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2011 Bouchard Chev-Montrachet La Cabotte, 2003 Château Rayas, 1978 Château Latour, 1999 Romanée-Conti Romanée- St-Vivant

January 23, 2020

I had the distinct privilege of being invited by Wendy to dinner on 19 January 2020 at her amazing residence. I thought I had arrived at an Aman resort. No theme was set but the line-up turned out to be quite superlative and, to my surprise, went very well with the exquisite Indonesian cuisine that was never heavy on the palate. All wines were popped on site and aired in bottle, with the exception of the Rayas that Wendy had popped earlier as well as the D.R.C. that required decanting as we thought there wouldn’t be sufficient time for aeration. All wines came courtesy of the wonderful hostess herself, unless otherwise stated. Terima kasih banyak banyak Wendy, and to everyone else for your generous contributions. I can’t wait for the next dinner.

2003 Dom Perignon Rosé. Deeply coloured, proffering a deep yeasty tones on the nose amid grapefruit and tangerines that extend to the palate with smooth presence, displaying fine concentration and depth with a bit of minerally shine, finishing well with gentle ferrous undertones.

2011 Bouchard Pere et Fils Chevalier-Montrachet La Cabotte Grand Cru, courtesy of Kieron. This wine hits the correct notes right from the outset, exuding a gleaming crystalline tone of white flowers and creme de la crème matched by an subtle expanse of refined chalkiness and complex citrus that traverse the palate with superb open sleek acidity, displaying great presence and balance in spite of its understated elegance. Developed a fuller tone over time with further notes of white pepper whilst maintaining its regal poise, supremely confident. Entirely consistent with what one would expect of Chevalier-Montrachet, particularly from the very special 0.21 ha of La Cabotte that, in the old days, was actually classified as part of Montrachet itself. One of the very best efforts of Bouchard. Outstanding.

2003 Château Rayas. Unique lift of tangerines, mature red fruits, plums, cherries and rose petals on the nose, beautifully seductive. Softly rounded and delicious with earthy tones and textures reminiscent of oxide, open with excellent detail, finishing in a mentholic glow amid traces of spice. Distinctly feminine. One drinks the distilled essence of Nature. Outstanding.

1999 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée-Saint-Vivant Grand Cru, courtesy of Trijono. Still darkly coloured. Somewhat restrained initially, proffering just enamel before snapping into focus with a sharp lift of dark currants, raspberries and mulberries, opening up further on the palate with a deep core of supple tangerines (always a hallmark of this estate) amid an even spread of wild berries, maintaining an overall darkish demeanour. Still imbued with excellent concentration and lively acidity, perhaps even yet to really hit its peak, a testimony to the longevity of this stellar vintage.

1978 Château Latour, courtesy of Keith. Still showing an opaque deep garnet core, exuding a distinctly mature nose of green capsicum with a gentle earthiness marked by forest characters and bramble. Open with great suppleness, revealing excellent concentration of delicious red fruits and currants within soft pliant melted tannins, still amazingly fresh with lively acidity. Absolutely harmonious, finishing very well.

1999 Weingut Egon Müller Scharzhofberger Auslese. From a half bottle. Classic characters of diesel and petroleum fumes dominate on the nose. Medium-bodied. Rounded with a subdued presence of apricot and modest nectarine, showing good transparency but missing the density and depth of the best examples of Egon Müller, a tad short as well.

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Dec 2019: 1991 Leflaive Bâtard-Bienvenues, 1979 Veuve Cliquot Rosé, 1969 Vega Sicilia, 1990 Cos D’Estournel, 2004 La Conseillante, 2007 Domaine Ponsot Clos de la Roche VV, 2017 Château de Chamirey Mercurey Blanc…

January 21, 2020

2004 Ch Latour-a-Pomerol, popped and poured at Ka Soh, 01 Dec 2019. Dark cherries and ripe wild berries dominate with very good concentration and presence against a backdrop of dusty textures, structured with sweet tannins. Darkly delicious, finishing with very fine acidity and intensity.

1991 Domaine Leflaive Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru, courtesy of Sir Robert at Iggy’s, 03 Dec 2019. Tasted blind. Deep dull golden hue. Restrained, almost shut on the nose though there is a fine presence of delicate lithe citrus on the palate amidst dominant graphite minerals, almost stern. Became even more minerally over time as the fruit became more recessed, softening with an emerging white floral tone glow with traces of mint and capsicum, showing fine acidity. I hit the absolute bull’s eye. Perfect to drink up now.

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Iggy’s

1979 Veuve Cliquot Ponsardin Rosé, courtesy of Sir Robert at Iggy’s, 03 Dec 2019. Very dark orangey hue, proffering burnt toast, aged grapefruit and dried mushrooms amid Chinese medicinal tones and ferrous elements. Still rather full, imbued with excellent concentration of distant red fruits, acidity and dry intensity within a body of very fine bubbles that tapered to a firm confident finish. Still astonishingly youthful. Excellent.

1999 Domaine du Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru at Iggy’s, 03 Dec 2019. Aged tint. Reticent in recessed chalk. Equally reserved with distant fruit on the medium-bodied palate, displaying more overtones of green capsicum and white pepper, seamlessly integrated with subtle intensity as it finished with white floral tones.

2001 Kistler Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, courtesy of Sir Robert at Iggy’s, 03 Dec 2019. Tasted blind. Darker shade, delivering delicious ripe dark cherries and currants with a fleshy juicy presence, displaying very fine acidity and intensity, slightly more forwardly balanced, underscored by a deeper streak of dark fruits and glycerol. Just a tad short. Again I guessed it correctly.

1990 Domaine Jacques Prieur Clos Vougeot Grand Cru, courtesy of LF at Iggy’s, 03 Dec 2019. Beautiful crimson hue, exuding a gentle earthy pungency. Medium-bodied, displaying very fine fruit quality with some gritty inner detail and subtle acidity but not distinctive enough. Bit short.

2007 Domaine Ponsot Clos de la Roche Vieilles Vignes Grand Cru, courtesy of Kieron at Iggy’s, 03 Dec 2019. Great colour. Superb presence of red cherries that display great purity and transparency, medium-full, very subtly concentrated and lithe with a bit of smoky intensity, revealing great inner detail though still fairly tight. Absolutely harmonious. Delicious.

1969 Vega Sicilia Unico, courtesy of Vic at Iggy’s, 03 Dec 2019. Glorious deep crimson. Astonishing freshness and purity of red fruits, mulberries and currant. Rounded and fleshy with lovely velvety textures, still imbued with excellent concentration and layering. Open with superb detail, traversing the palate with great linearity to its long persistent finish amid traces of charcoal. Outstanding.

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Labyrinth

De Bortoli Family Selection Semillon Chardonnay, tasted at Changi Airport T3 Gold Lounge, 05 Dec 2019. Generous attractive bouquet of peaches, lime and tropical fruits. Good presence and transparency, underscored by chalky ferrous minerals. Slightly stern. Very decent.

2005 Ch D’Aiguilhe, popped and poured at Asia Grand, 12 Dec 2019. Very deep impenetrable purple. Dense bouquet of dark plums, black currants and liquorice with mild medicinal and menthol tones. Full-bodied, displaying great concentration of black fruits with overtones of bush, briar and bramble on a rich cedary floor, structured with well-managed sweet tannins. Imbued with superb acidity and sleek graphite minerals, developing some early complexity. Finally becoming approachable.

