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June 2020: 2009 Rockford Black Shiraz, 1996 Grand-Puy-Lacoste, 1999 Palmer…

July 6, 2020

2008 Champagne Delamotte Blanc de Blancs. Popped and poured, 01 June 2020. Faint greenish hue. Reticent, proffering just distant notes of green fruits, lime and clear citrus though the palate is brightly lit with great concentration and intensity of fruit amid overtones of almonds and walnuts supported by firm minerally elements. Crisp but a shade austere. Not ready.

2005 Château Malartic-Lagravière Rouge, decanted for 120 minutes prior on 03 June 2020. Darkly coloured, delivering its promise of dark fruits and ripe wild berries laced with some vegetal trace. Still tight with great concentration and intensity, taking its time to slowly unravel, revealing gentle sweet dark currants underscored by firm but well integrated acidity. Very fine but it really needs 3-4 hours of coaxing at this stage.

2017 Château de Chamirey Mercurey Blanc, aired in bottle for 90 minutes on 05 June 2020. Excellent concentration of clear and yellow citrus, exuding overtones of brioche and honeysuckle. Superbly integrated with sublime acidity and stony minerals, displaying lovely expanse and intensity with crisp definition, finishing with good length and verve. Very confidently poised. Hard to believe it is just village. Runs its bigger sibling, the Mercurey La Mission monopole, very close. Incredible value.

20200620_191506.jpg2015 Domaine Thibert Père et Fils Saint-Véran Champ Rond, aired in bottle for 90 minutes prior on 08 June 2020. Superb concentration of pomelo and clear citrus with bit of lift, open with lovely intensity and well-integrated acidity on a base of distinct ferrous minerals that imparted darker tones, yielding good detail and subtle power in spite of the density of fruit, never at all heavy. Settled down with more transparency and focus, turning a little more austere with more dominant minerals even as it finished with juicy intensity. Still not quite ready. Keep.

1999 Château Palmer, decanted for 30 minutes prior on our Anniversary, 11 June 2020. Deep garnet red, exuding notes of gentle toast, taking its time to develop a deep plummy glow with a certain sur-maturité. Highly supple and open with very good concentration and fine intensity of darker fruits and currants, yielding fine detail aided by fully-resolved tannins as it finished with refined elegance amid traces of soy and earthy elements. Absolutely harmonious. A feminine Palmer, rather than one with outright power. Still remarkably fresh. At its peak.

2005 Mount Mary Quintet. Decanted for five hours prior on 13 June 2020 to go with a juicy home-cooked steak. Subdued tones of black fruits and currants on the nose though there is no doubting the excellent concentration of fruit on the palate that shone with brilliant intensity, revealing good definition with a firm graphite spine but still somewhat tight and reluctant, neither plump nor opulent. Still not ready?

2016 Domaine Lucien Muzard et Fils Santenay Maladière 1er Rouge, 14 June 2020. In spite of advanced aeration of more than two hours in bottle, this wine was still rather tight, stuffed with abundant dark cherries, raspberries and mulberries that exuded whiffs of delicious fragrance with a plush rounded mouthfeel, though its depth appeared to be attenuated by a certain minerally brightness. The wine did finally open up after another ninety minutes with very fine velvety detail and juicy intensity, literally at the last pour, a case of too little too late. One for the long haul, I guess.

2017 Domaine Lucien Muzard et Fils Santenay Maladière 1er Blanc, popped and poured at Ka Soh, 19 June 2020. Attractive bouquet of fresh white floral tones, vanillin, icing and crème. Medium-full. Very well layered with transparent textures that yielded good clarity just beneath the faintest sheen of paraffin. Shut down a little after some time before re-emerging with further intensity of clear citrus and bitter lemon. Deserves more time in bottle for secondary development.

1996 Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste, popped and poured at Otto Ristorante, 20 June 2020. Deep garnet core with a crimson rim. Exudes a lovely earthy glow of a mature claret with a soft delicious fragrance of ripe red fruits and currants. Still rather fullish, imbued with very fine concentration of fruit with early tertiary characters of sweet cedar, haw and camphor. Open with supple intensity and gorgeous acidity on a bed of subtle earthy minerals, developing a masculine spine over time as it commanded great presence with an exciting mouthfeel. Caught at its peak. Excellent.

2019 Giant Steps Chardonnay, aired in bottle for 90 minutes prior on 23 June 2020. Attractive bouquet of morning dew, olives, grassy elements and raw nutmeg that conjured some rusticity. Medium-full. Layered with good concentration of lemon and clear citrus that yielded good presence and fine inner definition, its sleek acidity imparting energetic freshness. Good value.

2009 Rockford Black Shiraz, popped and poured at Asia Grand, 27 June 2020. Unmistakable warm ripe velvety Barossa shiraz tinged with licorice on the nose and palate, rounded with lovely fullness, depth and measured intensity. Lively with very well-integrated acidity, developing a broader sweet velvety expanse coated with very fine bubbles as it finished on a subtle liqueured note with good complexity without any pretension, Excellent.

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Cooked to perfection by Ryan Chen

1961 Montrose, 1997 Mouton Rothschild, 1995 Latour, 1997 Drouhin Montrachet MdL, 1990 Philipponnat Clos des Goisses Brut, 1995 Haut-Brion, 1994 Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne

June 29, 2020

This dinner at Jade Palace, Singapore, on 25 June 2020 marks the end of more than two months of state-imposed dine-in restriction in the wake of Covid-19. Such a memorable occasion mandated no less than a First Growth line-up, plus the rarity of a 1961 claret. It was very good to see, once again, the familiar faces of the restaurant staff and to know that everyone has remained safe and healthy.

1990 Champagne Philipponnat Clos des Goisses Brut, courtesy of LF. Deeply coloured, proffering oxidative notes with a prominent minerally tone. A similar whiff of pungent earthiness is also evident of the palate, still imbued with excellent fullness of clear citrus underscored by a controlled dry intensity and steely depth amid overtones of gun smoke cordite. Excellent.

