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July 2021: 2017 Chamirey Mercurey Blanc, 2005 J P Belle-Terroir, 2019 Schloss Lieser Thomas Haag Bernkasteler Doctor Spätlese

July 31, 2021

2011 Domaine Ghislaine Barthod Bourgogne, courtesy of Yang at Mid-View City, 04 July 2021. Tasted blind. Dusky appearance. Gentle fragrance of red fruits and cherries but rather restrained. Medium-bodied. Slightly darkish in tone though well-delineated with clean understated intensity on a bed of firm tannins cushioned by sleek acidity, not overtly structured. Drinking well with an overall sense of feminine restraint.

2007 Domaine Hubert Lamy Saint-Aubin Clos de la Chateniere 1er, courtesy of Yvonne at Mid-View City, 04 July 2021. Tasted blind. Luminous glow of exotic white fruits, white flowers and intense citrus. Rather high-strung on the medium-full palate, displaying excellent tension and fine acidity that still managed to convey a sense of delicate transparency. This has barely evolved. Still far from ready.

2009 Domaine Confuron-Cotetidot Chambolle-Musigny Derrière La Grange 1er, courtesy of Alvin at Mid-View City, 04 July 2021. Tasted blind. Evolved brownish red. Rounded bouquet of red fruits and briar of fair intensity, exuding lovely fragrance with very fine concentration and intensity of fruit, showing clean definition. Still highly primal.

2014 Domaine Ghislaine Barthod Chambolle-Musigny Les Chatelots 1er, courtesy of WCY at Mid-View City, 04 July 2021. Tasted blind. Lovely pinot tint. Open with an attractive fragrance. Medium-full. Very fine rounded presence, structured with refined silky tannins that impart a clean feel. Carries good weight with supple clarity, just a tad short.

2009 Domaine Henri Gouges Nuits-Saint-Georges Clos des Porrets St-Georges 1er at Mid-View City, 04 July 2021. Aired in advance for three hours. Good color. This monopole exudes a restrained fragrance of red fruits with darkish undertones, marking its entry with a controlled gentle intensity that proffered fleeting glimpses of layered darkish fruit. Very well-integrated and structured with an understated forwardness, just a tad short. Drinking well.

IMG-20210729-WA0007.jpg2019 Weingüt Schloss Lieser Thomas Haag Bernkasteler Doctor Riesling Spätlese, courtesy of Jonny at Mid-View City, 04 July 2021. Rounded tones of cool icing emanate from its pale hues with a controlled sweetness, leading to a lovely velvety palate of crystalline textures and ripe tropical fruits laced with lively acidity at just the right degree of fullness. Thoroughly seamless and open and beautifully balanced throughout its length, taking its time to unravel its delights with a dash of aloofness. Absolutely superb but rare, available only at auction.

2017 Château de Chamirey Mercurey Blanc. Popped and poured at Wah Lok, 10 July 2021. White floral bloom with fairly dense chalky aromas and textures. Medium-bodied, displaying predominant white tones with fine acidity and dense minerally detail amid a slight hint of rye, developing further notes of morning dew and cool icing over time. Truly excellent in its own right. Superb value.

2005 Winemaker’s Collection No.1 (Michel Rolland). Aired in bottle for two hours prior on 11 July 2021. Dark cherries and currants dominate amid a certain darkish earthiness with a tarry quality, the fruit somewhat subdued within soft fleshy textures. A tad too austere and seemingly past its prime although another bottle popped on 25 July 2021 and aired for 90 minutes prior was drinking very well with some attractive intensity, quite generously layered with rounded velvety dark plums and cherries with cedary characters. But I wouldn’t keep any longer. The cork of every single bottle that I’d popped from this case, save one, had disintegrated badly.

2017 Domaine du Roc des Boutires Pouilly-Fuissé. Popped and poured at Asia Grand, 14 July 2021. Luminous glow of light citrus, lemons and pomelo. Superbly concentrated and tight with an oily density on the mid-palate, lit by a minerally polish that conferred good transparency with a sense of delicacy. Distinctly different from the chardonnay of Côte de Beaune. It’s a bit of an acquired taste but, given the outrageous pricing of Meursault and Puligny nowadays, one must start exploring the Mâconnais and Côte Chalonnaise.

2014 Jean-Marc Pillot Bourgogne. Popped and poured at Ka Soh, 18 July 2021. Delightful nose of crème, nutmeg and frangipani with chalky overtones laced with traces of sweet vanillin, leading to an excellent concentration of white fruits and clear citrus that exert superb tension and intensity. Opened up with good tangy detail, clarity and layering, displaying superb balance between its agile acidity and delicate elegance. Highly irresistible.

2009 Château Sociando-Mallet. Popped and poured over lunch at Corner Grill, 20 July 2021. Impenetrable deep purple, proffering attractive aromas of abundant ripe black berries, cassis and dark currants matched by lovely swathes of exciting fruit on the palate that display great density and detail with some early suppleness, structured with subtle ferrous elements and chewy tannins that confer a dash of austerity. Quite excellent but best to cellar another 5-6 years.