2005 Ch Les Carmes Haut Brion, decanted on-site at Bedrock Bar & Grill, 16 Dec 2019. Deep garnet red. Some initial bottle stink that, thankfully, gave way to glowing dark plums, ember, pine and other savoury characters. Medium-bodied, displaying clean and controlled presence of dark fruits with fine acidity, fairly open and supple with a bit of gentle biting intensity, fleshing out with more Pessac character of earthy forest floor over time although it could not quite totally expel that bit of funkiness that still pervaded. Not quite the most pristine of bottles, I’m afraid.

Champagne Louis Roederer NV, a pair from the list of Labyrinth, 20 Dec 2019. Dense bouquet of smoky characters and yeast. Imbued with excellent concentration of lime and citrus that imparted great intensity, zest and freshness, finishing with notes of pomelo, bitter lemon and firm graphite elements. Very fine.

2008 Domaine Jean & Jean-Louis Trapet Gevrey-Chambertin, popped and poured at Labyrinth, 20 Dec 2019. Evolved orangey crimson that exuded tangerines, soft red fruits and cherries. Medium-bodied. Bright and supple with clean focused acidity, gently layered with ferrous minerals. Good intensity, linearity and finish. Still youthful.

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Limited edition label of 2004 La Conseillante

2004 Ch La Conseillante, a pair from the list of Labyrinth, 20 Dec 2019. Glorious deep garnet red, proffering a luxuriant dark plummy glow with overtones of soy, dark cherries and currants. Great concentration and suppleness, layered with sublime acidity and delicious depth on a floor of subtle ferrous elements, showing some early complexity at the finish. This wine has fleshed out with more presence, depth and character than previous encounters in 2010, 2012 and 2015. Still far from peaking. Excellent.

2017 Château de Chamirey Mercurey Blanc, popped and poured at Gattopardo, 23 Dec 2019. Flinty gentle minerally characters on the nose and palate. Lovely delicate tones, becoming more lifted and brighter over time as it fleshed out with greater intensity of clear citrus. Very good acidity and refinement, fanning out with expansive white floral tone and chalk along with emerging apricot, pineapples and tropical fruits before tapering to a finish of green capsicum, nutmeg and exotic spices. Hard to believe this is just village. Outstanding value.

Champagne Egly-Ouriet Blanc de Noirs Grand Cru, popped and poured over lunch at Otto Ristorante, 24 Dec 2019. Gentle attractive yeasty bouquet. Excellent fullness and concentration, layered with complex citrus and pomelo with an attractive minerally depth, fleshing out with dry intensity.

2011 Coldstream Hills Reserve Chardonnay, popped and poured over lunch at Crab At Bay, 25 Dec 2019. Pale. Good presence of lean citrus, very cleanly delineated with sharp precision on the palate, layered with stony minerals and dry ferrous elements that added further austerity.

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Bak chor-mee by Labyrinth

2008 Reynella Basket Pressed Shiraz, popped and poured over dinner, 25 Dec 2019. Dark impenetrable red. Open, fleshy and supple with a predominance of warm ripe dark plummy fruit, currants and liquorice that impart mild medicinal tones. Grew tighter with greater intensity over time, laced with ripe cedary characters. Not ready.

2002 Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet Les Pucelles 1er, courtesy of MH at Tang Yun, 27 Dec 2019. Luminous, proffering a hint of old leather and recessed chalk on the nose though open with sweet expanse on the palate, very lively in its sublime acidity with controlled zest that imparted excellent mouth-puckering excitement, mellowing after some time with gentle white floral tones. Lovely.

2012 Domaine Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier Nuits-Saint-Georges Clos de La Maréchale 1er Rouge at Tang Yun, 27 Dec 2019. Dark in colour and tone with characters of taut dark cherries and earthy dusty textures. Open with lovely suppleness though still rather intense, underscored by stern ferrous minerals, relaxing a little over time as it developed a glowing minty finish.

2000 Ch Branaire-Ducru, courtesy of Vic at Tang Yun, 27 Dec 2019. Deep garnet red. Great bouquet of dark red plums. Fleshy with a glowing concentration of fruit amid characters of tea leaves. Well-layered. Very sleek and lithe, not the opulent sort. Caught at its drinking peak. Lovely.

1995 Ch Calon Segur, courtesy of MH at Tang Yun, 27 Dec 2019. Deep garnet red. Rather laconic in feel even as it exudes dense characters of petroleum fumes on the nose. Medium-full. Very good presence of fruit with warm plummy tones. Quite rich, almost succulent, developing a superb earthy pungency amid traces of smoke as it opened up with good tannin detail.

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Labyrinth

1999 Ch Clos L’Eglise, courtesy of Sanjay at Tang Yun, 27 Dec 2019. Dense bouquet of dark fruits with a bit of medicinal characters marked by deeper undertones of soy. Medium-bodied. Highly fleshy and supple. Drinking well.

1986 Ch Cos D’Estournel, courtesy of John Law over lunch at The Vineyard, 29 Dec 2019. Deep crimson core. Darkish in tone, imbued with wild berries, dusty tannins and a distinct earthiness amid oxidative traces. Rather backward in fruit though its acidity is still quite fine. A little gruff. Time to drink up.

1990 Ch Cos D’Estournel, courtesy of John Law over lunch at The Vineyard, 29 Dec 2019. Opaque red with a dusky tinge but don’t let the colour fool you for this wine is drinking superbly, proffering a complex of earth, cedar, dark plums and currants within a sleek seamless body of very good concentration and depth, displaying lively acidity and great balance as it traversed the palate with superb confidence, poise and complexity. This is Cos at its very best. Outstanding.

1995 Ch Cos D’Estournel, courtesy of John Law over lunch at The Vineyard, 29 Dec 2019.  Deep garnet red, exuding a classic glow of mature claret. Still quite richly endowed with fresh vibrant fruit and sleek intense acidity with cedary overtones, structured with svelte tannins. Drinking very well.

2009 Domaine Henri Gouges Nuits-Saint-Georges Clos des Porrets-St Georges 1er monopole, popped and poured at Mak Hong Kee, 29 Dec 2019. Dull red with some evolution, displaying a full palate of ripe raspberries, dark cherries and currants. Structured with intense acidity though without the plumpness nor succulence of Les Pruliers or Vaucrains. Still far from ready though.

2003 Ch Lagrange, popped and poured at Imperial Treasure Fine Teochew, 30 Dec 2019. Superb supple concentration of dark cherries, currants and raspberries with overtones of tobacco and dry earth, open with fine acidity, lovely intensity and detail, quite seamless. Very harmonious and balanced. Developed richer tones of ripe blackberries over time, cloaked within svelte sophisticated sweet tannins. Highly successful.

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1992 & 2007 Georges de Vogüé Musigny VV, 2009 Armand Rousseau Chambertin GC, 2004 JF Mugnier Musigny, 2009 Sapience, JC Ramonet Batard 2007 & Chevalier 2011, 2006 Anne Gros Richebourg…

January 14, 2020

Alvin pulled out all the stops for his big round number bash at Jade Palace on 17 November 2019, hosting three tables and providing all the wines as well. From a large pool of top wines, guests drew lots to decide which wines would be popped at their table. But, for my table, Alvin had taken care of things, arranging a line-up that was initially blinded with foil, but what a fabulous line-up it turned out to be when the wraps were removed at the start of dinner. In the face of such generosity and mouth-watering abundance, you don’t say what’s good and what wasn’t. One is simply thankful for having Alvin as a friend. Many happy returns, Alvin, and may the drops of God continue to nourish you always.