20200625_193703.jpg1994 Domaine Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru, courtesy of LF. Still relatively pale with a bright minerally shine on the nose. Rather restrained and tight initially, gradually loosening up to reveal fresh clean lines that enhanced its purity of fruit, displaying excellent depth and agility with a light minty glow that kept up its apparent youthfulness whilst maintaining a subdued intensity throughout. Fairly consistent with a previous tasting at a FICOFI event in October 2019. Quite excellent.

1997 Domaine Joseph Drouhin Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche Grand Cru, courtesy of Vic. Decanted for three hours prior. Deep golden lustre, exuding a deep bouquet of mature tangerines and white floral overtones that extended well onto the palate with excellent density of citrus fruits, glowing with mature crème de la crème on a backdrop of subdued chalkiness. Interestingly, it became more delicate and agile over time whilst gaining further exciting intensity, developing towards a more ethereal presence. Still has the legs for the long haul, despite the vintage. Excellent.

1961 Château Montrose, courtesy of Sir Robert. Displaying a deep brownish red with some bricking, this wine still seems incredibly youthful in appearance and on the palate, proffering a remarkably fresh glow of red fruits and tangerines that grew in intensity over time with overtones of ground pepper. Medium-bodied, still imbued with fine presence of mature wild dark berries, absolutely harmonious with a lovely suppleness as it finished with a terrific glow amid traces of soy and dusty tannins. Held up very well throughout the whole evening. What a privilege!

20200625_211304.jpg1995 Château Haut-Brion. Decanted on-site. Deep garnet core with a highly attractive bouquet of deep currants, ripe berries and incense. Medium-full. Fleshy with excellent concentration and fullness, quite richly layered with fruit that is approaching maturity amid traces of capsicum and tangerines within a very well-defined structure, displaying lovely length and intensity. Excellent.

1997 Château Mouton Rothschild, courtesy of Sir Robert. Still darkly coloured, this wine exudes a captivating glow of wild berries, raspberries and mulberries amid traces of capsicum and ground pepper, rounded with supple freshness and succulence of delicious red fruits tinged with dried mushrooms though without the outright opulence of the best years, developing lovely intensity as it finished with good length. Quite superb. Seems all the 1997 clarets are having the last laugh.

1995 Château Latour, courtesy of Kieron. Still darkly coloured, exuding a deep mesmerising bouquet of ripe dark berries and currants along with a savoury note, displaying very fine presence and acidity as it caressed the palate with a luxurious velvety smoothness before settling down with great transparency and linearity. Characteristically aristocratic. Excellent.

 

 

2019 Bordeaux En Primeur: Châteaux Olivier, La Gaffelière, Lamarque, Meyney, Grand-Puy Ducasse, Pichon Lalande, Guiraud, Bastor-Lamontagne.

June 5, 2020

The good guys at Vintage Club, Singapore, were kind enough to invite me to a tasting of selected 2019 Bordeaux across Zoom on the evening of 04 June 2020. A set of miniature glass bottles (the châteaux have requested no photographs of these on social media), each filled with 30 mL of wine, essentially barrel samples, had been couriered to my residence the day before. The wines were aired for 30 minutes prior to tasting at the ambient temperature of 20°C. The year 2019 was essentially a hot vintage, though not to the extent of 2003. I remembered being in the blistering 40°C heat of Saint-Émilion on the last week of June 2019, the start of the hot spell (following cold and wet weather from April to mid-June) that lasted until the rains of late September. Some have commented that the tendency towards excessive sugar ripeness caused by the heat has resulted in wines of uneven quality on both Banks. Indeed, throughout the tasting, one can sense each estate trying to tame the alcohol, some more successfully than others. One of the estates (which I cannot name) withdrew its wine from the evening’s line-up at the eleventh hour even though its sample had reached us. Little wonder: the alcohol in that wine could not be controlled, pervading the entire palate and obscuring the fruit. Perhaps the best kept secret of 2019 are actually the Bordeaux whites (including Sauternes), generously flavoured and very naturally balanced with real depth, layering and sleek acidity. These are the real gems of 2019. Merci Gilles!

Saint-Émilion, 25 June 2019

2019 Château Olivier Blanc. Generous nose of floral notes, distinct diesel tones and fresh morning dew, quite gorgeous. Very good in concentration with a clean feel, displaying great clarity and acidity. Fleshed out with some degree of oiliness, rather sleek and slick, remaining highly harmonious. Excellent.

2019 Château Olivier Rouge. Somewhat reductive, a tad austere, with quite a bit of funkiness on the nose. Rounded and fleshy on the medium-bodied palate, showing very good concentration of raspberries and ripe wild berries, structured with highly supple tannins. Finished with good linearity. Very fine and elegant.

2019 Château La Gaffelière. Attractive but restrained perfumed fragrance. Rather slim on the medium-bodied palate, displaying good concentration and harmony with focused definition and rounded suppleness, revealing just a hint of vegetal undertones along with a discernible bit of alcoholic trail.

2019 Château Lamarque. Rather fruit forward on the nose with a distinct sweetness. Medium-bodied, imbued with very good presence of ripe black berries and dark cherries that almost imparted a sense of opulence. Subtly structured with quite an open silkiness, laced with fine acidity. Surprisingly fine from the Haut-Médoc. Drinking very well already!

2019 Château Meyney. Not much on the nose though the medium-bodied palate is imbued with good concentration of dark fruits and currants, structured with good acidity. Somewhat short. Not distinctive.

2019 Château Grand-Puy Ducasse. Closed, proffering just a whiff of dark currants. Quite fleshy and open on the medium-bodied palate, displaying good concentration of dark fruits that brought about some warm biting intensity with fine acidity though lacking in ultimate distinction and length.

2019 Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande. Discernible bit of warm vegetal hint on the nose that is classic of Lalande, though essentially closed. Fleshy, medium-full, imbued with very fine concentration of fruit cushioned with some velvety tones though not truly opulent. Good depth and layering, finishing with restrained elegance and subtle tannins. Very fine. Good potential.

2019 Château Bastor-Lamontagne. Gentle nose of nectarine. Medium-bodied. Good clean concentration of peaches and apricot, exuding controlled sweetness as it tapered to a quiet finish. Distinctly feminine. A successful Sauternes.