2005 J P Belle-Terroir. Popped and poured, 23 July 2021. Displaying an impenetrable garnet red with a unique nose of toasted oak, this Chris Ringland wine is layered with superb density of ripe Barossa shiraz characterised by savoury red fruits, currants and dark berries amid shades of cinnamon and plums that splashed the palate with intense deep velvety textures, structured with ultra-smooth sophisticated tannins laced with sublime acidity. Very sleek and slick. Drinking superbly and not at all hedonistic. Perfect with barbie.

2018 Coldstream Hills Chardonnay, drunk over 24-25 July 2021. Good concentration of clear citrus supported by lively acidity, producing a tense high-toned palate that reminded me of a Pouilly-Fuissé, not yielding much detail, turning more austere over time.

2018 Meerlust Chardonnay. Popped and poured, 31 July 2021. Tangy citrus, olives and spicy nutmeg dominate with good definition and clarity on a bed of subtle earthy minerals, displaying plenty of presence and vigour with pointed acidity.

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2008 Bouchard Corton-Charlemagne G.C. 2008 Faiveley Corton-Charlemagne G.C. 2014 Louis Jadot Puligny-Mont Pucelles 1er, 2007 Arnoux-Lachaux V-R Aux Reignots 1er, 2011 Hudelot-Noëllat Richebourg Grand Cru 2001 Cheval Blanc, 2004 Mouton Rothschild

July 27, 2021

A small group of us were the lucky beneficiaries of a dinner hosted by Dr Ngoi at his residence on 19 July 2021 where the line-up had been specially curated by the great man, paired with a modern Japanese-Euro cuisine supervised by Grace herself. There had been some concern that the Bouchard may be slightly corked, hence an impromptu comparison with Faiveley of the same vintage but I believed the former had been perfectly fine all along. All the better, as there was even more to drink. Many thanks, Sir!

Champagne David Léclapart L’Apôtre NV. This blanc de blancs opens with a smoky perfumed fragrance followed by pomelo and bitter lemon on the palate, displaying good density and depth within a sheen of soft dry open bubbles. Finished well. Very fine.

2014 Domaine Louis Jadot Puligny-Montrachet Les Pucelles 1er. Effusive wild grassy elements and white floral characters matched by a rich expanse of chalk, vanilla and fig with an oily density, displaying glowing white tones that swept the palate with tremendous verve and agility that culminated in a finish of great opulence. Outstanding.

2008 Domaine Bouchard Père et Fils Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru. Luminous with a significantly deep colour and tone, rather earthy and reductive with a character of mature chalkiness. Very controlled on the palate, showing elegant restraint with excellent clarity, definition and precision, fleshing out further with sleek acidity and intensity before turning more minerally.

2008 Domaine Faiveley Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru. Lovely luminosity. As equally restrained as Bouchard of the same vintage, opening with a laid-back chalkiness though the intense citrus certainly imparts greater freshness and vibrancy, eventually fleshing out with a weighty chalky density amid some early secondary development, culminating in a rich chromatic tone laced with regal acidity. Excellent.

2007 Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux Vosne-Romanée Aux Reignots 1er. Good color. Distinctive notes of mocha, dark chocolate, dark rose petals and black cherries dominate. Medium-full, carrying good weight with plenty of depth and layering on a ferric base, touched with a dash of earthy acidity. Yet to really develop. Finished subtly, displaying delightful freshness and purity. Truly knocking on the door of grand cru.

2011 Domaine Hudelot-Noëllat Richebourg Grand Cru. Classic pinot tint. Effusive in rose petals that shone with lovely purity. Medium-bodied. Very evenly-toned and agile, tinged with darker shades of cherries and raspberries that teased with superb tension and intensity, finishing with sophisticated sweet silky tannins. Excellent.

2001 Château Cheval Blanc. This wine opens with a velvety depth of dark roses and cherries wrapped within a luxurious sheen of silky smooth tannins. Still rather full at this stage with a youthful vibrancy, showing good sophistication with a herbaceous trace. Drinking well but best to cellar another ten years to allow its cabernet franc to bloom.

2004 Château Mouton Rothschild. Deep garnet. Its shyness – just a subtle sense of heated gravel – belies a rich concentrated palate of dark fruits, currants and blackberries with a bare trace of capsicum that is just beginning to enter secondary development, producing superb lift and intensity with lovely freshness and harmonious integration. Excellent but a waste to pop now.

1982 Pichon Lalande, 1990 Montelena Estate 1990 Léoville Las-Cases, 1994 Araujo Eisele, 2012 Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux Échezeaux, 1994 Ridge Monte Bello…

July 18, 2021

Bordeaux wines, and Bordeaux blends in general, truly need a generation of bottle maturity in order to be at their best, exemplified by this outstanding tasting of several reds aged between 27-39 years on 13 July 2021 where it was very good, once again, to see all the usual familiar faces at Imperial Treasure Great World after five weeks of nation-wide dining-in prohibition (in my opinion, totally unnecessary and ineffective). Given the outrageous pricing nowadays for Burgundy and new-release Bordeaux, it makes far better sense to spend on pristine OWCs of mature claret. Many thanks as usual, everyone, for your generosity and company. Except for the champagne, all wines were blinded.