20191117_213629.jpg2007 Champagne Agrapart Minéral Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut. Closed. Faint notes of gun smoke and yeast. Great tone of clear and yellow citrus on the palate, richly layered with a sharp accentuated lift and fine acidity on a dry minerally floor, yielding good definition. Refreshing zest, finishing with bitter lemon and pomelo.

2009 Champagne Marguet Sapience Brut Nature, courtesy of Clarence. Gorgeous bouquet of highly developed oxidative characters that suggest deep yeasty pungency, spiced pear and toast with a sharp lift. Open, bright and minerally, its vivacious nature easily apparent through the sheen of very fine bubbles. Quite excellent.

2007 Domaine Jean-Claude Ramonet Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru. Lovely luminosity. Lifted bouquet of mint, icing and vanillin. Great concentration of white fruits, carrying tremendous energy with sharp acidity, focus and definition without the plumpness. Finished with traces of white flowers, white pepper and minerals. Excellent.

2011 Domaine Jean-Claude Ramonet Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru. Tasted blind (a clean skin bottle). Pale golden. Warm enticing bouquet of buttery creaminess and smouldering ember. Wonderfully layered with superb presence, freshness and sublime acidity, very evenly toned, revealing some early complexity as the classic Ramonet signature of mint and icing emerged after some time along with more minerally tones. Still youthful. I guessed its origin correctly although I’d thought it to be the 2013. Excellent.

2007 Domaine Georges Roumier Chambolle-Musigny Les Cras 1er. Slightly darker shade of pinot, exuding an evolved tone of mulberries, raspberries, dark plums and currants with lovely purity and ripeness. Medium-full. Rather darkish in character. Very evenly-toned and supple, taking its time to reveal fine depth of highly detailed graphite minerals. Quite excellent.

20191117_204739.jpg2003 Domaine Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier Chambolle-Musigny Les Fuees 1er. Good colour. Shy at first, proffering just glimpses of cherries, ash, red fruits and some earthiness. Became more pronounced over time, developing an almost savoury character within softly structured tannins, culminating in a sweet finish. Needs more time.

2004 Domaine Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier Musigny Grand Cru. Opaque dull red with some evolution, proffering a bouquet of sweet wild berries and currants. Medium-bodied. Quite placid on the palate with subtle refined acidity but not yielding much detail, perhaps even slightly gruff. Took a really long time to open up with good expanse and layering, finally yielding fine detail with distant tones of tangerines. Not the greatest Musigny but I’ll happily drink it.

2006 Domaine Anne Gros Richebourg Grand Cru. Good colour. Dominant mentholic lift on the nose, giving way to very dark fruits with overtones of ash over time, becoming deeper and more effusive with a minerally note. Similar characters on a palate dominated by dark fruits, perhaps a tad more plummy but still rather tight and intense with a dry forward balance, structured with lithe supple tannins. Needs many more years of cellaring.

2009 Domaine Armand Rousseau Chambertin Grand Cru. Classic pinot tone and colour. Rather reserved, exuding warm gravelly tones amid dark cherries and plums. Tight but supple, showing traces of early complexity but still largely primal. Very finely balanced with an even tone of subtle acidity and intensity, layered with minerally depth. Somewhat aloof at this stage, yet to develop.

2007 Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé Musigny Vieilles Vignes Grand Cru. Good colour. Imbued with remarkable density and concentration of dark plums and blackberries. Still tight with marked intensity, as if to make up for the vintage’s deficiency. Distinctly sullen, not yielding much detail. Best to lay down.

2010 Château De La Tour Clos Vougeot Grand Cru, poured from magnum. Slightly darker shade, proffering deep generous aromas of dark cherries and currants amid overtones of incense. Medium-bodied. Lovely fragrance, freshness and intensity of fruit. Delicious.

1992 Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé Musigny Vieilles Vignes Grand Cru, a magnum courtesy of Jade Palace’s Mr Ho from the restaurant’s library stock, literally popped and poured at the spur of the moment. Deep effusive bouquet of dark fruits currants with overtones of old leather. Forwardly balanced, displaying excellent presence of savoury characters that conferred great acidity and verve, structured with masculine tones. Highly attractive.

2010 Weingut Markus Molitor Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Trockenbeerenauslese. Superb bouquet, exuding a classic diesel quality underscored by intense tropical fruits, pineapples and nectarines Quite full. Open with wonderful depth of intensity as it stretched out smoothly with great linearity all the way to its lasting finish.

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Robert Ampeau, JC Ramonet, JM Pillot, Bertagna, Seguin-Manuel, Georges Lignier, Arnoux-Lachaux, Arlaud, de L’Arlot…

January 8, 2020

20191124_142600.jpgDomaine Wines organised a day-long Burgundy seminar on 24 November 2019 at Jade Palace, Singapore, that lasted from 1030h to 1800h tutored by arguably the doyen of Burgundy wines Monsieur Jean-Pierre Renard. The line-up was meant to explore the range of soils, unusual styles (whites of Côte-de-Nuits, Chassagne reds), mature wines and the extra dimension that comes from old vines, traversing village to premier cru to grand cru. I must say every bottle was drinking really well, proving that value exists at all price points, while the mature stuff from Robert Ampeau was truly outstanding.

2016 Domaine Thibert Pouilly-Fuissé Les Cras. From vines grown on limestone soils where 2016 was an excellent but low-yielding vintage due to stormy weather, mildew and frost. Showing a lovely luminosity, this wine opens with an effusive bouquet of green apples, melons and aromatic tropical fruit, rather impressive in its rich chromatic tone, excellent presence and concentration. Structured with crisp acidity, displaying very clean precision, clarity and transparency, a tad more minerally at its glowing expansive finish. Pouilly-Fuissé, probably the best known commune of the Mâconnais, will soon have 22 premier crus in its inaugural classification that is likely to begin with the 2019 vintage. That means prices will skyrocket very soon. Buy now.

2017 Domaine Jean-Claude Ramonet Pernand-Vergelesses Les Belles Filles Blanc. Grown on limestone soils near Corton-Charlemagne. From an outstanding vintage where early budding inspired early harvest, this wine opens with a smooth gentle reductive nose, just a tad forward as it hinted at papaya and tropical fruits. The palate is considerably deeper with darker shades amid signs of early complexity, displaying great freshness with a distinctive well-defined dry chalkiness that shone with an almost chiselled quality, very well integrated with fine linearity as it finished with a lovely white floral glow. Excellent.

2017 Domaine Jean-Claude Ramonet Puligny-Montrachet Les Enseignères. From a site just beneath Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet, dominated by limestone soils without much clay that offer good drainage. Pale yellow greenish hue. Closed on the nose, proffering just faint glimpses of morning dew and traces of green elements. Equally restrained on the palate in spite of its fullish tone, dominated by white characters that impart understated dry chalkiness with excellent subtle acidity, superbly balanced and harmonious, finishing with a refined elegance that lingered with great persistence. Superb.

2013 Domaine Jean-Marc Pillot Chassagne-Montrachet Morgeot Blanc 1er. Beautiful luminosity. Its bouquet is somewhat elusive, slightly buttery with a hint of creme. Good presence, dominated by white fruits and chalk with a slim sleek profile, showing very fine acidity and structure with overtones of nutmeg though the finish could do with better resolution.

