. Very shy and gentle at first though that classic Coche-Dury signature is unmistakable: great structured mouthfeel, crisp clean finely chiselled minerally detail that shone with tremendous clarity and definition along with that extra layered dimension and verve, yet superbly smooth and elegant. Outstanding!

2014 Antoine Jobard Meursault Poruzots 1er, courtesy of Tim. Gentle earthiness whilst hinting at rich crème de la creme and vanillin. Highly refined with a gentle minerality that’s slightly briny, borne on the palate with a certain lightness and gentle intensity, almost aloof, finishing with good persistence.

2012 Domaine Roulot Meursault Meix Chavaux, courtesy of Kieron. Icy distant delicate bouquet of white floral tones with distinct minerally tones on the palate, marked by a certain salinity. Very well layered, utterly seamless, displaying superb depth and delicate elegance at a cool distance. Very very fine. Yet to really develop.

20190912_204137.jpg1978 Domaine des Hautes-Cornieres Santenay Gravieres 1er, courtesy of Sir Robert. Tasted blind. Well evolved in colour, exuding a wonderful tertiary complex of distilled dark cherries, dark currants and grilled meat tinged with orangey tangerines amid a slight reductive tone. Highly lifted. Open, rounded and fleshy with a deep understated intensity that yielded further notes of bright red fruits and camphor, displaying superb suppleness and persistence. Excellent.

2011 Domaine Dujac Vosne-Romanee Aux Malconsort 1er, courtesy of Kieron. Very shy. Light-medium textures with sandy undertones. Rather delicate with open suppleness. Distinctly feminine. Displays good presence and linearity but not showing much at this stage. Still rather backward and short, probably a function of the vintage.

2012 Domaine Georges-Noellat Vosne-Romanee Les Beau Monts 1er, courtesy of Tim. This wine opens with a slight reductive tone, imbued with abundant red fruits. Open with gentle understated intensity, slightly earthy but bright and utterly seamless, finishing well.

2009 Domaine Henri Gouges Nuits-Saint-Georges Clos des Porrets Saints-Georges 1er. Monopole. Good colour. Shy, just a faint whiff of red fruits. Medium-bodied. Shows good inner detail and typicity of terroir with some lovely understated intensity towards the finish. Quite open and seamless, taking on heightened intensity after four hours. Very fine.

1997 Domaine Bruno Clair Chambertin-Clos de Beze Grand Cru, courtesy of Stephen. Still quite darkly coloured though the nose is distinctly evolved, more of mature dark cherries and mulberries. Fleshy and subtly structured with good succulence, concentration, depth and layering, finishing on a note of austere minerals. Caught at its best.

1997 Domaine Faiveley Chambertin-Clos de Beze Grand Cru, courtesy of David Tan. Great pinot tint, proffering a great allure of roses, red cherries and raspberries on the nose and palate. Very fine concentration of glorious fruit, perhaps a tad more extracted than the preceding Bruno Clair but it feels correct, gently structured with a lovely feminine intensity that finished with gentle glow. Excellent.

2002 Domaine Emmanuel Rouget Echezeaux Grand Cru, courtesy of Desmond. Displaying a classic pinot tint, this wine exudes a wonderful glow of distilled red fruits and haw flakes, revealing lovely gritty inner detail on an open rounded palate layered with glorious dark fruits that bore exciting acidity and understated intensity. Still youthful. Quite superb.

2008 Domaine Hudelot-Noellat Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru, courtesy of Vic. Notably darker shade of pinot, quite richly imbued with very good concentration and presence of dark cherries and currants on a raspberry floor, structured with understated tannins. Finished with good linearity amid traces of sweet but missing in layering and detail.

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Sept 2019: 2016 Ch Peyredon Lagravette, 2005 Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon…

October 4, 2019

2003 Ch Clerc Milon, popped and poured at Otto Ristorante, 05 Sep 2019. Deep garnet red, exuding a dominant bouquet of red plums, dark currants and tangerines marked by a lovely rosy fragrance. Good concentration. Layered with raspberries that yield gritty detail amidst understated graphite minerals, structured with supple tannins. Drinking well.

2010 Ch Le Doyenne, popped and poured at Eat First, 18 Sep 2019. Full presence of blackcurrants, ripe raspberries and violets of considerable depth, structured with superb concentration and power without any jarring angularity across the palate, glowing with overtones of gravelly hot stones and stern minerals as it took on an exciting raciness with the development of svelte sexy tannins before finishing with a trace of bitterness. A real bargain at SGD45.