2000 Champagne Henriot Cuvée des Enchanteleurs Brut. Deep yeasty pungency on the nose with gun smoke and nutty tones. Somewhat alarming at first as the fruit appeared to be rather backward along with bubbles that dissipated rather quickly, dominated by arid ferrous minerals that conferred a certain austerity. It re-bounded after an hour, fleshing out with a fuller and more evenly-toned palate of pomelo and bitter lemon that exuded good clarity with greater density on the nose. But I wouldn’t keep any longer.

20210713_195516.jpg2014 Kistler Trenton Roadhouse Chardonnay, courtesy of Bob. Good color. Dense bouquet of wet morning dew and summer hay, glowing with delicate citrus while white tones dominate on the open medium-full palate that showed some age, characterised initially by a laid-back chalkiness that eventually grew in sharp chiseled intensity with a lingering persistence. Very Puligny-like, only betrayed by a trace of sweetness that seems to be characteristic of Kistler. Excellent.

2017 Sandhi Sanford & Benedict Santa Rita Hills Chardonnay, courtesy of Kieron. Pale. Very fresh and lively with a great lift of cool icing and white floral bloom. Medium-bodied. Filled with white tones that exert mild intensity with good clarity and definition though slightly narrow in spectrum, opening up well with a certain teasing quality. I thought it was a Meursault. Excellent.

2016 Domaine Paul Pillot Chassagne-Montrachet La Romanée 1er, courtesy of Vic. Pale. Light tropical fruit on the nose coupled with elegant cool tones that led to a palate of gentle intensity, imbued with understated ferrous elements.

2012 Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux Échezeaux Grand Cru, courtesy of Kieron. Glorious deep ruby, proffering red fruits and currants with a tinge of sweetness. Open with a fleshy suppleness that displayed glorious depth and dimension, just a tad forward, conveying superb freshness of fruit with fine subtle intensity though not revealing much inner detail. Still highly youthful. Distinctly feminine, which is the style of the exciting Charles Lachaux. Quite excellent.

1990 Château Montelena Estate, courtesy of Sir Bob. Superb deep ruby with a bare rim of crimson, exuding a lovely perfumed fragrance. Fully mature, yet the fruit is still superbly ripe with a wonderful suppleness and balance. Supremely confident, utterly Bordeaux-like in character. This is truly an outstanding wine caught at its absolute peak.

1982 Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, courtesy of Sir Bob. Deep crimson. This wine opens with a whiff of wild grass, snuff and malt amid distinct notes of green capsicum, captivating the senses with a wonderful lift of velvety red fruits within a fleshy mature rounded complex. Beautifully balanced, displaying supple intensity as it stretched to a lovely glowing finish. Very classy, on par with a First Growth. Absolutely outstanding.

1994 Ridge Monte Bello, courtesy of LF. Deep ruby. Excellent presence of dark currants, violets and blueberries tinged with chocolate. Beautifully balanced. Still impressively fresh and full in spite of its obvious maturity, structured with subtle tannins that oozed with a dash of sweetness. Very Old World in character. Superb.

1994 Araujo Eisele Vineyard, courtesy of LF. Deep ruby. Intense darkish characters of black fruits, dark roses and black currants with a tarry quality. Structured with evolved tannins that still exert a slight abrasiveness amid a certain earthiness and leathery tone, enveloped by a distinct New World sweetness. Highly introspective. Still needs time.

1990 Château Léoville Las-Cases. Mature crimson. Fully developed complex of velvety red fruits, dry charcoal and green capsicum with a herbaceous trace. Beautifully balanced and fleshy. Still displaying youthful vibrancy with a gentle intensity, this wine is structured with such precision and typicity that everyone was spot-on in declaring it a Las-Cases. Excellent.

2006 Château La Fleur-Pétrus, courtesy of Vic. Deep garnet with a hint of crimson. Rather creamy on the nose, leading to a lush full palate still tinged with enamel, imbued with abundant layers of masculine dark fruit that produce buoyant verve and exuberance. Not quite ready yet.

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1989 Château La Mission Haut-Brion

July 5, 2021

20210630_210546.jpgThis is my first-ever experience of this legendary wine, often spoken of in the same breath as its illustrious sister of the same vintage across the road, the 1989 Château Haut-Brion. Carefully uncorked (still in pristine condition) and decanted on-site at Otto Ristorante on 30 June 2021 to go with an outstanding 600g wagyu ribeye, this wine is beautifully deep purple with just a trace of translucency at the rim, proffering a gentle delicious fragrance of mature plums, raspberries, mulberries and dark currants with a whiff of wood dust. Gliding with cool elegance across the medium-full palate, the 1989 Château La Mission Haut-Brion is still incredibly fresh, imbued with layers of fruit within its silky smooth tannins at just the right degree of ripeness and purity that teased with subtle vigour and elegant intensity, wonderfully integral throughout its superb length. It may not quite plumb the depths but this simply adds to its impeccable balance, brimming with a sense of quiet confidence amid a suggestion of smouldering ember as it sat in the glass, exuding sheer sophistication. Barely hinting at its thirty-two years, this has the legs to outlast another generation, truly befitting of its exalted reputation. Fabulous! Thanks, John!!

