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

June 18, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 7, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inglenook: Rubicon 2016 & 2017, Blancaneaux 2016

May 29, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 17, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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En Primeur: 2020 Ch Ducru-Beaucaillou

May 10, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Apr 2021: 2014 Thibert Pouilly-Fuissé Cras, 2016 Ponsot Meursault Charmes Centaureé, 1976 Adrien Belland Chambertin Grand Cru, 1993 Robert Ampeau Volnay-Santenots 1er, 1975 Lynch-Bages, 1990 Leoville Las-Cases, 1995 Latour, 1993 Ridge Monte Bello

April 30, 2021

2002 Rockford Basket Press Shiraz. Aired in bottle for four hours prior to dinner at Ka Soh, 04 April 2021. Classic Barossa nose of dark plums and currants tinged with menthol amid a subtle savoury earthiness. Fairly rounded and full, underpinned by a distinct acidity that marked its presence with youthful intensity, structured with seamless finely-grained tannins. Gelled very well after another hour, developing velvety warmth with a layered depth of red plums, mocha and licorice soaked in crimson tones. Excellent, but still not quite ready.

2009 Carpineto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva. Double-decanted for 60 minutes followed by further aeration in bottle at Otto Ristorante, 06 Apr 2021. Deep purple. Faintly delicious on the nose though there is an abundance of blackcurrants, dark plums and raspberries with a dash of capsicum and earth on the highly supple medium-full palate, nicely rounded with a warm seamless presence, rather understated at first, developing growing intensity after some time amid saline elements. Quite excellent.

2020 Wynns Coonawarra Chardonnay. Aired in bottle for 60 minutes prior to dinner at home, 07 April 2021. Clean white fruits dominate with some chalky density laced with overtones of nutmeg, green capsicum and white pepper, offering good presence and clarity with fine intensity. Well proportioned and quite naturally balanced. Doesn’t try too hard. Drinks well, even though it is a supermarket wine.

2016 Domaine Thibert Père et Fils Pouilly-Fuissé Vignes Blanche at Jade Palace, 09 April 2021. Pale greenish tint, coating the medium-full palate with a faint creamy sweetness, eventually developing a lovely expanse of delicate clear citrus that is quite sharply delineated, almost flinty. Opened up with fine detail and concentration. Quite fine.

2014 Domaine Thibert Père et Fils Pouilly-Fuissé Les Cras at Jade Palace, 09 April 2021. Rather pale, but the palate is exceedingly refined with a smooth delicate creaminess, imbued with a full expanse of clear ripe citrus that exert gentle understated intensity as it traversed the palate with excellent length and linearity. Great stuff but far from peaking.

2016 Domaine Roger Belland Santenay-Gravières 1er at Jade Palace, 09 April 2021. Deep crimson. Effusive in dark plums, red fruits, currants and peaches that produced an immediate impact with its soft fleshiness still laced with vanillin, displaying controlled intensity with some trailing spiciness at the sides, opening up over time with lovely suppleness.

2010 Domaine Henri Gouges Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Pruliers 1er at Jade Palace, 09 April 2021. Early evolution. Rather reticent and reluctant on this occasion. Quite resolutely shut although the medium-full palate is layered with fine abundance of red fruits on a warm gravelly base that exert a classic NSG character, fleshing out quite quickly with lovely weight and understated intensity but still a tad austere. Needs time. 

1993 Domaine Robert Ampeau Volnay-Santenots 1er at Jade Palace, 09 April 2021. Evolved crimson. Lifted in rosy hues and notes of delicate red fruits, showing fine presence and dry intensity on an earthy floor, still imbued with amazing freshness.

1976 Adrien Belland Chambertin Grand Cru, courtesy of Mr Huang at Jade Palace, 09 April 2021. Evolved rosy hues. Generously scented and elegant on the medium-bodied palate. Fully mature with autumnal characters though it is still amazingly fresh and agile, showing very good presence and linearity with superb seamless integration.

1998 Château Montrose. Aired in bottle for ninety minutes prior at Jade Palace, 09 April 2021, courtesy of Mr Woo. Deep garnet core with a hint of vermillion. Superb complexity of warm earthy tones amid dark fruits, black currants, violets and anise that exude a classic velvety fullness, wonderfully supple and lithe, imbued with great verve and intensity without any of the gruff herbaceousness sometimes noted in the wines of this vintage. Excellent. 