2015 Domaine Hudelot-Noellat Chambolle-Musigny, popped and poured at Jade Palace, 19 Sep 2019. Somewhat reserved on the nose, just hinting at dark roses. Similarly darkish on the palate, which is well-layered with blueberries, ripe raspberries, violets and dark currants on a base of very fine understated ferrous elements, brightening up towards the finish. Not ready.

2005 Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon, decanted on-site at Otto Ristorante, 20 Sep 2019. Bright opaque purple. Powerful aromas of varnish, dark currants, black cherries and wild berries amidst overtones of heated gravel. Fleshy. Softly rounded with supple pliant tannins, revealing good plummy depth with splashes of red fruits, exuding a warm ripe fruity fragrance. It transformed suddenly after an hour into a wine of great expanse and weight, imbued with rich savoury tones before mellowing with relaxed charm and refinement, finishing with a great velvety intensity. Excellent. For once, a Moss Wood cabernet that ages really well.

Rockford Black Shiraz 2006 disgorgement. Popped and poured over dimsum at Asia Grand, 22 Sep 2019. Showing a deep garnet red, this wine seemed rather subdued at first, proffering dark plums, wild berries and black cherries that imparted a bit of stern earthiness while its bubbles appeared to have fizzled out. It then underwent quite a dramatic transformation after an hour, firming up with greater breadth, depth and layering as it developed a greater bubbly presence, traversing the palate with blazing intensity of ripe dark fruits amid undertones of dry mushrooms and herbs. Perhaps it doesn’t quite possess the most complex of finishes that I’ve had with this wine but it can still lay claim as Australia’s finest sparkling shiraz. Drink now.

2016 Kaesler Cabernet Sauvignon, popped and poured at Crab At Bay, 24 Sep 2019. Deep purple. Aromas of sweet dark fruits, blackcurrants, violets and blueberries with traces of vanillin. 20190930_190213.jpgSmooth, rounded and fleshy, showing good sophistication and excellent ripeness of fruit, developing further notes of mocha and toffee as it turned slightly dryish with true cabernet textures but still forwardly balanced.

2016 Ch Peyredon Lagravette, popped and poured over dinner at home, 30 Sep 2019. Displaying a clear deep purple, this Haut-Medoc opens with delicious aromas of dark berries, violets and dark currants, softly rounded on the palate with good concentration, acidity and inner detail with understated intensity and unobtrusive tannins. One is struck by its lovely warmth and balance that is almost feminine in character rather than any outright power, possessing a level of sophistication hardly encountered amongst the wines of the Medoc in general. At SGD45 off the shelf, this is an absolute steal, even better than Ch Le Doyenne which I’d raved about previously. The magnum bottling should be even better. An unconditional buy. As a matter of fact, any 2016 claret is a buy if the price is right.

1976 Lafite Rothschild, 1982 Cheval Blanc, 2012 Bouchard Montrachet

September 28, 2019

Dr Ngoi, in one of his generous fits, threw a dinner at Crystal Jade Takashimaya on 12 September 2019 to celebrate the birthdays of SKY and TMH. We were advised not to bring any wine. Of course, nobody heeded but we were truly humbled by the embarrassing riches of food and wine that evening, so much so that only a few select bottles were popped. Many thanks Dr Ngoi, and to SKY and Tony as well for their generous contributions.

Pago de Tharsys Brut Cava, courtesy of Dr Ngoi. Lovely lifted bouquet of dense citrus allied with crystalline tones, replete with some characters of toast and yeast. Good presence, layered with green fruits, melons and sour plums though without real distinction nor complexity.

2002 Dom Perignon, courtesy of Tony Chew. Predominance of delicate grapefruit on the nose and palate, imbued with toasty oak amid pungent traces that impart excellent body and presence. Very smooth, lightly textured and transparent with beautifully sublime understated minerality enhanced by the sheen of very fine bubbles. Seamlessly integrated with great linearity throughout its length, glowing with lovely intensity at its persistent finish. Excellent.

20190913_223800.jpg2008 Domaine Faiveley Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru, courtesy of Dr Ngoi. Served too cold initially, this wine gradually opened up with early complex citrus amid understated chalkiness and crème, revealing great presence and concentration. Took on a waxy sheen with more salinity – almost Puligny-like – as it slipped into a relaxed easy suppleness that carried wonderful verve, vivacity and freshness, finishing with moderate length. Excellent.

