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2020 Bordeaux En Primeur: Figeac, Talbot, Domaine de Chevalier, Sociando-Mallet, Pavie Macquin, La Gaffelière, De Fieuzal, Smith Haut Lafitte, Latour-Martillac, Langoa Barton, Pichon Longueville Baron, Léoville-Poyferré, Ducru-Beaucaillou, Troplong Mondot, La Conseillante, Prieuré-Lichine, Suduiraut…

May 14, 2021

The vintage of 2020 was characterised by wet weather in spring followed by a long dry hot summer stretching from early June till end-September. This extreme meteorological pattern produced early bud break (marking the first stage of the vine cycle) in March, followed by early flowering in May that led to early ripening such that most estates managed to complete their harvesting in the dry part of September (whites even earlier in August) before heavy rains lashed down again in the first week of October. Sporadic nocturnal thunderstorms were noted here and there during August, which brought welcome relief from the drought but further disaster (the real threat of mildew) to estates already hit by hail. Latour Martillac Blanc (2)Thanks to the heat stress, 2020 is a relatively low-yielding vintage (up to 10% less volume than 2019) and variation in quality across the region is to be expected, unlike the uniformly good years of 2005, 2009 and 2010. The Right Bank, in particular, experienced considerably less rain and hotter temperatures compared with the Left.

Normally, the world’s wine press would have descended on Bordeaux at this time of year for the en primeur tastings but, because of Covid, the reverse is taking place where samples are sent instead to various cities around the world which would organise their own decentralised tastings. Thanks to the wonderful people at Wine Clique, Singapore, I had the opportunity to taste a line-up of 2020 Bordeaux samples on 30 April 2021 (and thereafter extending into May as well for some samples) organised very professionally at the correct ambient temperature of 18°C with the bottles aired well in advance, limited to only a handful of individuals well spaced apart in line with current Covid regulations. I found the overall quality to be very good to excellent. In particular, the Right Bank as well as Pessac-Léognan and Saint-Julien impressed with their fine elegance, phenolic ripeness, exemplary balance and ability to convey their terroir. Elsewhere, Pichon Baron and the majority from the northern Médoc, Saint-Estèphe and Margaux also came across well. But the real standouts were actually the whites (!), imbued with superb concentration, lovely verve, balance and definition. Some estates tend to be a little too cautious and backward, perhaps being wary of potentially excessive sugar ripeness (the opposite of phenolic ripeness, leading to a tendency towards more alcohol) from the heat. However, the line-up tasted represents only a very tiny fraction of Bordeaux. Moreover, one must remember these are still unfinished products, emphasised by the word échantillon (ie. sample) stamped across the labels. The wines may flesh out further in barrel and the final blend upon release in 2023 may end up being substantially different. Nevertheless, I believe those which already has everything in place will be fabulous. But don’t forget the whites! Many thanks again, Alice and Emerson.

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2020 Domaine de Chevalier Blanc. Pessac-Léognan. Pale. Effusive in clean dry petroleum characters. Lovely expanse of lychees and other tropical fruit that exert excellent presence with fine acidity and intensity. Good balance. Has everything in place. Great potential.

2020 Château Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc. Pessac-Léognan. Pale. Effusive bouquet of morning dew and clean white characters. Rather fruit focused, showing very good presence with a lovely rounded intensity. Good verve and fluidity, finishing with lingering nutmeg. Excellent potential.

2020 Château De Fieuzal Blanc. Pessac-Léognan. Pale. Highly effusive in white tones with a tinge of diesel on the nose that is really superb. More lean and concentrated on the open palate with a controlled intensity, displaying excellent integration and lithe acidity laced with a trace of sweetness. Finished well. Very lovely.

2020 Château Latour-Martillac Blanc. Pessac-Léognan. Pale. Cool clean characters amid glowing white tones and nutmeg. Highly agile, almost delicate, layered with a suggestion of tropical fruits marked by a trace of sweetness. Excellent balance. Superbly structured with understated acidity and intensity, imparting lingering tension that is just simply beautiful in the mouth. Hard to believe this is an unfinished sample when everything is already in place. Great stuff!

2020 Château Fleur Cardinale. Saint-Émilion. Deep purple. Bramble and wild berries on the nose. Remarkably ripe palate of raspberries and dark cherries cushioned by soft sexy tightly-knit tannins with a certain graphite sparkle, underscored with fine acidity. Excellent effort from an unexpected source.

2020 Château Grand Mayne. Saint-Émilion. Bright cherries and currants with delicious aromatic lift. Medium-bodied. Fleshy and supple. Gentle on the palate, showing excellent integration and sleek acidity. Distinctly feminine. Very correct but could do with more presence.

2020 Château La Gaffelière. Saint-Émilion Premier Grand Cru Classé B. Bright purple. Emulsion and dark currants in equal measure. Medium-bodied. Bright, rounded and supple, showing good acidity and integration though there is a persistent dry woodiness in spite of more emerging fruit (re-tasted again from bottles that have received several hours of aeration).

2020 Château Pavie Macquin. Saint-Émilion Premier Grand Cru Classé B. Deep purple. Unusually developed bouquet of delicious dark currants and ripe berries. Medium-full. Fleshy and subtly structured with a graphite sparkle, exerting a very fine teasing intensity on a dryish floor. Good potential.

2020 Château Troplong Mondot. Saint-Émilion Premier Grand Cru Classé B. Deep purple. Somewhat reluctant and brambly on the nose though the palate is imbued with a slightly forward balance of fleshy exotic fruit that teased with lithe agility and fine acidity, hinting at some velvety warmth. Has a certain attractive juicy succulence. Good length. Plenty of lovely charm.

2020 Château Figeac. Saint-Émilion Premier Grand Cru Classé B. Deep purple. Reductive earthy nose of briar, bramble and ripe wild berries. Softly rounded and fleshy. Slightly lean, showing good presence of dark fruits with balanced acidity but underpinned by a distinct ethanolic trace. Has a certain dark herbaceous tone from the cabernet component. Not an opulent Figeac at this stage but it will come around.

20210514_171903.jpg2020 Château La Conseillante. Pomerol. Deep bright purple. Ripe wild berries tinged with red fruits on the nose with a suggestion of velvety crimson. Medium-full. Warm and rounded with fleshy definition, underscored with precise subtle acidity that imparted good tension. Structured with highly understated tannins laced with a trace of sweetness, tapering with excellent balance and seamless transition throughout its length. Practically ready now. Delicious! The Nicolas family proudly celebrates its 150th anniversary of ownership of La Conseillante with a distinct winner.

2020 Château Marsau. Francs, Côtes de Bordeaux. Bright purple. Fairly lifted. Softly contoured with slender proportions. Good balance. Quite sensibly focused on ripe darkish fruits that impart a certain warmth and fine intensity with dryish textures though its terroir remains indistinct.

2020 Château Poujeaux. Moulis-en-Médoc. Opaque purple. Good fruit quality but set rather too far backward on a ferric base, shrouded in enamel with a pervasive sense of heat that proved to be too distracting, not helped by its dry intensity and austere finish.

2020 Château Latour-Martillac Rouge. Pessac-Léognan. Good colour. Typical Pessac nose of bush and earthy warmth but the palate disappoints with fruit that is set too far backward, seriously obscured by alcoholic heat.

2020 Château De Fieuzal Rouge. Pessac-Léognan. Good colour. Attractive nose of ripe berries and currants. Structured with very fine presence and depth, revealing some earthy inner detail. Quite elegant. Good representation of the Pessac terroir.

2020 Domaine de Chevalier Rouge. Pessac-Léognan. Deep garnet core. Lovely lift of floral fragrance and currants. Quite fleshy, revealing gritty inner detail along with some earthy elements that are highly characteristic of Pessac. Very finely balanced with sophisticated tannins, rather understated in intensity throughout its length. Excellent.

2020 Château Smith Haut Lafitte Rouge. Pessac-Léognan. Deep garnet core. Good lift of delicious dark currants. Surprisingly open. Very evenly toned with lovely cool depth, showing very fine integration with an understated layered intensity on a dryish floor. Just a tad reserved but all the better. Very good potential.

2020 Château Pédesclaux. Pauillac. Good colour. Good lift of fresh berries. Rather fruit focused, carrying good verve with very fine acidity and intensity within a narrow spectrum. Short.

2020 Château Pichon Longueville Baron. Pauillac, Deuxième Cru. Deep purple. Quite effusive in dark roses, mulberries, violets and wild berries amid a brambly glow. Medium-bodied. Very good density of ripe cool fruit cushioned within velvety textures with a tinge of tangerines and some minerally elements, showing lovely freshness and seamless integration with refined intensity. Very naturally balanced. Gentle finish. Highly promising.

