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With Jacques Thienpont at Les Amis SG: 2005 Le Pin, 2001 DRC La Tache, 2001 VCC, 1988 Lafleur, 2009 Drouhin Montrachet, 2008 Henri Boillot Montrachet, 2009 VCC, 1995 Leroy Vosne-Romanee Aux Brulees, 1998 & 2001 Cte Georges de Vogüé Musigny, 1996 Margaux & 2004 Egon Müller Auslese

November 17, 2019

How often have you received an exclusive invitation from a three Michelin-starred restaurant for dinner with a superlative wine line-up? Les Amis of Singapore did exactly that on 13 November 2019. Started in 1994, this restaurant has consistently maintained its lofty standards of food, wine and service in the most discreet manner, avoiding all distraction and superficiality as it built up a loyal following through hard work and meticulous attention to detail, re-innovation and daring-do in realising its vision. Still located at 1 Scotts Road and helmed by Sebastien Lepinoy since 2013, it was only a matter of time before Les Amis was conferred the ultimate recognition in September 2019. To mark the occasion, a group of us was invited by Timothy Goh (Director of Sales, Vinum Fines Wines) to partake in a celebratory dinner in La Paulée style that would coincide with the visit of Jacques Thienpont and his wife Fiona Morrison, MW, where the couple would be providing wines from their estates Le Pin and Vieux Château Certan. It goes without saying that this sort of opportunity was not to be missed and I think we all did very well to reciprocate in kind by digging deep into our reserves. No wine theme was planned but when we all showed up at the restaurant’s private dining salon that evening, the line-up that unfolded spoke volumes of our deep understanding of Les Amis and the people behind its success. Along with Desmond Lim (Chairman, Les Amis Group), Lindsay Hamilton (Vice-Chairman, Vinum), the Thienponts and Matthew Hemming (also Master of Wine) and, of course, Tim, the wining and dining that evening reached a level that occurs only too rarely, transcending all barriers where there were no airs between everyone and anyone; only true appreciation and enjoyment of great food, immaculate service, outstanding wines and wonderful company, knowing well that such transient experiences, once past, cannot be re-captured again. In particular, Jacques and Fiona are both such cultured party animals there was never any moment that we were reminded of who they are. And when nothing less than a Montrachet Grand Cru was poured to get things going, you knew the evening simply cannot go wrong. We cannot thank you enough Tim and everyone at Les Amis Group for having us in mind, and to Jacques and Fiona for your friendship and generosity. This has been an unforgettable evening. The wines are described in the order served.

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1995 Champagne Bruno Paillard Nec Plus Ultra, courtesy of Tim. Deep dull golden hue, proffering quite a marked oxidative note of gun smoke, mushrooms, marmite and iron filings that is quite firm on the nose whilst the palate is still remarkably fresh and structured, underscored by deep darker tones with a hint of mineral brightness, superbly balanced. Caught at its best. Declared only in exceptional vintages, the 1995 is only the second example of N.P.U. ever released, the first being the 1990 (in 2002), a blend of 50% chardonnay and 50% pinot noir sourced from grand cru vineyards.

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Jacques Thienpont of Le Pin

2008 Domaine Henri Boillot Montrachet Grand Cru, courtesy of Vic and myself. Poured from magnum after having been aired for more than 8 hours. Light golden luminosity. Took its time to unfurl its beauty, yielding at first only gentle tones of white flowers, yellow citrus and chalk, softly rounded with a recessed ethereal elegance. It seemed to turn deeper in colour after three hours in the glass, taking on a distinct phenolic note with a great concentration of creme de la creme on the palate, layered with rich minerally tones in equal measure and laced with sublime acidity that revealed infinite detail with clean definition. Yet one senses that it hadn’t really revealed its full glory, like a beautiful woman who is not in any hurry. Superb, but real patience is required.

1999 Domaine Leflaive Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru, courtesy of Desmond. Poured from magnum. Lovely golden hue. This wine exudes a cool complexity of very finely detailed chalky notes with mature crème de la crème on the nose trailed by distant notes of diesel. Still amazingly fresh, displaying great suppleness and zest with fleshy seamless acidity and integration, glowing with gentle brilliance on the mid-palate before finishing with a gentle bloom of white flowers. At its absolute peak and will hold. Superb.

