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Domaine Thibert Pere et Fils

April 7, 2019

These are notes from a selected tasting of the 2015 and 2016 wines of Domaine Thibert Pere et Fils organised by Domaine Wines at Gake on 28 Mar 2019. Based in Maconnais which is a good 80-minute drive south from Beaune, this domaine is managed by Christophe Thibert and his sister Sandrine. From humble beginnings in 1967, this domaine has now expanded to 39 hectares centered around Saint-Veran, Pouilly and Macon, all grown and farmed entirely by the domaine. The vines are old (youngest planted in 1969) and Christophe prefers a longer than usual elevage of 20-22 months, using up to 50% new oak. Making wines that combine delicate elegance, detail and layering with excellent sophistication, Domaine Thibert has been touted as being likely to attain cult status in Maconnais much in the same manner as Arnaud Ente in Meursault. What we had that evening was somewhat uneven (the Les Cras stood out best) and not quite representative of the range available (no En Chantone, no Les Longeays, no Champ Rond) but I can assure readers some of the recent back vintages we had tasted at the domaine last October (https://winebyric.com/2018/11/16/ric-visits-domaine-thibert-pere-fils-2/) were truly excellent. Be sure to act fast if you chance upon these wines.

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Christophe Thibert

2016 Domaine Thibert Pere et Fils Saint-Veran Bois De Fee. Lifted floral tones with some nutmeg. Fleeting attack of fine acidity and intensity on the palate, imparting refreshing zest amid dense citrus layered with light earthy minerals, turning more minerally with the raw intensity of wild grass as it finished with good length.

2016 Domaine Thibert Pere et Fils Pouilly-Fuissé Les Menetrieres. Shy distant floral tones. Softly rounded with gentle intensity of wild flowers amidst mild salinity, snapping into focus as it warmed up from the cold, straightening out with fine linearity and delicate presence but missing inner definition.

2016 Domaine Thibert Pere et Fils Pouilly-Fuissé Les Cras. Gentle soft floral tones, highly perfumed with overtones of paraffin. Open with excellent concentration of white flowers and nutmeg, beautifully nuanced in acidity, displaying superb inner detail of subtle minerals, poised with superb balance and presence, finishing with tangy complexity. Excellent.

2016 Domaine Thibert Pere et Fils Pouilly-Fuissé Vignes Blanches. Marked pallor that belies its generous bouquet of wild grassy elements, morning dew, nutmeg and white pepper. Medium-bodied. Rather delicate with uneven tone, though it finished with attractive intensity.

2015 Domaine Thibert Pere et Fils Saint-Veran Bois De Fee. Open with distant minty tones on the nose, matched with smooth suave acidity amid delicate chalky creme de la crème on the palate, showing good presence and layering. Very fine.

2015 Domaine Thibert Pere et Fils Pouilly-Fuissé Les Menetrieres. Hint of heated gravel on the delicate bouquet. Full and rounded with very fine acidity and good concentration of juicy pomelo, clear and yellow citrus, quite seamless and supple, just a tad short.

2014 Domaine Thibert Pere et Fils Pouilly-Fuissé Les Cras. Powerful bouquet, exuding a lovely deep earthiness amidst floral tones. Medium-full, displaying excellent integration of fruit and minerals, seamlessly layered with gorgeous detail that glowed with gentle elegance and great refinement. Excellent.

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Mar 2019: 2006 Leeuwin Art Chardonnay, 2012 Marcassin, 2014 Bouchard Montrachet, 2011 Georges Lignier Clos-Saint-Denis & 1996 Cos D’Estournel, 2007/2008 d’Yquem, 1995 Leoville Las-Cases

April 3, 2019

2017 T’Air D’Oc, tasted at Sanofi’s launch of Soliqua at the Sofitel City Centre, Singapore, 01 Mar 2019. Decent bouquet of green fruits and grassy elements, quite lively, showing good concentration of lime and clear citrus with a hint of nutmeg amidst saline minerals. Quite serviceable.

20190302_142213.jpg2006 Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay, over dimsum lunch at Asia Grand, 02 March 2019. Luminous glow though reticent with a quiet lift of delicate floral tones and chalk that belies the excellent concentration of green fruits, citrus and lime on the open palate, revealing very fine inner detail within its chiselled minerality, laced with sublime acidity. Superbly balanced and proportioned. Almost Chassagne-like, finishing with a touch of ferric sternness. Highly successful.

2017 Chateau de Tracy, popped and poured at Crab At Bay, 09 Mar 2019. Good density of morning dew and grassy elements amid clean clear citrus on the nose that carried well onto the palate with a keen presence of lemon and yellow citrus, showing very fine acidity and lithe intensity with good transparency, finishing with traces of lychee and sweet pomelo. Surprisingly fine.

Jean Josselin Cuvée des Jean, at the opening of NOVI Health, 09 Mar 2019. This grower champagne displays a forward balance of lime and dense citrus on the nose, matched by mild yeasty tones in the background supported by gentle ferrous minerals on the medium-full palate, revealing fine detail with further notes of green fruits, slightly sweet at the finish.

2017 Domaine du Petit Clocher at the opening of NOVI Health, 09 Mar 2019. This white from Anjou exudes aromas of morning dew, grassy elements and barley on a palate of light green melons and pears, showing fine presence, acidity and layering with gentle depth. Very agreeable.

2017 Brunel de la Gardine at the opening of NOVI Health, 09 Mar 2019. From the Cotes du Rhone. Good density of dark fruits on an earthy floor, fleshy but nondescript. The second wine of Chateau de la Gardine.