2020 Château Beaumont. Haut-Médoc. Deep purple. Aromatic lift of ripe wild berries. Medium-bodied. Structured with fine depth and well-managed tannins, conveying bright pebbly notes with understated intensity at the finish. Good terroir representation but ultimately lacking in distinction.

2020 Château Sociando-Mallet. Haut-Médoc. Good colour. Classic Médoc nose of bush and warm gravel. Medium-bodied. Well structured with very good presence and excellent suppleness, yielding fine gritty detail with attractive intensity. Good length. Excellent.

2020 Château Phelan Ségur. Saint-Estèphe, Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel. Dark opague purple. Lifted aromas of delicious dark currant, haw and dark cherries. Medium-bodied with a bright pebbly tone. Fleshy but dryish, showing good inner definition with a dash of understated intensity. Somewhat narrow in spectrum though well-balanced and unpretentious.

2020 Château Lafon-Rochet. Saint-Estèphe, Quatrième Cru. Deep garnet core. Attractive nose of briar, bramble and earth. Medium-full. Fleshy, displaying a fairly high-toned acidity and intensity. Excellent balance. Somewhat narrow in spectrum without too much depth but one appreciates its unpretentiousness.

2020 Château Gloria. Saint-Julien. Deep garnet core. Hint of warm gravel. Medium-bodied. Rather reticent and backward. Shows good acidity with understated tannin structure but it is just too reluctant at this stage.

2020 Château Labégorce. Margaux, Cru Bourgeois. Lovely colour. Forward nose. Medium-full. Rather bold and fleshy with structured intensity, yielding dry earthy detail. One senses that this wine is trying very hard to impress.

2020 Confidences de Prieuré-Lichine. Margaux. Second wine of Prieuré-Lichine. Very deep ruby, sporting notes of wild berries and wild roses with some bush. Smooth and rounded with an easy charm without much depth, though very well integrated.

2020 Château Prieuré-Lichine. Margaux, Quatrième Cru. Deep purple. Lovely lift of red fruits and cherries. Medium-full. Superbly integrated with sleek acidity and intensity. Has great proportion and balance. Almost velvety. Excellent.

2020 Château D’Issan. Margaux, Troisième Cru. Good color. Imbued with very good quality fruit that exude a lovely lift of ripe plums and red fruits. Medium-full. Well-structured with excellent balance and refined intensity. Carries good verve and presence. Highly promising.

2020 Château Malescot Saint-Exupery. Margaux, Troisième Cru. Deep garnet core. Very attractive nose of delicious sweet floral tones. Medium-bodied. Softly contoured and fleshy with a high-toned presence contributed by its sleek acidity but a tad too hot, let down by a short dry finish.

2020 Château Saint-Pierre. Saint-Julien, Quatrième Cru. Good color. Nose of bushy earthiness, slightly reductive. Medium-bodied. Rather backward and cautious in spite of the seamlessly integrated acidity and tannins. Could do with more fruit presence.

2020 Château Beychevelle. Saint-Julien, Quatrième Cru. Opaque purple. Distant fragrance. Rounded with very fine integration and understated intensity. Good presence but the fruit is set a little too backward, filled by earthy minerals in equal measure.

2020 Château Branaire-Ducru. Saint-Julien, Quatrième Cru. Deep purple. Shy. Quite brightly lit on the medium-bodied palate imbued with distant cool ripe fruit and rounded suppleness. Good acidity though there is a persistent restraint.

20210506_160915.jpg2020 Château Talbot. Saint-Julien, Quatrième Cru. Bright purple, proffering distant dark currants with a delicious fragrance. Medium-bodied, showing very good presence with fine depth of fruit set just a tad backward. Highly seamless and understated in acidity and intensity, framed by very well-managed tannins. Very correct. Not overdone in any way. Highly elegant.

2020 Château Langoa Barton. Saint-Julien, Troisième Cru. Deep purple. Nose of warm gravel. Rounded with lovely agility and floral freshness, producing a distinct feminine lift though the fruit is set a little backward, imbued with graphite trace. Carries good verve and balance. Well-layered and integrated, just a tad dry at the finish. Very successful.

2020 Château Léoville-Poyferré. Saint-Julien, Deuxième Cru. Deep purple. Dense bouquet of a full floral bloom, highly aromatic and delicious. Highly understated, displaying rounded contours with very refined acidity, imbued with traces of graphite. Lovely warmth, almost velvety, sweeping across the palate with a very fine teasing intensity towards the finish. Very correct, and almost aloof but all the better. Excellent.

2020 Château Ducru-Beaucaillou. Saint-Julien, Deuxième Cru. Deep purple. Layered glowing bouquet of dark floral fragrance and currants amid traces of vanillin. Medium-bodied, this wine displays an open presence with refined concentration of fruit, yielding some bright minerally inner detail as it mellowed down in the glass with superb seamless integration. Very naturally balanced with plenty of sophistication. Almost aristocratic. Very lovely. Great potential.

2020 Château Suduiraut. Sauternes, Premier Cru. Full enticing sweet fragrance with dominant characters of lychees and yellow tropical fruits. Layered with a fairly rich rounded density, displaying good clarity and understated acidity with a controlled sweetness and intensity. Gentle finish. Well proportioned and balanced. Excellent.

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En Primeur: 2020 Ch Ducru-Beaucaillou

May 10, 2021

Château Ducru-Beaucaillou is to Saint-Julien what Château Lafite Rothschild is to Pauillac – the quintessential femininely-styled claret that packs power within the proverbial velvet glove. Founded as early as 1720 when the squire Jacques de Bergeron married Marie Dejean, heiress of the vineyard, Ducru-Beaucaillou has been owned by the Borie family for three generations since 1942, now helmed by Bruno-Eugène Borie. Sited on the “correct” side of the D2 highway with the Gironde estuary to the east while its vines merge seamlessly with those of Château Léoville Las-Cases to the north, its terroir is truly the envy of many. The name Beaucaillou alludes to the “beautiful pebbly” soil that, paradoxically, is nutritionally poor because of its high quartz content, forcing the vines to dig deeper for nutrients, thus ideal for cultivating the best grapes. For this en primeur tasting on 08 May 2021 organised by the wonderful people at Wine Clique, Singapore, I was sent samples of the 2020 wines made by the Château. Barely six months in barrel, I am amazed that these wines are already so ready and complete, very well proportioned and balanced with power and refinement in equal measure.

2020 Madame de Beaucaillou. From vines of the Haut-Médoc largely owned by Madame Eugène-Borie. Comprising a merlot dominant blend, this wine is usually aged in barrel for twelve months with about 20% new oak, the inaugural vintage being the 2019. This 2020 barrel sample shows a very impressive deep purple, exuding deep dark plummy tones, dark roses and black cherries with a sense of heated earth that is faintly delicious, developing a more brambly Médoc character after some time. Medium-full. Fleshy and highly supple, imbued with very good fruit density. Well extracted but not overdone. Shows good definition and integration, settling down with fine intensity and harmony though it doesn’t quite possess that dimension of depth and layering. However, this is a perfectly good drop on its own merit with a decent finish.

2020 Le Petit Ducru de Ducru-Beaucaillou. Effectively the third wine of the stable from the Château’s vines, usually cabernet-merlot with the occasional petit verdot aged in one-third new oak for twelve months. Again showing a deep dark impenetrable purple, the 2020 barrel sample is somewhat reticent at first though eventually yielding notes of dark roses. Rather open with good concentration and density. Gently layered with minerally and earthy traces, displaying lovely suppleness with subtle acidity that produced good mouthfeel and freshness. Just a tad short.

2020 La Croix Ducru-Beaucaillou. The Château’s second wine, usually cabernet dominant with some merlot noir and petit verdot, aged for twelve months with two-thirds new oak. Dark purple, the 2020 barrel sample boasts an effusive floral fragrance that is most alluring, leading to an excellent concentration of dark fruits and black currants that gripped the medium-full palate with good length and linearity, displaying lively seamless exuberance with understated intensity. This can proudly occupy any table. Excellent.

2020 Château Ducru-Beaucaillou. Deep purple. The 2020 barrel sample of the Château’s grand vin opens with a layered glowing bouquet of dark floral fragrance and currants amid traces of vanillin. Medium-bodied, this wine displays an open presence with refined concentration of fruit, yielding some bright minerally inner detail as it mellowed down in the glass with superb seamless integration. Very naturally balanced with plenty of sophistication. Almost aristocratic. Very lovely. Great potential.