2012 L’IF, courtesy of Jacques Thienpont. The name means Yew tree in French, not unlike Le Pin which is a nod towards the lone pine tree situated at the estate. Located in Saint-Emilion near Ch Troplong Mondot, the vines were bought over by Jacques in 2010 and re-planted with 70% merlot and 30% cabernet franc, now expanded to 8 ha. Deep purple, this third vintage proffers a deeply effusive floral fragrance with a lifted complex of pungent earthiness that is simply uniquely gorgeous, leading to a rounded supple presence of ripe cherries and raspberries that traverse the palate with fine linearity, length and controlled intensity. Yet to develop but it holds great promise, considering the vines were still young.

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2001 Vieux Château Certan, courtesy of David Ong. Deep purple with an effusive lifted earthy pungency. Softly structured and fleshy, displaying very good concentration and depth of dark fruits and currants that are seamlessly layered with earthy minerals, finishing with just a bare trace of green undertones that doesn’t detract from its overall elegance and pleasure. Excellent.

2009 Vieux Château Certan, courtesy of Jacques Thienpont. Deep purple with some early evolution at the rim. There is some reticence here compared with a previous tasting just two nights ago (also with Jacques), surprisingly mellow, soft and fleshy with understated structure. Highly seamless with a hint of enamel amid the broad expanse of ripe cherries and raspberries, revealing good inner detail though that trace of green element is, again, discernible. May flesh out better with further aeration.

1988 Château Lafleur, courtesy of Kieron. Still an unbelievably brilliant deep crimson, this wine possesses an open gentle earthiness that went very well with the rather full but relaxed presence of cherries and red currants, still imbued with sleek acidity and fine intensity with a touch of ginger, finishing with remarkable freshness and vigour. Absolutely on song without any sign of flagging. Superb.

1996 Château Margaux, courtesy of Pipin. Deep crimson, this premier cru glows with overtones of violets and dark currants with a hint of warm pebbles, open with great suppleness within a rather slim cleanly-defined profile. Classically structured though it doesn’t quite possess that velvety opulence of 1989 or 1999.

1998 Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé Musigny Grand Cru, courtesy of LF. Poured from magnum. Showing a glorious darker shade of pinot that is usual from this estate, this wine opens with a lovely intensity of enamel, camphor, red fruits and cherries that snapped together with superb focus, wonderfully supple as layers subtle forest characters and delicious dark fruit streaked across the palate with superb acidity and tension. Still remarkably fresh and youthful, even better than a previous tasting also from magnum in February 2016. May not even have peaked. Excellent.

2001 Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé Musigny Grand Cru, courtesy of Kieron. More developed than the 1998 (probably a function of the latter’s large format bottling), this wine displays a lovely fragrance of red fruits and currants with a fine open presence on a delicate ferrous floor, showing good integration and depth but it is upstaged by the preceding 1998, neither quite as opulent nor complex although it would have been thoroughly satisfying on its own. At its best.

1995 Domaine Leroy Vosne-Romanée Aux Brulees 1er, courtesy of Sir Robert. Great colour, matched by a superb lift of red fruits and cherries that exude dazzling purity and concentration dotted with traces of capsicum amid darker shades of fruit, softly structured with gentle sweet tannins. Utterly seamless and delicious. Amazing!

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2005 Le Pin, courtesy of Jacques Thienpont. Deep purple with a trace of evolution, this wine glows with a hallowed complex marked by a sharply lifted note of pines – how apt! – whilst the palate is imbued with lovely tension and fabulous intensity of fruit that conferred great freshness and wonderful exuberance, cushioned by soft gentle velvety textures. Absolutely irresistible. Will develop further complexity down the years but this is already such a complete wine. Outstanding!

2001 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti La Tache Grand Cru, courtesy of Desmond. Great colour. This famous monopole is absolutely mesmerising on the nose, generously endowed with gorgeous red fruits and currants that fill the palate with fine density and concentration, imbued with refined acidity and structured presence that may still yield further detail had it been aired longer, holding sway with delicious verve though I thought it began to recede a little towards midnight (yes, we ended really late!). Quite a complete wine. Outstanding.

2009 Joseph Drouhin Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche Grand Cru, courtesy of Kieron. Lovely colour. The distilled essence of Montrachet is present in abundance, displaying a controlled gentle bloom of floral characters, fig, icing, green capsicum and chalk that blossomed with very fine early complexity and detail, wonderfully layered and structured with refined acidity as it finished with further notes of pomelo, white pepper and traces of bitter lemon that produced a trace of sternness. Quite ethereal, as expected, though a little more forward in fruit compared with the preceding Henri Boillot. Quite marvellous but yet to truly develop.

