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Musigny Grand Cru: Mugnier 2004 & 1996, Drouhin 2005, Jadot 2005, Vougeraie 1999, Comte G de Vogue 2001,1999,1995, 1990 & Jacques Prieur 1996.

October 15, 2018

Shortly after our highly successful Cros Parantoux dinner, the same group led by Dr Ngoi set the bar even higher: an entire line-up of Musigny Grand Cru specifically 2005 or older, no less, on the evening of 10 October 2018. While Chambertin Grand Cru is relatively abundant, Musigny Grand Cru, totaling only 10.3 hectares, is much harder to come by. However, with CHS offering to buy dinner and the staff of Otto Ristorante upping their ante with a superbly executed white truffle menu, we could not refuse. Tasting ten different vintages stretching from 1990 to 2005 from six different producers (there are altogether eleven owners of vines in Musigny Grand Cru), this line-up will certainly take some beating. Certainly, most of the terroir characteristics from this hallowed plot came through: these are deeply-coloured crimson reds that promise a generous expanse of ripe red fruits, cherries and raspberries with a most sensual silky mouthfeel on a bed of earthy tones, bringing back fond memories of our wonderful trip last November when we parked our van right at the spot dividing Les Petits Musigny from Les Musigny. Even though Comte Georges de Vogue occupies the lion’s share of Musigny (almost 7.2 ha), six of the ten vintages this evening came from other producers. My sincere thanks to everyone for their generosity and effort, especially to CHS and to LF for his insightful pre-dinner lecture on Musigny.

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Les Petits Musigny on the left, Les Musigny on the right.

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Les Petits Musigny (right), diagonally across from Chateau du Clos de Vougeot.

Ruinart Blanc de Blancs NV, from the restaurant list. Lightly toasted on the nose with some yeasty pungency while white fruits and  peaches dominate on the palate. Rounded with good definition, covered with a lovely expanse of very soft gentle bubbles. Would be better if it had more time. Very fine.

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2005 Maison Joseph Drouhin Musigny Grand Cru (0.672 ha), courtesy of LF. This wine exudes glorious rose petals and red cherries, nicely ripe and feminine. Medium-bodied and open, displaying plenty of grace, balance and proportion particularly in its seamless integration and subtle acidity. A showcase in peerless elegance with a suggestion of veiled power. As always with Drouhin, its wines are very correct in every way in terms of colour, expression and mouthfeel. Absolutely lovely. Tended to fade when compared with some of the heavier examples of Musigny later in the line-up but I felt the Drouhin is outstanding in its own right.

2005 Domaine Louis Jadot Musigny Grand Cru (0.1665 ha), courtesy of LF. Fascinating to compare Musigny from the same vintage with another negociant-producer. The Jadot is slightly darker and more lifted, highly expressive in dark roses and red cherries tinged with tangerines. Very ripe, imbued with plenty of vigour and freshness, just a tad more assertive in acidity though its silky intensity of red fruits is really quite beautiful. Still tight with plenty of upfront power. Unlike the Drouhin, this needs more time to settle down.

2004 Domaine Jacques-Frederic Mugnier Musigny Grand Cru (1.1358 ha), courtesy of Dr Ngoi. This wine possesses an effusive bouquet of red fruits, dark cherries and ripe dark plums, absolutely stunning in tone, richness and depth. Surprisingly quiet though, rounded with fine presence and subtle intensity that drew fine tension across the palate, draped in soft velvety elegance, finishing with infinite feminine grace. Mugnier is totally in a class of its own, which explains the hefty prices its Musigny commands. Outstanding.

2001 Domaine Comte Georges de Vogue Musigny Grand Cru (7.1208 ha), courtesy of CJ. This wine exudes subtle earthy tones with some attractive pungency on the nose, a little reticent though the palate is imbued with abundant warm ripe fruits, dark currants and wild red berries within a slim profile, missing the opulence of the preceding wines which is likely a vintage-specific characteristic, rather minerally at the finish with a tinge of glare though it softened after some time. Just a tad stern and unsettled on the whole.

1999 Domaine de la Vougeraie Musigny Grand Cru (0.21 ha), courtesy of CJ. Dark in colour, promising dark fruits, black currants and dark plums. Rounded and fleshy, layered with lovely acidity and fine concentration. Distinctly feminine, becoming more reductive and focused over time as it tapered to a quiet distinguished finish.

1999 Domaine Comte Georges de Vogue Musigny Grand Cru, courtesy of KG. Still impenetrably dark, proffering a rich bouquet of delicious dark fruits and currants that delivered broad swathes of warm ripe fruit on the palate that contrasted beautifully with darker undertones. Fleshy and beautifully rounded, layered with sweet tannins. May not have peaked. Lovely.

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1996 Domaine Jacques Prieur Musigny Grand Cru (0.77 ha), courtesy of Vic. Seductive notes of camphor and red fruits hinted at great depth, matched by a forward balance of delicious red fruits superbly layered with complex minerality, bristling with subtle intensity as it tapered to a glowing finish. Highly successful and may not have peaked, the only gripe being that it may not quite demonstrate the Musigny terroir as well as Mugnier or Comte de Vogue.

1996 Domaine Jacques-Frederic Mugnier Musigny Grand Cru, courtesy of HS. Dusky red, highly evolved on the nose where rose petals and camphor dominate with superb lift. Fleshy and highly supple on the palate, displaying wonderful depth against a gentle backdrop of cedary textures, distinctly feminine in structure, culminating in a long persistent finish. Glorious stuff.

1995 Domaine Comte Georges de Vogue Musigny Grand Cru, courtesy of Ric & MH. Poured from magnum. Still displaying great colour, this wine exudes an enticing bouquet of gun smoke and warm gravelly minerals imbued with great concentration and structure with superb definition of inner detail. Rather minerally on the whole and a tad stern but this wine is beautifully proportioned with great freshness and verve amidst a ripe red plummy tone. Can easily hold for many more years. Superb.