Jun 2021: 1998 Domaine du Pegau Réservée, 2018 Domaine Roc Boutires Pouilly-Fuissé, 2014 Jean-Marc Pillot Bourgogne Blanc, 2005 Mount Mary Quintet…

June 30, 2021

2018 Domaine du Roc des Boutires Pouilly-Fuissé, tasted 1-2 June 2021. Displaying bright luminous hues, this wine opens with a profusion of clear citrus, lime and distant green fruits, marking its entry onto the palate with a minerally warmth that never threatened to overwhelm the classic delicate poise of a Pouilly-Fuissé, growing in fullness and intensity that culminated in powerful yet transparent glowing tones. Excellent.

2012 Champagne Roger Coulon Blanc de Noirs. Tasted on 03 June 2021. Gentle attractive lift of green fruits, lime and yellow citrus tinged with earth, cedar and elements of dark berries. Fleshed out with excellent rounded presence, displaying good clarity and definition amid some dry intensity. Another bottle tasted on 30 June 2021 at Otto Ristorante was appreciably more effusive in toasted oak and yeasty pungency, imbued with brilliant concentration of intense citrus but the 2012 doesn’t quite possess the same mesmerizing depth and complexity of its most memorable 2008.

2009 Rockford Black Shiraz, tasted over 05 June 2021. Deep purple. At eleven years, this wine is still imbued with vibrant ripe Barossa shiraz, layering the palate with lovely shades of raspberries, black currants, licorice and ferrous elements tinged with a trace of liquered sweetness towards the finish, subtly structured with very fine gentle intensity within its luxurious sheen of soft bubbles. Absolutely delightful. At its best.

1998 Domaine du Pegau Cuvée Réservée. Tasted after a brief aeration on 07 June 2021. Opaque dull crimson. The nose is wonderfully beguiling in its lifted fragrant plummy tone along with other notes of haw, dried fruits and cinnamon, matched by a soft fully mature palate that is still fresh, carrying subtle intensity and verve. Absolutely feminine. This has none of that gruff herbaceous character that CdP may, at times, impart. At its drinking best. Very very lovely.

2014 Jean-Marc Pillot Bourgogne Blanc. Popped and poured, 08 June 2021. This wine opens with an excellent controlled intensity of pears, peaches and clear citrus. Very evenly toned. Mellowed after some time to reveal some minerally elements in the mid-body, morphing into a seamless whole with good weight and refined chalky detail. Finished well with superb linearity amidst a glowing intensity of lime. My second bottle in as many months. A real steal at SGD45.

2000 Château Prieuré-Lichine. Popped and poured, 09 June 2021. Dull crimson, proffering dark plummy tones and currants with a distinct mentholic note on the nose. Medium-bodied. Subtly structured with a relaxed composure, the fruit is somewhat backward and undistinctive amid overtones of dried mushrooms, snuff and bramble. It took another three hours of aeration to flesh out seamlessly with quite a superb presence of fresh red plums and ripe wild berries, fuller and more evenly toned. At its best but make sure it has had plenty of aeration.

Champagne Egly-Ouriet Blanc de Noirs. Popped and poured for our anniversary dinner, 11 June 2021. Luminous hues. Brilliant attack of yellow citrus, pomelo and grapefruit infused with chalky minerals that saturate the palate with ripe intensity and fine detail, dry and structured but beautifully balanced with a sense of velvety fullness, lingering with a trace of sweetness long after leaving the palate. Whereas I’d previously found this wine to be too acerbic, it appears to have snapped together after a few years of cellaring.

2005 Winemaker’s Collection No.1 (Michel Rolland). Tasted after an hour’s aeration, 14 June 2021. Quite promising on the nose, opening with swathes of fragrant dark fruits, currants and raspberries that led to a medium-full supple presence on the palate. However, it receded quite quickly thereafter, giving way to stern ferrous minerals that impart a certain austerity against a backdrop of dusty tannins amid overtones of wild vegetation, refusing to budge even after another three hours. Rather sullen compared with a previous bottle from the same case tasted last month.

2018 Coldstream Hills Chardonnay. Popped at home on 20 June 2021. This wine opens with a sustained intensity of clear citrus, green fruits and bitter lemon on a delicate chalky base that imparted a sense of lightness in spite of its bold presence. Remarkably similar in character to a Pouilly-Fuissé.

2007 Domaine Joseph Drouhin Clos des Mouches 1er Rouge. Popped and poured at Otto Ristorante, 21 June 2021. Evolved dusky red, proffering a gently perfumed nose of camphor, red fruits and herbaceous elements while mature ripe plummy tones tinged with mandarins dominate on the medium-bodied palate, still imbued with good freshness and acidity, turning darker as it developed a certain ferric earthiness amid effusive overtones of haw, incense and mint.

