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2003 BOND Melbury, 2009 Araujo Eisele, 1996 Phelps Insignia, 1997 & 2007 Opus One, 1995 Viader, 2007 Shafer Hillside Select, 2012 Marcassin Pinot Noir

April 9, 2021

Members of the Jürade de Saint-Émilion du Singapour met again at OSO Ristorante on 18 March 2021 to enjoy the camaraderie with an all-American line-up. While such wines are more likely than not to display outsized proportions, they were all showing very well that evening such that I was able to function normally the next day without any fuzziness. Many thanks, everyone, for your generous contributions.

Champagne Billecart-Salmon Rosé Brut NV. Bold dry chalky intensity marked by intense yellow citrus, mandarins and ripe grapefruit with overtones of white fumes, structured within a chiseled chalkiness.

1995 Viader, courtesy of Marc. A blend of 45% cabernet franc with 55% cabernet sauvignon. Dark with an earthy funkiness on the nose, matching well the excellent cabernet character on the palate. Possesses good levels of ripeness amid a herbaceous trace not unlike a true Médoc, softly rounded but hefty enough, evolving further overtones of ferrous elements and medicinal powder within pliant tannins that oozed with understated sweetness. Drinking well.

2012 Marcassin Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, courtesy of KC. Raspberries and dark cherries dominate with a rounded fleshiness, revealing soft inner detail beneath a ripe expanse of cool red fruits that exert fine tension, showing good balance and sophistication with a controlled elegance. Unlikely to be mistaken for burgundy, but truly excellent.

1996 Joseph Phelps Insignia, courtesy of Stephen. Deep garnet core. Lifted in ripe cabernet fruit with a hint of licorice and savoury character that leapt out of the glass. Medium-full. Expectedly weighty but well-integrated with controlled proportions, still imbued with blazing intensity across the palate though without much inner detail. Good length.

1997 Opus One. Deep garnet red with some crimson at the rim, lifted in red plums and crushed red fruits with a trace of sur-maturite that hinted at velvety depth. Highly elegant, still very fresh and cleanly-defined with rich succulent detail that imparted very fine open fleeting intensity and linearity, tapering to a controlled finish with understated excitement within pliant tannins.

2003 BOND Melbury, courtesy of Mel. Deep garnet core. Lush luxuriant nose of ripe red fruits, sweet dark currants and bramble, complemented by a perfumed summer bloom amid overtones of saddle. Medium-full. Surprisingly supple and pliant even though its  rich creamy smooth tannins still carry traces of vanillin with exciting intensity and verve.

2009 Araujo Eisele Vineyard, courtesy of Russ. Deep garnet core with some early evolution. Very Bordeaux-like on the nose where black fruits and dark currants dominate with splashes of red. Highly sleek and supple, seamlessly structured with exciting tannins, displaying immaculate proportions with great sophistication but still rather tightly coiled. Destined for greatness.

2007 Shafer Hillside Select, courtesy of Kieron. Very dark and surprisingly restrained on the nose though there is obviously plenty lurking beneath. Massively structured, richly layered with glowing black fruits that exude that unique dash of sweetness and overtones of eucalyptus that is almost a signature of Napa cabernet. Almost hedonistic though its tannins are relatively understated. Still tight.

2007 Opus One, courtesy of Sandy. Dark. Full intense aromas of black fruits, sweet anise and cassis. Equally intense as well on the palate, richly layered with tightly coiled dark fruits and currants. Generously proportioned though the tannins are well managed, oozing with some attractive sweetness to counter the distinct alcoholic heat. A tad austere. Best to lay down for another decade, at least.

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Mar 2021: 2004 Latour, 2007 Tignanello, 2015 Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay, 1998 Pichon Longueville Comtesse Lalande, 1996 Leoville Las-Cases, 2007 Suduiraut, 2005 Bouchard Vos-Romanée Malconsorts, 2011 Duroche Charmes-Chambertin…

March 31, 2021

2019 Louis Jadot Mâcon-Villages. Popped and poured at home, 01 Mar 2021. Cool clean icing and vanillin on the nose with a dash of morning dew and fresh grassy elements. Highly poised and collected on the medium-full palate, laced with understated acidity and intensity of ripe orchard fruit. Superbly proportioned and quite seamlessly integrated without calling attention to itself. Whereas the excellent 2017 blazes with chiseled white tones, the 2019 is all about regal elegance. Most excellent.

2007 Domaine Joseph Drouhin Beaune Clos des Mouches 1er Rouge. Popped and poured at Burlamacco Ristorante (Stanley St) on 04 Mar 2021. Well-evolved rusty red, proffering raspberries, ripe wild berries and bramble on the nose and palate with fair abundance. Shows excellent fullness and layering, exuding sweet overtones of herbal elements, mocha and licorice amid dark plummy tones, a little thin towards the finish at first though it eventually fleshed out very well with a passing burliness that suits its origin. At its drinking best.

Champagne Leon Launois Brut Cuvée Réservée NV. Popped and poured over dimsum at Jade Palace, 07 Mar 2021. Excellent presence of intense clear citrus on an understated chalky base that saturate the palate with fine clarity, layering and minerally depth. Still tight.

2007 Tignanello. Double-decanted for ninety minutes at home before bringing over to Corner Grill, 09 Mar 2021. Darkly coloured. Deep plummy nose with sweet overtones and traces of ash. Open with lovely fullness, imbued with very fine presence of warm ripe berries, dark cherries and currants framed by relaxed sweet supple tannins that impart silky smooth textures, displaying excellent balance and grip as it tapered to dryish finish. Approaching its peak.

2006 Champagne Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Rosé, courtesy of LF at Imperial Treasure Great World, 11 Mar 2021. Tangerines, peaches and grapefruit on the nose, highly effusive and aromatic. Beautifully open with refined acidity and a rounded dry intensity, mellowing after some time to reveal excellent presence of cool fruit that lingered long after its finish. Excellent.

2008 Champagne Pol Roger, courtesy of Raymond at Imperial Treasure Great World, 11 Mar 2021. Highly attractive bouquet of citrus fruits and bitter lemon amid a soft yeasty pungency. Slightly steely on the palate as its dry minerally presence took hold with fine precision, aided by excellent clarity and acidity that developed into a lovely crystalline glow within the expanse of white fruits. Excellent.