2013 Domaine Jean-Marc Pillot Chassagne-Montrachet Morgeot Rouge 1er. Coming from the same kind of soil as Gevrey, this pinot of Chassagne displays a slightly darker shade of red, boasting a fresh generous bouquet of rose petals and dark cherries with a delicious lift, matched by sleek refined acidity with a vegetal hint amid raw darkish undertones, structured with understated tannins at its dryish finish.

CÔTE DE NUITS BLANC

2013 Domaine Bertagna Vougeot Les Cras 1er. Lovely luminosity. Restrained gentle bouquet of yellow citrus and chalk, slightly warm, featuring dense white fruits on the palate with excellent fullness, structured with fine acidity and subtle minerals that yielded good detail. Very well balanced with refined intensity, finishing with clean white tones.

2011 Domaine De L’Arlot Nuits-Saint-Georges Clos de L’Arlot Blanc 1er. This monopole is laced with a tiny bit of pinot gris, showing deep luminosity with an unique nutty bouquet underscored with pineapples and jackfruit, forward with an attractive delicious lift. Softly rounded on the palate with highly subtle white fruits that reveal open delicate intensity, distinctly feminine as it finished with a certain restrain and excellent refinement.

CÔTE DE BEAUNE ROUGE

2015 Domaine Seguin-Manuel Beaune Champimonts 1er. Dark fruits, wild berries and dark cherries dominate with quite a delicious glow. Structured with very good concentration and refined supple tannins that reveal soft inner detail, possessing good acidity and balance without any burliness sometimes associated with Cote de Beaune, just a tad short.

2013 Domaine Pavelot Savigny-les-Beaune Aux Guettes 1er. Very good colour. Rich delicious bouquet of dark cherries, quite effusive, along with other darkish vegetal undertones while the palate is marked by understated red fruits and bright minerals, rounded with good concentration at just the right acidity. Not much depth here but still very fine on the whole, finishing well.

2014 Domaine Nicolas Rossignol Pommard Chaponnieres 1er. Darkish colour. Exudes a very warm earthy pungency that is undoubtedly attractive. Rounded, fleshy and open. Imbued with excellent presence and fullness, displaying sleek acidity with some fleeting intensity though it was never the opulent sort. Drinking well.

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CÔTE DE NUITS 1er

2011 Domaine de L’Arlot Nuits-Saint-Georges Clos des Forets 1er. Monopole. Good colour. Not much coming through on the nose though the palate shows lovely suppleness and acidity, structured with subdued tannins. Open with an attractive mild intensity that goes well with its easy relaxed feel, finishing very gently, maintaining great balance throughout but just a tad short.

2011 Domaine Bertagna Vougeot Clos de la Perriere 1er. Good colour. Restrained. Gently perfumed. Structured with plummy dark fruit with some bright spots. Exudes very fine presence and understated acidity, highly supple, opening up with mild intensity towards its finish.

2014 Domaine Arlaud Morey-Saint-Denis Les Ruchots 1er. Good colour. Richly endowed with red fruits, dark currants and cherries that imparted excellent fullness and depth. Open with very fine detail, precision and suppleness. Very delicate balance. Plenty of finesse. Superb.

2013 Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux Vosne-Romanee Les Maizieres 1er. Deep crimson. Reticent, proffering just glimpses of rose petals and cherries. The palate, though, is open and highly supple with good presence and very fine gentle intensity, imparting a highly attractive delicate quality but there isn’t much layering here. Finished with understated well-managed fine biting tannins, just a bit short.

2015 Domaine Seguin-Manuel Chambolle-Musigny Les Charmes 1er. Lovely crimson hue, exuding bright red fruits with a superb delicate presence. Very fleshy and supple, beautifully open with elegant understated tannins. Great refinement and integration. Excellent.

2016 Domaine Georges Lignier Gevrey-Chambertin Les Combottes 1er. Classic pinot tint, proffering attractive aromas of red fruits. Still a little tight and narrow on the palate with undertones of stern ferrous minerals though there is excellent fullness and intensity. Needs time to unravel and flesh out.

GRAND CRU

2014 Domaine Georges Lignier Clos Saint-Denis Grand Cru. Classic pinot tint. Ripe red fruits, recessed oak with some cherries and peaches dominate with delicious lift. Highly refined. Structured with svelte tannins that yielded great definition and detail. Very well balanced, just a tad short.

2013 Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux Echezeaux Grand Cru. Darker shade of pinot. Sharper on the nose though the fruit is surprisingly restrained. Gloriously ripe on the palate, open with very good balance and smooth intensity. Good refinement.

2013 Domaine Seguin-Manuel Clos Vougeot Grand Cru. Deep purple, proffering sweet dark berries that appear somewhat restrained. Rather full and supple, structured with very fine acidity. Vivacious with plenty of zest, seemingly a bit too eager to please but drinking well.

2012 Domaine Bertagna Corton Les Grandes Lolieres Grand Cru. Deep garnet red, exuding a restrained warmth with characters of ripe plums and haw. Open and fleshy, displaying great suppleness on a backdrop of very subtle dry understated tannins. Superbly integrated with a lovely feminine presence. Excellent.

2010 Domaine Bouchard Pere at Fils Chambertin-Clos de Beze Grand Cru. Classic pinot tint with some crimson. Quite glorious on the nose with a suggestion of warm red fruits. Medium-full. Distinctly feminine in its rounded suppleness and excellent ripeness, seamlessly integrated with very smooth understated tannins. Great refinement and elegance. Excellent.

2008 Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé Musigny Vieilles Vignes Grand Cru. Deep crimson, showing some early complexity on the nose. Softly supple, laced with sublime acidity that imparted teasing fleeting intensity of dark cherries, currants and dark roses amid overtones of glycerine that betrayed its youth, underscored by subdued earthy details and ferrous minerals. Rounded with good integration. Dry finish. Excellent potential.

2010 Domaine Francois Lamarche La Grande Rue Grand Cru. Classic pinot tint. Glorious bouquet of ripe cherries, rose petals, dark berries and violets that evoke warm hues with delicious lift. Brightly lit and open with svelte velvety tannins, softly supple, superbly integrated with understated but exciting tannins. Lovely charm, finishing with regal elegance. Outstanding.

OLD WINES

1976 Domaine Robert Ampeau Volnay Santenots 1er. Dark brownish hue, proffering notes of ash, ember and plummy tones with a delicious trace that culminated in lovely complex aromas. Surprisingly fresh and full, imbued with ample volume of ripe dark fruits and currants that exude sweet intensity. Still holding up very well. Amazing!

1996 Domaine Robert Ampeau Volnay Santenots 1er. Dark brown, still deeply coloured. Delicious nose of glycerine and complex mature fruit, greatly lifted. Still rather full and remarkably fresh, carrying a deeper streak of dark fruit. Has tremendous verve and concentration. Highly seamless with a distinct feminine character. Feels like it’s yet to peak. Superb!

2015 Domaine Nicolas Rossignol Volnay Santenots 1er. Dark impenetrable crimson. Sweet savoury tones amidst ripe mulberries and raspberries on the nose. Deeply layered in rich dark fruits and refined minerals that carried plenty of energy and fine intensity, exuding great tone. Rounded with sophisticated tannins. Huge potential.