1990 Domaine Comte Georges de Vogue Musigny Grand Cru, courtesy of Dr Ngoi. Bright crimson, this wine is better on the nose where there is an intoxicating richness of red fruits and red cherries with tertiary nuances of cedar and cinnamon. Fleshy and highly supple with deft acidity, though distinctly leaner in structure on the palate where it is layered with earthy undertones, just a tad short but holding up well. Some thought it was a little oxidized as the provenance of this bottle has not been quite ideal but I disagree. This is, perhaps, not the best example of a 1990 CdV Musigny but it hasn’t gone bad at all.

2009 Domaine Comte Georges de Vogue Bourgogne Blanc, courtesy of LF. From a 0.66 ha plot exclusively planted by Comte de Vogue and re-labelled as Musigny Grand Cru Blanc from 2015 onwards, this wine has shut down in spite of having been aerated for three hours, offering only fleeting glimpses of a palate subtly layered with gentle chalky minerals, rather supple with good definition. Best to lay down.

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FICOFI in Hong Kong: 12 de coeur

September 29, 2018

The 12 de coeur (Twelve Hearts) is an initiative by FICOFI and some 60 wine-producing estates in France, led by Pierre-Henry Gagey of Louis Jadot, to support worthy causes throughout the world for the deserving and the less fortunate. For the inaugural event, 12 producers have gathered at the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong on 25 May 2018 to kick-start the project, with a view to hold a similar event annually with another group of 12 different estates. As you can see below, some of the biggest names were gathered there and it was good to catch up again with Pierre-Henry himself, along with Grigory Gouges, Etienne Montille and Herve Berland. As usual for such FICOFI events for charity, the evening began with a generous promenade to loosen everyone up, followed by dinner during which some enticing lots of wines would be auctioned off to raise funds. As one would expect in Hong Kong, the bidding was fiercely enthusiastic and I think everyone came off winners.

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2010 Domaine Louis Jadot Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru. Poured from jeroboam. Highly effusive bouquet of floral characters, white fruits and chalk, medium-bodied, smooth with understated acidity and intensity, producing delicate mouthfeel. Excellent.

2001 Domaine Trimbach Cuvee Frederic Emile. Lovely golden hue. Explosive complex of gun smoke, flint and oily diesel fumes on the nose. Full presence with a forward balance, structured with seamless integration between its chiselled chalky tones and concentrated white fruits. Excellent.

2012 Domaine Etienne Sauzet Bienvenues-Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru. Poured from magnum. This wine exudes delicate tones of petroleum fumes and earthy minerals, slightly flinty, displaying good precision and concentration of sophisticated complex citrus with highly transparent textures. Will be outstanding in time.

2010 Domaine Etienne Sauzet Bienvenues-Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru. Poured from magnum. This wine has shut on the nose though the medium-bodied palate displays good definition of delicate chalky tones with seamless acidity on a full bed of complex minerals, finishing with fine linearity throughout its length. Excellent, but best to lay down to allow full development of its potential.

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2009 Domaine Etienne Sauzet Puligny-Montrachet Les Combettes 1er, poured from jeroboam. There is a great lift of wild flowers and oily diesel fumes, slightly forward, displaying excellent presence and freshness of fruit amidst soft saline minerals with understated chalkiness, finishing with great persistence. Excellent.

2006 Ch Petrus. There is quite an exuberant tone of fresh raspberries, dark fruits and dark currants on the nose with a subdued earthiness, quite fleshy on the palate, softly focused with understated acidity, distinctly feminine in its highly supple gentle tannins.

20180526_185131.jpg1979 Ch Petrus. Still dark in colour. Very earthy on the nose with a mild bottle stink. Fleshy, open and seamlessly structured with highly supple tannins amidst gentle understated tones of raspberries and dark cherries. Excellent but, to be honest, I wouldn’t have known these two wines were Petrus if blinded.

2007 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Montrachet Grand Cru. Barely enough pour to wet the beak, but its pedigree still shone through. Luminous glow of malt and rye, displaying gentle depth of white fruits with a mild intensity shrouded with traces mint and white flowers, almost ethereal, very well-integrated and proportioned. Very lovely throughout its superb length.

2003 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Montrachet Grand Cru. Just a tiny pour, revealing a generous bloom of white flowers with lighter tonal textures on the nose though the palate is well layered with nutmeg, white fruits and delicate light citrus, displaying great definition and transparency, perhaps just a tad short which is commonly noted in the wines of this searingly hot vintage.

2009 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Romanee-Saint-Vivant Grand Cru. Lovely tint, yielding a beautifully defined bouquet distilled red fruits, rose petals and camphor, highly perfumed and generous in proportion, structured with excellent depth, detail and understated acidity, displaying excellent linearity though not much of tangerines at the core. Excellent.

2000 Domaine de Chevalier rouge, poured from magnum. Superb classic earthy pungency of Pessac-Leognan on the nose. Open, supple and full, filled with succulent dark plums and dark redcurrants, gloriously ripe with early secondary nuances amidst a cedary floor, seamlessly integrated with its lithe sexy tannins. One can go on sipping this forever. I’m glad I still have a case of this. Outstanding.

2009 Domaine de Chevalier rouge. This wine exudes a lifted earthiness amidst deep concentration of opulent red fruits and dark currants with traces of undergrowth, medium-full, very lovely in its freshness and seamless integration, opening up well. Similar in character to the 2000. Excellent.

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 Some precious drops of D.R.C. Montrachet Grand Cru is all you get

2003 Ch Montrose, poured from magnum. This wine boasts an abundance of dense red fruits and blackcurrants amidst generous oily textures with a hint of ember, very full and rather unique in character, exuding lovely depth and intensity of fruit, very well layered and rounded, structured with masculine tones with a finish that lasts and lasts. Superb.