1996 Pahlmeyer Chardonnay, courtesy of Sir Bob. Decanted on-site at Imperial Treasure Great World, 11 Mar 2021. Deeply coloured, proffering a faint whiff of mandarins while the palate is softly layered with apricot and cool tones that oozed with some sweetness, displaying excellent presence with fine acidity and intensity that culminated in a minty glow with a trace of minerally glare. Just past its prime.

2006 Kistler Stone Flat Vineyard, courtesy of Sir Bob. Decanted on-site at Imperial Treasure Great World, 11 Mar 2021. Quite effusive in its burnished perfumed floral fragrance, forwardly balanced and full with some juicy sweetness amidst dominant ferrous elements. Well integrated but a tad short.

2015 Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay, courtesy of Sir Bob. Decanted on-site at Imperial Treasure Great World, 11 Mar 2021. Pale. Forward nose of peaches and tropical fruits. Medium-full. Wonderfully lithe, elegant and rounded. Imbued with cool fruit and delicate textures that yielded fine detail and freshness. Beautifully proportioned and poised with impeccable balance. Very Burgundian. Superb.

2015 Domaine Ponsot Saint-Romain Cuvée de la Mesange, courtesy of Raymond at Imperial Treasure Great World, 11 Mar 2021. Full presence of chiseled chalky minerals topped with icing amid a certain oiliness, displaying superb density of citrus fruit with open clarity and detail. Excellent.

2016 Meerlust Rubicon. Aired in bottle for three hours prior at Imperial Treasure Great World, 11 Mar 2021. Purplish with a hint of evolution. Well layered with very fine presence of raspberries and currants, displaying great balance and superb acidity, just a tad forward.

2000 Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste. Aired in bottle for three hours prior at Imperial Treasure Great World, 11 Mar 2021. Reductive tones dominate with a lovely earthy pungency. Open with classic Bordeaux textures, not quite as dry as northern Pauillac can be but positively glowing with superb presence of delicious rounded black fruit. Quite glorious.

2005 Bouchard Père et Fils Vosne-Romanée Aux Malconsorts 1er, courtesy of Kieron at Imperial Treasure Great World, 11 Mar 2021. Crimson. Open with a lovely fullness of ripe red fruits. Highly supple and refined, superbly integrated and balanced with fresh acidity. Distinctly feminine, as is usual with Bouchard. Very beautifully nuanced.

2011 Domaine Duroche Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru, courtesy of LF at Imperial Treasure Great World, 11 Mar 2021. Deeply coloured with a lovely lift of haw and rose petals, a perfect complement to the layered expanse of sweet red fruits and red plums underscored by a deeper vein of darker fruit that added further dimension. Excellent.

2015 Domaine Coquard-Loison-Fleurot Échezeaux Grand Cru, courtesy of LF at Imperial Treasure Great World, 11 Mar 2021. Clear ruby. Dominant minty tones on the nose. The palate is richly imbued with an excellent expanse of gloriously ripe fruit that exude a lush velvety warmth with youthful verve. Exciting stuff but I’d wait for several more years.

Champagne Bollinger R.D. 2004, courtesy of Russ at Yoshi, 13 Mar 2021. Delicate clear yellow citrus dominate amid traces of green fruits, gently seducing the senses whilst the palate is richly layered with superb intensity and definition of fruit that exude great clarity and lift, laced with sublime acidity and a hint of cordite, developing a rounded glow of crème de la crème over time. Outstanding.

2012 Domaine Joseph Drouhin Puligny-Montrachet Les Folatières 1er at Yoshi, 13 Mar 2021. Beautifully delicate on the nose, proffering gentle notes of chalk and floral elements with a dash of citrus. More expansive and weighty on the palate where its rich creamy smooth texture is supported by a lovely glowing depth with just the right degree of intensity. Drouhin, as usual, is very correctly nuanced. Excellent.

2013 Domaine Roulot Auxey-Duresses 1er, courtesy of Russ at Yoshi, 13 Mar 2021. Classic Roulot signature of high-toned clear citrus that pierce the senses with extreme focus and intensity, fleshing out with further expanse of white tones laced with sleek acidity. Excellent potential, though still rather tight at this stage.

2005 Domaine Fourrier Gevrey-Chambertin Les Cherbaudes Vieilles Vigne 1er, courtesy of Russ at Yoshi, 13 Mar 2021. Evolved with secondary characteristics of mature red fruits that exude a delicious fragrance with quiet intensity, gently layered on a deeper streak of dark fruits with further notes of haw and a dash of earthiness. Very beautifully nuanced.

Yoshi

2008 Château Guadet. Popped and poured at Yoshi, 13 Mar 2021. Deep ruby. Surprisingly complex bouquet of mocha, diesel, earth, dark fruits and currants. Medium-full. Beautifully sleek with a rounded suppleness, flashing an intense acidic streak that gave way to warm velvety tones, showing good balance though it tapered off quite abruptly towards the finish.

2016 Le Petit Haut Lafitte, popped and poured at home over two days 15-16 Mar 2021. Quite deeply coloured, carrying enough weight and supple presence of raspberries, dark plums, briar and ripe wild berries that open with fine agility to reveal chewy gritty detail, imparting a mouth-puckering imprint. Measures up to its grand vin.

2007 Château Suduiraut, a half-bottle popped and poured at Ka Soh on 20 Mar 2021 to go with the Chinese food rather than treating it as a dessert wine. Quite heavily coloured. Effusive in dense apricot, burnt sugar, nectarine and grapefruit with some diesel overtones. Lightened up slightly with a more even tone, displaying excellent acidity and refined intensity with controlled proportions and sweetness, eventually firming up with full gleaming presence. Excellent.

2017 Domaine Jean-Philippe Fichet Bourgogne Vieilles Vignes. Popped and poured at home, 21 Mar 2021. Rather lightly-coloured and restrained. More forthcoming on the palate where delicate high-toned clear citrus dominate amid equally bright minerally elements with a deft touch within a rather narrow spectrum of flavours, though seemingly tight. Whereas this used to be a hugely exuberant bourgogne blanc, the overall impression now is one of reluctance. Let’s hope it’s just going through an awkward phase.