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1996 Domaine Robert Ampeau Meursault-Perrieres 1er. Lovely luminosity. Wonderful delicate lift of tangerines, yellow citrus and cool icing matched with a vibrant palate of chiselled chalky minerals, nutty almonds and aged olives. Still imbued with excellent fullness, youthful intensity and freshness. Finished well with a bit of glazed quality. Great sophistication. Superb.

1996 Domaine Robert Ampeau Meursault-Charmes 1er. Lovely luminosity. Fleeting delicate bouquet, quite seductive with some lovely complexity. The palate is still incredibly vibrant and youthful in spite of the presence of mature tangerines and citrus, displaying great sublime acidity and freshness, finishing with an expansive white floral tone. Truly fabulous.

1996 Domaine Robert Ampeau Puligny-Montrachet Les Combettes 1er. Superb luminosity, proffering green capsicum on the nose while white and yellow citrus dominate with lovely gentle intensity, beautifully balanced with subtle open intensity. Excellent.

VIEILLES VIGNES

2015 Domaine Jean-Marc Pillot Chassagne-Montrachet Vergers 1er. Pale. Lovely nose of nutmeg and green fruits, excellent in density yet delicate with overtones of ash. Quite full and chalky with a burnished tone, carrying good energy with a lovely open intensity, displaying great balance and easy charm. Superb.

2015 Domaine Jean-Marc Pillot Chassagne-Montrachet Vergers 1er Clos Saint Marc. From 100 year-old vines. This special bottling opens with a wonderful depth of fruit that’s already glowing with some gentle complexity, beautifully open with superb unwavering concentration that possessed even greater depth and presence than the standard bottling above, exuding great delicacy and regal elegance. Wonderfully balanced and proportioned. Highly cerebral. Outstanding.

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Baron vs Lalande: 2003, 1996 and others…

January 1, 2020

One of the most wonderful sights when heading up north on the D2 highway in Bordeaux must be the view from the gentle hilltop just after passing the lion’s gate of Château Leoville Las-Cases, where its vines merge seamlessly with those of Château Latour on the right, followed by the sight of Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande yonder while its “sibling” Château Pichon Longueville Baron lies directly opposite across the road. To see such great estates within such close proximity to one another really sets the pulse racing. The greater wonder is the fact that the grand vin of each of these estates is still able to exert its own unique identity even though they share virtually the same microclimate. In fact, I remembered during a visit to Pichon Lalande in 2008 that a small plot of vines within the estate right in front of its office actually belonged to neighbouring Latour! An intriguing theme, therefore, would be a comparison of these estates side-by-side vintage-for-vintage, and we hit upon Baron versus Lalande across the road at a dinner of the Jürade de Saint-Emilion du Singapour on 31 October 2019 held at the private dining of Karl and Eugenia at Kheam Hock. In spite of advanced planning, though, it turned out when the line-up unfolded that evening that we had only two vintages – 1996 and 2003 – that fit the plan, for a proposed pairing of 2000 failed to materialise when a Leoville Barton (!) was brought instead of a Baron. And, incredibly, there was another Barton on the table as well. Nevertheless, in spite of having been blinded, it was almost always possible to correctly identify a Baron from a Lalande, the former more masculine, structured and denser while the latter was consistently softer with a vegetal touch from its petit verdot. My thanks to everyone for their generosity.

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2007 Champagne Henriot Millesime, poured from magnum. Gentle notes of cream, icing and green melons. Good crisp fullness with traces of dry toast at the sides. Dry with fine acidity and tension, finishing with a faint white floral bloom.

2006 Le Sillage de Malartic (courtesy of Stephen). Tasted blind. Light greenish hue. Deep bouquet of diesel petroleum. Distinctly lighter on the palate with a deep streak of white fruits, showing good density of fruit with some minerally glow. Excellent freshness. Exuded more floral bloom on the nose after some time, developing a brighter minerally tone at the same time. Excellent.

2004 Vintage Tunina (courtesy of Stephen). Light greenish hue, proffering tangerines and citrus on the nose with fair complexity on the palate, slightly forward in characters of aged nectarine and incense. Highly aromatic with a sappy quality, layered with fine depth. Finished with a touch of sternness. Very fine.

2015 Domaine de L’Arlot Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Clos de L’Arlot, courtesy of Russ. Quite full. Exudes a perfumed floral fragrance, distinctively feminine, textured with lovely depth. Very fine presence and elegance, displaying excellent depth and transparency with a faint minerally glow amidst overtones of tropical fruit, becoming more minerally over time.

2008 Ch Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande. Deep purple core. Lovely floral bloom and fragrance tinted with a hint of soy, snuff and haw on the nose. Excellent presence, intensity of fruit and linearity, finishing well with a touch of green. Still quite primal.

1997 Ch Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, courtesy of Marc. More evolved but still dark. Quite effusive and open on the nose, featuring capsicum with some dark cherries. Surprisingly full and open with lovely suppleness. Distinctly feminine and fleshy with a certain deftness, developing further notes of soy with overtones of green pepper, finishing with lasting intensity and persistent afterglow. Quite superb!

2003 Ch Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande. Deep garnet core, exuding a gentle deep perfumed fragrance. Supple with taut acidity and intensity though open enough to reveal excellent depth. Quite sensuous, finishing with a vegetal trace from the petit verdot that is the hallmark of this estate.

2003 Pichon Longueville Baron. Deep crimson, glowing with deep dark plums. Open with lovely suppleness and intensity, amply endowed with ripe raspberries amid discernible traces of varnish and enamel that added to its sweet lengthy finish. Still highly youthful.

1996 Ch Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, courtesy of Kieron. Poured from magnum. Deep crimson, proffering a classic Pauillac nose of tobacco and snuff. Good density on the palate with a dryish quality, imbued with red plums, gentle dark currants, cherries and capsicum. Very rounded and wonderfully supple with very well-integarted acidity, finishing with a bit of earthiness. Delicious.

1996 Pichon Longueville Baron. Deep crimson, slightly evolved. Distinctly dryish with a predominance of snuff on both nose and palate. Medium-bodied. Rather fleshy, generously imbued with fruit that is considerably darker in tone and more structured than Lalande of the same vintage, underscored by a deeper vein of currants.

2000 Ch Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, courtesy of Sandy. Bright crimson. Seductive feminine bouquet with some capsicum, slightly spicy. Open and supple, displaying excellent fruit quality with faint overtones of snuff tinged with a dash of Pauillac dryness, dressed in velvety tannins. Still youthful.

2000 Ch Leoville Barton, courtesy of Melvin. Deep crimson. Closed on the nose though the palate is generously proportioned with mulberries, violets and wild berries framed within a velvety tannin structure. Still not quite ready.

2003 Ch Leoville Barton, courtesy of Baron. Dark, dense and tight. Reluctant. Not ready.

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Nov 2019: 2017 Albert Morot Les Aigrots, 1997 Rochioli East Block, 2000 Haut Bailly, 2014 Pierre Labet Coucherias…

December 27, 2019

2017 Domaine Louis Moreau Chablis, a half bottle at La Taperia, 02 Nov 2019. Excellent richly detailed bouqet, gleaming with finely chiselled chalky expanse amid excellent depth of white fruits. Very good concentration and presence, layered with deep streak of saline minerals that revealed fine inner definition. Lovely rounded elegance and transparency, developing greater intensity of citrus over time. Persistent finish of white pepper. Quite excellent, proving that you cannot go wrong with any 2017 Burgundy white.