2004 Egon Müller Scharzhofberger Auslese, courtesy of Lindsay. Firm distinct tones of diesel petroleum and exhaust, superbly lifted, that I found rather intoxicating and attractive. The palate is richly layered with delicate fruit of great clarity and agility, displaying great freshness, precision and detail, yet so wonderfully balanced without any heaviness, finishing with glowing gentle intensity and persistence. Outstanding.

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Even Fiona can’t resist taking a pot shot

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My dinner with Fiona Morrison, MW

November 13, 2019

20191111_214427.jpgThanks to an invitation at short notice from Philippe Capdouze, I found myself seated next to Ms Fiona Morrison, Master of Wine, on 11 November 2019 at Summer Pavillon, Ritz Carlton Millenia Singapore. No stranger to Singapore, Fiona was back to visit some old friends and to promote her new book: 10 Great Wine Families – A Tour Through Europe. Hers is a name familiar to oenophiles who have browsed through the pages of Decanter or, in the case of FICOFI members, Le Magazine de FICOFI. Disarmingly cheerful and bubbly as she engages everyone in easy banter over anything that matters about wine, Fiona speaks with a natural eloquence that finds its way into her writing. Indeed, throughout the evening, Fiona would introduce each wine with an astonishing depth of knowledge only possible through her personal involvement at every level of winemaking, marketing, research and networking, never failing to include a personal anecdoctal experience here and there. The first thing Fiona talked to me about was not Bordeaux nor Burgundy, but Henschke’s Hill of Grace (!!) for which, to my pleasant surprise, we both share a soft spot. For sure, she is someone who drinks broadly across all price points, not just the big names. She takes discreet notes about each wine every now and then, half a minute of concentrated scribbling into a little black notebook (from Penfolds, if you must know). If only one could peep at her choice of vocabulary. With her husband Jacques Thienpont in tow, naturally there is bound to be Vieux Château Certan and Le Pin in the line-up, courtesy of the couple themselves. The wines were expertly prepared by sommelier par excellence Tan Kok-Hong who earned high praise from none other than Fiona herself. A big thank you, Fiona and Jacques, for your time and generosity and to Philippe as well for a most memorable evening.

2012 Champagne Pascal Agrapart Avizoise Extra Brut. Very pale. Effusive in delicate tones of pomelo and citrus amid light delicious overtones of dry toast and yeast, displaying bright minerally characters on the palate that yield excellent transparency with a certain lightness, layered with a lovely depth of icing, honeysuckle and white fruits that proffer fabulous detail, becoming more concentrated and accentuated with time. Superb.

2013 Gaja Barbaresco. Displaying an almost pinot-like tint with superb clarity, this wine exuded a lovely feminine glow of dark plums and currants with a dash of dark cherries marked by a floral fragrance, while the palate is layered with great acidity and purity of fruit amid traces of earth, revealing good early complexity and length with a gentle intensity. Excellent.

2011 Château de Beaucastel Hommage à Jacques Perrin. Poured from magnum. Deep dark impenetrable purple with an arresting bouquet of deep medicinal tones and haw. Equally intense on the palate, marked by a broad even expanse of sweet dark fruits and understated tannins that exuded overtones of new leather, wonderfully warm and ripe, rather full, yet beautifully balanced and layered, finishing with subtle youthful intensity and length. Excellent.

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2009 Vieux Château Certan. Deep purple, proffering a hallowed glow of deep dark currants, mulberries and raspberries, beautifully ripe with a dash of soy amid overtones of smouldering ember. Highly seamless, smooth and agile on the palate, imbued with very fine depth and fabulous sleek acidity that danced with superb deftness, finishing with great linearity in a blaze of open intensity. Still youthful. Will be long lived. Superb.

1997 Le Pin. Still bright crimson at the core with some evolution, this wine exuded a lovely glow of evolved red currants amid faint overtones of dried wood, somewhat earthy with an easy complexity. Medium-full. Utterly seamless and fleshy, carrying great energy and acidity though without quite really possessing inner detail, finishing with good persistence. I hadn’t realised that Le Pin, since its inception in 1979, has always been labelled without the prefix “château”, very much like Tertre Roteboeuf. No 2003 was made. Jacques, who told me that he sold the inaugural 1979 vintage for only 80 French Francs per bottle, opined that Le Pin does especially well in wet vintages, since it is essentially merlot grown on gravel, which drains well.