2011 Champagne Pierre Peters Cuvée Spéciale Les Chétillons. Popped and poured at Empire, 24 Mar 2021. Pale. Generous lifted aromas of clear citrus with white incense. Possesses excellent freshness and zest with a lovely fullness and intensity, imbued with subtle minerally elements amid the refined acidity and crisp bubbles that coat the palate with fine definition. Perhaps my best encounter of this vintage of Les Chétillons.

2015 Vega-Sicilia Tinto Valbuena 5o, courtesy of Hiok. Popped and poured at Empire, 24 Mar 2021. Deep opaque purple, proffering broad swathes of vanillin and enamel though, surprisingly, only medium-full on the palate where its open fleshiness was quite engaging, aided by sleek acidity and fine linearity as it tapered to a quiet finish. Not ready.

1999 Château Quinault L’Enclos, courtesy of KP. Popped and poured at Empire, 24 Mar 2021. Deep garnet core. Still rather minty and mentholic on the nose though highly supple and open with quite an even tone on the medium-bodied palate.

1998 Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, courtesy of WCY. Popped and poured at Empire, 24 Mar 2021. Dark crimson. Absolutely beguiling on the nose where feminine aromas of red fruits and tertiary characters dominate with a soft effusive earthiness, exuding a lovely supple presence with a gentle layered depth, showing great balance and seamless integration with a classic vegetal tinge that is so highly characteristic of Pichon Lalande (though there isn’t any petit verdot in this vintage), only marred by a short finish. But nobody is complaining given that this wine has so much to offer. Beautiful. Caught at its peak.

2004 Château Ducru Beaucaillou. Aired in bottle for 2-3 hours in advance at Empire, 24 Mar 2021. Deep purplish hue. Surprisingly reticent on the nose and medium-bodied palate where the fruit is set slightly backwards, resulting in a narrower presence. Well balanced but rather nondescript with not much depth too, eventually fleshing out in the glass with some velvetiness though it remained unconvincing. Disappointing.

1996 Château Leoville Las-Cases, courtesy of Vic. Popped and poured at Empire, 24 Mar 2021. Deep garnet red with a crimson rim. Suave presence of predominant red fruits amid traces of green capsicum with an attractive pungency, exuding a warm supple ripeness within a frame of sweet velvety tannins. Quite richly layered though it doesn’t exert any kind of lush succulence, preferring to tease the medium-full palate with fleeting depth and deft intensity. Excellent.

2004 Château Latour, courtesy of The Professor. Decanted on-site at Empire, 24 Mar 2021. Deep garnet red, exerting a warm ripeness and supple fullness. Quite richly layered with sweet undertones, open with lovely balance and seamless integration. Not the most profound nor structured of Latour but it is drinking beautifully.

2016 Serafini & Vidotto Il Rosso dell’Abazia. Aired in bottle for four hours prior at home, 28 Mar 2021. This is showing so much better than a previous bottle last month, now correctly nuanced and balanced in its abundance of black fruits and dark currants tinged with a hint of haw, adequately supple, displaying some inner detail of crushed raspberries with fine structure and intensity. Drinking well but it really needs plenty of time.

2012 Château Moulin Saint-Georges. Aired in bottle for three hours prior to dinner at Corner Grill, 30 Mar 2021. Predominance of dark fruits, somewhat reticent but ample on the palate, displaying excellent concentration with a slight velvety tinge. Well integrated with sleek acidity and structure, carrying a distinct dash of heat at first in spite of all that aeration before gelling together after four hours, revealing detailed red plums with an open chewy intensity. Good finish but still not ready. Wait another 5-8 years, at least.

Invited review: Dr Kieron Lim writes on an exclusive tasting of Comte Liger-Belair

March 27, 2021

In his second invited review, Dr Kieron Lim, whose astute palate and impeccable taste are held in high esteem by vignerons and oenophiles alike, recounts about a fabulous afternoon…

On the second Saturday of March 2021, a few lucky individuals assembled at one of my favourite restaurants in Singapore to taste a flight of wines from Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair – affectionately known as “CLB” to its legion of die-hard fans. As a testament to the seriousness of this tasting, there was a compulsory tutorial before the first drop of wine was poured. This delayed gratification provided us with important facts on the history and terroir of the domaine, including nuggets of trivia about CLB, thus enhancing the appreciation of the wines which followed. Allow me to provide a succinct summary of the tutorial:

From 1815, the Liger-Belair family held important stakes amongst the grand crus of La Tâche, La Romanée, La Grande Rue, Clos de Vougeot and Chambertin, along with a smattering of Vosne-Romanée premier crus including Malconsorts, Chaumes, Reignots, Suchots and Brulées. Due to complex succession and inheritance issues, the whole domaine was sold at auction in 1933. Fortunately, the family managed to save La Romanée along with their holdings of Reignots and Chaumes. In 2000, Vicomte Louis-Michel Liger-Belair wanted to rebuild the family domaine and began taking back the prized plots it now possesses. The end of CLB’s commercial contract in 2006 with Bouchard Père & Fils to distribute a proportion of La Romanée saw CLB once again proudly produce and bottle its crown jewel – the monopole of La Romanée Grand Cru.

Armed with new knowledge, the green light was given for the wines to be served. The excitement and anticipation was palpable. All the wines were sourced from abroad three months earlier to “rest” prior to this tasting.  All bottles were popped at 11.45 AM and aired in bottle for about an hour.

2012 Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair Vosne-Romanée La Colombiere

0.78 hectares / Average age of vines 70 years / Production 3300 bottles

Bright ruby. Clean, correct and “modern” on the nose, “airy” with abundant red fruit and soft floral notes. Medium-bodied, imbued with fresh acidity. Very enjoyable but rather short on the finish. Outstanding quality for a village. Drinking well.

2011 Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair Vosne-Romanée Clos du Chateau

0.83 hectares / Average age of vines 50 years / Production 3500 bottles

This monopole appears more cloudy and evolved on the rim compared with the preceding wine, but it was ironically more closed on both the nose and palate. Typical Vosne spice greets you at the first whiff though rather shy and reserved. A nicer mouthfeel and density than La Colombiere, but sharing the trait of a slightly abrupt finish. A deceptive village wine from a challenging vintage.