2016 Henri Magnien Gevrey-Chambertin, popped and poured at Otto Ristorante, 09 Nov 2019. Very dark for pinot. Lovely fragrance of ripe raspberries, mulberries dark berries and haw amid traces of smoke. Medium-bodied. Well-structured with lively acidity and understated ferrous elements, softly cushioned with abundant delicious dark fruits and currants. Almost velvety in its inner detail with a dark intensity but not imposing, developing a more effusive glow of red fruits over time with a little more salinity. Gentle finish. Quite fine.

2016 Ch Ducasse, from the list of restaurant Wolfgang on 14 Nov 2019. Dark deep purple. Nose of warm gravel and dark currants with some earthiness, slightly savoury. Good concentration of ripe dark fruits and wild berries underscored by gravelly minerals, with a cleanly defined intensity, not too tight, finishing on a note of distinct ferrous elements.

2017 Albert Morot Beaune Les Aigrots 1er, at a GEH party on 22 Nov 2019. Luminous, exuding a high-toned gentle chalky creaminess. Medium-full. Very good concentration of fruit with characters of spiced pear, opening up with fine minerality and intensity, finishing well with a white floral bloom.

2017 Chardonnay by Farr at a GEH party on 22 Nov 2019. Faint greenish hue, displaying dry chalky tones with good definition and focus. Very good in density and concentration, spiced with traces of white pepper.

2017 Cervaro by Antinori, at a GEH party on 22 Nov 2019. Good colour. Fresh faint minty hues. Fleshy, showing very fine concentration of fruit and acidity amid traces of green capsicum and nutmeg. Good definition. Full but open.

1995 Château de Beaucastel (courtesy of Annabelle), at a GEH party on 22 Nov 2019. Deep garnet core with evolved rim, proffering a distant earthy medicinal nose amid ample tones of dark cherries, raspberries, wild berries and currants. Open, fleshy and rounded with a relaxed feel, showing good concentration and acidity with tremendous verve on  a minerally floor, finishing with spicy length. Quite excellent.

2016 Ch Peyrebon Lagravette, poured from magnum at a GEH party on 22 Nov 2019. Shut, proffering only glimpses of mulberries, bramble and  briar with a faint earthiness. Darkly intense. Ample in dark fruits and blackberries with just a vegetal trace, structured with taut acidity and sophisticated sweet supple tannins. At only SGD90 (for a magnum!) off the shelf, this is great value though it will benefit from another few more years of cellaring.

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Putien

Champagne Egly Ouriet Blanc de Noirs Grand Cru, courtesy of Ooi CJ at Putien (Kitchener Rd), 22 Nov 2019. Sharp definition of grapefruit, aged tangerines and apricot with a dense floral fragrance on the nose. Dry, displaying intense clear and yellow citrus with overtones of burnt toast amid hints of dark fruits and longans. Finished with a superb lift of stern ferrous minerals.

2008 Champagne Pol Roger Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill, at Putien (Kitchener Rd), 22 Nov 2019. Green fruits, fig and nutmeg dominate on the nose, exuding subtle intensity and lift with a suggestion of early complexity. Open with lovely dryness though somewhat stern and narrow in white fruits and dense minerally tones. Needs to flesh out.

2010 Domaine des Comte Lafon Meursault-Groutte d’Or 1er, courtesy of Vic at Putien (Kitchener Rd), 22 Nov 2019. Shut, proffering just faint notes of green fruits. The palate is dominated by a fairly rich minerally tone, open with dry intensity. Best to re-visit after another five years.

2006 Kistler Vine Hill Vineyard, courtesy of CHS at Putien (Kitchener Rd), 22 Nov 2019. Fullish creamy chalkiness on the nose. Very well layered on the palate with a slight dominance of green elements, showing good transparency with very fine inner detail, fleshing out over time with excellent tone of pomelo and stern citrus.

2014 Williams Selyem Eastside Road Neighbors Pinot Noir, courtesy of LF at Putien (Kitchener Rd), 22 Nov 2019. Deep impenetrable purple. Deep intense bouquet of blackberries and currants that led to a pronounced tone of cherries and mulberries on the palate, richly layered with fine intensity. Open, soft and rounded. Yet to develop complexity.

2000 Ch Haut Bailly, at Putien (Kitchener Rd), 22 Nov 2019. Deep garnet red with some early evolution. Effusive glowing earthy pungency, imbued with rich layers of black fruits and currants, laced with sleek acidity and very fine ferrous elements. Beautifully open.

2012 Ch Pichon Baron Longueville, courtesy of MH at Putien (Kitchener Rd), 22 Nov 2019. Impenetrable deep purple, imbued with dense concentration of sweet dark berries, black currants and early cedary characters. Open with the classic Pauillac dryness but far from ready.

2005 Domaine de la Solitude Reserve Secrete, courtesy of CHS at Putien (Kitchener Rd), 22 Nov 2019. Deep garnet red, layered with very fine concentration of sweet blueberries that exude fabulous dry intensity.

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Putien

Champagne Bollinger RD 1996, courtesy of CW at Jade Palace, 25 Nov 2019. Lovely luminosity. Distinct diesel fumes on the nose, lifted with clean precision on a palate of solid chalky tones with scattered fig, displaying superb freshness, intensity and complexity amidst attractive oxidative notes, finishing with good linearity. Excellent.

2009 Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru, courtesy of Dr Ngoi at Jade Palace, 25 Nov 2019. Faint light grassy elements on the nose. Equally restrained on the palate with subdued acidity and subtle graphite minerals that produce a certain translucency. It snapped into focus much later with more detail and delicate citrus to the fore along with a greater depth of jackfruit. Best to lay down further.

2006 Anne et Jean-Francois Ganevat Cotes du Jura Cuvée Prestige Savagnin, courtesy of CW at Jade Palace, 25 Nov 2019. Powerful pronounced note of malt, peat and kerosene that pervaded throughout its length. Still incredibly full, tight and frighteningly intense, underscored by striking acidity. Not for the faint-hearted.

2014 Chateau de Marsannay Chambertin Grand Cru, at Jade Palace, 25 Nov 2019. Deep plummy colour with a dominant tone of red cherries. Highly supple with very good concentration and fullness, displaying excellent purity, smoothness and definition though without the opulence and plumpness, layered with subtle minerals. Grew in brilliance over time as it began gelling together. Great value.

20191125_214903.jpg1997 J Rochioli East Block Pinot Noir, courtesy of CW at Jade Palace, 25 Nov 2019. Made from vines planted at the northern edge of Russian River Valley in the late 1960s. Dark reddish-brown. Powerful minty nose of medicinal tones, dark plums and menthol. Full, rounded and supple. Displays greater immediacy and warmth than usual for pinot with lovely purity of fruit, layered with deeper streaks of dark currants. Still remarkably youthful. Excellent.

2001 Ch Cheval Blanc, courtesy of Dr Ngoi at Jade Palace, 25 Nov 2019. Deep impenetrable purple, exuding some earthy pungency amid abundant dark fruits and currants that is well-replicated on the palate. Full with ripe open intensity, infused with darker notes of soy and bramble. Rounded with lovely suppleness, displaying some early maturity with a slight earthiness towards the finish but this is still a young wine. Don’t waste it.