2010 Ch Montrose. Dark in tone with a great glow of ripe dark fruits, blackcurrants and cashews amidst vegetal traces, still tight on the palate where gorgeous acidity and superb concentration of fruit indicate a long long life ahead for this outstanding release.

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Herve Berland, CEO of Ch Montrose

1990 Ch Beaucastel CdP. There is a sharp lifted earthy pungency on the nose with overtones of hot gravel, layered with abundant red fruits and wild berries that conferred amazing freshness and definition, finishing with great linearity. Superb.

1983 Ch Beaucastel CdP. Gentle bouquet red and dark fruits amidst earthy tones with a tinge of green, displaying good lift with a well-defined leaner profile, very clean and precise with striking depth and open intensity of fruit, finishing well. Excellent, proving that CdP truly is one that rewards the patience of cellaring.

2008 Domaine Louis Jadot Clos Vougeot Grand Cru. Distinct red fruits shrouded in tones of varnish and enamel, excellent in concentration, highly supple and rounded with a dash of earth, seamlessly integrated with a forward balance but somewhat nondescript.

2003 Domaine Louis Jadot Clos Vougeot Grand Cru. Lifted in red fruits, displaying superb presence and depth with plenty of succulence amidst traces of paraffin, very lovely in its intensity and subtle structure without any hint of heat stress. Perhaps Clos Vougeot is best in hot vintages.

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Yours truly with Pierre-Henry Gagey and Dr Victor Lim

2009 Alain Graillot Crozes Hermitage Les Guiraude, poured from jeroboam. Very dark in colour, replete with smoky dark currants, black cherries and traces of tangerines at its core. Fleshy and rounded with a slim defined profile, layered with subtle intensity and nuances that finished with a long glowing persistence. Excellent.

2014 Domaine des Perdrix Nuits-Saint-Georges Aux Perdrix 1er. Coming from old vines planted as far back as 1922, this full-bodied wine proffers a very lovely glow of red fruits and dark berries within a well-defined profile, very correct in tone and style albeit in a more modern manner, very well proportioned and balanced. Excellent.

2003 Domaine des Perdrix Nuits-Saint-Georges Aux Perdrix 1er. Notes of dry heated gravel, rather earthy, displaying good lift of rounded soft red fruits on the palate but still unable to shake off its leaden tone. Uninspiring.

1999 Domaine des Perdrix Nuits-Saint-Georges Aux Perdrix 1er. Still dark, displaying lifted tones of dark berries and red fruits within very well-defined profiles not unlike the 2014 (above), seamlessly integrated with understated acidity in a very clean style. Not the opulent sort but very fine indeed.

2003 Ch Haut Bailly, poured from double magnum. Very deep and dark in colour and tone, exuding a great dryish earthy pungency that delivered a superb tonal richness of ripe blackberries and dark currants amidst vegetal traces on a dry minerally bed, rounded and full without any trace of burnt. Excellent.

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For dinner…

2014 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Hauts de Nuits Bourgogne. Gentle white flowers proliferate with overtones of wild berries and nutmeg, displaying excellent depth, freshness and detail, its delicate balance of white fruits and stony minerals belie the tremendous zest and energy on the palate that build up to lovely climax towards the finish. Superb.

2002 Louis Roederer Cristal. Gentle yeasty tones, slightly forward with dry intensity of dense yellow citrus and lime, structured with razor-sharp acidity and focus, developing increasing depth and earthy pungency over time. Still remarkably youthful. Best to cellar further unless this style of champagne suits your preference.

2009 Domaine Etienne Sauzet Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru. This is truly an elegant beauty – cool, sophisticated and poised. Layered with a deep vein of glorious white fruits, melons and chalky elements, superb in concentration but never overwhelming thanks to textures that are amazingly transparent, finishing with traces of spice and green chilli that persisted long after the wine had left the palate. Wonderful!

1999 Domaine de la Vougeraine Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru. Richly layered with a glorious depth of dark cherries, raspberries and redcurrants, utterly rounded and seamless, displaying a superb lift and concentration of fruit on a bed of saline minerals though just lacking in inner detail.

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2009 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Corton Grand Cru. Glorious ruby, exuding rosy characters with a tinge of deeper red and dark currants. Full, fleshy and crisp, structured with masculine intensity, finishing on a long minty note. Excellent.

2008 Ch Haut Bailly. Deep garnet red, exuding great earthiness with an abundance of dark fruit and wild berries on a bed of dry tannins, quite excellent in ripeness and roundedness without the exuberance of the best years, entering some early development. A classic claret. Very fine. I liked it.

2009 Ch Rieussec. Smoke, icing, apricot and cider dominate with attractive fullness, developing some early complexity, displaying lovely intensity of fruit and linearity across the palate towards its lasting finish, all achieved in a highly understated manner. Excellent.

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1989 Figeac with the MB&F HM9

September 26, 2018

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Max Busser

I had the good fortune, through Kieron, to be invited to the worldwide launch of MB&F’s Hologerie Machine No.9 (better abbreviated as HM9, just like its other brethren) held at the Straits Clan, Singapore, on the evening of 25 September 2018 in the presence of its founder Max Busser. I hadn’t realised that MB&F stood for “Max Busser & Friends” (really ??), nor the fact that most of the worldwide launches of its various calibre have been held in Singapore because of his longstanding friendship with Mr Michael Tay of The Hour Glass (which had organised this event), who has been steadfast in his support for Max and his out-of-this-world creations since he first began in 2005. The watches of MB&F may seem crazy to most but, in a beautiful presentation, Max revealed that his creations are inspired by themes of space, cars, water and even insects – anything that takes his fancy but brought to the highest level of engineering and re-imagination. With each calibre produced in extremely limited quantities worldwide (way below 100 pieces), I don’t have to tell you how much each will cost you.