2015 Chateau de la Gardine Rasteau, at the opening of NOVI Health, 09 Mar 2019. Far better than its second wine (above), proffering dark currants, ripe raspberries and characters of damp earthy floor, appropriately weighty and succulent on the palate with a forward balance, imbued with excellent acidity and subtle minerals. Very fine.

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2009 Ch Le Doyénne, popped and poured over dinner at the in-laws, 17 Mar 2019. This over-achieving table wine opens with generous swathes of ripe wild berries, violets, dark currnats and raspberries, structured with dryish tannins and dense graphite minerals that imparted a lean focus on the palate, finishing on a minty note with traces of sweet. Still yet to peak. At SGD45 off the retail shelf, you cannot really go wrong with a wine already carrying ten years of bottle age from a great vintage.

2017 Wairau River Sauvignon Blanc, popped and poured over dinner at home, 18 Mar 2019. Very pale straw-coloured. This wine carries real concentration of fruit that recalls raw nutmeg, heated gravel, wild grass and heath with some green elements, very correct and confident in its expression of sauvignon blanc, imbued with true layering and rounded elegance without resorting to gimmicky extroversion. Excellent value for money at SGD29.

1996 Ch Cos D’Estournel, decanted on-site at Alma, 20 Mar 2019. Deep garnet core, exuding a gentle fragrance of ripe wild berries, raspberries, dark cherries and dark currants with a faint earthy pungency. Equally darkish in tone on the medium-bodied palate, fleshy and seamlessly integrated with an easy charm amid characters of cool damp undergrowth, developing greater depth with more pronounced acidity and velvety intensity over time, quite glorious at its glowing minty finish. Caught at its absolute peak. Very lovely.

2005 Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon, popped and poured at Asia Grand, 21 Mar 2019. Very deep purple. This wine offers generous swathes of rich ripe plummy fruit with abundant raspberries on the nose and palate, still cloaked in substantial overtones of vanilla and enamel. Rather full, structured with juicy sweet tannins that confer some spiciness and warmth but lacking inner detail and real complexity in spite of its 14 years.

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Shang Palace, Shangri-La Singapore.

2007 Louis Roederer Cristal, courtesy of Sanjay at Shang Palace, 22 Mar 2019. Dense effusive bouquet of detailed citrus with a highly perfumed complex, quite open with layered chalky minerality amidst very fine bubbles that offered light transparent textures with overtones of smouldering ember, displaying lovely depth and complexity.

2006 Dom Perignon, courtesy of CHS at Shang Palace, 22 Mar 2019. This wine exudes a lovely delicate earthy pungency, open and very gently layered with green fruits and melons amid traces of dark cherries, suffused with supple ferrous elements and fine acidity that combined to produce a lithe attractive presence.

2003 Jean Boillot & Fils PM Clos de la Mouchiere 1er monopole, courtesy of Lui HF at Shang Palace, 22 Mar 2019. Delicate forward lift of green fruits and melons, rather full on the palate, abundant in cool ripe fruit with an oily richness of crème de la crème, displaying lovely inner detail with a very relaxed glow, nuanced with subtle acidity and a hint of paraffin, finishing with lingering persistence and intensity. Excellent.

2008 Domaine Vincent Girardin Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru, courtesy of CJ at Shang Palace, 22 Mar 2019. Complex sweet chalky depth of exotic tropical fruits amidst chiselled minerality. Quite full with distant tones of peaches and pears goaded with a creamy richness but not overdone, displaying great acidity, lovely finesse and elegance, finishing well.

2011 Domaine Georges Lignier Clos-Saint-Denis Grand Cru, at Shang Palace, 22 Mar 2019. Glorious depth of ripe red cherries and raspberries on the nose, forwardly balanced with great purity and a lovely feminine fragrance. Highly supple, displaying juicy succulence with a very lovely fresh mouthfeel, very seamlessly integrated with wonderful verve. Very different from its tight and angular stance two years ago. Excellent.

2011 Domaine Hudelot Noellat Vosne-Romanee Les Suchots 1er, courtesy of MH at Shang Palace, 22 Mar 2019. Deep clear ruby. Open with an abundance of bright red fruits, displaying good definition and transparency with a bit of gassy quality on the palate. Packs tremendous vigour and lively acidity. Very fine.

2008 Domaine Hudelot Noellat Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru, courtesy of Vic at Shang Palace, 22 Mar 2019. Brightly lit with a lifted  presence of distilled red fruits, excellent in purity with transparent textures as it exuded lovely intensity throughout its length.

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2012 Bloom’s Field Domaine de la Cote, courtesy of LF at Shang Palace, 22 Mar 2019. Tasted blind. Opague vermillion with effusive aromas of dense tangerines, whilst the palate is highly supple, imbued with red fruits with a bright dominant plummy tone, very lively and succulent, yet very subtly proportioned and balanced, just a tad short. It reminded me of a Prieure-Roch.

2012 Marcassin Sonoma County Pinot Noir, courtesy of LF at Shang Palace, 22 Mar 2019. Tasted blind. Brighter, richer and creamier than the preceding Bloom’s Field. Fuller as well on the palate, a little racy in tone with its out-sized depth, sublime acidity and intensity, turning distinctly New World in character over time. Superb.

2014 Bouchard Pere et Fils Montrachet Grand Cru, courtesy of Sanjay at Shang Palace, 22 Mar 2019. Decanted on-site and sat on ice for three hours prior. Its distinct pallor went well with its reserved ethereal poise which belies an immense depth and layering of complex citrus, itself already a kaleidoscope of fleeting intensity tinged with ember and earthy chalkiness, all very subtly presented in gentle feminine proportions with effortless grace and elegance in spite of its fullness, superbly balanced, finishing with a lovely burnished tone. One is truly tasting the distilled essence of Montrachet, really one of the few occasions where its promised magic comes through. Outstanding.