Apr 2021: 2014 Thibert Pouilly-Fuissé Cras, 2016 Ponsot Meursault Charmes Centaureé, 1976 Adrien Belland Chambertin Grand Cru, 1993 Robert Ampeau Volnay-Santenots 1er, 1975 Lynch-Bages, 1990 Leoville Las-Cases, 1995 Latour, 1993 Ridge Monte Bello

April 30, 2021

2002 Rockford Basket Press Shiraz. Aired in bottle for four hours prior to dinner at Ka Soh, 04 April 2021. Classic Barossa nose of dark plums and currants tinged with menthol amid a subtle savoury earthiness. Fairly rounded and full, underpinned by a distinct acidity that marked its presence with youthful intensity, structured with seamless finely-grained tannins. Gelled very well after another hour, developing velvety warmth with a layered depth of red plums, mocha and licorice soaked in crimson tones. Excellent, but still not quite ready.

2009 Carpineto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva. Double-decanted for 60 minutes followed by further aeration in bottle at Otto Ristorante, 06 Apr 2021. Deep purple. Faintly delicious on the nose though there is an abundance of blackcurrants, dark plums and raspberries with a dash of capsicum and earth on the highly supple medium-full palate, nicely rounded with a warm seamless presence, rather understated at first, developing growing intensity after some time amid saline elements. Quite excellent.

2020 Wynns Coonawarra Chardonnay. Aired in bottle for 60 minutes prior to dinner at home, 07 April 2021. Clean white fruits dominate with some chalky density laced with overtones of nutmeg, green capsicum and white pepper, offering good presence and clarity with fine intensity. Well proportioned and quite naturally balanced. Doesn’t try too hard. Drinks well, even though it is a supermarket wine.

2016 Domaine Thibert Père et Fils Pouilly-Fuissé Vignes Blanche at Jade Palace, 09 April 2021. Pale greenish tint, coating the medium-full palate with a faint creamy sweetness, eventually developing a lovely expanse of delicate clear citrus that is quite sharply delineated, almost flinty. Opened up with fine detail and concentration. Quite fine.

2014 Domaine Thibert Père et Fils Pouilly-Fuissé Les Cras at Jade Palace, 09 April 2021. Rather pale, but the palate is exceedingly refined with a smooth delicate creaminess, imbued with a full expanse of clear ripe citrus that exert gentle understated intensity as it traversed the palate with excellent length and linearity. Great stuff but far from peaking.

2016 Domaine Roger Belland Santenay-Gravières 1er at Jade Palace, 09 April 2021. Deep crimson. Effusive in dark plums, red fruits, currants and peaches that produced an immediate impact with its soft fleshiness still laced with vanillin, displaying controlled intensity with some trailing spiciness at the sides, opening up over time with lovely suppleness.

2010 Domaine Henri Gouges Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Pruliers 1er at Jade Palace, 09 April 2021. Early evolution. Rather reticent and reluctant on this occasion. Quite resolutely shut although the medium-full palate is layered with fine abundance of red fruits on a warm gravelly base that exert a classic NSG character, fleshing out quite quickly with lovely weight and understated intensity but still a tad austere. Needs time. 

1993 Domaine Robert Ampeau Volnay-Santenots 1er at Jade Palace, 09 April 2021. Evolved crimson. Lifted in rosy hues and notes of delicate red fruits, showing fine presence and dry intensity on an earthy floor, still imbued with amazing freshness.

1976 Adrien Belland Chambertin Grand Cru, courtesy of Mr Huang at Jade Palace, 09 April 2021. Evolved rosy hues. Generously scented and elegant on the medium-bodied palate. Fully mature with autumnal characters though it is still amazingly fresh and agile, showing very good presence and linearity with superb seamless integration.

1998 Château Montrose. Aired in bottle for ninety minutes prior at Jade Palace, 09 April 2021, courtesy of Mr Woo. Deep garnet core with a hint of vermillion. Superb complexity of warm earthy tones amid dark fruits, black currants, violets and anise that exude a classic velvety fullness, wonderfully supple and lithe, imbued with great verve and intensity without any of the gruff herbaceousness sometimes noted in the wines of this vintage. Excellent. 

2018 Meerlust Chardonnay. Popped and poured at home, 12 April 2021. This wine has put on considerable fat since a previous tasting late last year, showing more warmth and buttery characters alongside a generous expanse of white tones, sharpening up with fine definition and inner detail after some aeration but, at the same time, losing some of that lean precision which I had found to be so appealing. Perhaps best to let it develop further.

2009 Château Sociando-Mallet. Aired in bottle for more than two hours prior before dinner at Venue by Sebastian, 19 Apr 2021. Dark currants and raspberries dominate, displaying excellent ripeness and concentration with lean definition and controlled intensity, framed by a masculine tannin structure that oozed with a trace of sweetness. Developed further overtones of early cedar, tobacco and burnt ends over time. Still far from peaking. Great potential.

2016 Serafini & Vidotto Il Rosso dell’Abazia. Drunk over three days at home 18-20 Apr 2021. Consistent with a previous bottle tasted last month, displaying a lovely balance of supple red fruits and crushed raspberries by the third day with tame tannins and some fine detail. Distinctly feminine in character. Drinking well but it really needs plenty of time.

Origin Grill

2017 Domaine Lucien Muzard et Fils Santenay Maladière 1er Blanc. Aired in bottle for an hour prior at Imperial Treasure Shanghai, 21 Apr 2021. Delicate clear citrus of fair intensity, gently layered with a dash of crème. Medium-full. Well integrated with refined acidity, fleshing out with a bit of early complexity tinged with nutmeg and glowing white tones amid understated chalkiness. Excellent potential.

2017 Domaine du Roc des Boutires Pouilly-Fuissé, drunk over two days at home, 25-26 Apr 2021. Displaying a fairly deep luminosity tinged with green, this wine opens with a fullish tone of lime and clear citrus that veers towards delicate intensity rather than plump opulence, cutting a well-delineated chiseled presence with fine clarity and well-integrated sleek acidity. Developed further notes of jackfruit over time whilst retaining its youthful freshness. Drinking well but worth cellaring further.

2018 DeMorgenzon Reserve Chardonnay, at Origin Grill, 27 Apr 2021. Aired for 3-4 hours prior. Pale with a tinge of green, proffering distant white floral aromas, fresh morning dew and light melons. Medium-full, layered with a smooth gentle creaminess that gleamed with warm understated intensity, taking its time to yield some fine inner detail as it traipsed the palate with excellent linearity to a lingering finish of spicy nutmeg. This estate believes in the power of classical music in nurturing the vines. When I visited in December 2019, the Brahms First Piano Concerto (by Nelson Freires/Ricardo Chailly/Leipzig Gewandhaus) was blasting from outdoor loudspeakers over the beautifully manicured vineyards.

2011 Champagne Larmandier-Bernier Vieille Vigne du Levant, courtesy of CJ at Origin Grill, 27 Apr 2021. This blanc de blancs Grand Cru opens with a pronounced reductive pungent earthiness, sharply contrasted against the refreshing rounded fullness on the palate, imbued with a concentrated dry intensity of clear citrus and pomelo that exert tremendous verve and cutting acidity. Great potential, but needs time to settle.

2012 Champagne Agrapart Avizoise Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru, courtesy of CJ at Origin Grill, 27 Apr 2021. Lifted rounded tones of delicate minerals and gunmetal, displaying some early complexity in its warm gentle fullness marked by very fine bubbles that impart excellent clarity and soft intensity, very evenly toned throughout its length as it developed further glowing fragrance. Excellent.

2017 Sandhi Bentrock Santa Rita Chardonnay, courtesy of LF at Origin Grill, 27 Apr 2021. Light recessed nose of delicate citrus, displaying a very lovely fluidity on the medium-bodied palate. Very well balanced with slick intensity and sleek acidity.

2012 Marcassin Pinot Noir, courtesy of LF at Origin Grill, 27 Apr 2021. Copious ripe dark cherries and raspberries dominate with sweet overtones, leading to a warm full-bodied palate still coated with fresh layers of enamel and vanillin, brimming with youthful intensity. Still primal.

2003 Henri Bonneau Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Marie Beurrier, courtesy of CHS at Origin Grill, 27 Apr 2021. Some evolution in colour. Classic darkish earthy nose of southern Rhône still tinged with youthful traces of enamel. Full-bodied, exuding fragrant dark plums and currants on a dense ferrous minerally base. Gelled together very well after some time but it really needs another decade of cellaring.