2009 Carpineto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva. Aired in bottle for two hours prior to dinner at Corner Grill, 22 June 2021. Fairly deep in color. Generously layered with well extracted dark currants and black fruits on the nose and palate. Medium-full. Still pretty tight and intense but harmonious, structured with pliant tannins and sleek acidity on a minerally floor that conferred a certain austerity before gaining in power and supple intensity after another ninety minutes, developing notes of red currants with plummy tones. Yet to peak but that’s my last bottle.

2017 Meerlust Rubicon. Aired in bottle for 90 minutes prior to dinner at Ka Soh, 26 June 2021. Deep garnet. Good lift of mulberries, dark plums and black currants that is faintly delicious, still tinged with enamel. Full presence in the mouth, displaying rounded supple intensity with excellent weight, balance and refined acidity. Very much in character with a classic Médoc. Quite excellent. Likely to flesh out more in bottle over time.

2005 Mount Mary Quintet. Decanted at home for three hours prior to dinner, 27 June 2021. Deep garnet red, exuding delicious currants and dark fruits with a feminine grace. Superbly rounded and supple but surprisingly only medium weight, rather brightly lit with a predominance of red fruits that enhanced its delicate demeanour, imbued with very finely-grained ferrous elements. Probably at its drinking best.

2005 Domaine de Chevalier Rouge. Aired in bottle for an hour prior to dinner on 29 June 2021. In spite of its lifted deep purple with fresh raspberries and dark currants on the nose, this wine is only medium-bodied on the palate, surprisingly polite with fruit that is too recessed and understated in acidity and intensity, robbing it of its Pessac character. Took quite some time to flesh out with increasing power and seamless integration, developing subtle detail of haw and finely-grained dark cherries without abandoning its gentle guise. A feminine chevalier (if ever there is one) but do allow plenty of time and space.

2017 Arlaud Gev-Chambertin Combottes 1er, 2014 Duroche Gev-Chambertin Aux Etelois, 1989 Paul Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle

June 18, 2021

In case you haven’t noticed, a quantum leap in the pricing of burgundy has begun several months ago and is continuing unabated. Fueled by low yields of recent vintages and greed on the part of producers, retailers and consumers alike (the well-heeled unable to spend on travel thanks to Covid), what was already expensive is now even more outrageously priced. It is not uncommon nowadays to receive offers for village wines costing above SGD300. And people are still buying! The smart money would be to source those that do not cost an arm or leg coming from plots adjacent to grand crus. Surely these cannot really go wrong. A look at Gevrey-Chambertin reveals Aux Combottes 1er deliciously sandwiched between Latricières GC and Clos de la Roche GC in an unbroken stretch of grand cru running from north to south, while the village wine of Aux Etelois abuts Griotte-Chambertin GC and Chapelle-Chambertin GC to the west. Indeed, a side-by-side comparison, kindly hosted by Sir Bob on 15 June 2021, showed both Combottes 1er and Etelois punching well above their weight. In fact, a segment of Aux Combottes 1er actually lies within Latricières GC…..’nuff said.

2006 Champagne Louis Roederer Cristal, courtesy of Sir Bob. Nose of high-toned citrus and white incense tinged with grapefruit. Medium-full, imbued with excellent dry presence of pomelo and bitter lemon that exude sweet gentle intensity within a sheen of very fine soft bubbles. Excellent sophistication.

2012 Domaine Joseph Drouhin Puligny-Montrachet Les Pucelles 1er, courtesy of Vic. Mind-blowing bouquet of waxy, oily textures leading to a lovely fullness and detailed depth of nutmeg, pineapples and exotic white fruits that exert superb verve and intensity with fine transparency. Far more developed and extroverted than a bottle tasted last year. Excellent, but truly a waste to pop now.

2017 Domaine Arlaud Gevrey-Chambertin Aux Combottes 1er. Deep ruby. Exudes a lovely perfumed fragrance amid a sheen of paraffin. Full but silky smooth, displaying a lovely supple intensity of fresh dark cherries and red fruits with exemplary balance, yielding good detail and excellent purity. Highly refined and elegant.

2014 Domaine Duroche Gevrey-Chambertin Aux Etelois, courtesy of LF. Lovely pinot tint, proffering plummy tones on the nose with some early complexity whilst concentrated dark hues dominate on the palate with a rich supple presence of black fruits and currants that exert fine open intensity. Well extracted but not overdone. Excellent potential.

1989 Domaine Paul Jaboulet Aine Hermitage La Chapelle, courtesy of Sir Bob. Tasted blind but its Rhône character is unmistakable. Deep garnet red. Forward dark hues of fresh shoe polish on the nose. Equally bold on the palate where a delicious complex of black plums, licorice and cinnamon dominate with rounded intensity amid varnished hues, still quite amazingly fresh and youthful. Shows good linearity all through to its lingering minty finish.