2019 Château Guiraud. Attractive bouquet of fresh green apples amidst apricot and tropical fruit, already hinting at some early complexity. Has weight, depth and layering, displaying some attractive intensity with lovely balance and controlled sweetness. Finished very well. Shows real class and pedigree. Excellent.

May 2020: 2008 Champagne Dom Pérignon, 2017 Montille Saint-Aubin En Remilly 1er, 2017 Lucien Muzard Santenay Maladière 1er, 2017 Chamirey Mercurey La Mission 1er, 2005 Roc de Cambes, 2005 Destieux…

June 1, 2020

More stay-home misery and boredom…

2018 Coldstream Hills Chardonnay. Popped and poured, 01 May 2020. Medium-full. Excellent in concentration and fullness with a very clean feel, boasting refined precision and acidity with great balance. More minerally over time, blossoming with white floral tones that added to its lovely intensity, just a tad peppery at the finish. Another bottle tasted on 21 May 2020 (aired for an hour prior) was distinctly minerally right from the start, displaying coarse chalky textures with nutmeg and white floral tones whilst the fruit is set rather backwards, resulting in less than ideal balance.

2005 Fontanafredda La Rosa Barolo, 03 May 2020. Aired in bottle for 60 minutes prior to go with a pan-fried steak. Darkish purple. Raspberries, violets and dark cherries dominate on the nose with a waxy sheen whilst plummy tones occupy the medium-bodied palate, displaying fine concentration and intensity though there isn’t any true complexity even after 15 years, finishing on a dryish note.

2017 Domaine de Montille Saint-Aubin En Remilly 1er. Aired in bottle for 90 minutes prior to tasting, 06 May 2020. Delicate clear citrus and lime on the nose, rather shy, though it explodes on the palate with a kaleidoscope of white floral tones, raw nutmeg and pomelo that expanded with superb presence, delicacy and sublime acidity, yielding lovely inner detail before finishing with the faintest dash of diesel and earth. Far better than a previous bottle last month from the same case. Excellent.

2017 Domaine Lucien Muzard et Fils Santenay Maladière 1er Blanc, 09 May 2020. Greenish hue, exuding grassy elements, faint icing and vanillin with a hint of creaminess and a touch of lemongrass. Very good fullness, displaying controlled power and intensity, yet maintaining great clarity and transparency with a certain lightness and agility. Quite excellent.

Yeah !!

2000 Château Magdelaine, decanted for 90 minutes to go with cuisine from restaurant Ibid, specially delivered by Master Chef Woo Wai-Leong, 14 May 2020. Evolved opaque crimson with a rusty rim, sporting red plums, ripe wild berries and dark cherries on the nose amid traces of bramble and licorice, a little dry at first. Fleshed out with good concentration and fullness, displaying characters of gun smoke and flint on a base of iron filings with a dash of creaminess, fairly rounded with unobtrusive tannins though its underlying ferrous tone imparted a lingering austerity all the way to its gentle finish. Rather underwhelming for a 2000. Drink up.

2008 Champagne Dom Pérignon, a gift from MH, tasted on 15 May 2020. Luminous gold. Deep arresting bouquet of golden toast and roasted almonds matched by an even more glorious depth of white fruits that pervaded the palate with excellent presence amidst exciting acidity and a lovely velvety expanse of soft bubbles on a base of subtle but distinct ferrous elements, poised with delicate balance and refined elegance. Already quite outstanding but will be even better.

2015 Hardy’s Eileen Hardy Chardonnay. Popped and poured, 19 May 2020. Unusually prominent greenish hue, exuding green fruits, brioche and honeysuckle. Rather placid and clean initially, taking its time to develop good concentration of floral notes with fine acidity that turned a little sharper over time along with greater intensity of clear citrus and paraffin, evolving rich oily textures as it finished with trailing sweetness. Attractive, but may not be everyone’s idea of chardonnay.

2016 Domaine Lucien Muzard et Fils Santenay Maladière 1er Rouge, popped and poured on 16 May 2020. Raspberries, dark cherries and dark rose petals dominate with very good levels of ripeness, noticeably darker in tone but never heavy. Medium-bodied, displaying good integral harmony with good purity and refined acidity. Very fine.

2005 Château Destieux. Decanted for 90 minutes prior, 23 May 2020 to go with German and Italian delivery from the Kempinski Singapore. Dark fruits and currants dominate with good concentration of fruit and licorice though somewhat dry and woody on the palate. It took another 90 minutes of coaxing in the glass for the wine to gain some lift, fleshing out with more plummy tones, finally shaking off its lingering toughness and austerity to emerge with a classic cabernet complexity on the nose with supple velvety tannins in equal measure.

2006 Fontanafredda Barolo La Rosa, decanted for 90 minutes prior on 25 May 2020. Crimson at the rim. Medium-bodied. Bright red fruits dominate but there is a sense of brittle hardness with an attenuated depth on the palate that prevented the wine from opening up in spite of persistent coaxing, finishing on a minerally note.

2017 Domaine Philippe Livera Bourgogne Rouge, aired in bottle for two hours prior, 27 May 2020. Fairly deep in colour, this wine exudes a forward balance of fresh rose petals, raspberries and mulberries, displaying good levels of ripeness on a firm palate, laced with fine acidity and over-bright minerally characters that, somehow, resulted in attenuated depth and dimension.

Foie gras with wagyu beef rice from Burning Oak

2017 Château de Chamirey Mercurey 1er La Mission, aired in bottle for 90 minutes prior on 29 May 2020. Superb seamless integration of very finely detailed citrus and white floral characters with sublime acidity, very subtly balanced and well-proportioned, poised with regal elegance. Developed creamier tones on a backdrop of increasing chalkiness over time with mounting intensity, underscored by deep subtle ferrous minerality. Excellent.