2001 Ch Lagrange, aired in bottle for 30 minutes at Crab At Bay, 27 Mar 2019. Displaying an impenetrable dark purple, this wine proffers effusive notes of deep dense ferrous minerals with subtle earthy tones, fleshy and beautifully nuanced with an excellent fullness of ripe dark berries and black currants, drawing lovely tension and acidity across the palate within a highly supple tannin structure, oozing with traces of sweetness before it tightened with greater intensity. From an OWC of 12, this is, by far, the best 2001 ever from this Saint Julien estate. Still far from ready. Very, very fine.

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Kombujime hamachi. Restaurant Ibid.

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Squid. Restaurant Ibid.

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Chinese bacon porridge. Restaurant Ibid.

2001 Ch Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, decanted on-site at restaurant Ibid, 29 Mar 2019. Deep garnet core, exuding an earthy pungency amid excellent depth of rich dark currants, cassis and black cherries with a dash of tobacco and dried mushrooms on the nose, displaying a luxurious succulence with a rich plummy tone without any greeness that used to emanate from its 15% petit verdot, structured with lovely svelte tannins and superb acidity, oozing sweet sophistication and elegance but still yet to peak. Really excellent. Just like the Lagrange above, it seems now is the right time to pop the 2001s of the Left Bank. Restaurant Ibid is a superb establishment specialising in contemporary Chinese cuisine at Boat Quay, Singapore, helmed by chef Woo Wai-Leong, winner of the inaugural MasterChef Asia in 2015.

2008 Dom Perignon, courtesy of Sanjay over lunch hosted by Mrs Ngoi in honour of Jean-Paul Dumond’s visit at Tunglok Signatures, 30 Mar 2019. Dry yeasty tones amid a dense bouquet of clear citrus, leading to a lovely depth of green fruits with good transparency, initially lighter in texture before gaining further weight with a dry stern minerality of gunmetal flint.

2004 Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet Les Pucelles 1er, popped and poured over lunch hosted by Mrs Ngoi in honour of Jean-Paul Dumond’s visit at Tunglok Signatures, 30 Mar 2019. This wine exudes a generous tone of dense green fruits and melons, becoming creamier and chalky after some time, displaying placid dryness with fine definition and layering though without the plump opulence of Leflaive’s grand crus, finishing with exciting acidity that imparted a lovely tingling mouthfeel. Tasted alongside the next two whites, the quality of Leflaive’s Les Pucelles is evident, substantially richer in tone and layering.

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Alma’s take on kaya toast, a Singaporean classic.

2012 Etienne Sauzet Puligny-Montrachet Champ Canet 1er, courtesy of Vic over lunch hosted by Mrs Ngoi in honour of Jean-Paul Dumond’s visit at Tunglok Signatures, 30 Mar 2019. This wine opens with a delicate soft floral bloom with green fruits, just slightly forward, showing excellent concentration, depth and integration with rounded gentleness on a bed of transparent minerality, finishing with tingling acidity.

2011 Domaine Henri Boillot Puligny-Montrachet Clos de la Mouchiere 1er, courtesy of Peter Tan over lunch hosted by Mrs Ngoi in honour of Jean-Paul Dumond’s visit at Tunglok Signatures, 30 Mar 2019. Rather closed and reticent at first with soft diffuse aromas, snapping into better focus after some time with clear yellow citrus of gentle intensity, gaining in stature although there is some unresolved minerality at the finish.

2009 Domaine Jayer-Gilles Echezeaux Grand Cru, courtesy of BG Tan over lunch hosted by Mrs Ngoi in honour of Jean-Paul Dumond’s visit at Tunglok Signatures, 30 Mar 2019. Dark in colour and tone of dark fruits with a minty cedary glow, remarkably soft and rounded with velvety textures, showing excellent fullness, concentration and integration, finishing with lovely verve and linearity.

2009 Leflaive & Associes Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru, courtesy of LF over lunch hosted by Mrs Ngoi in honour of Jean-Paul Dumond’s visit at Tunglok Signatures, 30 Mar 2019. Displaying an opague evolved rim, this wine is equally dark in tone with a powerful deep minty note that evolved into something reminescent of Chinese herbal medicine. Open, fleshy and quite seamless, showing very good depth though its mintiness persisted with a trace of woodiness, slightly short and stern at the finish. Seldom encountered, this is one of two reds by Leflaive (the other a Monthélie 1er Cru Sur La Velle) – decent but not compelling.

1995 Ch Leoville Las Cases, courtesy of Peter Tan over lunch hosted by Mrs Ngoi in honour of Jean-Paul Dumond’s visit at Tunglok Signatures, 30 Mar 2019. Deep garnet core, exuding a profound hallowed glow of tertiary characteristics. Beautifully mellow and succulent, layered with exceptional depth of dark red fruits and understated minerals that traverse the palate with lovely charm and linearity. Doesn’t call attention to its sophistication. Caught at its absolute peak. Superb.

2008 Ch d’Yquem, two bottles contributed by Winfred and CHS over lunch hosted by Mrs Ngoi in honour of Jean-Paul Dumond’s visit at Tunglok Signatures, 30 Mar 2019. Dense bouquest of paraffin and apricot, slightly darker tone on the medium palate but open with controlled sweetness on a bright minerally base, lightening up in texture over time as it took on more smoky characters. Well-layered and firm.

2007 Ch d’Yquem, courtesy of Winfred over lunch hosted by Mrs Ngoi in honour of Jean-Paul Dumond’s visit at Tunglok Signatures, 30 Mar 2019. The superiority of the 2007, an outstanding vintage for Sauternes, is immediately apparent in the form of a denser golden hue with rich smoky density of delicate apricot and nectarine combined with ember and some earthiness on both nose and palate, displaying a certain deftness, transparency and openness that revealed complex indescribable inner detail throughout its entire length, finishing with great linearity and persistence. Outstanding.