2012 Domaine Bouchard Pere et Fils Montrachet Grand Cru, courtesy of Tony Chew. Obviously too young to be popped but who can resist? This wine opens with a gentle white floral tone laced with cool traces of vanillin and icing, revealing very fine inner detail, proffering fleeting glimpses of nutmeg and exotic white fruits as it exuded gentle intensity. Highly poised with a superb ethereal refined elegance before receding in a demure finish. One experiences the very essence of Montrachet. What a privilege to have had this as 2012 was a very low-yielding vintage.

2010 Axelle de Valandraud. Very dark. Still laced with traces of enamel amidst generous swathes of raspberries, dark fruits and black currants. Well extracted. Very ripe and evenly toned, exuding remarkable intensity and great acidity without being heavy, aided by silky tannins that conferred sleek structure. Still way too young. Wait another ten years, at least. Carried back from Saint-Emilion, this is only the second vintage after the inaugural 2000, a blend of two plots of Ch Valandraud totalling just 1.5 ha.

1982 Ch Cheval Blanc, courtesy of Tony Chew. Clear vermillion with a deep garnet core. Absolutely beguiling in its effusive deep seductive bouquet of rosy floral fragrance and red cherries. Softly rounded and open with a highly even palatal tone underscored by a very fine earthy base, remarkably fresh, highly understated in its gentle minerally finish. Most delicious and delectable.

1976 Ch Lafite Rothschild, courtesy of SKY. Decanted from an Imperial bottling! Still imbued with a deep garnet core in spite of its 43 years, this wine exuded an astounding bouquet of dark berries, mulberries, black cherries and currants with a suggestion of  very fine graphite elements that was most alluring, matched with a lovely feminine suppleness filled with abundant peaches and tangerines on a rich cedary floor, still laced with gorgeous acidity that has the legs to carry on for many more years, just missing in the last ounce of profundity. This wine was drinking so well that I must have drunk almost a bottle’s worth. Outstanding!

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FICOFI: Chassagne vs Puligny

September 25, 2019

FICOFI organised a mini comparison between the whites of Chassagne and Puligny (lest we forget that the former still produces delicious reds) on 19 September 2019 at FICOFI House, Singapore, a delectable theme that’s simply begging to be played out. I don’t think anyone can ever be tired of tasting the wines of these appellations, particularly the premier crus and grand crus. It has never ceased to amaze me how the monks in the old days already knew precisely which were the best plots and so on, as nothing has really changed since. Puligny has always been described as being minerally though, to me, that distinction is better expressed by Chassagne, always more delicate and feminine whereas Puligny has a different sort of minerality, at once more chiselled and chalky and bold. It’s not surprising that most people tend to favour Puligny for its obvious attraction but I feel Chassagne, in the best years, possesses greater mystery and character. However, the tasting that evening wasn’t quite the case of apples versus apples. The 2014 Ramonet 1er was pitted against a 2016 Henri Boillot 1er (2016, while excellent, is always half a step behind 2014), while the trio of grand crus all hailed from Puligny without any representation from Chassagne (remember Montrachet and Batard-Montrachet are split equally between Chassagne and Puligny, while Criots-Batard-Montrachet sits entirely in Chassagne), all differing in vintage as well. Nevertheless, one mustn’t pass up the opportunity to taste such wonderful whites after a busy day at work. Merci FICOFI.

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Map by Fernando Beteta, obtained from http://www.tenzingws.com

1996 Henriot Millesime Brut. Poured from jeroboam. Displaying a pale straw luminosity, this wine opens with a lifted gentle complexity of cool ripe citrus, pomelo and lime amid traces of bitter lemon. Layered with delicate chalkiness, transparency and depth, softly rounded, exuding a mild feminine intensity as that note of bitter lemon came back again to haunt its long persistent finish. Beautiful.