2005 Roc de Cambes, aired in bottle for close to four hours prior to go with foie gras and wagyu rice, 31 May 2020. Deep purple. This wine exudes a generous bouquet of raspberries and dark currants amid savoury overtones and sweet incense. Medium-bodied. Fairly supple, displaying good levels of ripeness and concentration and again with that bit of marinated cooked meat, structured with subtle tannins and very fine seamless acidity, finishing with a dash of ferrous elements. Shares very similar characteristics with Tertre Roteboeuf. Consistent with a previous bottle from the same case tasted in July 2019. Quite excellent, still yet to peak.

2017 Hospices de Beaune Meursault-Charmes 1er Cuvée de Bahèzre de Lanlay

May 18, 2020

One of the unforgettable highlights of our 2017 trip to Burgundy was the annual benefit auction for the Hospices de Beaune. Convened on the third Sunday of every November since 1859, the auction takes place inside the town hall right beside the Hôtel-Dieu de Beaune where entry is limited mainly to registered participants while casual observers will need to queue. Forget about any romanticised notion about the bidding process. The auction itself, helmed by Christie’s, is conducted in a cold business-like manner that proceeds at quite a rapid clip, for there are literally tonnes of wine from that same year’s harvest (all in the form of 228-litre barrels, not bottles) that must be auctioned off before the afternoon is over. Over a sumptuous lunch earlier that day at his domaine, Luc Bouchard had advised us that a parcel of Meursault-Charmes 1er, specially bequeathed by a certain Louis de Bahèzre de Lanlay (who was an inspector of telegraph lines) to the Hospices in 1884, was worth bidding for at an indicative price of €15,000 per barrel. Eleven barrels were up for auction. As we knew that 2017 was outstanding for whites and that one cannot really go wrong with Meursault-Charmes, we took the bait. When that particular lot finally came up for bidding three hours into the auction, Luc, who bidded on our behalf, made sure that we secured a barrel albeit at a higher price than what we’d anticipated. Well, if you really want something, you’ve got to go for it. That is why the best way to realise the full commercial value of wine is through auction. We left the barrel with Luc to take care of the subsequent élevage and bottling, all in magnums, finally taking delivery of the massive lot in early 2020.

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Wines of the Hospices de Beaune can often be a touch-and-go affair, relatively more costly to begin with without quite achieving the best results. Like any burgundy, the key to success lies with the producer. With Domaine Bouchard Pere et Fils, one of the very best houses for burgundy whites, handling our barrel, we needn’t be worried. 20200515_121526.jpgEven after just a brief aeration in bottle, the 2017 Hospices de Beaune Meursault-Charmes 1er Cuvée de Bahèzre de Lanlay was absolutely on song. Displaying a slight greenish hue, this wine proffers a generous bouquet of green fruits, mild grassy elements and lifted flinty minerals poised with delicate immediacy and distinct feminity, enhanced by a palate of well-defined chalky tones and delicate crème de la crème superbly integrated with an excellent expanse of fruit and focused acidity, developing some lovely early complexity as it took on a glowing creaminess tinged with peppery spice in the glass, becoming more Chassagne-like after an hour. Its minerally character is not surprising, as this parcel of truly old vines straddles both Charmes-dessous (ie. planted on lower ground in 1947) and Charmes-dessus (on higher ground, 1946). Its potential for future development is huge, given that it already has that near-perfect balance right off the starting block. There are probably another 3,000 bottles of this wine circulating around the world but can they measure up to this outstanding effort by Domaine Bouchard Pere et Fils? Merci beaucoup, Luc!

April 2020: 1999 Château Lafite Rothschild, 2017 Château de Chamirey Mercurey Blanc

May 8, 2020

A miserable month of stay-home restrictions and restaurant closures thanks to Covid-19. Popping a bottle at home over dinner isn’t quite the same without friends…

2011 Champagne Pierre Peters Cuvée Speciale Les Chetillons, popped and poured over dinner at Asia Grand, 02 Apr 2020. Pale luminosity. Generous bouquet of green fruits, lime and citrus. Good concentration and presence, fleshing out with broad expanse and supple detail, displaying fine intensity and acidity. More steely and lean after some time, developing even greater intensity with further notes of smoke and pomelo and, finally, the appearance of yeasty tones before it all became way too astringent.

2015 Domaine Hudelot-Noëllat Chambolle-Musigny, popped and poured at Ka Soh, 04 Apr 2020. More deeply tinted for pinot. Delicious fragrance of dark cherries, raspberries, rose petals, currants and red plums. Superbly ripe and concentrated, yet fleshy and supple, imbued with exciting tension and acidity on a burnished floor. Finished gently with fine linearity. Excellent potential.

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Lafite commemorates the total solar eclipse of 11 August 1999

1999 Ch Lafite Rothschild, a bottle purchased for SGD283 back in 2004. Decanted for two hours prior at Gunther’s on the occasion of M’s 21st, 06 Apr 2020. Deep ruby. Well developed bouquet of red plums and dark cherries with some bright spots, fairly effusive. Good concentration and fullness of fruit that imparted lovely tensile acidity and mouthfeel, fleshing out with surprisingly good power amid darker undertones of mahogany tinged with mushrooms, truffles and wild berries on a floor of iron filings and earth, its subtle recessed tannins never in the way. Rounded with elegant expanse, finishing with glowing intensity and refinement. Far better than a previous tasting in June 2019 at FICOFI’s Bordeaux promenade.

2017 Domaine de Montille Saint-Aubin En Remilly 1er, popped and poured at home, 11 Apr 2020. Notes of green pepper and raw nutmeg dominate amid grassy elements, tangy citrus and pomelo. Very good in concentration and presence though a little stern with a certain rusticity. Good transparency but lacking in complexity. Not engaging enough. I’d expected more for 2017.

2010 Yering Station Old Beenak Road Shiraz over pizza at home, 22 Apr 2020. This is a single vineyard bottling that I’d purchased directly from its cellar door in the Yarra Valley back in 2013. Double-decanted for 45 minutes. Quite an abundance of dark cherries and raspberries on the nose marked by an unique accentuated lift of oranges. Medium-bodied. Open enough, fleshy with very good concentration of fruit, developing other notes of mocha and diffused tea leaves underscored by subtle earthy minerals, slightly firm but not a bad thing at all. Good refinement. Just a tad spicy at the gentle finish. Shows remarkable restraint though lacking in ultimate distinction.