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1996 Rousseau Chambertin-Clos de Beze, 1976 Bouchard Pere et Fils La Romanée, 2005 Leflaive Bien-Batard-Montrachet

March 30, 2019

I had the distinct privilege of adjourning straight to one of those super-exclusive bungalows in Sentosa, Singapore, immediately after work on 23 March 2019 (yes…we work on Saturdays too) for an exquisite private lunch of steamboat specially prepared by my hosts. Their generosity extended to the wine line-up as well that blew me away. Needless to say, after such a fulfilling long afternoon, I didn’t need to be fed for the rest of the weekend. Short notes will suffice for the wines, rare and outstanding as they are, for words fail when the table is overflowing with so much sublimity. Thank you very much for such a fabulous and unforgettable experience, my dear hosts, and may you enjoy many many more happy returns.

20190323_125618.jpg2005 Domaine Leflaive Bienvenues-Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru. Clear intense luminosity in the glass, very quiet and brooding at first with the faintest whiff of cork taint that seemed to have pervaded onto the palate with resulting dullness and fatigue. Just as I thought all was lost, this wine sprang to life 90 minutes later, the mustiness having blown off completely to reveal quite a glorious bright gleaming tone of deep dense chalky graphite minerals and distilled crème de la crème laced with crisp acidity that imparted a certain austerity, distinctly stern in demeanour even as it opened up with greater intensity and deftness.

1976 Bouchard Pere et Fils La Romanée Grand Cru. Great clarity of colour in spite of its age. Slightly reductive initially with some earthiness and mild yeasty pungency which I find highly attractive, leading to a very open mellow palate imbued with lovely purity of red plums that confer seamless smooth silky elegance, gentle and feminine, still retaining superb acidity and good concentration of fruit amid a slightly deeper vein of dark currants whilst its tannins have long melted away. Poised with quiet confidence, just a tad short but not at all dry or fragile. What a great privilege! One of only six monopole grand crus in Burgundy (if one excludes Chablis), La Romanée at 0.84 ha is the smallest appellation of all Burgundy. The wine used to be vinified and sold under Bouchard’s label as a negociant service. The estate’s owner Domaine Comte Liger-Belair began bottling the wine under its own label from 2002 onward. However, between 2002-2005, the wine of La Romanée, quite confusingly and for reasons unclear, could be found on both labels! This ceased completely from the 2006 vintage onward.

1996 Domaine Armand Rousseau Chambertin-Clos de Beze Grand Cru. This stalwart of the Cote de Nuits lived up fully to its lofty reputation, exuding a great lifted purity of bright red fruits with a lovely rosy fragrance, displaying superb depth of glorious fruit that oozed sublime definition and acidity with quiet intensity, utterly seamless as it finished with glowing persistence. Outstanding.

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Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Saint Georges 1er: 2007 & 1990 Henri Gouges; 2006 Faiveley Les Porets & 1993 Leroy Nuits-Saint-Georges

March 26, 2019

As I have alluded elsewhere, Nuits-Saint-Georges tend to be unfairly overlooked. Perhaps this is because no grand cru is to be found within this commune, or that the wines are perceived to be sandy, stern and uninteresting. This is, of course, wonderful for those who appreciate Nuits-Saint-Georges for what it is as prices are still sane and accessible although I have noticed them creeping up a little over the last few years. For me, Domaine Henri Gouges is the undisputed doyen of Nuits-Saint-Georges but, as this themed line-up revealed, there are plenty of excellent stuff from other producers. Saint-Pierre of Singapore lived up to its new-found Michelin star on this evening of 12 March 2019 where Emmanuel Stroobant was given carte blanche to pair the wines to excellent effect.

2007 Egly-Ouriet Millesime Brut Grand Cru, courtesy of Kieron. Lovely yeasty depth on the nose, leading to a lively palate of zesty lime and clear citrus infused with bright minerals, bathed in very fine bubbles that conferred a certain deftness and dry gentle intensity, finishing with lingering sweet citrusy intensity. Quite excellent.

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2004 Domaine Henri Gouges Nuits-Saint-Georges La Perriere 1er, courtesy of LF. Displaying a dull golden lustre, this unique pinot blanc (a mutated form of pinot noir) proffers an unusual complex of smouldering ember, lifted orange peel, light yellow citrus and marmalade on the nose, rather difficult to place as it is neither chardonnay nor anything else. Equally engaging on the palate where its lithe acidity and excellent presence further enhances the superb intensity of complex tangerines, a little dryish in tone but finishing with superb length and glowing persistence. At its best. Excellent.

1993 Domaine Leroy Nuits-Saint-Georges, courtesy of Robert K. In spite of its 26 years, this village, showing a beautifully evolved red, still exudes a deep bouquet of red fruits and cherries with a distinct tone of tangerines, remarkably full and supple with superb freshness, imbued with very lovely acidity and juicy svelte tannins as it evolved with further notes of raspberries tinged with kumquat, adding further dimension and depth. Truly wonderful, easily standing its ground against the line-up. Outstanding.

2002 Domaine Henri Gouges Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Vaucrains 1er, courtesy of LF. Deep vermillion, exuding a sharp earthy pungency with a superb lift of deep red fruits and currants. Medium-bodied and fleshy, layered with lovely depth of lithe tangerines with a distinct ferrous streak on a bed of velvety tannins, displaying excellent purity. Superb.