2014 Domaine Jean-Claude Ramonet Chassagne-Montrachet Clos du Caillerets 1er. This monopole comes from a walled section within the premier cru site of Les Caillerets in Chassagne, first bought by the negociant Vincent Girardin from Chateau de Pommard in 2003 and then subsequently sold to Heritage (an arm of FICOFI) which then leased to Ramonet. What an ingenious scheme. This inaugural vintage has never failed to delight the senses, teasing the nose first with cool gentle icy vanillin and delectable creme de la crème that transited seamlessly to a rounded creaminess on the palate, layered with dense white floral tones that fan out with pervasive charm and increasing power all the way to its persistent finish, yet with so much more held in reserve. Absolutely stunning, like a very well-mannered attractive lady whose beauty and mystique steadily grows on you. Consistent with a recent tasting note in August 2019. Glorious!

2016 Domaine Henri Boillot Puligny-Montrachet Clos de la Mouchère 1er. More effusive and powerful on the nose with chromatic tones of chalky minerals and crème de la crème, seamlessly integrated. Distinctly more extroverted with superb presence of delicate clear citrus and lime on the palate, imbued with sublime acidity and fabulous understated intensity, maintaining its racy character throughout the evening. Comes from a 4 ha monopole of old vines aged almost 80 years, sandwiched between Clavoillon and Les Perriéres. Vinified in large barrels since 1990. Superb.

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2013 Domaine Faiveley Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru. More developed and accentuated on the nose, displaying a sharp focus of cool icing and mint on a bed of dense white floral tones though the medium-bodied palate is unexpectedly rather delicate with a narrower spectrum of flavours, more minerally in intensity with understated chalkiness, losing focus towards the finish where some vegetal trace is discernible. Reflects well the vintage characteristic. Faiveley’s vines are located smack in the middle of the Puligny side of the 6.2 ha Batard-Montrachet.

2014 Domaine Bouchard Pere et Fils Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru. Blended from various plots on all four terraces of the clay-dominant Puligny high slope, this wine exudes controlled regal power with beautifully defined inner detail of dense white floral tones and nutmeg, evenly toned with a deep minerally focus, very tightly knit and seamlessly integrated with concentrated depth though surprisingly open in spite of its youth. Still yet to truly develop with plenty of potential in reserve. Superb. Bouchard vinifies each plot separately, blending them only after barrel ageing has been completed.

2015 Joseph Drouhin Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche Grand Cru. From the largest land owner of Montrachet occupying the Puligny end, this Holy Grail of whites was truly on form, proffering a gorgeous bouquet of exotic spices and nutmeg that contrasted beautifully against the bright gleaming chalkiness in the mouth, imbued with a cleanly-defined intense minerally depth that shone with great detail, exuding controlled power across the palate as it built up to a climactic finish with excellent linearity. Still tight but what a treat nevertheless. Outstanding.

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Aug 2019: 1990 L’Evangile, 1989 Soutard, 1998 Parker Est Terra Rossa First Growth, 2014 DuMOL Isobel/Ryan, 1998 Ch Pavie, 2007 Amuse Bouche, 2008 Roger Coulon, 2014 Comte Lafon Meursault-Goutte D’Or, 2007 Faiveley Corton-Charlemagne, 1986 VCC…

September 17, 2019

Truly a month of glorious excesses…

1998 Parker Estate Terra Rossa First Growth, popped and poured at Kai Garden 02 Aug 2019. Deep garnet red. Lifted bouquet of dark plums and complex red fruits. Highly supple. Excellent presence, weight and acidity with very good integration of cool ripe fruit, developing further notes of chocolate and mocha that culminated in a sweet lengthy finish. Still coiled with tight tension. Will easily last another couple of decades.

2006 Dom Perignon, courtesy of CHS at Mei-I, 06 Aug 2019. Intense nose of pine, complex citrus and pomelo. Forward in fruit balance with a full presence on a backdrop of highly subtle recessed minerals, displaying an attractive burnished dryness amid overtones of heated iron filings, finishing with lovely gentle intensity with just a trace of minerally glare. Quite excellent.

1995 Dom Perignon Second Plenitude, courtesy of LF at Mei-I, 06 Aug 2019. Surprisingly closed on the nose though superbly refined on the palate, this P2 is imbued with subtle fruit and delicate creamy minerals that confer gentle complexity beneath its smooth sheen of very fine bubbles, finishing with seamless quiet elegance even as it developed a greater intensity of citrus over time. Superb.

2016 Domaine du Roc des Boutires Pouilly-Fuisse Aux Bouthieres at Mei-I, 06 Aug 2019. Poured from magnum. Somewhat reticent, proffering just glimpses of nutmeg and olive on the nose but really superb on the palate where it was rounded and smooth with very lovely fruit without any jarring prominence, very seamlessly integrated with gentle depth, exuding an almost sake-like ethereal presence. Turned a bit more chalky over time, finishing with great linearity amid traces of salinity. Excellent.