20200425_194141.jpg2017 Château de Chamirey Mercurey Blanc, popped and poured over takeaway Ka Soh (bloody expensive!) at home, 25 Apr 2020. Glorious exuberance of rich citrus and minerals that display great freshness, transparency and sublime acidity, imparting superb mouthfeel before settling down to more reserved tones of white flowers, paraffin and raw nutmeg amid overtones of apricot supported by outstanding flinty minerals. Rounded and full without any jarring edges. Superbly integrated and balanced, finishing with a lovely stinging sensation. Exceptional value.

2010 Ch Le Doyenné, double-decanted for almost two hours at home, 29 Apr 2020. Dark. Richly layered with abundant black fruits, dark currants and wild black berries underscored by a certain subtle earthiness and graphite brilliance that’s unmistakably Médoc in character. Shows excellent presence and fullness, the only drawback being that it doesn’t seem able to develop its full potential, appearing to hit some sort of attenuation on the palate that comes across as a sense of toughness though at SGD45 (current price) with ten years of bottle age, there are no grounds for complaint.

A mostly Williams Selyem affair

April 29, 2020

A couple of staunch advocates of New World pinot noir, along with several other like-minded individuals, put together a mostly Williams Selyem affair at Jade Palace, Singapore, on 25 July 2019. Founded by Burt Williams and Ed Selyem as what the French would describe as a garagiste operation in California in 1979, it wasn’t long before the self-taught duo established themselves as the benchmark for USA pinot noir in Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley with the now-legendary debut bottling of 1988 Williams Selyem Summa Vineyard Pinot Noir. The winery was subsequently bought over by John and Kathe Dyson in 1998. While the uncompromising quality still continues, it is the ever-diminishing stock of pre-1998 wines that are highly sought after by collectors. As such, we were really fortunate that five of the seven bottles tasted that evening were pre-1998. Focusing mainly on single vineyard bottlings, it has, on occasion, been truly difficult to differentiate a Williams Selyem from a burgundy 1er or even grand cru in a blinded line-up. That’s how good Williams Selyem really can be but it needs plenty of bottle age, evident from the 1996s tasted that evening, much akin to Robert Ampeau. My humble thanks to LF, Jonathan and friends for the distinct privilege.

2007 Champagne Henriot Millesime Brut. Magnum. Good lift of delicate green fruits, melons, lime and citrus that filled out with broad expanse on the palate, structured with excellent concentration and intensity of fruit. Developed a complex highly perfumed glow over time along with more pronounced chalky undertones and gentle toasty detail amid overtones of cordite, superb in texture and transparency. Excellent

1993 Williams Selyem Russian River Valley Allen Vineyard. Rusty brown. Marked reductive note of menthol on the nose whilst plummy tones dominate with tangerines on the palate amid traces of spice. Fairly plump but lacking in detail. Clearly past its prime.

1996 Williams Selyem Russian River Valley Allen Vineyard. Evolved crimson. Lovely delicate bouquet of fragrant rosy hues and red cherries, glowing with great concentration and seductive sweetness that shone with lovely purity on the palate. Remarkably fresh and lively, showing tremendous verve and intensity amid spicy traces, evolving further earthy tones and ash. Utterly delicious and complex. A wonderful example of Williams Selyem at its best.

1994 Williams Selyem Russian River Valley Olivet Lane Vineyard. Distinctly evolved in colour, exuding a gentle perfumed fragrance of lightly tinted roses and red fruits, layered with very fine presence, finishing with good persistence. Delicious.

1996 Williams Selyem Russian River Valley Olivet Lane Vineyard. Beautifully evolved, this wine proffers traces of exotic Asian spices on the nose with camphor, dark plums and peaches that exerted good presence, depth and intensity. Very well integrated, structured with acidity that is still crisp and vibrant. Appreciably tighter than Allen Vineyard of the same vintage. Still relatively youthful. Excellent.

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1996 Williams Selyem Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. Rather savoury on the nose while haw flakes, dark roses and raspberries dominate with fleshy suppleness on the palate. Open with very fine intensity and cohesion. Highly elegant and vibrant, displaying excellent length and lift. Hard to believe that this is a village equivalent, in Burgundy terms. Superb.

1996 Calera Jensen Mt Harlan Pinot Noir. Evolved vermillion, brightly lit with glorious red cherries and tangerines on the open palate. Highly supple, layered with tremendous detail amid gentle earthy undertones, finishing with fine intensity. Still plenty of life ahead. Superb.

2012 Williams Selyem Russian River Valley Eastside Road Neighbors. Opague purple. Generous bouquet of ripe wild berries and violets, richly imbued with intense black fruits and delicious dark currants. Still tightly coiled, not revealing much. Yet to develop though its potential is huge.

2012 Williams Selyem Sonoma Coast Coastlands Vineyard. Dark opaque purple. Ripe raspberries and blueberries dominate within a thin veil of paraffin, displaying very fine definition and focus as it traversed the palate with a lovely plummy streak, finishing on a sweet gentle note with good linearity. Excellent.

2005 Bass Phillip Reserve Pinot Noir. Significantly evolved in colour, appearing more mature than it is. Beautiful arresting bouquet of tangerines, camphor, red fruits and cherries. Medium-full, exuding a lovely plumpness full of subtle detail on a sandy minerally floor, glowing with fleeting intensity towards the finish. Excellent.

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Jean-Luc Jamet, Robert Sirugue, Kenzo, Marchand-Tawse, Chevigny-Rousseau, Thibault Liger-Belair, Remoissenet, Heresztyn-Mazzini

April 20, 2020

These are short notes from Vinosity, a wine fair organised by several merchants in Singapore on 07 November 2019 at the Ritz-Carlton Millenia. There was, as usual at such events, too much of a good thing but the wines of Kenzo and Domaine Chevigny-Rousseau were revelatory.

2017 Kenzo Asatsuyu. Fresh zesty grassy elements amidst clear tropical fruits, topped with a dash of varnish. Imbued with sharp acidity and intensity, ending in a long spicy finish.