2018 Meerlust Chardonnay. Popped and poured at home, 12 April 2021. This wine has put on considerable fat since a previous tasting late last year, showing more warmth and buttery characters alongside a generous expanse of white tones, sharpening up with fine definition and inner detail after some aeration but, at the same time, losing some of that lean precision which I had found to be so appealing. Perhaps best to let it develop further.

2009 Château Sociando-Mallet. Aired in bottle for more than two hours prior before dinner at Venue by Sebastian, 19 Apr 2021. Dark currants and raspberries dominate, displaying excellent ripeness and concentration with lean definition and controlled intensity, framed by a masculine tannin structure that oozed with a trace of sweetness. Developed further overtones of early cedar, tobacco and burnt ends over time. Still far from peaking. Great potential.

2016 Serafini & Vidotto Il Rosso dell’Abazia. Drunk over three days at home 18-20 Apr 2021. Consistent with a previous bottle tasted last month, displaying a lovely balance of supple red fruits and crushed raspberries by the third day with tame tannins and some fine detail. Distinctly feminine in character. Drinking well but it really needs plenty of time.

Origin Grill

2017 Domaine Lucien Muzard et Fils Santenay Maladière 1er Blanc. Aired in bottle for an hour prior at Imperial Treasure Shanghai, 21 Apr 2021. Delicate clear citrus of fair intensity, gently layered with a dash of crème. Medium-full. Well integrated with refined acidity, fleshing out with a bit of early complexity tinged with nutmeg and glowing white tones amid understated chalkiness. Excellent potential.

2017 Domaine du Roc des Boutires Pouilly-Fuissé, drunk over two days at home, 25-26 Apr 2021. Displaying a fairly deep luminosity tinged with green, this wine opens with a fullish tone of lime and clear citrus that veers towards delicate intensity rather than plump opulence, cutting a well-delineated chiseled presence with fine clarity and well-integrated sleek acidity. Developed further notes of jackfruit over time whilst retaining its youthful freshness. Drinking well but worth cellaring further.

2018 DeMorgenzon Reserve Chardonnay, at Origin Grill, 27 Apr 2021. Aired for 3-4 hours prior. Pale with a tinge of green, proffering distant white floral aromas, fresh morning dew and light melons. Medium-full, layered with a smooth gentle creaminess that gleamed with warm understated intensity, taking its time to yield some fine inner detail as it traipsed the palate with excellent linearity to a lingering finish of spicy nutmeg. This estate believes in the power of classical music in nurturing the vines. When I visited in December 2019, the Brahms First Piano Concerto (by Nelson Freires/Ricardo Chailly/Leipzig Gewandhaus) was blasting from outdoor loudspeakers over the beautifully manicured vineyards.

2011 Champagne Larmandier-Bernier Vieille Vigne du Levant, courtesy of CJ at Origin Grill, 27 Apr 2021. This blanc de blancs Grand Cru opens with a pronounced reductive pungent earthiness, sharply contrasted against the refreshing rounded fullness on the palate, imbued with a concentrated dry intensity of clear citrus and pomelo that exert tremendous verve and cutting acidity. Great potential, but needs time to settle.

2012 Champagne Agrapart Avizoise Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru, courtesy of CJ at Origin Grill, 27 Apr 2021. Lifted rounded tones of delicate minerals and gunmetal, displaying some early complexity in its warm gentle fullness marked by very fine bubbles that impart excellent clarity and soft intensity, very evenly toned throughout its length as it developed further glowing fragrance. Excellent.

2017 Sandhi Bentrock Santa Rita Chardonnay, courtesy of LF at Origin Grill, 27 Apr 2021. Light recessed nose of delicate citrus, displaying a very lovely fluidity on the medium-bodied palate. Very well balanced with slick intensity and sleek acidity.

2012 Marcassin Pinot Noir, courtesy of LF at Origin Grill, 27 Apr 2021. Copious ripe dark cherries and raspberries dominate with sweet overtones, leading to a warm full-bodied palate still coated with fresh layers of enamel and vanillin, brimming with youthful intensity. Still primal.

2003 Henri Bonneau Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Marie Beurrier, courtesy of CHS at Origin Grill, 27 Apr 2021. Some evolution in colour. Classic darkish earthy nose of southern Rhône still tinged with youthful traces of enamel. Full-bodied, exuding fragrant dark plums and currants on a dense ferrous minerally base. Gelled together very well after some time but it really needs another decade of cellaring.