2014 Domaine Arnaud Ente Bourgogne, courtesy of LF at Mei-I, 06 Aug 2019. Closed, only glimpses of distilled fruit. Dry with an abundance of white floral tones and clear citrus on a gentle bed of crème, traversing the palate with clean precision without any plumpness. Developed further delicate intensity of clear citrus with time. Excellent.

2007 Domaine Faiveley Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru, courtesy of Dr Ngoi at Mei-I, 06 Aug 2019. Appearing to evolve faster than the exalted vintages, already displaying a dull golden hue with an aged feel though undoubtedly quite beautiful in its lovely depth of delicate chalky and minerally intensity, open with just a hint of caramel towards the finish. Excellent.

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Louis Roederer Premier Brut NV, popped and poured over dimsum at Asia Grand 11 Aug 2019. Forward balance of yellow citrus, lime and pomelo with further notes of green melons. Excellent ripeness. Open with very fine bubbles that conferred a certain lightness and subtlety amidst crystalline minerals that grew in dry intensity over time. Perfect for lunch.

1998 Piper Heidsieck Millesime Rare, courtesy of SKY’s private cellar at Les Amis, 12 Aug 2019. Poured from magnum. Delicate lift of complex minerals amid deep toasty tones. Rather full with an attractive fresh dryness and bold minerality on the palate, very richly layered and detailed, leading to a certain sternness that eventually gave way to a deep delicious glowing creaminess. Excellent.

1986 Vieux Château Certan, courtesy of SKY’s private cellar at Les Amis, 12 Aug 2019. Poured from double magnum. Still darkly coloured with just a slight evolution at the rim. Exudes a rich deep core of aged fruit underscored by a tangy saline complexity, open with lovely ripeness and delicate intensity. Highly supple, showing good linearity all the way to its soft gentle finish amidst delicious melted tannins. Caught at its peak. Superb.

1990 Ch L’Evangile, courtesy of SKY’s private cellar at Les Amis, 12 Aug 2019. Poured from double magnum. Deep garnet red. This wine opened with a very slight bottle stink on top of a highly prominent reductive tone of earthy pungency coupled with a distinct graphite ferrous minerality. Beautifully open and rounded with great suppleness, well mellowed with the passage of time, displaying subtle intensity with a lovely focus on deep dark currants with emerging notes of dark chocolate and mocha, gaining in further intensity over time as it finished with traces of black pepper and exotic spices. At it’s absolute best. Excellent.

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2008 Roger Coulon Blanc de Noirs, courtesy of Kieron at Imperial Treasure Great World, 14 Aug 2019. Lovely deep toasty nose with a burnished yeasty tone. Accentuated delicious expanse of creamy minerals, beautifully layered with complex citrus, lime and overtones of rye within a delicate sheen of gentle bubbles. Became fuller and more minerally over time, exuding fabulous presence with an open dry intensity that lasted with glowing persistence. Outstanding. A blend of pinot noir and meunier.

1995 Ch Latour-a-Pomerol, courtesy of Kieron at Imperial Treasure Great World, 14 Aug 2019. In spite of its evolved red, this wine exudes a very attractive youthful bouquet of dark fruits. Medium-bodied and fleshy, layered with earthy minerals. Quite seamlessly integrated, rounded with mellow intensity as further notes of tobacco snuff emerged over time. Good finish. Quite excellent.

1995 Ch Branaire-Ducru, courtesy of Sir Robert at Imperial Treasure Great World, 14 Aug 2019. Compared with the preceding Latour-a-Pomerol of the same vintage, this Left Bank wine is considerably darker in colour and tone, larger in proportion and more savoury, very earthy with a growing prominence of Chinese medicinal herbs on the nose. Rather stern on the palate, imbued with mature red plums and dates along with a bit of minerally glare, finishing well with gentle intensity. Very fine.

1990 Ch Rausan-Segla, courtesy of Timothy Goh at Imperial Treasure Great World, 14 Aug 2019. Dark opaque murky red. Softly mellowed though it still glowed with some residual intensity of dark plums and currants amid sweet tannins, imbued with a dense ferrous core amid gritty textures at the mid-body. Still holding well.