2014 Remoissenet Pere et Fils Saint-Aubin Les Castets 1er. Refreshing freshness, showing good purity and clarity of clear citrus. Gently perfumed on the nose though the palate veers towards saline minerals, layered with good detail.

2015 Remoissenet Pere et Fils Meursault Rouge. Lighter purplish tint. Exudes a lovely gentle rosy fragrance, showing good concentration and presence with streaks of haw, revealing good detail and purity. Most unusual from Meursault but highly refreshing.

2015 Remoissenet Pere et Fils Beaune-Teurons 1er. Darker shades of raspberries and ripe wild berries. Lively presence and acidity. Well-layered but a bit short.

2014 Remoissenet Pere et Fils Gevrey-Chambertin Poissenot 1er. Darker shade of pinot. Structured with fine acidity and concentration of dark cherries and plums, exuding a certain minerally brightness. A little short.

2014 Remoissenet Pere et Fils Chambertin-Clos de Beze Grand Cru. More heavily tinted, proffering a bright attractive bouquet of ripe cherries and raspberries. Highly supple with a rounded fleshiness, harmoniously structured with very well-integrated acidity. Quite excellent.

2017 Domaine Robert Sirugue Vosne-Romanée. Good colour. Effusive rosy floral fragrance. Softly structured with predominant red fruits amid traces of capsicum and earth. Good presence and finish.

2017 Domaine Robert Sirugue Vosne-Romanée Vieilles-Vignes. Good colour. Deeper on the nose. More serious in demeanour, displaying very fine presence of ripe raspberries with sleek acidity, seamlessly lined with rounded tannins. Very good.

2017 Domaine Robert Sirugue Chambolle-Musigny Les Mombies. Good colour. Slightly reserved on the nose though the palate is imbued with vibrant acidity, rather fleshy with a certain delicate deftness and seamless transparency. Quiet finish.

2017 Jean-Luc Jamet Côtes-du-Rhône Couzou. Comprises 60% marsanne, 20% roussanne and 20% viognier. Pale. Dense minerally nose. Rather bright and full on the palate with characters of warm gravel, very well-layered. Great concentration of fruit with  understated acidity, displaying keen focus and intensity, finishing with good clarity. Excellent.

20191107_172808.jpg2017 Jean-Luc Jamet Côte-Rôtie L’Enclave. Deep impenetrable purple. Exudes a powerful earthy pungency, imbued with warm ripe fruit with dash of earth and vegetable characters on the medium-full palate. A little too straightforward.

2016 Domaine Marchand-Tawse Bourgogne Blanc. Just a hint of cool faint icing and vanillin on the nose, essentially closed, though white floral tones are distinctly discernible on the medium-full palate, imbued with fine acidity and understated minerals.

2017 Domaine Marchand-Tawse Vire-Cleese. From the Maconnais, this wine exudes white fruits, grassy elements and clear minerals topped with inviting cool icing and vanillin, displaying good concentration and balance. Certainly has the potential to develop further complexity.

2016 Domaine Marchand-Tawse Morey-Saint-Denis Les Faconnieres 1er. Good colour. Delicate perfumed ripeness on the nose though somewhat reticent. Medium-full, layered with ripe red fruits, cherries and plums with warm velvety tones. Very well integrated with understated minerals. Quiet finish.

2016 Domaine Marchand-Tawse Echezeaux Grand Cru. Good colour. A shade heavier in pinot tint, proffering quite an expressive bouquet of perfumed red fruits and cherries with a forward presence, well replicated with equal measure on the palate with excellent verve, concentration and depth. Very well balanced. Structured with sweet softly rounded tannins, finishing well.

2018 Maison Chapuis-Freres Burguignons. Good colour. Quite effusive in ripe raspberries and mulberries, displaying sharp definition with fine acidity. Spicy finish.

2017 Domaine Heresztyn-Mazzini Bourgogne. Good colour. Predominant red fruits with a slightly darkish tone. Light-medium, showing good integration but rather straightforward.

2017 Domaine Heresztyn-Mazzini Gevrey-Chambertin Clos Village. Planted in 1960. Quite an effusive rosy floral fragrance. Medium-bodied and fleshy, but could do with more presence. The Clos Village of Domaine Philippe Livera is much more successful.

2017 Domaine Heresztyn-Mazzini Gevrey-Chambertin Les Goulots 1er. Good colour. Reserved. Medium-bodied. Rather fleshy and delicate, poised with highly refined gentle acidity. Distinctly feminine but far too shy, almost to the point of being nondescript.

2017 Domaine Heresztyn-Mazzini Gevrey-Chambertin Les Champonnets 1er. Good extraction, resulting in a slightly heavier tone of red fruits and dark cherries. Fleshy and rounded with good abundance of fruit. Open with good presence and inner detail, gently structured with fine acidity. Good potential.

2015 Domaine Heresztyn-Mazzini Gevrey-Chambertin La Perrieres 1er. Purplish tint. Gentle lift of warm ripe fruits and raspberries. Opened up with good concentration and tension, revealing good structure and sophistication.

2015 Domaine Heresztyn-Mazzini Morey-Saint-Denis. Darker tint. Full fleshy palate of ripe red fruits, exuding great warmth and energy with very good depth and acidity though the finish is surprisingly abrupt.

2014 Domaine Thibault Liger-Belair Corton Les Renardes Grand Cru. Magnum. Good colour. Quite effusive in ripe red fruits and cherries. Medium-bodied. Very correct in its superb acidity amid characters of haw flakes and earthy traces that impart excellent presence and warmth. Good finish. Excellent.

2016 Domaine Thibault Liger-Belair Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Saint-Georges 1er. Good colour. Rather effusive in red fruits, slightly plummy in tone. Very good concentration and intensity of fruit, structured with open vibrant acidity. Perhaps a tad more extracted than usual.

2014 Domaine Chevigny-Rousseau Echezeaux Grand Cru. Good colour. Effusive warmth of ripe red fruits and raspberries, displaying good balance between concentration and acidity on a bed of velvety tannins.