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MB&F HM No. 9

The Straits Clan proved to be the perfect setting for the intimate launch and with its sommelier Yang present to look after us very well, we sat down to a specially prepared cuisine of Peranakan-European inspired fusion, matched by the following wines:

Drappier Brut Nature, poured as the aperitif. Quite attractive on the nose, bright and full with overtones of zesty citrus amidst aromas of wet fields, possessing tremendous energy and verve, going on to develop a lovely depth of toasted oak, almonds and chalky minerals, brimming with fabulous intensity. Excellent.

2014 Domaine Jean Paul & Benoit Droin Chablis Vaillons 1er. Great earthy pungency, almost peaty in its minerality, that led to a fabulous concentration and intensity of lime and yellow citrus that yielded great definition, aided by dry crisp floral tones. Unusually opulent for a Chablis, displaying superb layering and acidity, finishing with great persistence. Superb. A must-buy!

2014 Domaine Alain Hudelot-Noellat Chambolle-Musigny. Displaying superb colour, concentration and purity, this wine can barely contain its exuberance of intense red fruits, strawberries and rose petals that took its own sweet (literally!) time to unravel with  great linearity and focus, developing further notes of smoky incense over time. This is an over-achiever absolutely worthy of premiere cru status. Excellent.

2007 Ciacci Puccolomini d’Aragona Brunello di Montalcino, poured from double magnum. Displaying predominant ripe dark plums with a slight forward balance, this wine exudes great warmth amidst overtones of varnish and enamel, rounded and soft with excellent depth of fruit though, on the whole, somewhat lacking in character.

2016 Disznoko Tokaji. A late harvest tokay, this wine is very agreeable but straightforward, lacking in layering and true complexity though it must be said its level of sweetness is just right, neither obstrusive nor cloying.

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And as if these weren’t quite enough, Kieron and I spotted a 1989 Ch Figeac (the restaurant’s final bottle) going for a relative bargain at SGD390 from the restaurant list. Popped and poured, this wine exuded a great lovely earthy pungency with lovely subtle nuances right from the outset, fleshy and dry on a floor of dried mushrooms supported by excellent depth of dark cherries and  blackcurrants, going on to develop a beautiful hallowed glow of a well-preerved claret as the palate revelled in superb velvety tannins that accompanied the fabulous open intensity. Caught at its absolute peak. Superb! Many thanks, Kieron!!

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MB&F Legacy Split Escapement on my wrist

Jul 2018: 2005 Maxferd Richter Auslese*** 2014 Sea Smoke Chard, 2001 Sassicaia, Jaboulet Hermitage Chapelle 1983 1994 ’99, 2001 Ridge Monte Bello…

September 22, 2018

2001 Sassicaia, a glass tasted blind at Jade Palace 6 July 2018, courtesy of Fatty. Darkly aromatic with just a hint of evolution at the rim. Rich in dark ripe blackberries and dark currants on the palate. Full, rounded and fleshy, structured with very finely grained velvety tannins, finishing with quiet intensity. Very Bordeaux-like. I’d thought it was a Palmer, but guessed it correctly on the second attempt. Highly successful, and yet to peak. Excellent.

1996 Domaine Paul Aine Jaboulet Crozes Hermitage Domaine de Thalabert at Jade Palace 6 July 2018. Powerful plummy glow of ripe dark berries medicinal characters that imparted a tinge of orange peel and licorice amidst a cedary floor. Medium-bodied, rounded with sweet gentle tannins, finishing on a herbal note. Slightly burly. Very fine, but may not appeal to all.

2016 Sacred Hill Pinot Noir, from the list of the M Social Hotel, Singapore, 07 July 2018. Medium-full with quite an abundance of raspberries, dark plums and wild berries, displaying fair intensity with a tinge of undergrowth. Took some time to open up with attractive suppleness whilst developing dry earthy textures not unlike a Nuits-Saint-Georges, replete with thyme and spice at the finish. Nothing profound, but highly serviceable.

2007 Tignanello, popped and poured at Otto Ristorante, 11 July 2018. Deep purple, exuding a delicious aromatic glow of strawberries, dark cherries and dried herbs on an earthy floor. Plush, rounded and supple, well-layered with furry textures, broadly structured with chiselled acidity, finishing with a hint of mint. Excellent.

2007 Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon, popped and poured at Huat Kee, 15 July 2018. This wine exudes aromas of old earth, dried tea leaves and mushrooms matched by an ample body of dark wild berries shrouded with overtones of licorice and medicinal traces. Medium-full, rounded and fleshy with very fine acidity and seamless sweet tannins, developing further notes of soy before finishing with growing intensity amidst a minty glow. Distinctly New World though still excellent in its own right.

2001 Ch Sociando Mallet, popped and poured at Eat First, 19 July 2018. Deep purple, displaying a predominance of ripe dark berries and currants on the nose matched by excellent concentration and layering of fruit with well integrated acidity. Has that characteristic dry touch of the northern Medoc. Highly supple and open, its finely-grained tannins ensuring superb fullness and mouthfeel. Very fine but I think this is as good as it can be.

2016 Concha Y Toro Frontera Sauvignon Blanc, tasted at Singapore Changi Airport T2 Gold Lounge, 20 July 2018. Exuding an attractive soft gentle floral glow, this wine rather  shy on the nose though the palate is imbued with zesty clear citrus that imparted refreshing vigour and fullness, tapering to a decent finish amidst glowing tones of vanilla icing. Quite fine.

2017 Sacred Hill Semillon Sauvignon Blanc, from the list of Baan Kathira Asiatique Riverfront, Bangkok, 20 July 2018. Rather minerally on the palate with an illusion of fizz amidst some mint, vanilla and grassy elements. Simple.

2015 De Bortoli Family Selection Cabernet Sauvignon, from the list of Baan Kathira Asiatique Riverfront, Bangkok, 20 July 2018. Earthy tones and dark wild berries dominate with full-on concentration and intensity, highly supple and fleshy. Serviceable.