2018 Caymus Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, courtesy of Jimmy at Origin Grill, 27 Apr 2021. Deep opaque purple. In spite of its infancy, this Napa wine manages to stay in absolute control, proffering very ripe black fruits, wild berries, mulberries and peaches with a lovely rounded depth. Predictably full and intense, coating the palate with warm succulence but never hedonistic, its tannins and acidity expertly managed. Huge potential ahead.

1990 Château Leoville Las-Cases at Origin Grill, 27 Apr 2021. Aired in bottle for five hours prior to tasting. Displaying a deep garnet core with a purplish rim, this wine boasts an arresting fragrance and complexity of fruit and terroir tinged with a mild pungency, matched by a delicious ripe supple fleshiness infused with traces of medicinal powder and the classic herbaceous tone of a mature claret, still fairly robust with youthful intensity. At its best and will hold for many more years. Superb.

1995 Château Latour, courtesy of Vic at Origin Grill, 27 Apr 2021. Deep garnet red. There is a hint of warm gravel that overlay the expanse of dark fruits and currants tinged with green capsicum, beautifully relaxed and supple, structured with sleek understated intensity that convey a certain seamless masculinity. At its best.

The ArdeaSeal closure favoured by Ponsot. Very tough to pull.

2016 Laurent Ponsot Meursault Charmes Cuvée de la Centaureé. Aired in bottle for two hours prior to dinner at Tang Yun, 29 Apr 2021. Gently perfumed nose of dense white floral tones with darker shades. Rather plump with a very ripe warmth, laced with very sleek acidity that drew out lengthy understated intensity. Kept changing in the glass, becoming more relaxed and a tad more minerally with a hint of sour plum at the unresolved finish before developing more of oyster shells with a chalky transparency, eventually unfurling distilled white tones with impressive breadth and depth. Laurent Ponsot’s new line appears to draw polarising opinions. Clearly not quite ready at this stage as it really tests your patience but it is set for greatness.

1975 Château Lynch-Bages, courtesy of Kieron at Tang Yun, 29 Apr 2021. Reticent at first though the palate is undeniably superb in its lithe agility and delightful presence of mature fruit and currants underpinned by traces of iron filings. Became astonishingly richer in sweet red fruits over time, softer and more beguiling yet more densely layered, exuding a lovely feminine fragrance. Outstanding!

1993 Ridge Monte Bello, courtesy of Vic at Tang Yun, 29 Apr 2021. Dark purple. A wine of large proportions, imbued with an abundance of ripe dark fruits and currants that glowed with a bit of sweet bright outer tone, still laced with vanillin. Softly contoured and just a tad forward on the medium-full palate that still retains amazing youthful freshness and intensity, morphing into a more seamless whole of dark plums and soy without quite revealing inner detail. Yet to peak!

2016 Benoit Ente Puligny-Mont Nexe Flore, 2012 Domaine Bertagna Clos Saint-Denis, 2008 Domaine Ponsot Clos Saint-Denis, 2002 Domaine Dujac Clos Saint-Denis… 1996 Roche de Bellene Clos de la Roche, 1996 & 2011 A Rousseau Clos de la Roche, 2007 & 2001 Ponsot Clos de la Roche

April 23, 2021

The usual suspects, with a couple of guests, gathered again at Imperial Treasure Great World on 13 April 2021 to explore the virtues of the largest and smallest Grand Cru appellations of Morey-Saint-Denis: Clos de la Roche (13.41 ha) and Clos Saint-Denis (5.99 ha), respectively. Situated northmost, the former is reputed to show more structure and masculine intensity compared with the latter just a stone’s throw away southwards, supposedly more feminine and elegant. However, our blinded line-up that evening proved otherwise. It all boils down to the producer: Ponsot is truly faithful to terroir, Rousseau likewise but packing more power within the proverbial velvet glove while Dujac is simply Dujac, totally in a class of its own. Many thanks as always, fellas, for your generosity and friendship.

Champagne Jacques Selosse Brut Rosé NV, courtesy of Vic. Deep golden lustre. Grapefruit and lemon peel on the nose, leading to a lovely open fullness layered with orangey tones amid a very refined body of soft bubbles tinged with medicinal powder. Finished with good persistence and élan, glowing with rounded intensity and increasing complexity over time.

2017 Domaine Bachelet-Monnot Puligny-Montrachet, courtesy of LF. Pale. White fruits and clear citrus dominate with a delicate teasing quality on the nose and palate, layered with subtle minerally depth. Developed a lovely glowing presence with fine definition and understated intensity.

20210413_192241.jpg2016 Benoit Ente Puligny-Montrachet Nexe Flore, courtesy of Kieron. A true one-off rarity here, for a tank of Puligny village was mistakenly mixed with the estate’s Truffiére 1er in a proportion of 57%-43%, resulting in a wine that cannot be classified higher than village though it clearly is higher in quality than that, hence nexe flore (meaning next floor). Quite resolutely shut, though the medium-full palate displays a creamy opulence with a tinge of green fruit, slightly reductive. Opened up with greater clarity, developing a glacial quality that shone with fine transparency and finesse.

2014 Domaine Jean-Claude Ramonet Puligny-Montrachet Les Enseigneres, courtesy of LF. This outstanding village opens with the classic Ramonet signature of cool clean icing and white tones with a bit of chalky shine. Set slightly backwards at first, eventually fleshing out with lovely sophistication, casting the palate in glorious shades of white with great precision.

1997 Maison Leroy Bourgogne Rouge, courtesy of Sir Bob. Deeper darker core with a vermillion rim, exuding aromas of wild roses and dark cherries with a medium-full supple presence. Just a tad forward but very well-integrated with seamless acidity, gently layered with fruit that is still quite fresh and vibrant with a minty trace. At its peak.

1996 Domaine Armand Rousseau Clos de la Roche Grand Cru, courtesy of Sir Bob. Early evolved crimson, proffering gentle red fruits and raspberries that exude a dash of sweetness on a slightly dusty floor. Highly supple with tannins that are subtly intense, seamlessly matched with understated acidity. So feminine that we all thought it to be a Clos Saint-Denis. Beautiful.

2008 Domaine Ponsot Clos Saint-Denis Grand Cru Cuvée Tres Vieilles Vignes, courtesy of Sir Bob. Some evolution is evident, producing a rather unusual warm bouquet that reminded me of curry powder (!?) though the palate is very beautifully nuanced with dominant red fruits and cherries that confer a bright open suppleness, very gently layered with understated depth and intensity. Very lovely.

2011 Domaine Armand Rousseau Clos de la Roche Grand Cru, courtesy of Vic. Beautiful clear ruby. Fullish tone of bright red cherries that exert youthful rasping intensity. Highly aromatic. Superbly integrated with sleek acidity, flaunting a controlled suave exuberance that only Rousseau can pull off so very well. Outstanding.

2012 Domaine Bertagna Clos Saint-Denis Grand Cru. Deep dark ruby, exuding a beautifully layered bouquet of complex red fruits. Surprisingly bold and forward for a Clos Saint-Denis, perhaps a little too exuberant in its deep darkish velvety intensity within a youthful sweet tannin structure. Distinctly masculine. Not ready.

2007 Domaine Ponsot Clos de la Roche Grand Cru Vieilles Vignes, courtesy of Kieron. Some evolution in colour, proffering an attractive bouquet of savoury sweet meat. Rather high-toned in its open delicate intensity of rose petals and red fruits, oozing with sweetish undertones. Highly elegant.

1996 Maison Roche de Bellene Clos de la Roche Grand Cru, courtesy of Hiok. Opaque evolved tone, though the bouquet is superb with its exuberant lift of mature red fruits and currants that extended well onto the open palate with supple intensity, yielding fine inner detail. Very well crafted. At its best.

2001 Domaine Ponsot Clos de la Roche Grand Cru, courtesy of KG. Similarly evolved and opaque. Thoroughly outstanding in its elegant complexity on both the nose and open palate, coming across with a slight rusticity, subtly structured with glorious red fruits that still retain youthful character. Outstanding.

2002 Domaine Dujac Clos Saint-Denis Grand Cru, courtesy of LF. Supremely open with a most energetic lift of complex red fruits, cherries and tangerines at peak maturity. Seamlessly whole, stoking the medium-full palate with rasping intensity. Beautifully structured and balanced. Very classy. Superb!