2010 Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair Nuits-Saint-Georges Aux Cras 1er

0.38 hectares / Average age of vines 95 years / Production 900 bottles

What an amazing nose! Imagine crushed red fruit, rose petals, minerals, and some sauvage thrown in the mix – all wonderfully wrapped in lush cashmere! The palate doesn’t disappoint either. While the tannins are still noticeable, they are in perfect harmony with the dark red fruit countered by refreshing acidity, displaying great density with a persistent finish. It was showing perfectly but I suspect it rewards those who can resist pulling the cork on this 2010 beauty. What a superb NSG!  Kudos.

2006 Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair Vosne-Romanée Aux Reignots 1er

0.73 hectares / Average age of vines 80 years (33%), 60 years (33%), mix of 40 and 20 years (33%) / Production 2100 bottles. The vines in this vineyard run from top to bottom whereas the others are situated in segments; Cathiard is on top, Grivot in the middle and Arnoux at the bottom

The Reignots was evidently a step up from the preceding wines. This possesses the lightest hue of the entire lineup. Superb bouquet of rose petals and muted spice, highly elegant and fresh – almost akin to Romanée-Saint-Vivant. Pure, precise and proper, not a hair out of place. After that knockout nose, the palate disappointed slightly with a rather austere entry and mouth-puckering acidity. The finish was persistent albeit a little one-dimensional. While many 2006s are drinking beautifully now, this adolescent may need more time to mature and integrate. Yet to peak.

2011 Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair Échezeaux Grand Cru

0.62 hectares / Average age of vines 70 years / Production 1800 bottles

Deeply coloured, hinting at the abundance of fruit lurking beneath. Muted at first, but vigorous swirling released reluctant aromas of dark red fruit, earth and spice. Lush and rich on the entry. A brooding structure hits the senses first, followed by broad sweeping luxurious waves of complex flavours that impart fabulous mouthfeel. Superb finish. I can’t imagine how amazing it will be in ten years. If only I had a few bottles squirrelled away.

Finally, the pièce de résistance – a vertical of the domaine’s monopole of La Romanée Grand Cru. At 0.85 hectares, this is the smallest grand cru of all Burgundy with an annual production of only 3000 bottles. The vines, at an average age of 75 years, are planted in North-South orientation, facilitating more even exposure to both morning and afternoon sun which, in turn, translates into greater intensity of fruit. Several other top growths are also planted likewise: Cros Parantoux, La Grande Rue, La Tâche, Clos des Lambrays and Clos de Tart. This final trio was tasted concurrently:

2006 Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair La Romanée Grand Cru

Distinctly aristocratic and sophisticated on the nose, oozing class and breed. Still tightly coiled, but it’s all there: spice, macerated dark berries, violets. I could not stop smiling as I nosed this wine. Dense dark fruit, medium to full-bodied and wonderfully balanced. It has that crescendo I look for in wines of pedigree as it hovers on your palate. Then it just plateaus and persists after it leaves your palate. Truly amazing now, and it will just get better! This gets my vote as the top wine of the entire tasting. Wow.

2007 Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair La Romanée Grand Cru

The lightest coloured of the trio. Are we tasting the same wine? But never judge a book by its cover. The 2007 possesses the most complex nose of the trio. Inviting, open, effortless and classy with an assured confidence. There is no need for any loud theatrics – it shines by virtue of its exquisite elegance, medium-bodied frame and balance. Drinking perfectly and simply on fire today. A shade behind the 2006, but it outperforms the 2008 by a mile.

2008 Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair La Romanée Grand Cru

The youngest La Romanée was caught in an awkward spot. Reluctant despite vigorous swirling, yielding only small hints of what its older 2006 sibling has in abundance. Medium to full-bodied. Slightly clumsy, displaying firm tannins and some earthy salinity with the shortest finish of the trio (although there is still very respectable length). I may be a little harsh on the 2008, but the preceding two wines left me with very lofty expectations! Hope to re-visit this wine in the future.  

This incredible line up of wines clearly demonstrates why Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair is so highly revered among oenophiles. Their tireless pursuit of perfection coupled with miniscule supply fuels the insatiable global demand and ensuing eye-popping prices. These factors propel their meteoric rise and cult following it now enjoys. In my humble opinion, Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair sits at the same high table of burgundy alongside Domaine de la Romanée Conti, Domaine Leroy & Domaine Armand Rousseau. 

1990 D.R.C. Échezeaux, 1985 Haut-Brion, 1992 Comtes Lafon Meursault, 1995 Latour, 1990 Montrose…

March 20, 2021

I enjoyed the privilege of a great evening in the company of people who didn’t mind pushing the boat out for a regular meet-up at the Shangri-la Singapore on 17 March 2021. The wines speak for themselves. I only need to thank my host for having me in mind, and to everyone for their generous contributions.

1996 Champagne Dom Pérignon, courtesy of K. Reticent at first, yielding more of delicate yeast on the nose with gentle depth after some time. The palate is still remarkably tight with a dry minerally intensity imbued with distinct ferrous elements, opening up in the glass with more of white smoke and dense yellow citrus as it took on a gleaming chalkiness. Excellent.

2017 Hospices de Beaune Meursault-Charmes Cuvée de Bahezre de Lanlay 1er. Poured from magnum. Its relative pallor belies a superb lift of effusive floral aromas and tangy detail, stinging the palate with a lithe fleeting intensity of white citrus and complex tropical fruit that carried tremendous verve, generously layered with superb clarity, integration and supple acidity topped with cool icing as it finished in a blaze of peppery white glow. Bouchard has nailed it beautifully. Outstanding now, clearly destined for greatness.

1992 Domaine des Comtes Lafon Meursault, courtesy of W. Rounded stately tones with mature crème de la crème emanate from golden hues. Medium-bodied. Rather reserved and polite at first, gradually warming up to reveal fine citrusy detail within a deeper vein of poised tropical fruits, more sprightly as it eventually fleshed out with unrestrained depth and agile intensity. Superb.

1985 Château Haut-Brion, courtesy of K. Poured from magnum. This wine exudes a most alluring soft earthy pungency amid further traces of oriental medicinal powder. Generously layered with moderate depth of fruit that exerts a fleshy suppleness and lithe acidity that teased the palate with great presence and agility, its melted tannins offering excellent transparency. Very naturally balanced and still remarkably fresh. Caught at its peak. Superb.