2018 Caymus Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, courtesy of Jimmy at Origin Grill, 27 Apr 2021. Deep opaque purple. In spite of its infancy, this Napa wine manages to stay in absolute control, proffering very ripe black fruits, wild berries, mulberries and peaches with a lovely rounded depth. Predictably full and intense, coating the palate with warm succulence but never hedonistic, its tannins and acidity expertly managed. Huge potential ahead.

1990 Château Leoville Las-Cases at Origin Grill, 27 Apr 2021. Aired in bottle for five hours prior to tasting. Displaying a deep garnet core with a purplish rim, this wine boasts an arresting fragrance and complexity of fruit and terroir tinged with a mild pungency, matched by a delicious ripe supple fleshiness infused with traces of medicinal powder and the classic herbaceous tone of a mature claret, still fairly robust with youthful intensity. At its best and will hold for many more years. Superb.

1995 Château Latour, courtesy of Vic at Origin Grill, 27 Apr 2021. Deep garnet red. There is a hint of warm gravel that overlay the expanse of dark fruits and currants tinged with green capsicum, beautifully relaxed and supple, structured with sleek understated intensity that convey a certain seamless masculinity. At its best.

The ArdeaSeal closure favoured by Ponsot. Very tough to pull.

2016 Laurent Ponsot Meursault Charmes Cuvée de la Centaureé. Aired in bottle for two hours prior to dinner at Tang Yun, 29 Apr 2021. Gently perfumed nose of dense white floral tones with darker shades. Rather plump with a very ripe warmth, laced with very sleek acidity that drew out lengthy understated intensity. Kept changing in the glass, becoming more relaxed and a tad more minerally with a hint of sour plum at the unresolved finish before developing more of oyster shells with a chalky transparency, eventually unfurling distilled white tones with impressive breadth and depth. Laurent Ponsot’s new line appears to draw polarising opinions. Clearly not quite ready at this stage as it really tests your patience but it is set for greatness.

1975 Château Lynch-Bages, courtesy of Kieron at Tang Yun, 29 Apr 2021. Reticent at first though the palate is undeniably superb in its lithe agility and delightful presence of mature fruit and currants underpinned by traces of iron filings. Became astonishingly richer in sweet red fruits over time, softer and more beguiling yet more densely layered, exuding a lovely feminine fragrance. Outstanding!

1993 Ridge Monte Bello, courtesy of Vic at Tang Yun, 29 Apr 2021. Dark purple. A wine of large proportions, imbued with an abundance of ripe dark fruits and currants that glowed with a bit of sweet bright outer tone, still laced with vanillin. Softly contoured and just a tad forward on the medium-full palate that still retains amazing youthful freshness and intensity, morphing into a more seamless whole of dark plums and soy without quite revealing inner detail. Yet to peak!

2016 Benoit Ente Puligny-Mont Nexe Flore, 2012 Domaine Bertagna Clos Saint-Denis, 2008 Domaine Ponsot Clos Saint-Denis, 2002 Domaine Dujac Clos Saint-Denis… 1996 Roche de Bellene Clos de la Roche, 1996 & 2011 A Rousseau Clos de la Roche, 2007 & 2001 Ponsot Clos de la Roche

April 23, 2021

The usual suspects, with a couple of guests, gathered again at Imperial Treasure Great World on 13 April 2021 to explore the virtues of the largest and smallest Grand Cru appellations of Morey-Saint-Denis: Clos de la Roche (13.41 ha) and Clos Saint-Denis (5.99 ha), respectively. Situated northmost, the former is reputed to show more structure and masculine intensity compared with the latter just a stone’s throw away southwards, supposedly more feminine and elegant. However, our blinded line-up that evening proved otherwise. It all boils down to the producer: Ponsot is truly faithful to terroir, Rousseau likewise but packing more power within the proverbial velvet glove while Dujac is simply Dujac, totally in a class of its own. Many thanks as always, fellas, for your generosity and friendship.

Champagne Jacques Selosse Brut Rosé NV, courtesy of Vic. Deep golden lustre. Grapefruit and lemon peel on the nose, leading to a lovely open fullness layered with orangey tones amid a very refined body of soft bubbles tinged with medicinal powder. Finished with good persistence and élan, glowing with rounded intensity and increasing complexity over time.