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2010 BOND Matriarch, 2004 Cheval Blanc, 2004 Mouton Rothschild, 1996 Dominus, 2016 Yann Durieux Manon…

April 16, 2021

A couple of friends lost a wager between them, the forfeit being having to produce a BOND Estates and a Dominus. And so came about a theme loosely based on the wines favoured by Mr Bond, the suave superspy. Dom Pérignon and Mouton Rothschild are mentioned in Fleming’s original novels as well as the films of Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever (Bond exposing Mr Wint’s ignorance about the ’55 Mouton) and Man With The Golden Gun (Bond correctly identifying a ’34 Mouton served blind by Scaramanga). Bond made a note to buy “several dozens of Taittinger” in the novel Moonraker while smuggling a Cheval Blanc into Shrublands in the film Never Say Never Again.

Venue: Imperial Treasure Fine Cantonese Cuisine, Great World City, Singapore, on 01 April 2021.

2000 Champagne Henriot Cuvée des Enchanteleurs Brut. Lovely golden hue, exuding a deep velvety mature bouquet of floral bloom with a lifted complex. Highly poised and elegant, displaying a rich bright minerally shine with white tones of clear citrus amid a slight pungency, teasing the medium-bodied palate with agile intensity and superb clarity, opening up with a further tertiary glow. Good finish. Probably my best experience with this wine from a half case.

2005 Champagne Dom Pérignon, courtesy of Russ. Shy but evenly-toned on the medium-bodied palate gently layered with créme, showing fine balance and linearity. Clearly a leaner style compared with 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008 though it remains quite engaging with white tones imbued with subtle minerally elements and subdued intensity.

2005 Taittinger Comtes des Champagne Blanc de Blancs, courtesy of Kieron. Light golden. Immediately engaging with effusive notes of brioche and teasing floral aromas. Equally generous on the palate where bitter lemon and pomelo dominate with focused intensity and great balance amid traces of green fruits. Excellent.

20210401_202031.jpg2016 Yann Durieux Manon, courtesy of Russ. Yann had worked for many years at Prieure-Roch before starting his own label based in Messanges, Burgundy, working on 40-year-old chardonnay vines. The 2016 displays a forward exuberance of sour plums (I know purists will object but it really is what it is, and Kieron concurred as well) in the most positive sense from a gentle but concentrated depth of fruit that conferred a high-toned mouthfeel with cushioned intensity and excellent refinement. Somewhat unusual but undeniably attractive.

2013 Domaine Jean-Claude Ramonet Chassagne-Montrachet Le Caillerets 1er, courtesy of Kieron. This wine opens with the distinct Ramonet signature of effusive white tones and fluoride, producing lovely lift with a rich creamy presence. Highly refined and rounded, yielding excellent definition and power though just a tad short. Not to be confused with the domaine’s Chassagne-Montrachet Clos du Caillerets 1er which is a walled monopole within Le Caillerets that was first bottled in 2014.

2014 Le Petit Cheval, courtesy of Ker Wei. Glowing red fruits on the nose with a sense of distant ember accounted for by red plums set backwards on the medium-bodied palate. Open with fleshy presence and fine intensity.

2004 Château Cheval Blanc, courtesy of Russ. Lovely purplish hue, amply imbued with raspberries and currants still carrying a distinct note of vanillin on the fleshy medium-full palate. Beautifully supple and open, generously layered with warm ripe fruit though slightly narrow in dimension, turning brighter over time with emerging red fruits. Highly promising but not quite ready.

2004 Château Mouton Rothschild. Aired in bottle for three hours prior. Deep garnet core. Medium-bodied. Fleshy with fine textural clarity through the layers of predominant red fruits tinged with tobacco leaves, superbly integrated with a relaxed subtle intensity, showing some early maturity. Approaching its peak.

20210401_220734.jpg1996 Dominus, courtesy of Marc. Very deep crimson, exuding a powerful bouquet earthy diesel tones, dark plums and currants. Open and fleshy, displaying a delicious warm ripeness from the supple layers of predominant red fruits that still exert superb freshness, oozing with subdued sweetness. Excellent balance. Quite outstanding.

2010 BOND Matriarch, courtesy of Dolly. Double-decanted for six hours prior. Deep purple. This wine opens with a forward balance of black fruits, violets and dark currants with distinct warm ripe savoury characters amid overtones of sweet vanillin and enamel that sweep the fleshy medium-full palate with tremendous verve and searing intensity with trailing notes of briar and bramble. Settled down after some time, becoming somewhat distant though appreciably more open, revealing very finely detailed crushed fruit. Excellent but far from ready.

2003 BOND Melbury, 2009 Araujo Eisele, 1996 Phelps Insignia, 1997 & 2007 Opus One, 1995 Viader, 2007 Shafer Hillside Select, 2012 Marcassin Pinot Noir

April 9, 2021

Members of the Jürade de Saint-Émilion du Singapour met again at OSO Ristorante on 18 March 2021 to enjoy the camaraderie with an all-American line-up. While such wines are more likely than not to display outsized proportions, they were all showing very well that evening such that I was able to function normally the next day without any fuzziness. Many thanks, everyone, for your generous contributions.

Champagne Billecart-Salmon Rosé Brut NV. Bold dry chalky intensity marked by intense yellow citrus, mandarins and ripe grapefruit with overtones of white fumes, structured within a chiseled chalkiness.

1995 Viader, courtesy of Marc. A blend of 45% cabernet franc with 55% cabernet sauvignon. Dark with an earthy funkiness on the nose, matching well the excellent cabernet character on the palate. Possesses good levels of ripeness amid a herbaceous trace not unlike a true Médoc, softly rounded but hefty enough, evolving further overtones of ferrous elements and medicinal powder within pliant tannins that oozed with understated sweetness. Drinking well.

2012 Marcassin Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, courtesy of KC. Raspberries and dark cherries dominate with a rounded fleshiness, revealing soft inner detail beneath a ripe expanse of cool red fruits that exert fine tension, showing good balance and sophistication with a controlled elegance. Unlikely to be mistaken for burgundy, but truly excellent.

1996 Joseph Phelps Insignia, courtesy of Stephen. Deep garnet core. Lifted in ripe cabernet fruit with a hint of licorice and savoury character that leapt out of the glass. Medium-full. Expectedly weighty but well-integrated with controlled proportions, still imbued with blazing intensity across the palate though without much inner detail. Good length.

1997 Opus One. Deep garnet red with some crimson at the rim, lifted in red plums and crushed red fruits with a trace of sur-maturite that hinted at velvety depth. Highly elegant, still very fresh and cleanly-defined with rich succulent detail that imparted very fine open fleeting intensity and linearity, tapering to a controlled finish with understated excitement within pliant tannins.

2003 BOND Melbury, courtesy of Mel. Deep garnet core. Lush luxuriant nose of ripe red fruits, sweet dark currants and bramble, complemented by a perfumed summer bloom amid overtones of saddle. Medium-full. Surprisingly supple and pliant even though its  rich creamy smooth tannins still carry traces of vanillin with exciting intensity and verve.

2009 Araujo Eisele Vineyard, courtesy of Russ. Deep garnet core with some early evolution. Very Bordeaux-like on the nose where black fruits and dark currants dominate with splashes of red. Highly sleek and supple, seamlessly structured with exciting tannins, displaying immaculate proportions with great sophistication but still rather tightly coiled. Destined for greatness.

2007 Shafer Hillside Select, courtesy of Kieron. Very dark and surprisingly restrained on the nose though there is obviously plenty lurking beneath. Massively structured, richly layered with glowing black fruits that exude that unique dash of sweetness and overtones of eucalyptus that is almost a signature of Napa cabernet. Almost hedonistic though its tannins are relatively understated. Still tight.

2007 Opus One, courtesy of Sandy. Dark. Full intense aromas of black fruits, sweet anise and cassis. Equally intense as well on the palate, richly layered with tightly coiled dark fruits and currants. Generously proportioned though the tannins are well managed, oozing with some attractive sweetness to counter the distinct alcoholic heat. A tad austere. Best to lay down for another decade, at least.

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Mar 2021: 2004 Latour, 2007 Tignanello, 2015 Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay, 1998 Pichon Longueville Comtesse Lalande, 1996 Leoville Las-Cases, 2007 Suduiraut, 2005 Bouchard Vos-Romanée Malconsorts, 2011 Duroche Charmes-Chambertin…

March 31, 2021

2019 Louis Jadot Mâcon-Villages. Popped and poured at home, 01 Mar 2021. Cool clean icing and vanillin on the nose with a dash of morning dew and fresh grassy elements. Highly poised and collected on the medium-full palate, laced with understated acidity and intensity of ripe orchard fruit. Superbly proportioned and quite seamlessly integrated without calling attention to itself. Whereas the excellent 2017 blazes with chiseled white tones, the 2019 is all about regal elegance. Most excellent.