1990 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Échezeaux Grand Cru, courtesy of T. Evolved ruby, proffering an effusive perfumed fragrance of red fruits and rose petals tinged with haw that is simply quite beguiling. The fully mature palate boasts refined acidity that is still remarkably fresh, infused with lithe supple tangerines – the unmistakable hallmark of D.R.C. – that finished with superb glowing persistence. Excellent.

1995 Château Latour, courtesy of KM. Deep ruby. Open with a classic glow of mature claret that exudes quiet charm. The palate is highly supple and agile, layered with a gentle velvety depth of succulent red fruits that exert understated power with a relaxed feel. Not showy at all in spite of its obvious joie de vivre, impeccably proportioned and balanced albeit within a slightly narrower frame than usual for Latour, proffering a more subdued masculinity. Drinking superbly now, and will hold for many more years.

1990 Château Montrose, courtesy of D. A superb complex of red plums, ripe cherries and red roses sprang from its glowing ruby depth with unbridled lift and intensity, laced with an irresistible pungent earthiness that yielded great detail within the abundant layers of glorious fruit supported by sublime acidity, still unbelievably youthful as it traversed the palate with tremendous verve, effortless grace and supreme elegance, superbly proportioned and balanced in spite of its obvious power. Seemingly immortal, for this is distinctly more youthful, agile and energetic than a previous bottle tasted ten years earlier. Still far from peak maturity. Amazing!

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Online With Pauline & Edouard Vauthier: 2012 Château Simard, 2012 Château Ausone, 2012 Chapelle d’Ausone

March 12, 2021

The good guys at The Vintage Club, Singapore, kindly extended an invitation to me to attend a tasting across Zoom of the 2012 wines of the Vauthier family on 10 March 2021 with Pauline and Eduoard Vauthier, the current proprietors. I’ve had the privilege of visiting Château Ausone twice, in 2016 (hosted by Pauline) and 2019 (hosted by her brother Edouard) and it was really good to have a live meet-up with these two wonderful persons again. For many, myself included, Château Ausone represents the pinnacle of Saint-Ëmilion. Located at a high point just south of the village overlooking the King’s Tower, only 18,000-24,000 bottles of Château Ausone are produced annually from just 7 hectares of vines planted on a mixture of limestone and clay soils at a density of 12,000 vines per hectare. Even fewer of its second label, the Chapelle d’Ausone, are produced, only some 5,000-9,000 bottles annually, thus accounting for the relative scarcity of Ausone on the secondary market. The estate has adopted organic viticultural techniques since 2005, becoming fully certified in 2020.  There is more cabernet franc at 70% with the remainder merlot although in bottle, the blend is usually about 60-40 proportion. The average age of the vines is 60 years with the oldest being planted in 1906 (cabernet franc). The château avoids pumping, preferring to move the wine into fermentation vats via gravity.

Pauline & Edouard Vauthier over Zoom

Any visit to Château Ausone would usually include a tasting of Château Simard, an estate formerly belonging to a relative which has been incorporated into the Vauthier portfolio since 2007. Made from 75% cabernet franc (which ripens well in today’s warmer climate) and 25% merlot grown on sandy soils with some clay and vinified largely in concrete vats, this wine is clearly made for early drinking. The 2012 Château Simard, harvested especially late in October 2012, shows up as dusty crimson with red plums and ripe dark berries amid earthy tones on the nose, developing an effusive rosy fragrance over time with lovely characters of wild flowers in bloom. Rather softly rounded on the palate with fruit that is set a little backward with a dash of vegetal tinge, structured with silky smooth tannins and fine acidity. Drinking well.

Edouard Vauthier aspirating the 2018 grand vin from barrel (June 2019)

The 2012 Chapelle d’Ausone, a blend of 60% cabernet franc, 25% merlot and 15% cabernet sauvignon from younger vines aged about 15 years vinified in lightly toasted new oak for 20 months, appears rather opaque with some bricking. Shy at first, this wine proffers only glimpses of dark roses, haw and summer fragrance though eventually growing in confidence, exuding a distinct feminine glow that is very correct. The medium-full palate is rather brightly lit with a predominance of red fruits, very sleek and rounded with seamlessly integrated acidity that imparted good verve and balance, finishing well.

In comparison, the 2012 Château Ausone, showing a deep garnet red, is equally shy, allowing only glimpses of floral fragrance with a touch of vanillin, taking its time to develop a gentle glow of wild berries and haw, becoming more dimensional on the nose. The medium-bodied palate is imbued with very good presence of red fruits and currants that exude a certain warmth, greatly enhanced by the superb balance between the fruit and minerally elements, seamlessly integrated with well-resolved tannins and fine acidity, finishing with excellent linearity and persistence. Not showy at all. Clearly a wine that would reward further cellaring patience even as it is approaching its drinking window.

Many thanks again, Pauline and Edouard and Vintage, for your time and the privilege. Merci!

Feb 2021: 2000 Domaine de Chevalier, 1996 Léoville Poyferré, 2017 Sandhi Bentrock

February 28, 2021

Champagne Ernest Rapeneau Extra Brut NV, courtesy of Jimmy at his residence, 05 Feb 2021. Brightly lit with very good concentration of crisp clear citrus, forwardly balanced with a pleasing dry intensity.

Champagne Moët & Chandon MCIII NV, courtesy of Jimmy at his residence, 05 Feb 2021. Delicate lift of incense and ferrous elements, whilst generous white fruits and clear citrus dominate with tight intensity on the palate amid distinct overtones of cordite. Quite seamlessly integrated and lovely.

2017 Sandhi Bentrock Chardonnay, courtesy of LF at Jimmy’s residence, 05 Feb 2021. This wine opens with distant cool icing, fresh green fruits and delicate citrus, imbued with classic white floral and creamy tones amid further overtones of white pepper and nutmeg, very seamlessly integrated with minerally elements in equal measure that gave off a peculiar oily bright shiny characteristic on the mid-palate. Rounded with lovely fullness. Excellent.

2006 Champagne Dom Pérignon Rosé, courtesy of CJ at Jimmy’s residence, 05 Feb 2021. Grapefruit and orange peel on the nose with an appropriate hint of gun smoke, quite sharply accentuated. Distinctly more minerally on the fullish palate that is almost creamy smooth, exerting very fine dry intensity and fresh acidity that exude a cool clean feel. Very lovely.