2015 Domaine Chevigny-Rousseau Nuits-Saint-Georges. Good colour. Good deal of earthiness on the nose. Beautifully rounded, displaying seamless presence with a dash of exotic spiciness as it shone with refined acidity and intensity.

2014 Domaine Chevigny-Rousseau Gevrey-Chambertin Vieilles-Vignes. Classic pinot tint. Lovely fragrance, imbued with succulent warm ripe fruit. Structured with excellent balance and inner detail. Highly successful.

2017 Domaine Chevigny-Rousseau Morey-Saint-Denis Les Combottes 1er. Clear purple, exuding a lovely glow of warm red fruits and raspberries that traverse the palate with great refinement. Very seamlessly integrated and structured, superbly balanced with very fine presence.

2017 Domaine Chevigny-Rousseau Vosne-Romanée Champs des Perdrix. Clear purple. Lovely bloom of rose petals and ripe raspberries on the nose, very correct in feel with just a trace of oaky glow. Fleshy and open with an easy charm, perhaps even a little too placid and understated.

2016 Kenzo Rindo. Deep purple. Effusive glow of dark currants, dark cherries and raspberries. Excellent in concentration, drawing tight tension across the palate with a deep velvety presence, displaying refined elegance and understated tannins with a deeper streak of tea leaves and black fruits that confer a lovely open intensity, superbly balanced with sublime acidity. Outstanding.

2017 Bass Phillip Crown Prince. Good colour. Generous aromas of sweet dark plums and currants with a spicy splash. Very good concentration, depth and acidity. Distinctly masculine. Well integrated though a little short.

March 2020: Champagne Lallier Grand Reserve, 2018 Coldstream Hills Chardonnay, 2014 Ch de Meursault Charmes-Dessus 1er, 2017 Jean-Philippe Fichet Bourgogne Blanc, 2017 Wirra Wirra Shiraz…

April 4, 2020

2018 Coldstream Hills Pinot Noir, popped and poured at home, 02 Mar 2020. Lighter tone of red. Slightly forward in red fruits, mulberries and cherries, opening up well with very good concentration and body. Fleshy and supple with very well-integrated acidity. Quite harmonious and correct in every way. Great value.

2018 Coldstream Hills Chardonnay, tasted on 03 Mar at Gattopardo and again on 30 Mar 2020. Clear luminosity. Lovely balance of white and yellow citrus, displaying very clean and clear definition on a gentle bed of subdued chalk. Very generously proportioned and highly harmonious. Grew in intensity of fruit and sleek acidity with emerging notes of green apples and pineapples, exuding a refined oily density. At only SGD30, this can take its place on any table. Excellent.

Champagne Aubert & Fils Brut NV, popped over dimsum lunch at Wah Lok, 07 Mar 2020. Light-medium, displaying gentle presence of clear and yellow citrus, softly textured with very fine bubbles that exude refined intensity. Fleshed out over time with more body and definition, developing further notes of crème and light minerals though remaining quintessentially feminine.

2014 Domaine du Château de Meursault Meursault Les Charmes-Dessus 1er, an ex-château bottle popped and poured over lunch at Gunther’s, 09 Mar 2020. Pale. Fairly sharp tone of clear citrus and fresh lemons on the nose and palate, fleshing out rather quickly with excellent depth and body, rounder and fuller with more white floral notes and crème though it still managed to maintain a delicate feel in the mouth. Highly harmonious with a poised elegance.

2017 Barramundi Chardonnay Viognier, tasted at the Krisflyer Gold Lounge of Changi Airport T3, 13 Mar 2020. Very light greenish hue, proffering very clean aromas of floral fragrance with a dash of crème, vanillin and light green fruits, showing good presence and acidity. Finished well with a lasting glow.

2017 D’Arenberg The Olive Grove, tasted at British Airways Club World Lounge of Heathrow T5, 15 Mar 2020. Nutmeg, wild flowers and traces of olive and crème dominate with fine presence, painting the palate with exotic tangy tones with a fair degree of rusticity before tapering to a lingering peppery persistence.

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Champagne Canard-Duchêne Cuvée Léonie Brut NV, on board BA123 Business Class from LHR-DOH, 15 Mar 2020. Roasted almonds, walnuts and toast on the nose. Bright, full and dry, displaying white tones with plenty of zest that traverse the palate with good linearity but rather short on the finish and complexity.

Champagne Besserat de Bellefon Grande Tradition Rosé Brut NV, on board BA123 Business Class from LHR-DOH, 15 Mar 2020. Comprising 28% chardonnay with pinot noir and pinot meunier, this wine proffers a rosy fragrance of light cherries and haw while tangerines dominate on the dry palate, unable to cover the lack of complexity in spite of adequate presence.

2018 Spy Valley Sustainably Crafted Sauvignon Blanc, on board BA123 Business Class from LHR-DOH, 15 Mar 2020. Medium-bodied. Light grassy elements amid wild grass and a dash of nutmeg, rounded with good presence.

2018 Teanum Otre Primitivo, on board BA123 Business Class from LHR-DOH, 15 Mar 2020. From the region of Puglia, Italy. Earth, mulberries and raspberries dominate with a hint of licorice amid overtones of sweet incense. Medium-full, rounded with sweet tannins that oozed fine intensity.

Champagne Lallier Grand Reserve Brut NV, on board QR944 Business Class from DOH-SIN, 16 Mar 2020. Lovely luminosity. Superb lift of roasted almonds, toast and complex citrus with a trace of green fruits. Structured with a lovely depth of chiselled minerality and crisp acidity, exuding great intensity, balance and freshness that finished on a note of gentle teasing citrus. Really excellent.

2018 Chartron & Trébuchet Chablis 1er, on board QR944 Business Class from DOH-SIN, 16 Mar 2020. Some gentle vanillin and icing on the nose. Medium-bodied, imbued with dry wild flowers, some pomelo and a bit of tangy citrus within a narrow spectrum of acidity, tempered by a ferric mid-palate that conferred a certain sternness before finishing in a gentle glow.