2013 Chris Ringland Barossa Shiraz, from the list of Baan Kathira Asiatique Riverfront, Bangkok, 20 July 2018. Unmistakable bouquet of classic warm ripe Barossa shiraz, oozing with gentle overtones of tobacco, licorice and raspberries framed by subtle tannins that teased the palate with fleeting intensity, highly supple. Rounded and full with creamy textures. Fairly sophisticated. Quite excellent.

2017 Pinical Estate Family Reserve Cabernet Merlot, tasted at the Silver Kris lounge, Bangkok, 22 July 2018. One-dimensional with a sharp plummy tone though undoubtedly full in concentration, finishing with gritty dryish tannins.

2016 St Martin Reserve Chardonnay, tasted at the Silver Kris lounge, Bangkok, 22 July 2018. This Vin de Pays D’Oc displays muted grassy elements with traces of icing on the nose, equally subdued in chalk and minerals on the palate that belies the abundance of white fruit and citrus that ensured a long glowing finish of dense floral tones and white pepper. Very fine!

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2011 Leeuwin Art Series Chardonnay, courtesy of Kieron at Imperial Treasure ION, 23 July 2018. This wine opens with an intense complex bouquet of dense minerals and white floral notes, replete with overtones of enamel, icing and vanilla, caressing the palate with a rich silky buttery coat, displaying fabulous concentration and intensity with a broad expanse of flinty detail that tapered with great linearity to a crisp tingling finish. Outstanding.

2014 Sea Smoke Chardonnay Sea Smoke Estate Vineyard, courtesy of LF at Imperial Treasure ION, 23 July 2018. Very lovely floral bouquet that hinted at salted caramel and traces of vanilla whilst the palate is rounded with delicate tones of green fruits and grassy elements, displaying lovely integration, developing further subtle nuances in its ever evolving complex bouquet, gaining superb depth and succulence. Infinitely feminine. Wonderful stuff.

2007 William Selyem Peyr Vineyard Pinot Noir, courtesy of CW at Imperial Treasure ION, 23 July 2018. Simply stunning in its hedonistic bouquet of glorious red cherries and lifted red fruits, fulfilling its promise of a richly layered palate laced with silky smooth incense amidst understated earthy intensity. Excellent.

2014 Pahlmeyer Merlot, courtesy of LF at Imperial Treasure ION, 23 July 2018. Glorious deep purple, open with a lovely concentration of warm red fruits and redcurrants still laced with vanillin oak, displaying fine restrained intensity in spite of its delicious sweet tannins. Excellent.

2001 Ridge Monte Bello, courtesy of Kieron at Imperial Treasure ION, 23 July 2018. Deep crimson, displaying great immediacy with an effusive glorious glow of bright red fruits and currants from a medium-bodied proposition. Warm, ripe, open and fleshy, beautifully rounded. Still youthful. Excellent.

2003 Rockford Basket Press Shiraz, at Imperial Treasure ION, 23 July 2018. Absolutely stunning bouquet of a powerful mentholic medicinal glow underscored by enamel and alcohol rub, medium-full and fleshy, stuffed with a great abundance of ripe dark plums and blackcurrants but the menthol overshadowed all else. Will it ever settle down?

1962 Borgogno Antichi Vigneti Propri Barolo, courtesy of WCY at Imperial Treasure ION, 23 July 2018. Exuding a sharp glow of great earthy pungency, this aged Barolo is structured with dry textures, still alive with very good concentration of cool mellowed fruit. Excellent.

2002 Lanson Noble Cuvee Blanc de Blancs, courtesy of KP at Il Den, 26 July 2018. Rather austere, saturated with bright intense citrus and ferrous minerals that imparted bone dry textures with overtones of toasty oak.

20180726_200057.jpg2014 Peter Lauer Kupp Kabinett, courtesy of Jonny at Il Den, 26 July 2018. From Ayler Kupp. Classic diesel fumes dominate on the nose, slightly peaty with an earthy pungency that seemed most appropriate here. Very well rounded with a characteristic oily richness, softly caressing the palate with a gentle sweetness of mild tropical fruits. Excellent.

2005 Weingut Maxferd Richter Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese***, courtesy of Jonny at Il Den, 26 July 2018. Lovely golden hue, exuding a highly refined and complex bouquet of petroleum fumes with the delicate essence of nectarine and tropical fruits, layered with rich detail and luscious concentration. Superb.

1995 Domaine Mungeard Echezeaux Grand Cru, courtesy of Kenny at Il Den, 26 July 2018. Ample bouquet of rose petals and camphor with a generous dose of icing, supple and open with gentle lift. More plummy on the palate, displaying good intensity and purity, rather seamless but not much in terms of detail.

2011 Domaine Louis Latour Corton Grand Cru, courtesy of Sea Hing at Il Den, 26 July 2018. Shut on the nose. Packed with tangerines and red fruits but sharp and angular on the palate with vegetal elements. Rather disjointed. Disappointing.

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1999 Domaine Paul Aine Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle, at Il Den, 26 July 2018. Deep crimson with a vermilion rim, proffering a deep powerful bouquet of ripe dark fruits with a mentholic hint coupled with a robust body of supple tangerines laced with crisp acidity. Not quite entirely seamless. I’d expected better.

1994 Domaine Paul Aine Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle, courtesy of John at Il Den, 26 July 2018. Bright crimson. Well evolved. Open, fleshy and deeply layered with mature ripe fruit that exuded an attractive glowing intensity but unlikely to improve further.

1983 Domaine Paul Aine Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle, courtesy of Hiok at Il Den, 26 July 2018. Complex evolved bouquet of strawberries and redcurrants but somewhat restrained, though the palate is pliant and juicy with characters of earth, tangerines and red fruits that still measured up with fine intensity, structure and acidity. Excellent.

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Javier of Il Den is a great one-man show in his tiny restaurant

2000 Ch Chasse-Spleen, decanted on-site at Osteria Art, 28 July 2018. Brilliant deep ruby, delivering a superb deep glow of dark currants, raspberries and dark cherries with a dark rosy fragrance, wonderfully ripe with sublime acidity, its soft roundedness evoking a distinct feminine stance enhanced, turning more minerally with emerging graphite elements, eventually fleshing out even more with open dryish textures. Superb.