1999 Domaine Louis Jadot Échezeaux Grand Cru, courtesy of Sir Bob. Tasted blind. Deep garnet red. Forward nose red fruits though, curiously, they seem somewhat recessed on the medium-full palate, overshadowed by broad swathes of fine acidity and darker tones that sweep across with a bold sweetish density.

2007 Claude Dugat La Gibryotte Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru, courtesy of Kieron. Tasted blind. Deep crimson. Intense profusion of red cherries and currants on the nose. Wonderfully full and voluptuous, imbued with supple verve and intensity from its abundant depth, finishing with good length amid a trace of sweetness.

1998 Williams Selyem Hirsch Vineyard, courtesy of LF. Tasted blind. Rather dark. Its bouquet of fresh red fruits, cherries and haw is clearly pinot in character yet distinctly un-Burgundian. Quite markedly intense with forward darkish tones underscored by sublime acidity, displaying youthful verve and supple intensity. We were spot-on.

May 2021: 2009 Château La Vieille Cure, 2005 Winemaker’s Collection Cuvée No.1, 2011 Arnoux-Lachaux V-R Aux Reignots 1er, 2009 Groffier Sentiers 1er, 2008 Delamotte, 2018 Michel Niellon Chassagne-Montrachet, 2016 Bouchard Meursault Perrières 1er…

June 7, 2021

20210502_173233.jpg2009 Château La Vieille Cure. Aired in bottle for ninety minutes prior to dinner at Ka Soh, 02 May 2021. Deep garnet red. Attractive nose of ripe plummy characters. Very good fleshy presence of cool ripe fruit and currants imbued with traces of graphite minerals that impart very fine intensity, showing excellent depth and layering. Open with glowing tones. Highly supple and delicious. Don’t underestimate Fronsac. This wine can hold its own in any line-up.

2009 Goulée. Aired for sixty minutes prior to dinner at home, 03 May 2021. Displaying a deep garnet red, this wine by Cos D’Estournel exudes a lovely dense bouquet of dark roses, ripe red fruits and dark currants matched by a rich velvety medium-full body layered with fabulous fruit, delivering notes of ripe raspberries, dark cherries, haw and violets with a slightly forward presence, beautifully balanced with unobtrusive acidity and finely-grained tannins. This is easily within the league of classified growths but at a fraction of the price. At its perfect drinking peak now, and will hold for years. Superb.

2017 Louis Jadot Mâcon-Villages. Aired in bottle for ninety minutes prior to dinner at home, 05 May 2021. Attractive nose of brioche, honeysuckle and cool icing with a tinge of green fruits. Beautifully rounded and full. Very seamlessly integrated with subtle chalky tones, sublime acidity and fine depth of superbly nuanced clear citrus infused with a discernible note of bright ferrous elements that confer good verve and definition with a slight velvety warmth. Excellent.

2016 Domaine Bouchard Père et Fils Meursault Perrières 1er. Aired in bottle for two hours prior to dinner at Imperial Treasure Great World, 10 May 2021. Delicate lift of white fruits, citrus and icing. Medium-full. Excellent concentration of cool ripe fruit, displaying clean precision with sublime acidity and great tensile presence, yielding some minerally detail with understated chalkiness over time as it fleshed out with increasing intensity of glowing white tones that lingered with lovely length. Superb.

2011 Domaine Arnoux Lachaux Vosne-Romanée Aux Reignots 1er, courtesy of Vic at Imperial Treasure Great World, 10 May 2021. Classic pinot tint with a deep garnet core, exuding delicious red fruits and dark roses that is most alluring. Medium-bodied. Open with restrained intensity, displaying layers of dark fruit imbued with Vosne spices and herbs, well integrated with sleek acidity. Still youthful. Excellent.

2011 Domaine Roblet-Monnot Volnay Piture 1er, courtesy of Alvin at Imperial Treasure Great World, 10 May 2021. Tasted blind. Opaque pinot tint, proffering a superb delicate fragrance with a distinct dash of tangerines. Good concentration of fruit, slightly darkish in tone within a confined spectrum again with a tinge of citrus at its core. Very cleanly defined with fine acidity and verve. I nailed it.

2009 Domaine Robert Groffier Chambolle-Musigny Les Sentiers 1er, courtesy of Sir Bob at Imperial Treasure Great World, 10 May 2021. Beguiling nose of rosy feminine characters with a tinge of earth. Medium-bodied. Open with reddish hues. Fairly rounded and opulent, displaying lovely acidity and fine definition with subtle intensity and detail, developing a little more of tangerines as it sat in the glass. Excellent.

2009 Château Marquis de Terme. Aired in bottle for three hours prior to dinner at Wah Lok, 11 May 2021. Deep purple. Delicious dark fruits and currants on the nose. Full-bodied, exuding youthful intensity with a high-toned tight tensile minerally presence. Mellowed a little after another ninety minutes with emerging cool ripe fruit, yielding chewy tannins with some inner detail of dark cherries along with smoky savoury characters. There’s plenty going on with quite a fair bit of sophistication but this wine needs another ten years to sort itself out.