2007 Domaine Joseph Drouhin Beaune Clos des Mouches 1er Rouge. Popped and poured at Burlamacco Ristorante (Stanley St) on 04 Mar 2021. Well-evolved rusty red, proffering raspberries, ripe wild berries and bramble on the nose and palate with fair abundance. Shows excellent fullness and layering, exuding sweet overtones of herbal elements, mocha and licorice amid dark plummy tones, a little thin towards the finish at first though it eventually fleshed out very well with a passing burliness that suits its origin. At its drinking best.

Champagne Leon Launois Brut Cuvée Réservée NV. Popped and poured over dimsum at Jade Palace, 07 Mar 2021. Excellent presence of intense clear citrus on an understated chalky base that saturate the palate with fine clarity, layering and minerally depth. Still tight.

2007 Tignanello. Double-decanted for ninety minutes at home before bringing over to Corner Grill, 09 Mar 2021. Darkly coloured. Deep plummy nose with sweet overtones and traces of ash. Open with lovely fullness, imbued with very fine presence of warm ripe berries, dark cherries and currants framed by relaxed sweet supple tannins that impart silky smooth textures, displaying excellent balance and grip as it tapered to dryish finish. Approaching its peak.

2006 Champagne Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Rosé, courtesy of LF at Imperial Treasure Great World, 11 Mar 2021. Tangerines, peaches and grapefruit on the nose, highly effusive and aromatic. Beautifully open with refined acidity and a rounded dry intensity, mellowing after some time to reveal excellent presence of cool fruit that lingered long after its finish. Excellent.

2008 Champagne Pol Roger, courtesy of Raymond at Imperial Treasure Great World, 11 Mar 2021. Highly attractive bouquet of citrus fruits and bitter lemon amid a soft yeasty pungency. Slightly steely on the palate as its dry minerally presence took hold with fine precision, aided by excellent clarity and acidity that developed into a lovely crystalline glow within the expanse of white fruits. Excellent.

1996 Pahlmeyer Chardonnay, courtesy of Sir Bob. Decanted on-site at Imperial Treasure Great World, 11 Mar 2021. Deeply coloured, proffering a faint whiff of mandarins while the palate is softly layered with apricot and cool tones that oozed with some sweetness, displaying excellent presence with fine acidity and intensity that culminated in a minty glow with a trace of minerally glare. Just past its prime.

2006 Kistler Stone Flat Vineyard, courtesy of Sir Bob. Decanted on-site at Imperial Treasure Great World, 11 Mar 2021. Quite effusive in its burnished perfumed floral fragrance, forwardly balanced and full with some juicy sweetness amidst dominant ferrous elements. Well integrated but a tad short.

2015 Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay, courtesy of Sir Bob. Decanted on-site at Imperial Treasure Great World, 11 Mar 2021. Pale. Forward nose of peaches and tropical fruits. Medium-full. Wonderfully lithe, elegant and rounded. Imbued with cool fruit and delicate textures that yielded fine detail and freshness. Beautifully proportioned and poised with impeccable balance. Very Burgundian. Superb.

2015 Domaine Ponsot Saint-Romain Cuvée de la Mesange, courtesy of Raymond at Imperial Treasure Great World, 11 Mar 2021. Full presence of chiseled chalky minerals topped with icing amid a certain oiliness, displaying superb density of citrus fruit with open clarity and detail. Excellent.

2016 Meerlust Rubicon. Aired in bottle for three hours prior at Imperial Treasure Great World, 11 Mar 2021. Purplish with a hint of evolution. Well layered with very fine presence of raspberries and currants, displaying great balance and superb acidity, just a tad forward.

2000 Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste. Aired in bottle for three hours prior at Imperial Treasure Great World, 11 Mar 2021. Reductive tones dominate with a lovely earthy pungency. Open with classic Bordeaux textures, not quite as dry as northern Pauillac can be but positively glowing with superb presence of delicious rounded black fruit. Quite glorious.

2005 Bouchard Père et Fils Vosne-Romanée Aux Malconsorts 1er, courtesy of Kieron at Imperial Treasure Great World, 11 Mar 2021. Crimson. Open with a lovely fullness of ripe red fruits. Highly supple and refined, superbly integrated and balanced with fresh acidity. Distinctly feminine, as is usual with Bouchard. Very beautifully nuanced.

2011 Domaine Duroche Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru, courtesy of LF at Imperial Treasure Great World, 11 Mar 2021. Deeply coloured with a lovely lift of haw and rose petals, a perfect complement to the layered expanse of sweet red fruits and red plums underscored by a deeper vein of darker fruit that added further dimension. Excellent.

2015 Domaine Coquard-Loison-Fleurot Échezeaux Grand Cru, courtesy of LF at Imperial Treasure Great World, 11 Mar 2021. Clear ruby. Dominant minty tones on the nose. The palate is richly imbued with an excellent expanse of gloriously ripe fruit that exude a lush velvety warmth with youthful verve. Exciting stuff but I’d wait for several more years.

Champagne Bollinger R.D. 2004, courtesy of Russ at Yoshi, 13 Mar 2021. Delicate clear yellow citrus dominate amid traces of green fruits, gently seducing the senses whilst the palate is richly layered with superb intensity and definition of fruit that exude great clarity and lift, laced with sublime acidity and a hint of cordite, developing a rounded glow of crème de la crème over time. Outstanding.

2012 Domaine Joseph Drouhin Puligny-Montrachet Les Folatières 1er at Yoshi, 13 Mar 2021. Beautifully delicate on the nose, proffering gentle notes of chalk and floral elements with a dash of citrus. More expansive and weighty on the palate where its rich creamy smooth texture is supported by a lovely glowing depth with just the right degree of intensity. Drouhin, as usual, is very correctly nuanced. Excellent.

2013 Domaine Roulot Auxey-Duresses 1er, courtesy of Russ at Yoshi, 13 Mar 2021. Classic Roulot signature of high-toned clear citrus that pierce the senses with extreme focus and intensity, fleshing out with further expanse of white tones laced with sleek acidity. Excellent potential, though still rather tight at this stage.

2005 Domaine Fourrier Gevrey-Chambertin Les Cherbaudes Vieilles Vigne 1er, courtesy of Russ at Yoshi, 13 Mar 2021. Evolved with secondary characteristics of mature red fruits that exude a delicious fragrance with quiet intensity, gently layered on a deeper streak of dark fruits with further notes of haw and a dash of earthiness. Very beautifully nuanced.

Yoshi

2008 Château Guadet. Popped and poured at Yoshi, 13 Mar 2021. Deep ruby. Surprisingly complex bouquet of mocha, diesel, earth, dark fruits and currants. Medium-full. Beautifully sleek with a rounded suppleness, flashing an intense acidic streak that gave way to warm velvety tones, showing good balance though it tapered off quite abruptly towards the finish.

2016 Le Petit Haut Lafitte, popped and poured at home over two days 15-16 Mar 2021. Quite deeply coloured, carrying enough weight and supple presence of raspberries, dark plums, briar and ripe wild berries that open with fine agility to reveal chewy gritty detail, imparting a mouth-puckering imprint. Measures up to its grand vin.

2007 Château Suduiraut, a half-bottle popped and poured at Ka Soh on 20 Mar 2021 to go with the Chinese food rather than treating it as a dessert wine. Quite heavily coloured. Effusive in dense apricot, burnt sugar, nectarine and grapefruit with some diesel overtones. Lightened up slightly with a more even tone, displaying excellent acidity and refined intensity with controlled proportions and sweetness, eventually firming up with full gleaming presence. Excellent.

2017 Domaine Jean-Philippe Fichet Bourgogne Vieilles Vignes. Popped and poured at home, 21 Mar 2021. Rather lightly-coloured and restrained. More forthcoming on the palate where delicate high-toned clear citrus dominate amid equally bright minerally elements with a deft touch within a rather narrow spectrum of flavours, though seemingly tight. Whereas this used to be a hugely exuberant bourgogne blanc, the overall impression now is one of reluctance. Let’s hope it’s just going through an awkward phase.

2011 Champagne Pierre Peters Cuvée Spéciale Les Chétillons. Popped and poured at Empire, 24 Mar 2021. Pale. Generous lifted aromas of clear citrus with white incense. Possesses excellent freshness and zest with a lovely fullness and intensity, imbued with subtle minerally elements amid the refined acidity and crisp bubbles that coat the palate with fine definition. Perhaps my best encounter of this vintage of Les Chétillons.