2006 Domaine Faiveley Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Porets-Saint-Georges 1er, courtesy of Vic. Good colour, flushed with deep aromas of ripe dark berries, red currants and dark plums. Open and fleshy with a certain warmth and forwardness, displaying a very precise even tone of fruit and linearity that I find to be the hallmark of Faiveley’s Nuits-Saint-Georges, finishing with classic earthy minerals. Very fine.

2007 Domaine Henri Gouges Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Saint Georges 1er, courtesy of Kieron. Beautifully evolved with a stealthy earthy pungency, proffering gentle dark currants on a palate suffused with sublime acidity and controlled intensity of fruit, very beautifully proportioned, finishing with a brief ferrous twinkle. Excellent.

1990 Domaine Henri Gouges Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Saint Georges 1er. Ex-domaine. Somewhat opague with a marked salinity at first when the bottle was first popped. Things were totally different after 90 minutes of aeration, turning deep vermillion with a deep controlled bouquet of glorious red fruits, beautifully open, poised with fleshy delicate elegance with a rich velvety tone of red cherries and currants that stretched out with glorious intensity throughout its gentle length, oozing with gentle sweetness at the side. Reminds me of a similar bottle tasted at the domaine’s cellars in October 2018, courtesy of Gregory Gouges. This is Les Saint Georges at its very best.

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FICOFI: 2017 Faiveley Montrachet Grand Cru

March 23, 2019

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Jerome Flous, winemaker of Domaine Faiveley

This FICOFI event on 05 March 2019 at Peach Garden, OCBC Centre, Singapore, featured a well-curated promenade of 2017 wines of Domaine Faiveley, still in cask, followed by a generous triptych of Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Saint Georges 1er, Corton Clos des Cortons Faiveley Grand Cru and Mazis-Chambertin Grand Cru to go with dinner with its winemaker  M. Jerome Flous in attendance. Having joined the domaine in 2007 at the behest of its seventh generation owner M. Erwan Faiveley (who took over from his father Francois in 2005), Jerome has largely been responsible for the shift in style of Faiveley over the past decade: wines that are more individualistic and expressive about each unique terroir, imbued with more power and layering without sacrificing the elegant beauty of Burgundy. With holdings of more than 130 ha, Faiveley certainly has plenty of depth and volume to offer. It is, therefore, not surprising that every Faiveley tasting event places severe stress on one’s mental and liver capacity. In spite of the allotted 90 minutes, I barely had time to finish up the promenade before moving on to dinner. It was a pity we didn’t have a wider range of the 2017 whites to taste (no Batard, no Corton-Charlemagne), but there was still plenty of excellent stuff. It’s no coincidence that the 2017 reds featured this evening come entirely from the Cote de Nuits. Erwan had explained to me in person last year that one has to be highly selective about 2017 reds and he’d felt that the Cote de Nuits reds were preferable than those of the Cote de Beaune. And it appears he is absolutely right, as the 2017 reds are nothing short of excellent, showing great sophistication with plenty of depth, layering and controlled power. Faiveley has had to buy in grapes for NSG Les Saint Georges 1er and Puligny-Montrachet Les Referts 1er in recent years while its own vines are being renewed, hence accounting for the non-domaine label for these two wines after 2015.

2017 Joseph Faiveley Puligny-Montrachet Les Referts 1er. Raw nutmeg with wild grassy elements on the nose, showing lovely restraint. Very well-proportioned with good focus, structured with fine intensity of clear citrus before finishing on a quiet note.

2017 Domaine Faiveley Bienvenues-Batard Montrachet Grand Cru. A distinct step up from the 1er, more lifted and poised with a rich creamy tone that led to an excellent presence of ripe clear citrus. Rather tight initially, uncoiling itself after some time to reveal superb acidity and layering, displaying great restraint and elegance with controlled intensity, finishing with a lovely tangy mouthfeel. Excellent.

2017 Joseph Faiveley Montrachet Grand Cru. The bouquet here is thoroughly unique, highly lifted in its perfumed exuberance of varnish, dense white flowers and vanillin that matched very well with very fine white peppery tones, longans, wild flowers and traces of nutmeg on the palate, very gently layered with lovely transparency and fine acidity, superbly proportioned and balanced, finishing with quiet refinement and linearity. Early days still, but already quite outstanding. Only 1 barrel available annually since 2014, from grapes purchased (from the Puligny side of Montrachet) in exchange for 2 barrels of Faiveley’s Chambertin-Clos de Beze.

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2017 Joseph Faiveley Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Saint Georges 1er. Expressive nose of raspberries and bright cherries amid traces of vanillin that carried well onto the soft fleshy palate with lovely ripeness and concentration, yielding transparent textures suffused with saline minerals, subtly structured with highly supple tannins and subdued acidity. Very fine.

2015 Joseph Faiveley Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Saint Georges 1er. Bright crimson. Exuding a gentle earthy pungency, this wine is beautifully poised with an abundance of red fruits with a bright polished sheen on the palate, its supple tannins conferring highly seamless textures with a soft gentle ferrous depth, finishing with good linearity. Already highly approachable. Quite excellent.

2017 Domaine Faiveley Gevrey-Chambertin Les Cazetiers 1er. Gentle red fruits dominate, softly aromatic with good density and oiliness in its mid-body that conferred a bit of boldness, imbued with bright salinity. Good finish.

2017 Domaine Faiveley Clos Vougeot Grand Cru. Forward balance of red fruits. Rounded and fleshy, coiled with tight intensity, not yielding much detail. A bit too overdone, I feel.

2017 Domaine Faiveley Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru. Red fruits dominate with some stern minerality on the nose that carried well onto the palate with gravelly detail though quite subtly integrated, softly structured with fine intensity.

2017 Domaine Faiveley Latricieres-Chambertin Grand Cru. A perennial favourite within Faiveley’s portfolio, the Latricieres in 2017 is showing well, subtly flavoured with dark roses and red fruits that exude a lovely rosy fragrance. Very well layered on the palate with excellent presence and purity, already open and fleshy with fine intensity and vigour. Excellent.