2005 Ch Les Carmes Haut Brion, popped and poured at Eat First, 31 July 2018. Dry and robust, stuffed with ample dark fruits and ripe wild berries, quite fleshy, subtly structured with chiselled tannins. Very fine.

Montrachet: 2011 Ramonet, 2008 Drouhin; Emmanuel Rouget V-R Cros Parantoux 1er: 2003, 2005 & 2006

August 26, 2018

No prizes for guessing who came up with the idea of drinking one of the rarest wines of Burgundy. For the longest time, Dr Ngoi has dreamt of organising a dinner centered on a mini-vertical of Vosne-Romanee Cros Parantoux 1er. The problem, of course, lay in sourcing the wine, itself rare and very expensive. The 1.01 ha of Cros Parantoux 1er at the westerly boundary of Vosne-Romanee produces only about 4000-5000 bottles annually, split between Domaine Emmanuel Rouget (0.7 ha) and Domaine Meo Camuzet (just a shade under 0.3 ha). Apart from its rarity, the romance about this wine lay in its synonymous association with the late Henri Jayer who had single-handedly resurrected this tiny patch that once grew only artichokes in the 1950s.

20180822_194314.jpgThe great master had also been instrumental, at one stage, in helping these two domaines in the vinification of Cros Parantoux 1er. Our past experience with Cros Parantoux 1er had only been a 2008 at Lameloise in Chagny (thoroughly wasteful) and a 2005 (from Dr Ngoi) that was still elusive. For this event at Nicolas on 22 Aug 2018, MH, Eddy, Dr Ngoi and Grace had generously popped some precious bottles from their respective cellars. Knowing that these wines need a very long time to be at their best, these bottles had been aired under temperature control since morning, something absolutely imperative if anyone is considering drinking these wines. And if one is drinking Cros Parantoux 1er, what ought to be the supporting act? Montrachet, naturally, and d’Yquem for whites, while only Richebourg would be deserving for red. As a digression, LF had two bottles of Armand Rousseau that needed to be drunk urgently as a malfunctioning wine chiller had almost frozen the wines just days prior. With Nicolas and his outstanding team on hand to prepare dinner and serve us the wines, we were set for a most memorable evening though, I must say, the greatness of Cros Parantoux 1er, save for the 2003, remained elusive that evening. Nevertheless, my heartfelt thanks gentlemen, and Grace, for your wonderful generosity.

2000 Philipponnat Clos des Goisses, courtesy of LF. Shy on the nose though the palate is open with zesty yellow citrus, rather dry, underscored by subtle ferrous minerals with gentle yeasty tones and toast. Became fuller and more minerally, gaining an unprecedented level of richness once the very fine bubbles had dissipated, the wine becoming quite indistinguishable from a Puligny-Montrachet. Excellent.

2003 Dom Perignon Rose, courtesy of Hsiang Sui. Closed as well on the nose, proffering mainly grapefruit on the palate with very good depth of gentle red fruits, fleshy but dry with traces of sweet, staying somewhat stern before it eventually blossomed with tight blazing intensity.

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2011 Domaine Jean-Claude Ramonet Montrachet Grand Cru, courtesy of Jonathan Chan. This wine exuded a most delicate colour and bouquet with a soft glow of floral fragrance, infused with a gleaming tone of white fruits and gentle minerals on the full palate, quite ethereal and seamless as it sat in the glass with quiet intensity, eventually displaying its signature minerally glow that lingered with lengthy persistence. Wonderful stuff.

2008 Joseph Drouhin Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche Grand Cru, courtesy of Vic. Closed even after being double decanted since morning though the palate offered very fine detail of floral characters, white fruits and minerals, tonally rich with excellent purity. It took its time to open up further with an emerging hint of tropical fruits before blossoming into a full-bodied wine, layered with rich minerality, becoming more poised and ethereal over time. Lovely but essentially far from ready.

2011 Domaine Leflaive Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru. White fruits dominate with subdued minerals and recessed chalk that exuded a soft gentle glow with early complexity, gaining in creamy richness and fullness that culminated eventually in a gleaming rich chromatic tone, utterly seamless and open.

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2004 Domaine Armand Rousseau Chambertin Clos de Beze Grand Cru, courtesy of LF. Dark rose petals and cherries dominate on the nose and palate, beautifully ripe and succulent with beguiling freshness, quite sublime in acidity with soft refined tannins that hinted at traces of black pepper, displaying excellent definition and linearity throughout its length. Not the most profound of wines from this famous estate though this is probably a function of the vintage. Excellent, by any standards.

2001 Domaine Armand Rousseau Chambertin Clos de Beze Grand Cru, courtesy of LF. Similar to the 2004 in bouquet and palatal tone where dark cherries and raspberries dominate, highly supple and fleshy and inviting though it loses out in definition and detail. But I guess no one will ever complain when given the chance to taste any Armand Rousseau for free. Drinking well but unlikely to get better.

2003 Domaine A F Gros Richebourg Grand Cru, courtesy of LF. Delicious dark cherries and currants on the nose and palate, beautifully layered with plush textures that conferred great presence and suppleness though a tad short.

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2003 Domaine Emmanuel Rouget Vosne-Romanee Cros Parantoux 1er, two separate bottles from the same batch, courtesy of MH and Eddy. Opague purple. Generous bouquet of complex red fruits that exuded an exciting exuberant glow, matched by a rich opulent palate of dark currants and warm ripe fruit still imbued with a hint of vanilla, fairly extracted and undoubtedly full though never threatening to overwhelm, structured with great sophistication and subtlety that imparted elegance and poise. Still youthful and a little tight but what a successful wine this is considering the immense heat stress of this vintage. Outstanding.