2001 Ch Margaux, courtesy of CW at Jade Palace, 25 Nov 2019. Deep impenetrable crimson, exuding fabulous aromas amid herbal undertones of dried mushrooms. Rounded with great fleshy suppleness, very seamlessly integrated though it lacks inner detail and opulence. Nevertheless, this is a classic claret in every way, taking on a great hallowed glow as it sat in the glass. Excellent.

2004 Ch Leoville Poyferre, popped and poured at restaurant Ibid, 26 Nov 2019. Deep impenetrable purple, proffering a lovely glow of cinnamon, mulberries, raspberries and dark currants. Beautifully ripe. Very good concentration of fruit, rather darkish in character with a deep plummy tone, structured with dryish dusty tannins on a cedary floor, developing with fine acidity and intensity over time. Drinking well

Bruno Paillard Cuvée Premium NV, served at the preview of 67 Pall Mall, 27 Nov 2019. Dry toasty characters on the nose, matched with a juicy palate of intense lime, citrus, apricot and grapefruit that imparted a bit of stern demeanour though there is a distinct sweetness at the finish.

2015 Domaine Pierre Labet Meursault Les Tillets, served at the preview of 67 Pall Mall, 27 Nov 2019. Effusive in sweet tropical fruits, pineapples and apricot. Unashamedly forward with great presence, detail and acidity, developing a glazed quality on the palate after some time.

2016 Domaine Leflaives Macon-Verze, served at the preview of 67 Pall Mall, 27 Nov 2019. Lovely aromatics with a forward balance of green fruits and melons, generously layered with tropical fruits and pineapples on the palate, displaying fine presence with subdued acidity against a backdrop of recessed minerals.

2014 Domaine Pierre Labet Beaune 1er Coucherias, served at the preview of 67 Pall Mall, 27 Nov 2019. Darker shade of pinot, exuding an attractive lift of delicious dark fruits and berries with a lovely floral fragrance. A little more forward in dark cherries on the palate but the overall balance is quite impeccable, opening up after some time to reveal excellent concentration and intensity but never threatening to overwhelm. Good refinement.

2011 Ch Gazin, served at the opening of AVHC, 30 Nov 2019. Quite brightly lit with characters of warm gravel, plummy fruit, dark currants and wild berries. Fleshy and rounded though without much detail nor complexity.

2010 Ch Phelan Segur, served at the opening of AVHC, 30 Nov 2019. This wine opens with a lovely lifted earthiness, imbued with layers of ripe dark fruits, berries and black currants that impart excellent fullness and presence, highly detailed with a graphite sparkle. Very seamlessly integrated with sleek acidity and fine intensity, finishing with velvety sophisticated tannins. Excellent.

Short notes from South Africa: Meerlust, Grande Provence, De Morgenzon, Jordan, Kanonkop, Paul Cluver & La Motte

December 20, 2019

These are notes from a recent trip to Cape Town, South Africa – highly recommended for its stunning beauty, rich cultural heritage, beautiful people, wildlife, excellent food and, of course, its wines. I must admit I’ve not really been exposed to South African wines but my day trip on 10 December 2019 to the regions of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek was a real eye-opener. The vineyards and estates are beautifully managed with real sophistication, and it appears that almost every wine estate comes with a full-fledged classy restaurant. I can certainly vouch that the quality of the wine produced is extremely high at prices that are very friendly although I doubt the latter will stay this way forever. Vines have been grown in South Africa since the Dutch first arrived in the 17th century. Because of that, the locals tend to think of their wines as Old World but, to me, they are distinctly New World as there are no laws governing viticulture and production. Irrigation is allowed, amongst other things, and, as such, the actual characteristics of terroir struggle for identity. Nevertheless, one should not hesitate to delve deeper into South African wines for there is much to enjoy and partake. Just be sure to allow for some bottle age and aeration.

20191209_125916.jpg2018 Paul Cluver Elgin Riesling, 09 Dec 2019 at Two Oceans restaurant, Cape of Good Hope. Pale. Delightful bouquet of peaches and tropical fruit with very good concentration of fruit with an illusion of fizz on the palate, producing excellent mouthfeel. Has a certain crystalline quality layered with a deeper streak of refined earthiness and ferrous minerals, displaying good balance, precision and lively acidity. Not too crisp, finishing with sweet overtones. Quite excellent.

2018 Meerlust Chardonnay. Aged in 50% new French barrels. Hint of oiliness on a nose dominated by white floral tones along with some creamy chalkiness. Very fresh and clean, displaying good concentration, definition and acidity on a palate underscored by ferrous minerals. Very fine.

2017 Meerlust Pinot Noir. Darker in colour and tone, recalling ripe raspberries and cranberries. Good definition and integration with fine acidity, though rather narrow and tight. From 21 year-old vines, aged in 50% French Allier barrels.

2016 Meerlust Merlot. Actually a blend, containing 10% cabernet franc and 5% petit verdot. Deep garnet red. Some lovely earthiness amid a hint of capsicum with a vegetal trace. Concentrated with clean tight acidity that confer great power and structured tannins. Distinctly masculine.

2016 Meerlust Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged 16 months in French oak. Very dark with a distinct phenolic nose of black fruits. Medium-full. Exudes a very natural unforced presence, very well balanced with subtle acidity and intensity, finishing with sweet undertones. Very fine.

2016 Meerlust Rubicon, a blend of 49% cabernet sauvignon, 28% merlot, 20% cabernet franc and 3% petit verdot. Lifted aromas of very dark velvety fruit, mocha and dark chocolate that led to a classic cabernet palate of earthy dark fruits that oozed with lovely juicy sweetness, quite seamlessly structured with fine acidity and dark intensity, finishing well.

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2016 Jordan MCC Blanc de Blancs. Fermented in 70% wood and 30% in stainless steel vats and aged for 36 months on lees. Lovely colour tinged with green, proffering gentle notes of yeast and distant green fruits and citrus. More intense on the palate with a forward balance of lime and citrus tinged of bitter lemon, showing very clean precision with fine detail and linearity within a body of very fine bubbles, not too dry. Very attractive.

20191210_105554.jpg2018 Jordan Barrel Fermented Chardonnay. Aged in 50% new French burgundy barrels. Good colour. More buttery on the nose with overtones of lavender, white floral notes and spices. Very good in concentration, glowing with lovely intensity of fruit, revealing fine inner detail underscored by a subtle trace of ferrous minerals. Very well balanced. Very fine.

2018 Jordan Nine Yards Chardonnay. Made from  29 year-old vines with a limited production of 10 barrels max. Seems Richard Branson had a hand in the naming of this wine. Deep yellowish-greenish tinge, proffering green fruits, butterscotch and incense on a nose that is almost Puligny-like. Quite open, layered with good concentration of fruit, crème, traces of nutmeg, green elements, spice and subdued chalk with a bit of plumpness. Very well-integrated and balanced with a very natural unforced feel. Very Burgundian in character. Excellent.

2016 Jordan The Long Fuse Cabernet Sauvignon, grown from vines grafted with Californian cuttings. Dark deep purple. Ample in dark cherries and dark plums with a hint of spice and capsicum, tinged with dark chocolate. Good balance. Drinking well.

2015 Jordan Cobblers Hill. A Bordeaux blend aged in 100% new large French barrels. Displaying a brilliant deep crimson, this wine exudes generous aromas of black currants, cassis and black cherries tinged with chocolate and mocha. Richly layered with dark plummy tones on a classic cabernet palate with sweet velvety tones. Seamlessly integrated and well proportioned, structured with highly refined sophisticated tannins.