2017 Egon Muller Scharzhofberger Spatlese. Pale. Classic effusive nose of dense diesel tones that led to gentle notes of apricot and recessed nectarine on the light-medium palate, open with good definition and clarity, finishing gently with good length. Very elegantly poised, perhaps a tad too reserved.

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FICOFI: Champagne Masterclass

November 10, 2019

Comprising some 15,800 growers, of which 4,400 are producers and of which 306 are established champagne houses, the cold-climate region of Champagne is one of the most difficult to understand, complicated further by the fact that most bottlings are blends of meunier and pinot noir, with or without chardonnay, and the grapes may come from a myriad of multi-district parcels. For those with the appetite and aptitude to understand all the intricacies, good for you but for simpletons such as moi, I prefer to concentrate on enjoying the wine itself. For starters, may I be allowed to enter a simple plea that it is high time we start drinking champagne with food rather than relegating it as a pre-meal aperitif which is a total waste of the vignerons’ efforts, not to mention already the sheer scarcity of stuff like Salon and Philipponnat Clos des Goisses. The tasting on this occasion was hosted by FICOFI on 19 October 2019 at 11.00 AM at the Four Seasons, Singapore, guided by Michael Hill-Smith, MW. With generous well-thought pairings that included the fabulous vintages of 2002 (allowing a fascinating side-by-side comparison between Delamotte and Salon, no less) and 2008 as well as a couple of far older vintages, coupled with Michael’s insightful commentary, this was an excellent way to spend a Saturday morning. Merci FICOFI.

Champagne Krug Grande Cuvée Brut NV. Pale luminosity. Lovely deep yeasty and oxidative tones on the nose with a suggestion of zesty lime and citrus. Has that classic Krug dryness, dense concentration and intensity of fruit underscored by a distinctive deeper darker streak of meunier buttressed with great acidity. Good potential complexity. An excellent calling card for this cardinal estate which sources its grapes from more than 240 different parcels to supplement those from its own 20 ha in Aÿ, Le Mesnil and Trépail.

Champagne Egly-Ouriet Brut Tradition NV. Clear luminosity. Compared with the Krug, this wine has a softer, finer and more detailed bouquet with a lifted light floral tone. Shows excellent open concentration and dryness, imbued with delicate minerality, fine acidity and definition throughout its length, finishing with good persistence. Egly-Ouriet’s holdings are all grand cru: 9.5 ha in Ambonnay (79% pinot noir, the rest chardonnay), 3 ha pinot noir in Verzenay and 2 ha pinot meunier in Vrigny. Francis Egly prefers a practical approach to his winemaking, neither biodynamic nor truly organic. Dosage is low.

2008 Champagne Agrapart & Fils Minéral. Very pale, exuding a delicate but layered bouquet. Good depth of clear citrus and lime with a yeasty oxidative trace. Quite seductive. Lovely intensity, structured with well-defined acidity and very fine bubbles. Good gentle finish. A wine of great elegance and finesse. Excellent. The brothers Pascal and Fabrice Agrapart own 12 ha of grand cru mainly in Avize within the Côte des Blancs, comprising 90% chardonnay, 10% pinot noir.

2008 Champagne Louis Roederer Cristal. Good colour. Smooth rounded bouquet, slightly smoky. Excellent concentration of clear citrus, pomelo and white fruits, rather bright with taut lively acidity, complemented with rounded smooth bubbles. Finished with superb youthful intensity. Phenomenal potential. First fashioned for Tsar Alexander II, Cristal quickly became the emblem for flashy jet-setters. Louis Roederer is the first Champagne maison to move into biodynamic viticulture. It is staggering to note that in spite of owning some 240 ha of vines, it still needs to buy in another one-third of grapes in order to fulfil its annual output.

2002 Champagne Delamotte Blanc de Blancs. Still quite light in colour with a floral bouquet. Gently layered. Very fine concentration of delicate green fruits and citrus, highly harmonious and rounded with a sheer sheen of fine bubbles, never too dry. Excellent refinement. May not have peaked. Easily held its own, and more, next to its sister estate Salon of the same vintage. Unfairly snubbed by snobs who only drink Salon, Delamotte may turn out to be a most astute buy in those vintages where its Salon is not declared, as the latter’s grapes will be poured into Delamotte.