2017 Domaine Faiveley Mazis-Chambertin Grand Cru. Deep ruby. Effusive in perfumed aromas, covered with great open concentration of ripe wild berries, grassy elements and earth, gently nuanced with subtle intensity. Highly supple with poised elegance, tapering to a rich velvety finish. Excellent.

2017 Domaine Faiveley Chambertin-Clos de Beze Grand Cru. As expected, the king of Chambertin exudes a bold presence of ripe wild berries, earth, dark cherries and black currants, structured with excellent intensity of fruit with fine inner precision and layered with highly detailed earthy minerals, yet impeccably proportioned for such a masculine wine. Already accessible now with great potential for future complexity. Quite a complete wine already even at this stage. Outstanding.

2017 Domaine Faiveley Corton Clos des Cortons Faiveley Grand Cru. This monopole is highly aromatic with an open bouquet of perfumed red cherries and strawberries, very bright and bold with faint overtones of rye, malt and paraffin amidst dense red fruits, displaying fabulous intensity and concentration. One of my perennial favourites. Excellent.

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This was followed by the triptych of NSG Les Saint Georges, Corton Clos des Cortons Faiveley and Mazis-Chambertin at dinner, featuring three vintages per wine where the 2013 and 2007 were common to all…

2015 Domaine Faiveley Puligny-Montrachet Les Referts 1er. Pale. Notes of cool vanillin with distinct bright minerals dominate on the nose with further dense white floral tones and wild grass on the bright minerally palate, revealing raw detail amid the lovely acidity and concentration with traces of paraffin, just slightly short. Quite excellent.

2013 Domaine Faiveley Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Saint Georges 1er. This wine exudes a great earthy pungency with a forward balance, excellent in concentration and intensity of fruit with an acidic spine. Bright, bold, powerful and deep without being too assertive, showing tremendous swagger. Highly attractive. Very successful for a tough vintage.

2007 Domaine Faiveley Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Saint Georges 1er. Complex earthy nose with some evolution. Deeply layered with abundant fruit and complex minerality that is particularly rich and sophisticated. Very classy. Almost opulent. Superb.

1999 Domaine Faiveley Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Saint Georges 1er. Incredibly deep garnet core, proffering lifted dark currants and dark plums with a medicinal trace. Beautifully integrated and structured with gravelly detail and earthiness amid deep velvety textures that impart great succulence, finishing in a flourish of open intensity. Quite glorious.

2013 Domaine Faiveley Corton Clos des Cortons Faiveley Grand Cru. Some early evolution is evident. Sleek narrow structure, imbued with very good depth of red plums that impart fine presence but somehow it lacks distinction. Probably a vintage-related issue.

2007 Domaine Faiveley Corton Clos des Cortons Faiveley Grand Cru. Outstanding bouquet of complex deep velvety characters, deep dark berries and dark cherries with an attractive earthy pungency that carried very well onto the medium-full palate. Rich and opulent, poised with lovely crisp acidity, brimming with quiet intensity. Superb.

2000 Domaine Faiveley Corton Clos des Cortons Faiveley Grand Cru. Evolved with a vermillion rim surrounding a deep garnet core, proffering deep dark currants amid slightly dryish textures with overtones of white smoke and licorice. Fleshy and rounded with excellent concentration and good transparency, just a tad short. Quite excellent.

2013 Domaine Faiveley Mazis-Chambertin Grand Cru. Closed on the nose though the palate is rather full, imbued with gentle dark currants and black berries that belie its bold tannic intensity, quite seamless but lacking inner definition. Short as well.

2007 Domaine Faiveley Mazis-Chambertin Grand Cru. Dark in colour and tone. Medium-full, open with a lovely succulence of tangy dark currants and ripe raspberries that stretched with fine linearity to a long glowing finish. Quite excellent.

2003 Domaine Faiveley Mazis-Chambertin Grand Cru. Glorious hue of deep ruby. Closed on the nose though the palate is beautifully open with chiselled definition, imbued with a deep velvety cushion of ripe raspberries and wild berries with overtones of smouldering ember without any trace of heaviness nor heat stress. Excellent.

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Happy birthday Professor!! 2001 Margaux, 1995 Haut-Brion, 1990 Lafite Rothschild, 1996 & 2002 Chateau Mouton Rothschild, 1985 Latour & 1997 Gaja Darmagi

March 18, 2019

IMG-20190318-WA0003.jpgHow do you celebrate the life of someone who has looked after you very well, without whom you wouldn’t have achieved today’s success? The Professor needs no introduction to those whose paths have crossed. As brilliant as Moriarty but infinitely kinder, he has righted many wrongs, saved countless souls, put people in their respective places when necessary and helped his country win the fight against SARS. The man loves Bordeaux, and we were only too happy to roll out an entire First Growth line-up to celebrate his big round number at Silk@SICC on 15 March 2019, even though nobody really knows when the red-letter day actually is. With the exception of the Lafite, all wines were aired on-site. Many happy returns Professor! We shall always remain indebted to you.

1996 Dom Perignon, courtesy of Kieron. There was a distinct cork taint on the nose that pervaded slightly onto the palate, obscuring somewhat the soft yeasty pungency of this well-aged champagne warhorse that’s still holding well with crisp acidity and controlled intensity of clear and yellow citrus on a bed of recessed chalkiness, imbued with gentle dryness.

2001 Ch Margaux, courtesy of WCY. Surprisingly shy on the nose, proffering only faint aromas of dark cherries and dark currants though this wine is glowing with fresh mulberries and dark fruits on the palate, fleshy and rounded, suffused with sublime acidity amid traces of ferrous minerals that yielded transparent tertiary textures, finishing with peppery traces. Superbly balanced and proportioned. A classic Margaux.