2006 Domaine Emmanuel Rouget Vosne-Romanee Cros Parantoux 1er, courtesy of Dr Ngoi. Brighter in tone, similarly rich in its concentration and depth of fruit, structured with sublime acidity and unobtrusive tannins, mellowing quite quickly to reveal good definition and detail, becoming more delicious over time though it seemed to lack the last ounce of sophistication that one would expect from its pedigree, a tad short as well at the finish.

2005 Domaine Emmanuel Rouget Vosne-Romanee Cros Parantoux 1er, courtesy of Grace. Dark. Much more reserved on the nose, definitely less expressive, in spite of the abundance of fleshy warm ripe fruit that suggested red plums and red apples still cloaked in enamel, its steely acidity and brazen intensity adding to its bold masculine structure, though never abrasive. But, on the whole, there’s no escaping the feeling that this wine is still a little unsettled on the palate. Needs better resolution but may be great in time to come.

1989 Ch d’Yquem, courtesy of Sanjay. Apricot, nectarine and aged honey dominate on the nose, stuffed with fabulous concentration of fruit, layering and intensity, still full and astonishingly fresh in its ageless acidity.

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1995 & 1996 Pichon Lalande, 1975 Palmer, 1996 Lynch-Bages

August 21, 2018

Kieron threw a surprise party at the Shang Palace of the Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore, on 16 Aug 2018 for reasons best known to himself and a few close friends. As usual with Kieron, the arrangements were absolutely impeccable and he had also generously supplied most of the wine (unless otherwise specified) in large bottle format whenever possible. The Shang Palace knew perfectly well Kieron’s exact needs, ensuring that a fresh glass was produced for each wine. As we waited for everyone to arrive, a magnum of 2007 Delamotte Blanc de Blancs was liberally poured, a champagne that is unfairly under-rated, no thanks to it being forever in the shadow of its famous sister estate Salon. 20180816_193046.jpgOn this occasion, the Delamotte displayed an abundance of green fruits and zesty citrus within a body of chiselled minerality, dry but not too brazen, softening a little over time with further notes of bitter lemon at the finish.

As we sat down to for dinner, the 2005 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs was served. Compared with the Delamotte, the Taittinger was rather shy and reserved though it proffers a lovely density of white fruits and citrus on the palate, superbly balanced, made gentle by its very fine bubbles topped with icing and vanillin with just a trace of sweetness at the sides. Very elegant.

We carried on with a pair from Domaine Leflaive. The 2005 Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet Clavoillon 1er exuded a superb complexity of aged chalk and creme de la crème on the nose with a lifted floral bloom, very lovely in depth and acidity though the fruit is set a little backward, more minerally and minty with a fair bit of oiliness on the mid-palate, finishing with great persistence at its long glowing finish. In contrast, the 2000 Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet, courtesy of David Tan, was expectedly denser in color but the nose was still quite effusive, typically burgundian with a good deal of earthiness, aged chalk and floral notes, still boasting fine concentration and presence upon its superb entry though it simply cannot muster the complexity and layering of a premier cru.

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We kicked off the reds with a classic pairing. The 1995 Ch Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, poured from magnum, displayed a deep clear crimson, opening with a fabulous bouquet of gentle earthy pungency and Chinese tea leaves, rounded and fleshy, showing great refinement in its fullness, layering and structure, turning just a tad minty as it finished with a flourish of juicy dark plums and cherries. Drinking very well and probably at its very best. Next to it, the 1996 Ch Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, also from magnum, was very similar in style and character to the 1995, its bouquet just a tad deeper and tighter, better defined in its layering of dark cherries and blackcurrants, more minerally as well, imparting some leathery tones amidst velvety tannins. Highly delicious but yet to peak. This little exercise simply confirmed the superiority of the 1996 over the 1995, amply demonstrated by an unplanned 1996 Ch Lynch Bages that Daniel Tan shoved into the line-up. This Pauillac classic ticked all the right boxes, displaying a beautiful complex bouquet with a deep glow of seductive ripe berries whilst the palate oozed with a wonderful concentration of warm succulent ripe fruit layered with great velvety intensity amidst open textures, displaying great linearity and definition as it tapered to a lasting finish with overtones of residual tea leaves. Still far from its peak. Superb.

20180816_223321.jpgFinally, as the piece de resistance, the 1975 Ch Palmer was poured from magnum, still showing well in color and palatal tone of dark cherries and dark plums, superbly proportioned and balanced with soft rounded sweet tannins, gently layered, highly subtle in its nuances. Highly attractive still without any indication of drying out. Excellent. Many thanks, Kieron !!

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May/June 2018: 2012 Montelena Estate, 2002 Gracia, 2014 Jean-Louis Chavy Puligny-Montrachet, 1998 Penley Estate

August 15, 2018

Veuve Clicquot Rose Brut, drunk over dimsum lunch at Asia Grand, 01 May 2018. Deep orangey hue, displaying overtones of grapefruit, tangerines and mandarins with good concentration, freshness and zest on a dense minerally base. Finished with dry blazing intensity.

2008 Rockford Black Shiraz, popped and poured at  Otto Ristorante, 08 May 2018. Exuding effusive tones of rich dark plums and black cherries layered with strong overtones of mocha and licorice, this is a beautiful example of Black Shiraz at its best, displaying excellent concentration of ripe dark Barossa shiraz with great linearity and definition underscored by a deep liquered presence, thoroughly open and engaging with some emerging complexity, finishing with seductive sweetness and intoxicating sophistication. Outstanding

2005 Mount Mary Quintet, popped and poured at  Otto Ristorante, 08 May 2018, courtesy of John Law. Malt, rye and hot stones on the nose that was rather reticent at the start, though the palate oozes with dry subtle sweet tannins coming from an excellent depth of dark fruits and black currants, developing some bright spots with velvety textures and supple acidity. Drinking well. Excellent.