2002 Champagne Salon. Good colour. Lovely bouquet, slightly toasty, displaying beguiling complexity with a very delicate lift. Explosive expanse of pears, green apples and complex citrus seamlessly merged with very fine bubbles that traverse the palate with open transparency on a bed of highly refined subtle creamy chalkiness, revealing excellent precision, inner detail and definition. Has superb poise and power, all wonderfully proportioned and balanced. Truly a Salon for the ages. Outstanding. Making only one single cuvée, the S de Salon, only 42 wines released between 1905-2008.

1996 Dom Perignon Rosé P2. This Second Plenitude seduces the senses with a beautiful soft glow of delicate red fruits that leapt from of the glass, distinctly feminine and rounded with a high-toned dryness. Still has a rather full presence though it doesn’t quite plumb the depths, finishing with good persistence.

1989 Champagne Henriot Rosé Millesime, poured from magnum. Beautiful deep golden lustre, proffering aged red fruits and grapefruit amid recessed chalkiness with an unique savoury trace, showing very good concentration and depth of fruit on a bed of understated ferrous minerals and oxidative characters. Still imbued with great intensity and a high-toned acidity. At its best and will still hold for many more years.

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Old Bordeaux: 1966 Ch Leoville Las-Cases, 1971 Ch Pétrus, 1989 Ch Lynch-Bages…

November 1, 2019

With prices of Burgundy, already such a scarce commodity in most instances, attaining stratospheric proportions, Bordeaux is beginning to look more and more like a distinct bargain. Hence, we hit upon the theme of mature Bordeaux at Jade Palace on 14 October 2019. Thank you, everyone, for your generous contributions.

2006 Perrier-Jouet Belle Epoque Rosé, courtesy of LF. Beautiful deep luminosity. Faint grapefruit with some toast and yeasty notes on the nose. The palate is characterised by very deep intense core of clear citrus and crystalline tones with some faint floral fragrance, displaying a delicate stony lift underscored by a deep minerally streak that extended all the way to its ferric finish. Quite excellent.

1978 Drappier Carte D’Or Brut, courtesy of Sir Robert. Disgorged 1999. Deep golden lustre, yielding deep attractive yeasty tones with layers of fruit that is still remarkably fresh and intense, showing excellent vigour and acidity across a broad expanse of mature chalkiness. Excellent.

1996 Ch Leoville Las-Cases, courtesy of Vic. Mature deep garnet core. Highly reticent, yielding only a light mentholic nose. Distinctly rounded with a soft feminine suppleness, fully mellowed, still imbued with very good presence and fullness though the lack of tannin structure (having melted long before) robs the wine of some character.

1982 Ch Le Bon Pasteur, courtesy of LF. Mature deep garnet red, exuding gentle aromas of deep currants with a mentholic trace. Medium-bodied. Good presence of dark fruits and raspberries laced with very subtle acidity, rather quiet at the finish, developing a firm medicinal trace just as it turned more musty on the nose over time. Hard to place.

1998 Ch Beausejour Becot. Glowing fragrance of red fruits, red currants and haw on the nose, quite beguiling, though the palate is rather more recessed, distinctly medium-bodied and soft with rounded suppleness and very fine acidity, finishing gently even as it gained further intensity on the nose over time. Drinking very well but unlikely to improve further.

1971 Ch Pétrus, courtesy of Sir Robert. Mature deep garnet core, proffering gentle tones of dark plums and currants on the nose whilst the palate still possesses very good levels of fullness and presence, structured with svelte tannins that still impart fine intensity with further notes of soy coming on late. Proves the point that there is no such thing as an “off year” for Pétrus. Excellent.

1989 Ch Lynch-Bages, courtesy of Kieron. Deep garnet red, glowing with a classic claret tone of dried tea leaves and snuff. Softly rounded with excellent concentration within a supple medium-bodied proposition, imbued with ripe dark fruits, black currants and fine acidity that is still remarkably fresh. At its best, and will probably hold for another couple of decades, at least. Outstanding.

1998 Ch Haut-Brion, courtesy of Pipin. Deep impenetrable red, exuding a youthful bouquet of Bovril, deep dark currants, enamel and varnish. Medium-full. Beautifully warm and ripe, superbly supple, caressing the palate with its cedary richness that imparted some teasing intensity. Excellent.

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Happy birthday Roger!