2014 Jordan Sophia. Only 900 bottles annually, available only at auction. A blend of 58% cabernet sauvignon, 29% merlot and 13% cabernet franc, this is only the second release after 2013, aged for 28 months in large French barrels. Deep garnet red. Reticent now, hinting at some red capsicum. Open, fleshy and rounded with good concentration, displaying balanced lively acidity with an understated subtle tannin structure. Quietly poised with excellent refinement without betraying its 14.5% abv. Very elegant.

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2019 De Morgenzon DMZ Chenin Blanc. Fresh morning dew with grassy elements. Very good concentration of pears with a hint of longans, imparting excellent crisp freshness and zest with fine intensity. Drinking well.

2017 De Morgenzon Reserve Chenin Blanc. Aged in 30% new French oak. Quite open. Excellent crisp freshness with a dash of morning dew and a bit of creamy buttery character. Rounded with very good concentration and inner definition of green melons, fig and smouldering ember. Very well structured. There’s a lot going on in there waiting to be resolved through the passage of time. Excellent potential.

2018 De Morgenzon DMZ Chardonnay. Fresh morning dew, nutmeg with some crème on the nose. Very good concentration of fruit underscored by the classic chalkiness of chardonnay with overtones of green capsicum., showing good definition. Not plump. Easy on the palate.

2018 De Morgenzon Reserve Chardonnay. Good colour. Richer in delicate minerals than the DMZ above. Rounded with notes of spiced pear and raw nutmeg, almost burnished in tone. Excellent concentration and balance, finishing with great refinement. Very correct. Quite excellent.

2016 De Morgenzon Maestro Red. A Bordeaux blend of 39% cabernet sauvignon, 38% merlot, 13% cabernet franc and 10% malbec. Displaying a deep garnet red, the wine exudes dryish nose of malt, rye, dark fruits and dark chocolate with a suggestion of iron ore. Rounded and fleshy. Quite open with a predominance of deep black fruits with a hint of green capsicum and bell pepper, showing very good integration between the fruit, acidity and velvety tannins. Good sophistication. Quite excellent.

2017 De Morgenzon Maestro Blue, a blend of 58% syrah, 26% grenache noir and 10% mouvedre. Deep garnet red. Shut on the nose, proffering just glimpses of dark fruits and blackberries with a trace of forest characters. Excellent fullness, displaying dark spicy tones on a bed of sweet velvety tannins. Highly harmonious and open. Very successful.

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At De Morgenzon, the vines enjoy serious classical music 24/7

2017 Kanonkop Kadette Pinotage. Made from 30 year-old vines, aged in 2-3 year-old oak. Darkly coloured, proffering deep dark currants on the nose. Excellent in concentration with a sharply defined accentuated palate, rather spicy in its lively acidity. Full but soft enough at the edges. Accessible.

2017 Kanonkop Estate Pinotage. From 55 year-old vines, aged for 16 months in 75% new oak. Very dark. Less forward than the Kadette but generously endowed with abundant warm ripe fruit that is overshadowed by lively acidity. Rather dark in tone, showing good detail, structured with velvety tannins at its spicy finish.

2018 Kanonkop Kadette Cabernet Sauvignon. Made from 24 year-old vines. Deep garnet red, exuding characters of earth and forest floor with bright plummy tones. Good fullness. Very fine in concentration, acidity and intensity, underscored by distinct ferrous elements and earthy minerals.

2015 Kanonkop Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. From 24 year-old vines, aged in 50% French oak. Impenetrably dark. Concentrated nose of medicinal characters and licorice. Full, fleshy but tight. Ample in cool ripe fruit that exude darkish tones. Boldly structured with lively acidity. Still tannic at this stage.

2016 Kanonkop Paul Sauer, the estate’s flagship, a blend of 67% cabernet sauvignon, 24% merlot and 9% cabernet franc. Deep dark ruby, displaying ripe dark cherries and currants on the nose with good early complexity. Open and fleshy with excellent presence, imbued with an intense streak of deep dark fruit amid fleeting subtle acidity. Highly supple. Excellent.

2017 Kanonkop Black Label Pinotage. A cross between pinot noir and hermitage coming from a 2.5 ha plot planted in 1953, producing only 5000 bottles annually. Very deep impenetrable purple, hinting at very dark sweet currants, black fruits and dark cherries with traces of rye. Concentration, rounded and supple, amply layered with dense black fruits and fine acidity, displaying great balance and control in spite of its ample proportions, finishing with highly refined dryish tannins that reveal gritty detail amid traces of sweet.

2019 La Motte Sauvignon Blanc. Pale. Attractive bouquet of grassy elements with the intensity of wild flowers and nutmeg on the nose amid some earthiness. Concentrated with dry crisp cutting acidity and sharp intensity, lit with bright minerally tones.

2018 La Motte Pierneef Sauvignon Blanc. Unwooded, aged for 11 months in stainless steel tanks. Grassy elements dominate with spicy tones of green capsicum, chilli and raw nutmeg. Rather full. Plenty of vibrant acidity and detail on a floor of dry earthy ferrous minerals.

2017 La Motte Millenium. Mainly merlot and cabernet franc. Dark, intense phenolic characters. Full presence of dark fruits and wild berries, endowed with great acidity that impart sharp intensity and attack before tapering to a dry crisp finish.

2017 La Motte Cabernet Sauvignon. Dark fruits, mahogany, ripe wild berries and strawberries on the nose. Open and lithe, rather full, imbued with very fine intensity and acidity on a backdrop of dry dusty tannins with traces of vegetal forest floor, finishing with a dash of spice.

2018 La Motte Franschhoek Chardonnay. Aged in both wooded and unwooded sources. Distinctly more buttery and creamy on the nose. Full-bodied. Crisp with very good concentration, showing clean precision and sharp acidity with overtones of green chilli and white pepper. Very taut at this stage, not yielding much detail.

2017 La Motte Franschhoek Syrah. Dark. Abundant in ripe wild berries with a classic warm syrah character. Supple, clean and tight, imbued with raspberries, spices and some early development of cedar, finishing on a hot spicy note.

2016 La Motte Pierneef Syrah Viognier. A Northern Rhóne blend containing 5% viognier. Dark. Ample in warm dark fruits and currants amid traces of vanillin. Full but slimly defined with a firm acidic spine that imparted sharp attack and intensity. Unyielding.

2016 Grande Provence TGP White Flagship, comprising 60% chenin blanc, 30% viognier and 10% chardonnay. Good colour. Shy with a slight earthy pungency. Rather unusual palate where creamy tones are offset by sharper note of raw nutmeg, bell pepper and spice. Taut and narrow in spectrum, underscored by ferrous minerals.

2016 Grande Provence TGP Amphora, comprising 99% chenin blanc topped with 1% muscat. Fermented in clay pot. Clear golden lustre. Shy, proffering white floral tones and dense chalk on the nose. Medium-full. Spicy with a lean acidic spine, almost austere. Not enough fruit balance.

2015 Grande Provence TGP Red Flagship, comprising 60% merlot, 30% cabernet sauvignon and 10% malbec. Very dark. Full presence of dark fruits, black cherries and currants. Warm, ripe and acidic with overtones of licorice and charcoal. Powerfully structured but tight and unyielding.

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