2008 Champagne Delamotte Blanc de Blancs. Popped and poured at Crab At Bay, 13 May 2021. Restrained nose of green fruits and delicate citrus. Rounded fullness of cool ripe fruit with characters of lime, clear citrus and pomelo. Superbly ripe with detailed intensity and excellent refinement, oozing with sweet subtle acidity that stretched to its persistent finish. Drinking very well now.

2018 Domaine Michel Niellon Chassagne-Montrachet, courtesy of Alice Wee at the tasting room of Wine Clique, 14 May 2021. This wine opens with rich creamy buttery characters on the nose that gave way quite quickly to dense chromatic white tones. Rather plump and rounded with a lovely warmth, imbued with minerally characters on a distinct gravelly base. Structured with fine definition and understated intensity, tapering to an austere ferrous finish. Excellent.

2014 Jean-Marc Pillot Bourgogne Blanc, aired in bottle for ninety minutes prior, 16 May 2021. Light greenish hue. Very good presence and purity of fruit, displaying dominant characters of yellow citrus and green fruits charged with fine acidity and intensity, decent in layering and finish. Unpretentious. Drinking well but worth keeping longer.

2008 Domaine Leflaive Bourgogne Blanc, courtesy of Casey at his office, 17 May 2021. Lovely golden hue. This wine opens with effusive but controlled chromatic white tones layered with fair complexity and attractive sweetness. The palate is marked by an unusually high-toned but well-integrated acidity, imparting a certain brightness that detracted somewhat from the narrow spectrum of baked apples and pears, a tad short as well.

2005 Fontanafredda La Rosa Barolo, tasted over two days 18-19 May 2021. Evolved crimson. Came into its own only on Day 2 when it snapped together with good concentration of plummy characters and tangerines amid rosy hues, medium-bodied, underscored with fine acidity that imparted good tension, balance and well-integrated tannin structure. Really needs plenty of time.

2005 Winemaker’s Collection Cuvée No.1 (Michel Rolland), tasted over two days 20-21 May 2021. From a sealed OWC kept in storage since its initial release. Dark crimson, exuding delicious secondary characters of cedar and cinnamons with dark plums and black currants. Medium-full. Still imbued with very good concentration of fruit that exert youthful intensity and tension, just thinning out a little with a trace of dryness towards the finish. Drinking well. Only 5,000 bottles annually, made by a celebrity winemaker each year from a single plot of Château D’Arsac in Margaux.

2005 Château Barde-Haut, tasted over two days 23-24 May 2021. Deep garnet red, proffering mulberries, cranberries and dark fruits with good concentration, structured with youthful tannins. Gave way overnight to ripe red plummy tones with perfect balance and acidity, coating the medium-full palate with mouth-puckering supple intensity. Still hasn’t quite developed secondary nuances.

20210526_183113.jpgLa Joya Oculta Aalma D’Malvasia Singular, specially sent over by Jimmy Lim, a leading wine commentator in Spain. A 100% malvasia from very old vines planted in 1910 in Pago Cuba Negra, this bottling is a blend of the 2014 and 2015, specially made for Jimmy for his 75th birthday and to celebrate his 50 years of residency in Spain, bearing his surname in Chinese (林) on the label. Displaying a yellowish-greenish tint, this white opens with notes of spicy nutmeg, olives, clear and yellow citrus imbued with clean fresh acidity, showing excellent concentration and balance with lively zest. Became more minerally after some time, imparting a touch of austerity at the finish but the balance is still there. Drinking well. Many happy returns, Jimmy! Tasted 26 May 2021.

2009 Château Monbousquet, tasted on 30-31 May 2021. Opaque purple. Dark berries dominate with good concentration and youthful intensity on the medium-bodied palate, structured with good weight and integration though it doesn’t exude much charm. Entering its drinking window.

Inglenook: Rubicon 2016 & 2017, Blancaneaux 2016

May 29, 2021

Inglenook is one of the oldest estates in the Napa Valley, founded in 1879 by Finnish sea captain Gustave Niebaum who made his fortune through the trading of animal hides and sealskins and who later acquired a taste for the high life. Estates with such a long history would usually have had a chequered past and Inglenook (the word means “hearth” or “cozy corner” in Scottish) is no different. It would suffice to say that the estate was bought over by movie director Francis Ford Coppola in 1975, who promptly went about re-establishing the greatness of this estate’s wines as they had been during the glorious years between 1933 and 1964 when the winemaking had been managed by John Daniel Jr, grand-nephew of Captain Niebaum (its legendary 1941 Inglenook Cask Cabernet was deemed perfect by Wine Spectator). Since 2011, Philippe Bascaules of Château Margaux has been brought in to supervise the winemaking; he now holds dual roles as Director of Winemaking at Inglenook whilst also remaining as General Manager of Château Margaux. The estate is covered with 95 hectares of vines at an average age of 25 years (though the age range is very wide) grown in a variety of soils. M. Bascaules prefers to pick the grapes earlier than what had been traditional to maintain freshness and a sense of terroir though there is no question about the ripeness of fruit. The grapes for its flagship Rubicon come from specific choice plots although a portion also comes from plots used for the estate’s Cabernet Sauvignon.