1994 Ch L’Evangile, at Imperial Treasure Great World, 14 Aug 2019. Evolved vermillion. Somewhat reticent at first, gradually opening up with soft gentle hues of dark cherries and gentle tea leaves, almost delicate in its seamless mellowed intensity and subtlety. Highly supple, exuding lovely presence. Still showing well.

1998 Ch Pavie, courtesy of David Tan at Imperial Treasure Great World, 14 Aug 2019. Deep garnet red with faint vermillion hue at the rim. Effusive in dense dark plums and soy on the nose. Slightly more extracted than usual, still rather bold and concentrated with very good intensity. Very well integrated, finishing with traces of burnt. Excellent.

20190817_184810.jpg2009 Goulée, popped and poured at Otto Ristorante, 17 Aug 2019. Freshly cracked from a 6-bottle OWC that I’ve cellared for years from London. This Medoc made by Cos D’Estournel is very dark and well extracted, proffering dense blackberries, violets and kirsch on the nose with a hint of prunes. Full, fleshy and undeniably modern, richly layered with dark plums that display lovely ripeness. Softly rounded with very well integrated subtle tannins underscored by a hint of earthy minerals, exuding fabulous intensity with a minty finish but still rather taut, eventually receding into a tight shell with overwhelming dark intensity. Weighing in at 14.5% abv, this wine is clearly not ready.

2005 Amon-Ra, popped and poured at Jade Palace, 18 Aug 2019. Very deep inky purple. Exuding powerful aromas of soy, cedar and cinnamon, this Barossa shiraz is still quite a behemoth, layered with dense ripe fruit and dark currants on a medium-full palate. Distinctly pruny, coiling up with sharp intensity in spite of its supple acidity. Still hasn’t quite settled.

2014 Domaine Thibert Pouilly-Fuisse Les Cras, popped and poured at Crab At Bay, 22 Aug 2019. Delicate floral lift. Rather full. Great presence of stony white citrus with overtones of nutmeg, slightly bright, exuding delicate intensity. Lovely glowing finish. Excellent but yet to hit full potential.

20190824_194026.jpg2014 Olivier Leflaive Saint-Romain Sous Le Château, from the list of Gaston, 24 Aug 2019. Ample in clear citrus on the nose, rather delicate with fine focused intensity. More minerally and lightly textured on the palate, almost flinty, displaying very fine concentration and lasting presence within a narrow spectrum of flavors.

2006 Perrier-Jouet Belle-Epoque, courtesy of LF after hours at SS ENT, 28 Aug 2019. Brilliant gleaming hue, proffering generous tones of apricot and cinnamon with dry chiselled minerality on the medium-full palate imbued with grapefruit. Finished with gentle length and fine linearity. Excellent.

2013 Peter Michael La Carriere, courtesy of LF after hours at SS ENT, 28 Aug 2019. Lovely luminosity. There is an effusive oiliness on the nose with a restrained depth that led to a broad expanse of white fruits and chalkiness on the palate, imparting excellent concentration and mouthfeel in spite of its subdued intensity, deeply layered but highly understated, finishing with gleaming persistence. Excellent.

2014 DuMOL Isobel Charles Heintz Vineyard, courtesy of LF after hours at SS ENT, 28 Aug 2019. From Sonoma Coast. Luminous but reticent. Distinctly more minerally on the palate with more high-toned salinity, somewhat narrower in spectrum although its depth of white fruits and clear citrus is never in doubt, finishing long with lovely intensity amid overtones of paraffin. Excellent.

2014 DuMOL Ryan Widdoes Vineyard, courtesy of LF after hours at SS ENT, 28 Aug 2019. This Russian River pinot noir displays great colour with effusive aromas of red fruits and cherries. Softly rounded and fleshy with understated acidity shrouded by a thin sheen of paraffin, very well balanced, building up in fine concentration and intensity towards its persistent finish. Excellent.

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2014 Williams Selyem Russian River Pinot Noir, courtesy of LF after hours at SS ENT, 28 Aug 2019. Lifted tones of delicate rose petals and haw flakes on the nose. Medium-bodied, imbued with high-toned gravelly minerals within a narrow spectrum of flavours that tapered to a smooth gentle finish though, on the whole, this wine shut down rather quickly. Not ready.

2013 Kistler Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, courtesy of LF after hours at SS ENT, 28 Aug 2019. Darker in hue and tone with a predominance of dark cherries and roses, softly rounded with lovely warm ripe tones in a medium-bodied proposition. Open and fleshy. Drinking well.