October 22, 2019

Roger threw a lovely birthday dinner at the newly-renovated Imperial Treasure Great World on 12 October 2019. I’m not really sure why the restaurant bothered with any renovation, since it still appears largely similar to its previous incarnation and the food, whilst excellent, is not necessarily better. As usual within this group of invited friends, Burgundy is the default theme and all wines are blinded. Unless otherwise indicated, all wines were generously provided by Roger himself, aired in bottle for about three hours prior. The line-up was elegant and distinguished without any undue flamboyance, much like the birthday boy himself. We could have drunk more had a Leflaive BBM and a Henri Gouges NSG La Perrieres not turned out to be prematurely oxidised. Thank you and many happy returns, Roger!

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White 1. Aged golden hue with, perhaps, the faintest whiff of cork taint before an overwhelming bouquet of apricot, peaches and fig swarmed the senses with lovely aromas. Very fine in acidity and concentration of citrus with a very even high tone, rather minerally though there wasn’t much layering, slipping into recessed chalkiness after some time as it tapered with good linearity to a quiet finish. Undoubtedly a Puligny but Alvin hit the bull’s eye: a 1996 Domaine Robert Ampeau Puligny-Montrachet Les Combettes 1er.

White 2. Pale, exuding some faint icing and white floral tones on the nose, slightly flinty. Excellent sharp, clean lift of clear citrus and white fruits on the palate though somewhat narrow in spectrum with a high-toned minerality, displaying fine precision. Clearly a young wine, becoming more distinctly Chassagne later. I was spot on with the producer: a 2013 Paul Pillot Chassagne-Montrachet La Romanée 1er.

Red 1. Evolved pinot colour. Softly rounded, proffering aromas of delicious red fruits and cherries amid traces of earth. Very open and seamless. Highly supple, showing good acidity and intensity of fruit, structured with very finely-grained tannins as it finished with gentle persistence. Rather bright and distinctly feminine. We were floored when it was revealed to be a 2007 Domaine Armand Rousseau Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru.

Red 2. Dark pinot tone and colour, proffering a deep bouquet of delicious fruit. Matched up to expectations with an equally deep core of dark cherries, red fruits and currants on the palate, showing excellent concentration and harmony though darker in tonal shading, structured with youthful tannins that confer tight tension and intensity. Yet to open. We were correct about the commune and thought it likely to be a Vogüé, but it was the 2003 Domaine Georges Roumier Chambolle-Musigny Les Cras 1er.

Red 3. Displaying an evolved pinot tone and colour, this wine exuded a delicious floral fragrance of rose petals and red fruits amid traces of enamel. Highly lifted, open and supple, imbued with a trace of earthiness amongst its depth of fruit. Poised with lovely velvety elegance and controlled power. We’re were unanimous about it being from Vosne-Romanée, but we certainly didn’t expect it to be the now-defunct 2001 Domaine Rene Engel Echezeaux Grand Cru. Beautiful.

Red 4. Showing an evolved pinot tint, this wine proffered lifted tones of red fruits with a core of tangerines that danced on the palate with a certain deftness, open with great suppleness. Utterly seamless and harmonious, displaying excellent verve, energy and refinement. Most agreed with me that it was likely to be a Romanée Saint-Vivant, probably from Hudelot-Noellat or even D.R.C. Instead, a 2000 Domaine Dujac Clos Saint-Denis Grand Cru. Fabulous!

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Red 5. This wine presented with an appreciably darker pinot tint with plenty of depth on the nose, notably of dark fruits, currants and steamed food though the palate seemed somewhat attenuated in spite of the open suppleness, bright with pebbly characters, still coiled with tight racy intensity. Surely a Vogüé – the 2006 Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé Bonnes-Mares Grand Cru. Not ready.

Red 6. Displaying a deep garnet red, this wine proffers excellent depth and concentration of dark cherries and currants, very generously proportioned with fabulous racy intensity and tremendous verve but still tight. Undoubtedly from one of the stalwart vintages. A 1999 Domaine Meo Camuzet Clos Vougeot Grand Cru, courtesy of WCY.

Red 7. Literally popped and poured. Displaying a deep garnet core with some evolution, this wine is big, ripe and sweet, concentrated in dark currants and raspberries on a dense bed of graphite minerals that imparted some brightness, finishing with tight structured intensity. A 2005 Domaine Alain Burquet Chambertin-Clos de Beze Grand Cru, courtesy of John Ling. Truly one for the long haul.

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

October 14, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 7, 2019

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

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Jinjo: fried rice with truffles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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