2015 Vega-Sicilia Tinto Valbuena 5o, courtesy of Hiok. Popped and poured at Empire, 24 Mar 2021. Deep opaque purple, proffering broad swathes of vanillin and enamel though, surprisingly, only medium-full on the palate where its open fleshiness was quite engaging, aided by sleek acidity and fine linearity as it tapered to a quiet finish. Not ready.

1999 Château Quinault L’Enclos, courtesy of KP. Popped and poured at Empire, 24 Mar 2021. Deep garnet core. Still rather minty and mentholic on the nose though highly supple and open with quite an even tone on the medium-bodied palate.

1998 Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, courtesy of WCY. Popped and poured at Empire, 24 Mar 2021. Dark crimson. Absolutely beguiling on the nose where feminine aromas of red fruits and tertiary characters dominate with a soft effusive earthiness, exuding a lovely supple presence with a gentle layered depth, showing great balance and seamless integration with a classic vegetal tinge that is so highly characteristic of Pichon Lalande (though there isn’t any petit verdot in this vintage), only marred by a short finish. But nobody is complaining given that this wine has so much to offer. Beautiful. Caught at its peak.

2004 Château Ducru Beaucaillou. Aired in bottle for 2-3 hours in advance at Empire, 24 Mar 2021. Deep purplish hue. Surprisingly reticent on the nose and medium-bodied palate where the fruit is set slightly backwards, resulting in a narrower presence. Well balanced but rather nondescript with not much depth too, eventually fleshing out in the glass with some velvetiness though it remained unconvincing. Disappointing.

1996 Château Leoville Las-Cases, courtesy of Vic. Popped and poured at Empire, 24 Mar 2021. Deep garnet red with a crimson rim. Suave presence of predominant red fruits amid traces of green capsicum with an attractive pungency, exuding a warm supple ripeness within a frame of sweet velvety tannins. Quite richly layered though it doesn’t exert any kind of lush succulence, preferring to tease the medium-full palate with fleeting depth and deft intensity. Excellent.

2004 Château Latour, courtesy of The Professor. Decanted on-site at Empire, 24 Mar 2021. Deep garnet red, exerting a warm ripeness and supple fullness. Quite richly layered with sweet undertones, open with lovely balance and seamless integration. Not the most profound nor structured of Latour but it is drinking beautifully.

2016 Serafini & Vidotto Il Rosso dell’Abazia. Aired in bottle for four hours prior at home, 28 Mar 2021. This is showing so much better than a previous bottle last month, now correctly nuanced and balanced in its abundance of black fruits and dark currants tinged with a hint of haw, adequately supple, displaying some inner detail of crushed raspberries with fine structure and intensity. Drinking well but it really needs plenty of time.

2012 Château Moulin Saint-Georges. Aired in bottle for three hours prior to dinner at Corner Grill, 30 Mar 2021. Predominance of dark fruits, somewhat reticent but ample on the palate, displaying excellent concentration with a slight velvety tinge. Well integrated with sleek acidity and structure, carrying a distinct dash of heat at first in spite of all that aeration before gelling together after four hours, revealing detailed red plums with an open chewy intensity. Good finish but still not ready. Wait another 5-8 years, at least.

Invited review: Dr Kieron Lim writes on an exclusive tasting of Comte Liger-Belair

March 27, 2021

In his second invited review, Dr Kieron Lim, whose astute palate and impeccable taste are held in high esteem by vignerons and oenophiles alike, recounts about a fabulous afternoon…

On the second Saturday of March 2021, a few lucky individuals assembled at one of my favourite restaurants in Singapore to taste a flight of wines from Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair – affectionately known as “CLB” to its legion of die-hard fans. As a testament to the seriousness of this tasting, there was a compulsory tutorial before the first drop of wine was poured. This delayed gratification provided us with important facts on the history and terroir of the domaine, including nuggets of trivia about CLB, thus enhancing the appreciation of the wines which followed. Allow me to provide a succinct summary of the tutorial:

From 1815, the Liger-Belair family held important stakes amongst the grand crus of La Tâche, La Romanée, La Grande Rue, Clos de Vougeot and Chambertin, along with a smattering of Vosne-Romanée premier crus including Malconsorts, Chaumes, Reignots, Suchots and Brulées. Due to complex succession and inheritance issues, the whole domaine was sold at auction in 1933. Fortunately, the family managed to save La Romanée along with their holdings of Reignots and Chaumes. In 2000, Vicomte Louis-Michel Liger-Belair wanted to rebuild the family domaine and began taking back the prized plots it now possesses. The end of CLB’s commercial contract in 2006 with Bouchard Père & Fils to distribute a proportion of La Romanée saw CLB once again proudly produce and bottle its crown jewel – the monopole of La Romanée Grand Cru.

Armed with new knowledge, the green light was given for the wines to be served. The excitement and anticipation was palpable. All the wines were sourced from abroad three months earlier to “rest” prior to this tasting.  All bottles were popped at 11.45 AM and aired in bottle for about an hour.

2012 Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair Vosne-Romanée La Colombiere

0.78 hectares / Average age of vines 70 years / Production 3300 bottles

Bright ruby. Clean, correct and “modern” on the nose, “airy” with abundant red fruit and soft floral notes. Medium-bodied, imbued with fresh acidity. Very enjoyable but rather short on the finish. Outstanding quality for a village. Drinking well.

2011 Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair Vosne-Romanée Clos du Chateau

0.83 hectares / Average age of vines 50 years / Production 3500 bottles

This monopole appears more cloudy and evolved on the rim compared with the preceding wine, but it was ironically more closed on both the nose and palate. Typical Vosne spice greets you at the first whiff though rather shy and reserved. A nicer mouthfeel and density than La Colombiere, but sharing the trait of a slightly abrupt finish. A deceptive village wine from a challenging vintage.

2010 Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair Nuits-Saint-Georges Aux Cras 1er

0.38 hectares / Average age of vines 95 years / Production 900 bottles

What an amazing nose! Imagine crushed red fruit, rose petals, minerals, and some sauvage thrown in the mix – all wonderfully wrapped in lush cashmere! The palate doesn’t disappoint either. While the tannins are still noticeable, they are in perfect harmony with the dark red fruit countered by refreshing acidity, displaying great density with a persistent finish. It was showing perfectly but I suspect it rewards those who can resist pulling the cork on this 2010 beauty. What a superb NSG!  Kudos.

2006 Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair Vosne-Romanée Aux Reignots 1er

0.73 hectares / Average age of vines 80 years (33%), 60 years (33%), mix of 40 and 20 years (33%) / Production 2100 bottles. The vines in this vineyard run from top to bottom whereas the others are situated in segments; Cathiard is on top, Grivot in the middle and Arnoux at the bottom

The Reignots was evidently a step up from the preceding wines. This possesses the lightest hue of the entire lineup. Superb bouquet of rose petals and muted spice, highly elegant and fresh – almost akin to Romanée-Saint-Vivant. Pure, precise and proper, not a hair out of place. After that knockout nose, the palate disappointed slightly with a rather austere entry and mouth-puckering acidity. The finish was persistent albeit a little one-dimensional. While many 2006s are drinking beautifully now, this adolescent may need more time to mature and integrate. Yet to peak.

2011 Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair Échezeaux Grand Cru

0.62 hectares / Average age of vines 70 years / Production 1800 bottles

Deeply coloured, hinting at the abundance of fruit lurking beneath. Muted at first, but vigorous swirling released reluctant aromas of dark red fruit, earth and spice. Lush and rich on the entry. A brooding structure hits the senses first, followed by broad sweeping luxurious waves of complex flavours that impart fabulous mouthfeel. Superb finish. I can’t imagine how amazing it will be in ten years. If only I had a few bottles squirrelled away.

Finally, the pièce de résistance – a vertical of the domaine’s monopole of La Romanée Grand Cru. At 0.85 hectares, this is the smallest grand cru of all Burgundy with an annual production of only 3000 bottles. The vines, at an average age of 75 years, are planted in North-South orientation, facilitating more even exposure to both morning and afternoon sun which, in turn, translates into greater intensity of fruit. Several other top growths are also planted likewise: Cros Parantoux, La Grande Rue, La Tâche, Clos des Lambrays and Clos de Tart. This final trio was tasted concurrently:

2006 Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair La Romanée Grand Cru

Distinctly aristocratic and sophisticated on the nose, oozing class and breed. Still tightly coiled, but it’s all there: spice, macerated dark berries, violets. I could not stop smiling as I nosed this wine. Dense dark fruit, medium to full-bodied and wonderfully balanced. It has that crescendo I look for in wines of pedigree as it hovers on your palate. Then it just plateaus and persists after it leaves your palate. Truly amazing now, and it will just get better! This gets my vote as the top wine of the entire tasting. Wow.