At this online tasting with M. Bascaules on 27 May 2021 organised by Wine Clique Singapore, the influence of a bordelais from a top estate is readily apparent. I found the wines to be highly integral, very beautifully nuanced and elegant with superb balance and proportion, quite distinctly feminine (like Margaux!) as opposed to the usual masculine traits of a typical Napa cabernet. In fact, they resemble very much a claret though I know one shouldn’t be comparing apples with oranges. It’s clear that the grapes are not 100% de-stemmed as a whiff of woodiness is evident on the nose (and Château Margaux has also moved away from de-stemming) but it adds to the wine rather than detract from it. Its unusual Blancaneaux is also a thing of beauty, clearly not chardonnay in the mouth but wonderful, nonetheless. At far friendlier prices than the usual big names of Napa, Inglenook is where the smart money should be.

2016 Inglenook Blancaneaux. A surprising Rhône blend of viognier, marsanne and roussanne in almost equal parts aged for seven months mostly in stainless steel tanks with just a splash of French oak. The result is most impressive. Fairly effusive in lifted white tones and spicy nutmeg, this medium-bodied wine displays a gentle entry with a cool density of fruit, highly seamless with a lovely ripe elegance. Very beautifully nuanced and balanced with understated minerality and acidity, tapering to a demure finish. Utterly feminine. A real gem.

2017 Inglenook Cabernet Sauvignon, comprising 93% cabernet sauvignon with a sprinkling of cabernet franc, merlot and petit verdot aged in 50% new French oak. Some 5000-20000 cases annually. The benefits of early harvesting in a hot vintage can be seen here. Proffering an earthy bouquet with overtones of twigs, bramble and briar, this medium-bodied wine opens with good concentration of dark plums amid dryish textures and sleek acidity, slightly lean at first before fleshing out very well on a base of ferrous elements without any sign of burnt nor vegetal edge. Rounded with very well-managed tannins and excellent integration, finishing well with a bit of minty trace. Resembling a Médoc in every way, this wine can take its place on any table.

2017 Inglenook Rubicon, comprising 86% cabernet sauvignon, 10% merlot and 4% cabernet franc aged in 75% new French oak. Some 3000-7000 cases annually. Opaque purple. Rather shy at first, this wine opens with a note of seasoned wood on the nose, taking its time to reveal further notes of capsicum and other dark herbaceous elements. Distinctly richer than the estate Cabernet Sauvignon, imbued with good definition of velvety dark fruits dressed in highly-refined silky tannins, displaying lovely elegance and freshness with excellent sophistication. Superbly balanced and integrated though it isn’t quite the opulent sort.

2016 Inglenook Rubicon, comprising 82% cabernet sauvignon, 6% merlot, 7% cabernet franc, 4% petit verdot and 1% malbec aged in 75% new French oak. Deep purple. Quite resolutely shut with just a hint of woodiness. The medium-bodied palate, however, is wonderfully supple with a lovely warmth and velvety fullness, superbly integrated, displaying quiet intensity with some juicy succulence that tapered with fine linearity to a composed finished that lingered with a trace of sweetness. Beautifully proportioned and elegant. Almost aristocratic. This wine is so integral that there is not a single component that could be teased apart. Outstanding.

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

May 17, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2020 Château Nenin. Pomerol. Deep purple. Attractive earthiness and heated gravel amid ripe wild berries on the nose. Soft. Medium-full, showing good presence of mulberries and dark currants with fine definition and understated acidity. Structured with refined tannins that impart subtle intensity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2020 Pichon Comtesse Réserve. Pauillac. Comprises 47% merlot, 43% cabernet sauvignon and 10% petit verdot. The second wine of Pichon Lalande opens with distinct notes of malt and summer hay laid on heated wet gravel. Medium-bodied. Fleshy with fresh rounded suppleness, showing good presence of dark fruits and black berries that finished with subtle open intensity.

20210517_163650 (003)2020 Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande. Pauillac, Deuxième Cru. Comprises 77% cabernet sauvignon, 17% merlot and 6% cabernet franc. Hint of velvety dark cherries, red fruits and currants with a restrained floral fragrance. Medium-bodied. Beautifully supple, imbued with a warm ripe subtle intensity within its seamless presence, structured with highly subtle tannins that impart a bit of velvetiness. Finished well. A rather self-effacing shy beauty. Every bit the debutante Comtesse.

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

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

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

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

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

2020 Clos du Marquis. Saint-Julien. Deep purple. Evenly-controlled restraint of haw and black cherries on the nose. Softly contoured with a bright rounded tone, almost glaring, that detract somewhat from the highly seamless body of dark fruit and currants, showing lovely proportions and smooth tannins with a trace of graphite at its decent finish. Drinking well but still rather restrained and shy on the whole. Almost feminine.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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En Primeur: 2020 Ch Ducru-Beaucaillou

May 10, 2021

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

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

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

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

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