2017 Domaine Bachelet-Monnot Puligny-Montrachet, courtesy of LF. Pale. White fruits and clear citrus dominate with a delicate teasing quality on the nose and palate, layered with subtle minerally depth. Developed a lovely glowing presence with fine definition and understated intensity.

20210413_192241.jpg2016 Benoit Ente Puligny-Montrachet Nexe Flore, courtesy of Kieron. A true one-off rarity here, for a tank of Puligny village was mistakenly mixed with the estate’s Truffiére 1er in a proportion of 57%-43%, resulting in a wine that cannot be classified higher than village though it clearly is higher in quality than that, hence nexe flore (meaning next floor). Quite resolutely shut, though the medium-full palate displays a creamy opulence with a tinge of green fruit, slightly reductive. Opened up with greater clarity, developing a glacial quality that shone with fine transparency and finesse.

2014 Domaine Jean-Claude Ramonet Puligny-Montrachet Les Enseigneres, courtesy of LF. This outstanding village opens with the classic Ramonet signature of cool clean icing and white tones with a bit of chalky shine. Set slightly backwards at first, eventually fleshing out with lovely sophistication, casting the palate in glorious shades of white with great precision.

1997 Maison Leroy Bourgogne Rouge, courtesy of Sir Bob. Deeper darker core with a vermillion rim, exuding aromas of wild roses and dark cherries with a medium-full supple presence. Just a tad forward but very well-integrated with seamless acidity, gently layered with fruit that is still quite fresh and vibrant with a minty trace. At its peak.

1996 Domaine Armand Rousseau Clos de la Roche Grand Cru, courtesy of Sir Bob. Early evolved crimson, proffering gentle red fruits and raspberries that exude a dash of sweetness on a slightly dusty floor. Highly supple with tannins that are subtly intense, seamlessly matched with understated acidity. So feminine that we all thought it to be a Clos Saint-Denis. Beautiful.

2008 Domaine Ponsot Clos Saint-Denis Grand Cru Cuvée Tres Vieilles Vignes, courtesy of Sir Bob. Some evolution is evident, producing a rather unusual warm bouquet that reminded me of curry powder (!?) though the palate is very beautifully nuanced with dominant red fruits and cherries that confer a bright open suppleness, very gently layered with understated depth and intensity. Very lovely.

2011 Domaine Armand Rousseau Clos de la Roche Grand Cru, courtesy of Vic. Beautiful clear ruby. Fullish tone of bright red cherries that exert youthful rasping intensity. Highly aromatic. Superbly integrated with sleek acidity, flaunting a controlled suave exuberance that only Rousseau can pull off so very well. Outstanding.

2012 Domaine Bertagna Clos Saint-Denis Grand Cru. Deep dark ruby, exuding a beautifully layered bouquet of complex red fruits. Surprisingly bold and forward for a Clos Saint-Denis, perhaps a little too exuberant in its deep darkish velvety intensity within a youthful sweet tannin structure. Distinctly masculine. Not ready.

2007 Domaine Ponsot Clos de la Roche Grand Cru Vieilles Vignes, courtesy of Kieron. Some evolution in colour, proffering an attractive bouquet of savoury sweet meat. Rather high-toned in its open delicate intensity of rose petals and red fruits, oozing with sweetish undertones. Highly elegant.

1996 Maison Roche de Bellene Clos de la Roche Grand Cru, courtesy of Hiok. Opaque evolved tone, though the bouquet is superb with its exuberant lift of mature red fruits and currants that extended well onto the open palate with supple intensity, yielding fine inner detail. Very well crafted. At its best.

2001 Domaine Ponsot Clos de la Roche Grand Cru, courtesy of KG. Similarly evolved and opaque. Thoroughly outstanding in its elegant complexity on both the nose and open palate, coming across with a slight rusticity, subtly structured with glorious red fruits that still retain youthful character. Outstanding.

2002 Domaine Dujac Clos Saint-Denis Grand Cru, courtesy of LF. Supremely open with a most energetic lift of complex red fruits, cherries and tangerines at peak maturity. Seamlessly whole, stoking the medium-full palate with rasping intensity. Beautifully structured and balanced. Very classy. Superb!