1995 Ch Haut-Brion, courtesy of Kieron. More effusive than the preceding Margaux, this lynchpin of Pessac-Leognan exudes a gentle earthy pungency along with plummy tones, kumquat and tangerines at its core with greater immediacy, utterly seamless in its mellowed elegance as it dressed the palate in svelte tannins and lovely acidity. Doesn’t quite plumb the depths (not a hallmark of 1995) but makes up for it with its overall sublimity, culminating in a long glowing finish. Reflects very well the vintage characteristics.

2002 Ch Mouton Rothschild, courtesy of KP. Deeply coloured. Darkly flavoured with a bolder extraction of cool ripe mulberries, raspberries and black currants, still rather tightly coiled with an acidic spine though never astringent, opening up with greater transparency over time, revealing a hint of vegetal trace but it remained cloaked in dark tones.

1996 Ch Mouton Rothschild, courtesy of Hiok. Deep dark garnet core. Surprisingly reticent, though there’s never any doubt about the abundance of dark fruit lurking beneath, proffering dark chocolates, complex smoke and incense as the wine became more mellow and relaxed over time, quite seamlessly integrated with very refined acidity but it could do with more layering.

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The Professor’s men and lady from Changi

1990 Ch Lafite Rothschild. Aired in bottle for five hours prior, this wine opens with aromas of dark berries, mulberries and dark currants with a soft feminine fragrance, eminently elegant as it opened up with a deeper mentholic vein, still displaying very good presence and fine acidity, gaining further intensity with more velvety textures as it sat in the glass, just a tad short as it finished with a gentle ferrous trace. Quite the quintessential Lafite, still holding well even though its cork had turned too friable. From an OWC of 12.

1985 Ch Latour, courtesy of Vic. This Latour at 34 years is still darkly coloured, full and masculine, opening with a great lift of dark currants, ripe black fruits and violets that leapt from the glass, very open and fleshy, still imbued with an abundance of cool ripe fruit with after notes of tobacco leaves, structured with detailed velvety tannins that deliver power and smooth elegance in equal measure. Caught truly at its absolute peak. Very lovely. Superb!

1997 Gaja Darmagi Langhe courtesy of the Professor, a blend of 96% cabernet sauvignon and 4% cabernet franc. This wine from Piemonte displays a deep garnet core, superbly layered with a racy intensity of toffee, mocha and ripe raspberries within a highly supple tannin structure suffused with sublime acidity. Open and highly inviting, traversing the palate with great linearity all the way to its lengthy glowing finish. Outstanding.

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My dinner with Laurent

March 10, 2019

Laurent Ponsot is a name familiar to all Burgundy lovers, especially after the airing of the hit documentary Sour Grapes. Nevertheless, when I received an invitation at short notice from Dr Ngoi to a private dinner with Laurent organised by Wine Cliqúe at the one Michelin-starred Summer Pavillon, Ritz Carlton Millenium, Singapore, on 07 March 2019, I didn’t really know what to expect. For starters, the numerous bottles that were airing quietly in a corner didn’t sport the usual dull-yellow Ponsot label. They appeared distinctly modern in fashionable metallic hues with the name LAURENT PONSOT etched across in green lettering borrowed from Star Wars. No “Domaine” at all. What’s going on?

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Sure enough, when the man himself arrived a few minutes later, he looked exactly as he had been in Sour Grapes. Friendly, articulate and disarmingly engaging without nary a wrinkle around his twinkling eyes, Laurent is easily 20 years less than his 65. This is clearly a man who enjoys his work and who lives life to the fullest, abeit in a principled manner. And now, Laurent has to do it all over again. I hadn’t realised but, in spite of him having almost single-handedly raised the quality and profile of Domaine Ponsot to worldwide acclaim since taking over the reins from his father Jean-Marie at this mecca of Morey-Saint-Denis in 1981, things haven’t gone well for Laurent in recent years, culminating in him leaving the fold of this revered domaine in 2017 after 36 years, selling off his share entirely. But, as they say, you can’t keep a good man down. Laurent has started his own line under his own name, its inaugural vintage being 2015, with the help of his son Clement and several of his old-time staff, including his cellar master, who had also left Domaine Ponsot to support him. Laurent now functions as both grower and negociant. He still owns parcels in Griotte-Chambertin, Clos Saint-Denis and Chambolle-Musigny Les Charmes inter alia, but he now prefers to create blends from different plots of lieu-dit within each commune, buying in grapes or via share-cropping or, in the case of his Corton-Charlemagne, buying in the must (freshly crushed grape juice that contains as well the skins, seeds and stems). Both the Cote de Nuits and Cote de Beaune are well represented in its portfolio with the exception of Nuits-Saint-Georges, Volnay and Pommard for which Laurent has no interest. Neither is there any Chassagne or Saint-Aubin. All along, Laurent has advocated zero new oak for his wines. He stresses that the grapes growing in the vineyards are naturally exposed to the elements of terroir but not oak…so why should one expose it to fresh oak? Moreover, he explains that fresh oak tends to expose the wine to micro-oxidation. As such, he utilises only one-year-old used oak for premier cru and grand cru, whilst older wood is used for village. Laurent never fails to remind us that the vines represent a connection to Mother Nature and that his role is one of servitude rather than being a creator. In this respect, I am reminded of Comte Georges de Vogüe’s long-serving cellar master Francois Millet who espouses the same philosophy.