2007 Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair La Romanée Grand Cru

The lightest coloured of the trio. Are we tasting the same wine? But never judge a book by its cover. The 2007 possesses the most complex nose of the trio. Inviting, open, effortless and classy with an assured confidence. There is no need for any loud theatrics – it shines by virtue of its exquisite elegance, medium-bodied frame and balance. Drinking perfectly and simply on fire today. A shade behind the 2006, but it outperforms the 2008 by a mile.

2008 Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair La Romanée Grand Cru

The youngest La Romanée was caught in an awkward spot. Reluctant despite vigorous swirling, yielding only small hints of what its older 2006 sibling has in abundance. Medium to full-bodied. Slightly clumsy, displaying firm tannins and some earthy salinity with the shortest finish of the trio (although there is still very respectable length). I may be a little harsh on the 2008, but the preceding two wines left me with very lofty expectations! Hope to re-visit this wine in the future.  

This incredible line up of wines clearly demonstrates why Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair is so highly revered among oenophiles. Their tireless pursuit of perfection coupled with miniscule supply fuels the insatiable global demand and ensuing eye-popping prices. These factors propel their meteoric rise and cult following it now enjoys. In my humble opinion, Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair sits at the same high table of burgundy alongside Domaine de la Romanée Conti, Domaine Leroy & Domaine Armand Rousseau. 

1990 D.R.C. Échezeaux, 1985 Haut-Brion, 1992 Comtes Lafon Meursault, 1995 Latour, 1990 Montrose…

March 20, 2021

I enjoyed the privilege of a great evening in the company of people who didn’t mind pushing the boat out for a regular meet-up at the Shangri-la Singapore on 17 March 2021. The wines speak for themselves. I only need to thank my host for having me in mind, and to everyone for their generous contributions.

1996 Champagne Dom Pérignon, courtesy of K. Reticent at first, yielding more of delicate yeast on the nose with gentle depth after some time. The palate is still remarkably tight with a dry minerally intensity imbued with distinct ferrous elements, opening up in the glass with more of white smoke and dense yellow citrus as it took on a gleaming chalkiness. Excellent.

2017 Hospices de Beaune Meursault-Charmes Cuvée de Bahezre de Lanlay 1er. Poured from magnum. Its relative pallor belies a superb lift of effusive floral aromas and tangy detail, stinging the palate with a lithe fleeting intensity of white citrus and complex tropical fruit that carried tremendous verve, generously layered with superb clarity, integration and supple acidity topped with cool icing as it finished in a blaze of peppery white glow. Bouchard has nailed it beautifully. Outstanding now, clearly destined for greatness.

1992 Domaine des Comtes Lafon Meursault, courtesy of W. Rounded stately tones with mature crème de la crème emanate from golden hues. Medium-bodied. Rather reserved and polite at first, gradually warming up to reveal fine citrusy detail within a deeper vein of poised tropical fruits, more sprightly as it eventually fleshed out with unrestrained depth and agile intensity. Superb.

1985 Château Haut-Brion, courtesy of K. Poured from magnum. This wine exudes a most alluring soft earthy pungency amid further traces of oriental medicinal powder. Generously layered with moderate depth of fruit that exerts a fleshy suppleness and lithe acidity that teased the palate with great presence and agility, its melted tannins offering excellent transparency. Very naturally balanced and still remarkably fresh. Caught at its peak. Superb.

1990 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Échezeaux Grand Cru, courtesy of T. Evolved ruby, proffering an effusive perfumed fragrance of red fruits and rose petals tinged with haw that is simply quite beguiling. The fully mature palate boasts refined acidity that is still remarkably fresh, infused with lithe supple tangerines – the unmistakable hallmark of D.R.C. – that finished with superb glowing persistence. Excellent.

1995 Château Latour, courtesy of KM. Deep ruby. Open with a classic glow of mature claret that exudes quiet charm. The palate is highly supple and agile, layered with a gentle velvety depth of succulent red fruits that exert understated power with a relaxed feel. Not showy at all in spite of its obvious joie de vivre, impeccably proportioned and balanced albeit within a slightly narrower frame than usual for Latour, proffering a more subdued masculinity. Drinking superbly now, and will hold for many more years.

1990 Château Montrose, courtesy of D. A superb complex of red plums, ripe cherries and red roses sprang from its glowing ruby depth with unbridled lift and intensity, laced with an irresistible pungent earthiness that yielded great detail within the abundant layers of glorious fruit supported by sublime acidity, still unbelievably youthful as it traversed the palate with tremendous verve, effortless grace and supreme elegance, superbly proportioned and balanced in spite of its obvious power. Seemingly immortal, for this is distinctly more youthful, agile and energetic than a previous bottle tasted ten years earlier. Still far from peak maturity. Amazing!

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Online With Pauline & Edouard Vauthier: 2012 Château Simard, 2012 Château Ausone, 2012 Chapelle d’Ausone

March 12, 2021

The good guys at The Vintage Club, Singapore, kindly extended an invitation to me to attend a tasting across Zoom of the 2012 wines of the Vauthier family on 10 March 2021 with Pauline and Eduoard Vauthier, the current proprietors. I’ve had the privilege of visiting Château Ausone twice, in 2016 (hosted by Pauline) and 2019 (hosted by her brother Edouard) and it was really good to have a live meet-up with these two wonderful persons again. For many, myself included, Château Ausone represents the pinnacle of Saint-Ëmilion. Located at a high point just south of the village overlooking the King’s Tower, only 18,000-24,000 bottles of Château Ausone are produced annually from just 7 hectares of vines planted on a mixture of limestone and clay soils at a density of 12,000 vines per hectare. Even fewer of its second label, the Chapelle d’Ausone, are produced, only some 5,000-9,000 bottles annually, thus accounting for the relative scarcity of Ausone on the secondary market. The estate has adopted organic viticultural techniques since 2005, becoming fully certified in 2020.  There is more cabernet franc at 70% with the remainder merlot although in bottle, the blend is usually about 60-40 proportion. The average age of the vines is 60 years with the oldest being planted in 1906 (cabernet franc). The château avoids pumping, preferring to move the wine into fermentation vats via gravity.

Pauline & Edouard Vauthier over Zoom

Any visit to Château Ausone would usually include a tasting of Château Simard, an estate formerly belonging to a relative which has been incorporated into the Vauthier portfolio since 2007. Made from 75% cabernet franc (which ripens well in today’s warmer climate) and 25% merlot grown on sandy soils with some clay and vinified largely in concrete vats, this wine is clearly made for early drinking. The 2012 Château Simard, harvested especially late in October 2012, shows up as dusty crimson with red plums and ripe dark berries amid earthy tones on the nose, developing an effusive rosy fragrance over time with lovely characters of wild flowers in bloom. Rather softly rounded on the palate with fruit that is set a little backward with a dash of vegetal tinge, structured with silky smooth tannins and fine acidity. Drinking well.

Edouard Vauthier aspirating the 2018 grand vin from barrel (June 2019)

The 2012 Chapelle d’Ausone, a blend of 60% cabernet franc, 25% merlot and 15% cabernet sauvignon from younger vines aged about 15 years vinified in lightly toasted new oak for 20 months, appears rather opaque with some bricking. Shy at first, this wine proffers only glimpses of dark roses, haw and summer fragrance though eventually growing in confidence, exuding a distinct feminine glow that is very correct. The medium-full palate is rather brightly lit with a predominance of red fruits, very sleek and rounded with seamlessly integrated acidity that imparted good verve and balance, finishing well.

In comparison, the 2012 Château Ausone, showing a deep garnet red, is equally shy, allowing only glimpses of floral fragrance with a touch of vanillin, taking its time to develop a gentle glow of wild berries and haw, becoming more dimensional on the nose. The medium-bodied palate is imbued with very good presence of red fruits and currants that exude a certain warmth, greatly enhanced by the superb balance between the fruit and minerally elements, seamlessly integrated with well-resolved tannins and fine acidity, finishing with excellent linearity and persistence. Not showy at all. Clearly a wine that would reward further cellaring patience even as it is approaching its drinking window.

Many thanks again, Pauline and Edouard and Vintage, for your time and the privilege. Merci!