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2010 BOND Matriarch, 2004 Cheval Blanc, 2004 Mouton Rothschild, 1996 Dominus, 2016 Yann Durieux Manon…

April 16, 2021

A couple of friends lost a wager between them, the forfeit being having to produce a BOND Estates and a Dominus. And so came about a theme loosely based on the wines favoured by Mr Bond, the suave superspy. Dom Pérignon and Mouton Rothschild are mentioned in Fleming’s original novels as well as the films of Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever (Bond exposing Mr Wint’s ignorance about the ’55 Mouton) and Man With The Golden Gun (Bond correctly identifying a ’34 Mouton served blind by Scaramanga). Bond made a note to buy “several dozens of Taittinger” in the novel Moonraker while smuggling a Cheval Blanc into Shrublands in the film Never Say Never Again.

Venue: Imperial Treasure Fine Cantonese Cuisine, Great World City, Singapore, on 01 April 2021.

2000 Champagne Henriot Cuvée des Enchanteleurs Brut. Lovely golden hue, exuding a deep velvety mature bouquet of floral bloom with a lifted complex. Highly poised and elegant, displaying a rich bright minerally shine with white tones of clear citrus amid a slight pungency, teasing the medium-bodied palate with agile intensity and superb clarity, opening up with a further tertiary glow. Good finish. Probably my best experience with this wine from a half case.

2005 Champagne Dom Pérignon, courtesy of Russ. Shy but evenly-toned on the medium-bodied palate gently layered with créme, showing fine balance and linearity. Clearly a leaner style compared with 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008 though it remains quite engaging with white tones imbued with subtle minerally elements and subdued intensity.

2005 Taittinger Comtes des Champagne Blanc de Blancs, courtesy of Kieron. Light golden. Immediately engaging with effusive notes of brioche and teasing floral aromas. Equally generous on the palate where bitter lemon and pomelo dominate with focused intensity and great balance amid traces of green fruits. Excellent.

20210401_202031.jpg2016 Yann Durieux Manon, courtesy of Russ. Yann had worked for many years at Prieure-Roch before starting his own label based in Messanges, Burgundy, working on 40-year-old chardonnay vines. The 2016 displays a forward exuberance of sour plums (I know purists will object but it really is what it is, and Kieron concurred as well) in the most positive sense from a gentle but concentrated depth of fruit that conferred a high-toned mouthfeel with cushioned intensity and excellent refinement. Somewhat unusual but undeniably attractive.

2013 Domaine Jean-Claude Ramonet Chassagne-Montrachet Le Caillerets 1er, courtesy of Kieron. This wine opens with the distinct Ramonet signature of effusive white tones and fluoride, producing lovely lift with a rich creamy presence. Highly refined and rounded, yielding excellent definition and power though just a tad short. Not to be confused with the domaine’s Chassagne-Montrachet Clos du Caillerets 1er which is a walled monopole within Le Caillerets that was first bottled in 2014.

2014 Le Petit Cheval, courtesy of Ker Wei. Glowing red fruits on the nose with a sense of distant ember accounted for by red plums set backwards on the medium-bodied palate. Open with fleshy presence and fine intensity.

2004 Château Cheval Blanc, courtesy of Russ. Lovely purplish hue, amply imbued with raspberries and currants still carrying a distinct note of vanillin on the fleshy medium-full palate. Beautifully supple and open, generously layered with warm ripe fruit though slightly narrow in dimension, turning brighter over time with emerging red fruits. Highly promising but not quite ready.

2004 Château Mouton Rothschild. Aired in bottle for three hours prior. Deep garnet core. Medium-bodied. Fleshy with fine textural clarity through the layers of predominant red fruits tinged with tobacco leaves, superbly integrated with a relaxed subtle intensity, showing some early maturity. Approaching its peak.

20210401_220734.jpg1996 Dominus, courtesy of Marc. Very deep crimson, exuding a powerful bouquet earthy diesel tones, dark plums and currants. Open and fleshy, displaying a delicious warm ripeness from the supple layers of predominant red fruits that still exert superb freshness, oozing with subdued sweetness. Excellent balance. Quite outstanding.

2010 BOND Matriarch, courtesy of Dolly. Double-decanted for six hours prior. Deep purple. This wine opens with a forward balance of black fruits, violets and dark currants with distinct warm ripe savoury characters amid overtones of sweet vanillin and enamel that sweep the fleshy medium-full palate with tremendous verve and searing intensity with trailing notes of briar and bramble. Settled down after some time, becoming somewhat distant though appreciably more open, revealing very finely detailed crushed fruit. Excellent but far from ready.

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.