2014 Sea Smoke Southing Pinot Noir, courtesy of LF after hours at SS ENT, 28 Aug 2019. Poured from magnum. Dark deep pinot tone. Fresh and fullish, slightly forward, showing lovely concentration, depth and intensity with subtle salinity. Beautifully proportioned and balanced. Huge potential. Excellent.

2012 Peter Michael Les Pavots, courtesy of LF after hours at SS ENT, 28 Aug 2019. Dark. Amply layered with warm ripe red fruits and currants, quite excellent in concentration, underscored by subtle earthy tones and stern minerals amid vegetal traces though there are certain bright spots. Rounded with good balance. Needs more bottle age.

2007 Amuse Bouche, courtesy of LF after hours at SS ENT, 28 Aug 2019. This wine is made by Heidi Barrett who also made Screaming Eagle. Displaying a deep garnet red, this wine opens with an effusive glow of complex red fruits, openly layered with delicious dark plums and currants that traverse the palate with seamless supple intensity amid traces of stern ferrous elements. Still highly youthful. Unmistakably Napa. Excellent.

2004 Mount Mary Quintet, after hours at SS ENT, 28 Aug 2019. Poured from magnum. Deep garnet red. Medium-full. Generous in dark plums, displaying fine concentration and intensity with traces of saline minerals but somewhat sullen and narrow in spectrum, not helped at all by its overall darkish tone and character.

2014 Domaine des Comte Lafon Meursault-Goutte D’Or 1er, courtesy of CJ after hours at SS ENT, 28 Aug 2019. Superb exuberance of dense white floral tones with a lovely chalkiness. Very good in concentration, displaying great definition and inner crystalline detail on a superb minerally base, exuding cool delicate presence. Excellent.

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2008 Dom Perignon, courtesy of SC at the wedding of Charles & Melissa, Ritz-Carlton Singapore, 31 Aug 2019. Delicious bouquet. Slightly forward in green fruits, melons and yellow citrus, layered with rich inner detail. Very lovely in its open velvety intensity, oozing with exquisite length and sweetness. Huge potential. Most excellent.

2015 Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet Clavoillon 1er, courtesy of SC at the wedding of Charles & Melissa, Ritz-Carlton Singapore, 31 Aug 2019. Delicate lime and clear citrus amid gentle floral tones on the nose and palate, imbued with early complexity. Subtly layered with creme de la crème, displaying wonderful integration and delicate detail. Became more minerally over time, developing a lovely dry glowing intensity throughout its length as it finished with great sensual elegance. Outstanding.

1989 Ch Soutard, courtesy of SC at the wedding of Charles & Melissa, Ritz-Carlton Singapore, 31 Aug 2019. Poured from magnum. Still dark. Softly rounded with an open dry earthy pungency that led to a soft open intensity of dark currants and blueberries, layered with a gentle depth of light cherries amid understated graphite tones, finishing strongly with a lifted note of soy. Still imbued with remarkable freshness and acidity. Caught at its peak. Excellent.

2000 Ch Grand-Puy-Lacoste, at the wedding of Charles & Melissa, Ritz-Carlton Singapore, 31 Aug 2019. Poured from magnum. This wine opens with sweet mocha on the nose. Medium-full. Open with even concentration, gently rounded with understated intensity amid early cedary tones with the classic Pauillac signature coming on late.

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A Les Amis creation on 12 Aug 2019, just before its promotion to 3 Michelin stars

Vintage: 2008 Larmandier-Bernier Levant, 2016 Alphonse Mellot Generation Dix-Neuf

September 13, 2019

The Vintage Club of Singapore held a private tasting on 11 September 2019 that showcased several less commonly encountered wines. Most so-called wine lovers are plain label drinkers who are likely to be put off by unfamiliar names or origins but the fact is there are so many wines that offer tremendous drinking and cerebral pleasure at far friendlier prices. These are the stuff that people ought to explore but, sadly, the low turnout that evening simply reinforces my point. Nevertheless, I’m glad that Vintage is leading the way. As a little game, at the end of the tasting, guests were invited to taste 4 wines blind from opaque black stemware with narrow apertures to guess what the wines (supposedly coming from the line-up) were. My previous experience with black wine glasses turned out badly (mistaking whites for reds!). However, I was on top form that evening, correctly guessing the de Montille Saint-Romain twice (Stephanie had wickedly poured me the same wine twice) as well as the Bruno Clair Marsannay, while I identified the fourth as a red burgundy which was about as far as I could go as it (the Domaine des Perdrix) didn’t feature in the line-up. Merci Christophe!