1998 Penley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, popped and poured at Wah Lok, 11 May 2018. Deep garnet red. Powerful bouquet of ripe dark berries, raspberries and blackcurrants amidst earthy tones, cedar and roasted coffee. Still amazingly tight, developing further notes of black fruits tinged with licorice and dark plums. Well extracted. Mellowed quite quickly, opening up with good detail and transparency with mild sandy textures and crisp acidity, turning more expansive and minty at its finish. Excellent, though still seemingly far from its peak.

Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve NV, tasted at Changi Airport T3 Krisflyer lounge, 26 May 2018. Gentle yeasty and crystalline tones amidst an ample spread of yellow citrus, displaying clear definition, its very fine soft bubbles offering excellent presence and depth on a bed of distinct ferrous minerals. Very fine.

2015 Albert Bichot Saint-Veran, tasted at Changi Airport T3 Krisflyer lounge, 26 May 2018. Distinct grassy elements with traces of nutmeg, medium-bodied. Rather placid though well-rounded with good presence of understated white fruits, chalky tones and acidity, tapering to a gentle finish. Very serviceable.

2009 Ch Le Doyenne, popped and poured at Ka Soh, 29 May 2018. Dark purple. Quite generous in dark fruits violets and blueberries on the nose though this sleeper of a wine is now less flattering on the palate compared with previous tastings. Good concentration, acidity and suppleness but missing in opulence, a little nondescript this time.

2004 Domaine Paul Aine Jaboulet Le Chevalier de Sterimberg, popped and poured at Imperial Treasure Asia Square, 30 May 2018. A luxurious sheen of creme and vanillin flavours dominate on the nose and palate, displaying good complexity with an aged stony glow of caramelized paraffin amidst aromas of glutinous leaves, replete with an opulent mid-body. The best bottle of this wine I’ve ever had. Excellent.

2007 Clos du Marquis, popped and poured at Imperial Treasure Asia Square, 30 May 2018 (courtesy of Ben). Deep purple, displaying excellent depth of blackcurrants, dark cherries and strawberries, highly supple, imbued with graphite minerals that shone with fine detail. Surprisingly good for the vintage.

2015 Maison de Montille Saint Romain, popped and poured at Asia Grand, 03 June 2018. Ample in green fruits and green melons with traces of icing on a delicate chalky base, very well balanced and open with  transparent textures, showing plenty of verve though it is generally rather understated, finishing with a minerally trail. Great value at SGD59.

1986 Ch Leoville Poyferre, popped and poured at  Otto Ristorante, 04 June 2018. This wine opened with quite a bit of bottle stink, distinctly medium-bodied, proffering aged rosy notes, light cherries and raspberries with traces of wood, still possessing intense acidity that imparted some lovely tension across the earthy minerally palate, finishing won a stern note of iron filings. Slightly past its prime.

2006 E Guigal Chateau D’Ampuis, courtesy of Sanjay at  Otto Ristorante, 04 June 2018. Bright with an exuberance of red fruits and cherries that exude a rosy feminine fragrance, medium-bodied, gentle on the palate with detailed tannin structure amidst great suppleness, developing a lighter tone of bright citrus over time. Very lovely.

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2002 Ch Gracia, courtesy of Vic at  Otto Ristorante, 04 June 2018. Endowed with an abundance of dark roses on the nose and palate, exuding a lovely feminine fragrance with great purity of fruit, soft and rounded, layered with excellent depth of dark fruit that grew in intensity over time.

2005 Ch Lynch Bages, courtesy of MH at  Otto Ristorante, 04 June 2018. Rather backward at this stage, exuding an understated bouquet of dark roses, dark cherries and blackcurrants though there’s undoubtedly a generous abundance of fruit beneath the rounded sheen of ash and earthy pungency, very open and gently layered. Unexpectedly feminine. Could do with a bit more focus at its finish. Not ready.

Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Reserve NV, on board Singapore Airlines premium economy SQ32 SIN-SFO, 10 Jun 2018. Forward balance of light yellow citrus and clear fruits encased within a lovely glow of chalk and yeasty tones. Open with subtle dry intensity, displaying excellent fullness and presence, finishing well. Surprisingly good.

2016 Vina Borgia, on board Singapore Airlines premium economy SQ32 SIN-SFO, 10 Jun 2018. Earthy tones, wild berries, twigs and forest floor dominate with an abundance of dark plums and dark cherries, slightly forward. Agreeable but nondescript.

20180611_190422.jpg2014 Domaine Jean-Louis Chavy Puligny-Montrachet, a half bottle from the list of Michael Mina, San Francisco, on 11 June 2018 to celebrate our 24th wedding anniversary. Displaying a beautiful luminous glow, this wine produced quite an arresting bouquet of creme de la creme and chalky minerals matched by a glorious presence of dense white fruits and floral characters on the palate. Utterly refined, rich and elegant, developing some early complexity as it tapered towards a long glowing finish. You simply can’t go wrong with 2014 burgundy white from any producer. Superb.

2012 Ch Montelena Estate, a half bottle from the list of Michael Mina, San Francisco, on 11 June 2018. Violets, dark cherries, exotic spice and a dash of bell pepper dominate on the nose while the palate is richly layered with dark cherries, raspberries and mulberries that conferred great ripeness, detail and lovely intensity, structured by pliant chewy tannins. Highly supple though rather understated in acidity, becoming more dry and earthy over time, finishing on a note of ground pepper and spice. Excellent.

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2016 Robert Mondavi Private Selection Chardonnay, a half bottle at Fish Hopper’s, Monterey Bay, 16 June 2018. Good presence of green fruits, zesty lime and citrus, its crisp acidity a fresh clean feel, developing further notes of white flowers and vanillin later with pronounced grainy minerals. Not bad at all.

2016 Adelsheim Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, a half bottle from the list of John’s Grill, San Francisco, 16 June 2018. This wine offer a good concentration of ripe raspberries and dark cherries, forward in fruit balance with a touch of earthiness amidst its dry intensity, developing further nuances of cedar and sweet incense over time though it never got any further. Serviceable.