2011 Château Marzelle, on board QR944 Business Class from DOH-SIN, 16 Mar 2020. This Médoc opens with dense, dark characters of mulberries and raspberries that display excellent body and presence on a floor of forest notes, framed within tannins that are slightly sweet. Serviceable.

2000 Henriot Cuvée des Enchanteleurs, on 17 Mar 2020 at Otto Ristorante. Pale greenish hue. Gentle yeasty depth of green fruits and citrus, showing fair complexity with a rounded subdued dryness. Imbued with intense chalky minerals that developed with further emerging acidity and graphite tones into a seamless complex. At its best though it isn’t the most profound of champagne.

2005 Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon to go with pizza at home, 20 Mar 2020. Deep crimson. Rich effusive bouquet of dark cherries, strawberries, red fruits and plums. Beautifully ripe and aromatic. Rather full with lovely suppleness, structure and tension within a frame of svelte tannins, almost velvety in texture, delivering great energy, acidity and balance. Excellent.

2017 Domaine Jean-Philippe Fichet Bourgogne Blanc VV to go with Hokkien noodles (from Geylang Lorong 29), 21 Mar 2020. Superb nose of fresh morning dew and gentle grassy elements matched by an abundance of clear citrus, ferrous minerals and sublime acidity that impart excellent presence and mouthfeel. Superbly integrated, fleshing out with fine complexity and vivacious intensity. Punches way above its weight. Quite outstanding. Jean-Philippe Fichet is a true star of Meursault.

2017 Wirra Wirra Shiraz, popped and poured on 23 Mar 2020. Very dark. Excellent concentration of blackberries and dark currants. Warm, ripe and fleshy but neither dense nor jammy, surprisingly supple with a lovely glow of delicious fruit within a subtle sheen of vanillin. Beautifully and naturally balanced with sweet unobtrusive tannins and understated acidity, finishing with distant trailing notes of chocolate and mocha. Doesn’t try too hard at all. Truly excellent. A real steal at SGD25, if you can find it.

2006 Château Malartic-Lagravière, popped and poured at home, 27 Mar 2020. Mulberries, wild berries, mocha and charcoal elements dominate with good density amid finely-grained earthy textures, quite open and harmonious, finishing with some lovely spicy intensity but lacks charm.

2005 Rockford Black Shiraz, popped and poured at home, 28 Mar 2020. Surprisingly unyielding on the nose, though the palate is classic Basket Press Shiraz through and through, layered with very good density of warm ripe Barossa shiraz amid overtones of licorice, iron fillings and herbal elements. Very well-integrated and balanced, laced with very fine subdued bubbles and understated acidity, finishing with a hint of that classic liqueured note though, surprisingly on the whole, there isn’t much complexity on show here.

USA: 1997 Phelps Insignia, 2015 Aubert, 2016 Kenzo Rindo, 1997 Mondavi Reserve, 2001 Beringer Private Reserve, Kistler…

March 31, 2020

A few of us gathered at Waterfall, Shangri-La Singapore, on 10 March 2020 for an exclusive Californian theme. All wines were aired or decanted on-site with the exception of the Kenzo Rindo, which had been double-decanted for three hours prior. On this occasion, the whites were outclassed by the reds, all of which were hitting their stride beautifully, particularly those aged beyond twenty years, without even having seemingly peaked. The take-home message: catch the whites in their youth but keep the reds for the next generation. Many thanks, everyone.

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2003 Kistler Kistler Vineyard Sonoma Valley Chardonnay, courtesy of Bob. Dull golden. Mature aromas of grapefruit and orangey tones shrouded within a dense sheen of paraffin. Rather full and concentrated, rounded with rich acidity. Dead serious in demeanour, resulting in a leaden feel.

2006 Kistler Hudson Vineyard Chardonnay, courtesy of Bob. Dull golden. Shut. More minerally on the palate with overtones of white ash, showing very good concentration, depth, transparency and intensity though a tad stern with subdued acidity.

2001 Kistler Russian River Les Noisetiers Chardonnay, courtesy of Bob. Gentle enticing fresh floral aromas. Excellent in presence, depth and layering amid a hint of paraffin with further emerging notes of apricot and pineapples. Very well integrated with fine acidity, finishing with lasting glow and intensity as it attained a rounded creaminess. Much fresher in feel than the preceding two wines. Excellent.

2015 Aubert Chardonnay, courtesy of K. Light golden-greenish hue, exuding delicious forward aromas of green and tropical fruits that extended well onto the palate with white floral tones, showing great presence and density with sublime acidity, depth and length as it developed a further spicy glow. Excellent.

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2007 Kistler Cuvee Elisabeth, courtesy of Bob. Very deep red with a forward bouquet of sweet dark berries and dark currants. Medium-full. Still quite intense at the edges with taut acidity, becoming creamier in texture over time with emerging bright red fruits.

2016 Kenzo Rindo. Made by Heidi Barrett of Screaming Eagle fame, this classic Bordeaux blend from Napa showed a very deep garnet red with an unique lift of mulberries, malt and warm wet gravel on the nose. Very smooth and open with great suppleness on the palate, richly layered with dark cherries and blackberries that sparkle with brilliant graphite, displaying excellent depth and definition on a burnished floor of cedar and eucalyptus. Morphed very well with superb integration, yielding some early complexity. Very classy with superb potential without any hint at all of its 15.2% abv.

2001 Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, courtesy of Uncle H. Deep purple with a rim of evolution. Open with characters of sweet dark berries, incense and tobacco that exude a smooth relaxed intensity with sublime acidity, utterly seamless, displaying great balance, subtlety and length. Excellent.

1997 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, courtesy of Uncle H. Deep dark ruby. Superb depth and concentration of dark fruits, blackberries and old leather, open with lovely freshness. Still rather full, displaying great acidity and balance. Clearly hitting its stride now and will hold for many more years. Outstanding.

1997 Joseph Phelps Insignia, courtesy of Lars. Brilliant deep ruby, imbued with wonderful depth of ripe black fruits, dark berries and dark cherries that exude superb freshness and balance. Evolved further into some kind of distilled essence, becoming richer, bolder and even deeper with expanding fullness. Outstanding, but it may not even have peaked.

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