2006 Aubert UV Vineyard Pinot Noir, courtesy of LF at Jimmy’s residence, 05 Feb 2021. This wine from the Sonoma Coast exudes a forward nose of small sweet dark berries, wild fruit and raspberries. Well-extracted with a rounded warmth and ripeness, still exerting a distinct alcoholic trail that adds to its tough angular intensity.

2010 Champagne Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Rosé. Popped and poured at Shang Palace on the occasion of Mom’s 90th, 06 Feb 2021. Some early complexity on the nose, showing grapefruit, orange peel and yeasty tones with some earthy pungency. Excellent concentration of fruit with a lovely smooth presence, developing very fine ferrous aromas and minerally characters over time. Not too dry. Excellent.

1996 Château Léoville Poyferré, aired in bottle at Shang Palace on the occasion of Mom’s 90th, 06 Feb 2021. This wine opens with plenty of verve and tight intensity in spite of its twenty-five years. Still immensely dark, imbued with fine density of black fruit and currants tinged with capsicum, gradually opening up with greater dimension and detail, structured with supple tannins. Evolving at a glacial pace, still yet to peak. Excellent.

2016 Meerlust Rubicon, popped and poured at home, 10 Feb 2021. Deep ruby. Generous bouquet of raspberries, violets, cherries and dark currants that exude a lovely floral fragrance. Open with excellent presence and inviting depth, revealing layers of fruit with controlled intensity amid supple tannins. Very well balanced, finishing with fine linearity. This wine can take its place in any line-up. Excellent.

2008 Champagne Delamotte Blanc de Blancs. Popped and poured over lunch at Otto Ristorante, 11 Feb 2021. Light golden hue, exuding an attractive bouquet of green fruits and citrus with distinct but subtle ferrous elements. Smoothly contoured with very fine bubbles, showing excellent presence, zest and integration with good clarity and some early subtle nuances. Developed glowing intensity and structure as it finished with slightly darkish tones. Drinking well, just missing the fabulous detailing that its sister estate Salon has in spades.

2016 Serafini & Vidotto Il Rosso dell’Abazia, popped and poured at the in-laws, 11 Feb 2021. Deep garnet red. Not revealing much on the nose though the palate is firmly laden with dark raspberries, black fruits and wild berries underscored by some tough intensity, rather unyielding as well. Probably needs plenty of time to come around.

2004 Rockford Black Shiraz. Popped and poured over Lunar New Year dinner at Mom’s place, 12 Feb 2021. The fizz has faded somewhat, allowing more of the Basket Press characters of black cherries, dark currants, licorice and dark plums to emerge with very good presence within a thin sheen of fine bubbles, laced with a dash of sweetness and just a hint of its fabled liqueured depth. No longer what Black Shiraz can truly offer but still enjoyable.

2016 Tenuta Lena Di Mezzo Monte Del Frà Amarone della Valpolicella. Popped and poured at Dorothy’s place, 13 Feb 2021. Deep garnet red. Attractive high plummy nose. Medium-full. Forward in wild berries and bright red fruits trailed by a distinct alcoholic wake before gelling together after some time, turning fuller with richer velvety textures tinged with traces of earth and licorice.

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2000 Domaine de Chevalier Rouge. Decanted on-site at Bedrock Bar & Grill, 14 Feb 2021. Deep garnet red, proffering dense black fruits and black currants infused with substantial ferrous elements that imparted a stern profile. Took an hour to gradually open up with a classic glow of mature claret as it morphed into a seamless lush entity, almost velvety, glittering with graphite detail and slick acidity amid intense supple tannins before revealing further notes of earth and mahogany. Still rather youthful. For the long haul.

2015 Domaine Paul Pillot Santenay Vieilles Vignes. Popped and poured from the restaurant list of Madame Fan, 16 Feb 2021.  Lovely deep ruby, proffering red fruits and ripe wild berries. Generous intensity of dark fruits on the palate, rather sharply accented with a very clean feel, softening a little to reveal some inner detail and velvety warmth after an hour. Promising, but I don’t think we gave it enough time. Probably not ready as well.

2017 Louis Jadot Mâcon-Villages. Popped and poured at home, 24 Feb 2021. Consistently impressive in its open white tones filled with excellent minerally detail. Very correctly nuanced, displaying excellent presence, balance and proportion with refreshing zest, developing further overtones of nutmeg, olives and white pepper. A wine to be enjoyed now while your 2017 grand crus bide their time.

2015 Eileen Hardy Chardonnay, tasted over two days 27-28 February 2021. This wine possesses an oily richness within dense minerally textures, packed with tight concentration of peaches, citrus and orchard fruit that saturate the palate with lithe intensity underpinned by very fine sleek acidity, finishing with a slightly stern trace. Not for those who prefer their chardonnay to be more delicate.

1988 Cristal, 1999 Mugnier Bonnes-Mares, 1986 Mouton Rothschild, 1958 d’Yquem, 2000 ‘Y’ Ygrec, 2006 Drouhin Montrachet, 1996 Robert Ampeau Volnay-Santenots 1er

February 24, 2021

I enjoyed the privilege of another outstanding dinner hosted by Messrs Yu père et fils with the usual suspects on 22 February 2021 at Imperial Treasure Great World, now most certainly the best restaurant in Singapore for outstanding Cantonese cuisine and impeccable wine service. All wines were also generously supplied by my hosts, unless otherwise stated. Thank you, Sirs!

1988 Champagne Louis Roederer Cristal. Superb luminosity. Deeply perfumed bouquet of yeast, clear citrus and graphite minerals amidst a chalky density, exuding tremendous allure and complexity, developing further traces of medicinal powder over time. The palate has an equally refined intensity of citrus and longans, oozing suave acidity with seamless depth and layering in an amazing display of astonishing freshness and clarity in spite of its thirty-three years. Outstanding.

20210222_223407.jpg2000 Château d’Yquem ‘Y’ Ygrec, courtesy of Sir Bob. Dense perfumed aromas of orchard fruit and pears. Very well concentrated on the palate, topped with crème de la crème and vanillin. Open with sublime acidity, revealing seamless depth and lovely intensity as it finished with great linearity in a fabulous complex of diesel, earth and mint. Still yet to peak. Excellent.