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Talking to Laurent, one senses that he is an absolute hands-on person who is guided by what he has seen and done throughout his long career. When I broached to him the issue of bottle closures, he lights up instantly for, after 16 years of intense study and observation, he has found the ideal closure in the form of a synthetic cork that is totally inert to chemical interaction with the bottled wine, yet allowing a controlled permeability to oxygen. In fact, Laurent has pin-pointed 100 parts per million of oxygen in wine as being ideal for the taste of a 10-year-old Burgundy, and he has helped to develop what eventually became known as the ArdeaSeal AS-Elite, with which he has famously used to stopper his wines since 2008. This is a man for whom tradition is useless if it fails him, and he is not afraid to walk away from such sacred cows.

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The conversation drifts to other things. Laurent has been to Singapore and many parts of Asia many times over. In the very early ’80s, Laurent was one of the very first vignerons to promote his wines in Asian markets, thus accounting for his ability to converse somewhat in Mandarin and Japanese, including a stammering of Malay. He has had countless Japanese women throwing themselves at him in absolute supplication, but he politely declines. Laurent loves his fried rice, particularly the stuff served at Summer Pavillon and we duly obliged him. He wants to be a pigeon in his next life, because it keeps coming back! You can’t help but like the man. You have the feeling that Laurent is a fun guy but he is serious about things that matter to him. He is comfortable talking about Rudy Kurniawan, but any mention about meeting up with Rudy again after his eventual release easily gets Laurent heated under the collar. And he isn’t too happy about Sour Grapes either. Being a retrospective production, it seems a number of deviations from the fact had to be made in order to spruce up the story and Laurent is only too happy to rectify such mis-representations in his forthcoming tell-all memoirs. I can’t wait for it to be published.

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Now, how about the wines? It seems Laurent has hit the ground running. Within such a short time, he has already achieved results befitting his famous name. Whereas a number of 2016 whites from some producers tend to be plump, flabby and tired, the whites of Laurent Ponsot display absolute purity and precision of expression, imbued with delicate elegance, energy and balance. The reds, too, show tremendous verve and detail, again ingrained with superb balance and purity. Most importantly, the individuality of each terroir shines through with effortless grace. Tasting these wines, one begins to understand why Laurent eschews new oak, for the lack of it actually enhances the inner definition and purity. They all have nicknames: the whites take after various species of flowers while the reds take after trees. Naturally, quantities are highly limited, particularly for such a low-yielding vintage as 2016 where only 47,000 bottles were produced in total and they do command a hefty premium.

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2003 Champagne Pommery Cuvee Louise Rosé. Lovely deep yeasty tones amid some lovely earthy pungency, developing more notes of grapefruit and heated gravel on the brightly lit palate, displaying very fine depth, detail and appropriate dryness, just a tad short. Quite excellent.

2016 Laurent Ponsot Meursault-Blagny 1er Cuvee de Myosotis. Pale. This wine opens with a cool clean lift of wild grass and shades of nutmeg, superbly integrated and proportioned with excellent presence and depth of fruit, exuding elegant vigour, delicate detail and refinement with a minerally shine without excess plumpness nor acidic assertiveness, finishing in a lengthy white floral tone with superb linearity. I’ve not come across such great refinement from this source. Excellent.

2016 Laurent Ponsot Meursault-Charmes 1er Cuvee de La Centauree. Pale. Slightly more creamy on the nose but it still has that superb delicacy and presence, substantially layered with nutmeg, olives and complex citrus on a bed of gentle chalkiness stuffed with sublime acidity. Almost racy at first, eventually settling down with great seamless elegance, exuding highly unique flavors that culminated in a great glowing lengthy mouthfeel. Outstanding.

2016 Laurent Ponsot Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru Cuvee du Kalimeris. Made from bought-in must. There is a lovely luminous glow of white fruits on the nose that grew with gradual intensity like a morning mist breaking cover, leading to a palate of delicate white fruits and clear minerals that shone with lovely purity, gentle richness and transparency amid traces of nutmeg, finishing with a persistent tangy mouthfeel. This is up there with the very best of Corton-Charlemagne.

2016 Laurent Ponsot Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru Cuvee du Cedre. Lovely colour though restrained, proffering gentle earthy tones, light red plums and currants on the nose, highly consistent with the generous tone of light cherries laced with ferrous elements on the palate, highly supple, its refined purity and teasing acidity producing a great open mouthfeel as it developed an excellent minerally depth over time. Deliciously seamless. Superb.

2016 Laurent Ponsot Griotte-Chambertin Grand Cru Cuvee du Saule. Superb deep ruby. Lovely aromas of cherries and redcurrants of superb ripeness and purity, matched by a deeper vein of rich fruit structured with exciting tannins that imparted wonderful mouthfeel, yet superbly proportioned in spite of its fabulous open intensity. Outstanding.

2016 Laurent Ponsot Clos Saint-Denis Grand Cru Cuvee du Merisier. Made from vines planted in 1905. Deep ruby hue, exuding a quiet restraint on the dryish bouquet, layered with rich velvety textures that reveal lovely inner detail within its incredibly svelte tannins, seamlessly integrated with tremendous verve and depth. Brilliant!

1990 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti La Tache Grand Cru, courtesy of the great Mr Oei HL. Well-evolved vermillion. As expected of this pedigree and vintage, this great monopole impressed at once with its stunningly deep bouquet of kumquat, strawberries, glycerin and tangerines amid darker currants, open with cool ripeness and tremendous energy that transcended the palate with great suppleness and effortless grace, layered with sublime acidity and fabulous depth as it stretched out with supreme power, elegance and length. Truly a complete wine. Outstanding.

I must thank the wonderful people at Wine Cliqúe for this intimate opportunity to meet M. Laurent Ponsot, as well as Dr Ngoi and Mr Oei for their kind generosity. This has been an unforgettable evening.

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