20190911_191333.jpg2008 Larmandier-Bernier Vielle Vigne du Levant Grand Cru. This blanc de blancs opens with a most alluring deep toasty nose, highly complex and persistent with intriguing overtones of burnt sugar and brioche. medium-bodied. Open, rounded and smooth, imbued with a generous expanse of delicate clear citrus and transparency that imparted a certain deftness on the palate, finishing with wonderful length. Quite superb, further affirming the excellence of 2008 for champagne. In business for eight generations with 45 hectares in the Cote des Blancs, this wine is made from old vines aged 35 years on average.

2012 Pascal Agrapart Avizoise Extra-Brut Grand Cru. This blanc de blancs exudes a marked earthy pungency that quickly evolved in the glass to reveal a tight focused bouquet of clear citrus and white fruits, displaying excellent fullness, precision and inner definition, finishing with great linearity and focus. Superb.

2017 Domaine du Roc des Boutires. Grassy characters with distinct aromas of nutmeg and Asian spices. Great body and concentration with clear inner crystalline tones, finishing well with understated intensity. Excellent quality and value. The domaine’s very limited Aux Bouthieres bottling is another notch higher but this base wine would serve perfectly well should you need an excellent house pour.

2016 Domaine de Montille Saint-Romain. Pale. Gentle creaminess on the nose amid clear citrus. Medium-bodied, showing delicate presence of white fruits with lively acidity and fine transparency, finishing with a minerally mouthfeel. Very fine. Great value.

20190911_190824.jpg2016 Alphonse Mellot Sancerre Generation Dix-Neuf Blanc. Faintly sweet aromas with more than a whiff of nail varnish and enamel, undeniably attractive. Excellent concentration of clear citrus, still rather tight and intense though not overwhelming, imbued with excellent purity and fine balance that tapered to a gentle finish. Very elegant. This is a sauvignon blanc from very old vines. Not unlike a Didier Dagueneau. Excellent.

2017 Domaine Bruno Clair Marsannay. Sharp attack of accentuated rose petals and red fruits on the nose. Open, fleshy and softly rounded, imbued with some earthiness and  haw flakes. Very focused with a very clean feel but lacking in depth and potential complexity.

2015 Alphonse Mellot Sancerre Generation Dix-Neuf Rouge. Deeply coloured, exuding an alluring bouquet of red fruits and cherries. Medium-full. Open with very good concentration and presence, subtly intense, slightly austere at the finish.

2010 Domaine Comte Senard Corton Clos du Meix Grand Cru. Good color. Ample tone of evolved red fruits and raspberries amid earthy traces on both nose and palate. Medium-full. Fleshy and structured with a bit of bright minerally glare, still tight at its spicy finish. Lacks distinction for a 2010.

2011 Chateau Le Puy Barthelemey. Pronounced earthy pungency on the nose amid dark plums and tangerines. Medium-bodied. Softly rounded and supple. Very well integrated with understated acidity and soft tannins, underscored by a persistent tone raspberries and paraffin at the finish. Drinking well.

2016 Domaine de Montcalmes Terrasses du Larzac. A blend of 60% syrah, 20% mourvèdre and 20% grenache from 30-year-old vines. Deeply coloured, proffering intense dark fruits, graphite and enamel on the nose, replete with after tones of cigar ash on the nose. Most enticing. Big but not heavy, amply layered and structured with dark plums that oozed with sweet undertones. Very well balanced in spite of its masculine proportions. Excellent, but it really demands a good juicy steak to do it full justice.

2014 Alter Ego de Palmer. Dark, exuding a classic Bordeaux nose of dark plums and currants. Open and slightly dryish as it should rightly be, displaying very good presence and concentration with good inner detail though not profoundly deep. Highly seamless, traversing the palate with fine linearity. Drinking well though yet to evolve further.

2015 Domaine des Perdrix Nuits-Saint-Georges Aux Perdrix 1er. Monopole. Reticent on the nose. Medium-bodied. Open and fleshy with slightly sandy textures, displaying lovely feminine smoothness and easy presence but lacking in complexity. Quiet finish.