1996 Domaine Robert Ampeau et Fils Volnay-Santenots 1er. Aired in bottle for three hours prior. Displaying a mature murky crimson, this wine is amazingly fresh with a very clean feel, somewhat lean at first even though it exudes a very fine presence of mature raspberries, strawberries and currants with lively intensity. Became more rounded over time, developing plummy tones with a bit of velvety trace without any attenuation of its high-toned acidity.

2009 Domaine Georges Mugneret-Gibourg Chambolle-Musigny Les Feusselottes 1er, courtesy of Andre. Lovely evolved pinot tint, exuding a gentle glow of red fruits, ripe berries and currants. Open with rounded supple tannins, showing excellent definition and refinement. Poised with quiet confidence and understated intensity, its innate feminine character still quite discernible in spite of the masculine nature of the terroir. Excellent.

1999 Domaine Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier Bonnes-Mares Grand Cru. Bright translucent ruby, exuding an understated delicious fragrance that led to a lively medium-bodied palate imbued with bright red fruits, mulberries and raspberries underpinned by a ferrous earthiness. Quite beautifully open and supple. Morphed into a rounded whole over time, very well-proportioned yet effortlessly balanced, maintaining its confident understated poise throughout the evening. An introspective Bonnes-Mares, very much like the man himself who once said to me: “I only look after the garden. I don’t shape the flowers”. Truly.

2003 Tertre Roteboeuf. Decanted on-site. Deep crimson, proffering rich layers of dark fruit with a savoury hint amid sweet overtones of glycerin. Showed a distinct acidic edge initially that betrayed the searing heat of that vintage before morphing into a more seamless whole with fine intensity and minty tones, just a little short at the finish.

1986 Château Mouton Rothschild. Still very dark at its deep garnet core, showing just a dash of crimson at the rim while rich swathes of dark fruit and black currants leap from the glass with a luxurious glow that hinted strongly of velvety depth. Medium-bodied. Very lively and open with supple tannins and ripe plummy tones imbued with a deeper core of understated minerals. Rather slender, displaying fine precision and slick acidity. Very well-proportioned and balanced. Quite the complete wine even though I’d tasted previous examples that were on even better form.

2006 Joseph Drouhin Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche Grand Cru. Dull golden. In spite of having been decanted for nine hours prior, this wine was still quite reticent on the whole, opening with an expansive bouquet of recessed chalky white tones and tropical fruits whilst the medium-full palate is amply endowed with refined fruit and acidity on a dryish floor of stony minerals that gained greater prominence over time, imparting a shade of austerity and heaviness in its structured density. No doubt still a classic Montrachet in the Drouhin mould, but best to lay down for another decade, at least.

1958 Château d’Yquem. This is the darkest hue (above) of d’Yquem that I have encountered, exuding a superb lift of mint, apricot and sweet incense. Still astonishingly fresh and intense after sixty-three years, retaining excellent structure, acidity and definition that imparted great verve and supple mouthfeel. Still has decades of life ahead. Superb!

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1995 Dom Pérignon Rosé, 1990 Ch Latour, 2011 Baron Thenard Montrachet

February 16, 2021

These were wines drunk at a dinner at Imperial Treasure Fine Teochew Cuisine at Guoco Tower, Singapore, on 15 February 2021, hosted by the great man behind SC Global who had generously brought a couple of the wines as well. Thank you, Sir!

1995 Champagne Dom Pérignon Rosé. Quite heavily scented with the lovely fragrance of strawberries, light cherries and rose petals whilst the palate carries a slightly forward balance of grapefruit and red tangerines, quite open with softly rounded bubbles that yield very fine presence, detail and definition. Very well balanced and not at all angular, taking on an attractive minerally shine after some time as it finished well with a trail of clear citrus. Excellent.

20210215_210743.jpg2011 Domaine Baron Thenard Montrachet Grand Cru, courtesy of Dr Lim CP. Pale but highly effusive in its explosive bloom of glorious perfumed aromas that is truly beguiling, matched by excellent concentration of white fruits tinged with traces of green capsicum that shone with regal elegance on a bed of recessed chalkiness, exuding a very clean seamless mouthfeel with fine detail and exemplary balance. Quite poised and ethereal, gaining in youthful intensity over time amidst gentle minerally tones that eventually culminated in a rich creamy glow. Better than the 2009. Outstanding.

1990 Château Latour. Decanted on-site. Still rather dark at its core, exuding the classic hallowed glow of a mature claret with sweet savoury undertones. Softly rounded with a fleshy abundance of black fruits and dark currants tinged with capsicum, yielding excellent transparency, subtle definition and supple tannins, displaying rich complexity yet understated in manner through its superb control of power, structure and balance. Supremely proportioned. Caught at its peak and will hold for many more years. Outstanding.

2005 & 2006 Dominus, 1997 Joseph Phelps, 2008 Stag’s Leap Cask 23

February 5, 2021

Our small group met again soon after our first on 22 January 2021 at Origin Grill, Shangri-la Singapore, on a New World theme where we broke our own rule by bringing 2n+1 number of bottles. 

Champagne Ruinart NV, a bottle stored for more than twenty years by Sir Bob. Light golden. The benefits of extended cellaring, even for non-vintage champagne, shows in the very deep characters of toast, yeast, caramel and apricot that burst upon the palate with amazing freshness and attack, seamlessly integrated with subtle green fruits, clear citrus and ferrous shades, still blazing with dry intensity and superb length as it developed further overtones of burnt ends. A great calling card for Ruinart. 

2007 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs, courtesy of Vic. Light golden, proffering a very lovely deep earthy pungency that contrasted beautifully against the full crisp minerally palate, imbued with excellent concentration of clear citrus, yielding fine clarity and dry intensity amidst the sheen of very fine bubbles. Excellent.

2014 Peter Michael Belle Côte Chardonnay, courtesy of Kieron. Light golden. Rich creamy textures dominate on the nose and palate amidst overtones of glycerin and caramel, rather forward with a trace of sweetness and a suggestion of lusciousness. Developed further minerally tones over time with a classic tinge of paraffin, exuding lovely complexity with gleaming intensity and length. Excellent.

2006 Aubert Lauren Vineyard Chardonnay, courtesy of LF. Dull golden. Complex bouquet of white tones, mint and crème de la crème. Richly layered with excellent concentration of white fruit topped with caramel, snapping into focus after some time with gleaming intensity and minty length, appreciably more forward as well. Quite sublime.

1994 Williams Selyem Olivet Lane Vineyard, courtesy of LF. Musty red. Powerful deep plummy bouquet of unprecedented immediacy, leading to a full palate of dense ripe fruit infused with a certain salinity, finishing with minty overtones. I really can’t imagine this to be pinot noir. Very different from another bottle tasted in July 2019 that was beautifully delicate and fragrant.

1997 Joseph Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon, courtesy of Sir Bob. Deep garnet red. This wine opens with a hint of warm gravel on the nose while ripe red fruits dominate with excellent presence on the open velvety palate, fresh and forward though beautifully balanced with superbly integrated acidity, developing better length over time. Excellent.

2008 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cask 23, courtesy of Kieron. Deep garnet red, exuding a deep floral fragrance from an abundance of dark currants and raspberries. Open with lovely depth and concentration with sweet rounded tannins that imparted lasting intensity all the way to its sweet minty finish though very subtly nuanced throughout, ensuring that it is never unduly hedonistic. Excellent.

2005 Mount Mary Quintet. Double-decanted for two hours prior. Open on the nose with a classic cabernet nose of dark currants, raspberries and deep plummy tones tinged with capsicum. Fleshy and softly rounded, ample in red fruits with a ferrous core though there is a distinct leafiness as well, structured with great suppleness and balance but its finish is short. Drinking very well but dwarfed on this occasion by the Americans.

2006 Dominus, courtesy of Vic. Opaque purple. Effusive in glycerin and vanillin on the nose amid crimson tones of camphor. Highly supple and fleshy with a quiet intensity, generously endowed with dark fruits and currants that showed great integration and freshness, betrayed by just a flash of alcoholic heat at the finish.

2005 Dominus, courtesy of Sir Bob. Deep garnet red. Ripe red fruits and currants dominate, laced with a distinct note of graphite. Beautifully lush and rounded. Highly refined and open though its overall demeanour is distinctly darkish. Very different in character from the 2006.

2009 Rockford Black Shiraz. Very fine presence of racy warm ripe Barossa shiraz with subtle nuances of licorice, cedar and dark currants adding a further savoury dash. Very smoothly contoured with refined tiny bubbles, displaying good length with an enticing liqueured depth. Very enjoyable. A classic Black Shiraz.

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Jan 2021: 2017 Louis Jadot Mâcon-Villages, 2014 A & P de Villaine St-Aubin Perrières, 2001 Rockford Basket Press…

January 31, 2021

2001 Rockford Basket Press Shiraz, 03 Jan 2021 at Jade Palace. Double-decanted for four hours prior. Deep garnet core with some evolution, proffering powerful aromas of varnish and enamel. Supple with a classic Barossa warmth of ripe plummy tones amid overtones of licorice and currants that lingered with minty persistence, imbued with subtle intensity. Uniquely Australian.

Champagne Moët & Chandon Imperial Brut NV. Popped and poured at Asia Grand, 10 Jan 2021. Rather pale, though the palate is lit with brilliant crystalline clarity, lightly layered with a clean presence of green fruits and citrus that impart dry intensity, tinged with darkish elements. Serviceable.

2017 Louis Jadot Mâcon-Villages. Aired in bottle for ninety minutes prior to dinner at home, 11 Jan 2021. Chalky white tones permeate on the nose and palate with fine density amid overtones of white pepper, raw nutmeg and exotic spices which add further presence, detail and intensity, finishing with subtle minerally elements. Another bottle tasted over two days from 20-21 Jan 2021 was more restrained and introspective, yielding more of jackfruit, apricots and peaches only on Day 2 with a glowing finish of white pepper and nutmeg, well-balanced but still rather understated. At any rate, this is a wine that truly punches way above its weight. A real bargain at SGD34.

2018 Coldstream Hills Chardonnay, popped and poured at Crab At Bay, 16 Jan 2021. Warm apricots, peaches and dense citrus in great abundance on the nose and palate, delivering a fresh clean presence at the right concentration with just right the touch of creaminess, yielding good detail and layering as it finished with lasting white tones. I can’t get enough of this stuff. Excellent.

2007 Champagne Henriot Millésime Brut, poured from magnum at Kappo Shansui, 19 Jan 2021. Displaying a clear luminosity, this 50:50 blend of pinot noir and chardonnay (comprising equal proportions of premier cru and grand cru) proffers a lovely rounded depth of toasty yeasty characters marked by an attractive earthiness, open with a broad expanse of ripe yellow citrus and peaches that exude subtle dry intensity, just a touch minerally at the finish. Not the most profound of expression but drinking well.

2017 Blanc de Lynch-Bages, courtesy of Vic at Kappo Shansui, 19 Jan 2021. Pale. Rather shy though the medium-bodied palate is quite brightly lit with white fruits with a slightly forward balance, displaying refined sublime acidity with lithe delicate intensity. Not as heavy as white Bordeaux may sometimes be. Excellent.

2009 Château Ormes de Pez, courtesy of KP at his residence, 26 Jan 2021. Very deep dark red. Abundant in cassis, black fruits and dark cherries, saturating the palate with a velvety supple fullness though its angular intensity is still a bit too pronounced at this stage, lending a touch of austerity to its finish. Needs plenty of time.

2016 Tinazzi Ca’ de’ Rocchi Amarone della Valpolicella La Bastia, popped and poured at home, 28 Jan 2021. Dull red. Surprisingly feminine, proffering rosy hues and perfumed fragrances on the nose while the medium-bodied palate is shaped by smooth rounded contours with the relaxed charm of raspberries, cherries and red fruits tinged with cedar and glycerin. Nothing cerebral but drinking well.  

2014 Domaine A & P de Villaine Saint-Aubin Les Perrières 1er. Popped and poured at Ka Soh, 30 Jan 2021. Dull golden. Effusive notes of aged butter, honeyed toast, cashews, distant peaches and bananas with an attractive early complexity. Medium-full with a predominance of glazed caramel on the palate amid cool tones of icing that exude delicate intensity with fine detail, developing more white tones over time with growing intensity of fine citrus. Very elegant and well integrated. Excellent.

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