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Dinner with David

July 23, 2009

While I have been privileged to attend a large number of nice wine dinners, few are the occasions where all the the wines came together so beautifully. Tonight, 22 July 2009 at Otto (once again), was one of those that exceeded my expectations. The occasion was a get-together for the Changi alumnus – current as well as potential members – which, I think, will gain in size and regularity as time goes by. We gave the chef carte blanche to do as he pleased, Paolo put us up in a private room, and we were set.

The Changi Alumnus

 We started with the 2002 Louis Latour Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru (me), which initially was very shy; one could barely discern any notes in spite of desperate coaxing. The full colors emerged after a couple of hours, taking on a familiar thick creamy layer with loads of caramel, vanilla and new oak. Medium-bodied, vivacious, fresh with good acidity. It’ll last a long time, and I suspect its going through an awkward period presently. Will open my next bottle 5-6 years down the road.

Next, we had 3 flights of reds. I must say that I cannot recall a dinner where all the reds were drinking so beautifully. One can’t tell from the line-up on paper. We started with a pair of 1994s to go with the wagyu carpaccio and foie gras, cooked to perfection. The pair of wines could not have come from such disparate origins, yet turned out so individualistic and so beautiful with age. The Mount Mary Quintet, deep red, gave off a big, deep nose of sweet cherries and raspberries. It was soft, ripe, extremely balanced and elegant. The wood had completely receded. If tasted blind, it would have been difficult to place whether it’s Old or New World – it certainly leaned more towards the former. Halfway through dinner, it became more intense and velvety, before giving way to a more mellow character infused with loads of sweetness, almost a like a ripe aged Burgundy. This is my first experience with an aged Mount Mary, and I liked it immensely. Side by side, the La Mission Haut Brion (Kieron) displayed a different sort of beauty – gravelly notes layered with an velvety intensity, matched to earthy notes that announced “Pessac-Leognan” with plenty of elegance and grace. Somewhat rustic around the edges, unlike its more famous sister Haut Brion, but totally in keeping with its renowned character. We caught it at its peak. Wonderful stuff.

A perfect foie grasThe next pair of Bordeaux, from side-by-side estates of St Julien and Pauillac, served as a reference point for classic, mature claret, going well with the pasta with kurobuta pork. The 1990 Ch Lagrange (PS), deep garnet red with lifted aromas of dark berries, displayed a delicious entry.  Soft, medium, structured and layered. Not particularly complex at present, but definitely developing its tertiary character, a great Lagrange entering its peak window. Hard to place initially, but it snapped into focus after an hour in the glass, showing excellent delineation from entry to finish, drinking very well but will benefit from several more years in bottle. The 1988 Ch Lynch-Bages, always a favourite with Hiok, was unmistakably Pauillac with all its typicity in place. Fully matured, complex, great structure (still) without any trace of wood or tannin. Very long. The quintessential, aged Pauillac. Bon vin!!

A final pair of Italians rounded off the evening. The 1997 Biondi-Santi Tenuta “Greppo” Brunello di Montalcino (Vic) showed a brighter red with a slight tawny rim. Already matured and medium-full. Very classy, elegant and poised. Superb. In fact, its origin would be hard to commit in a blind tasting. In retrospect, the sangiovese element did come through on the palate, but in the most sublime and integrated manner. The piece de resistance, the 2001 Sassicaia (David), managed, most successfully, to contain all its richness, density and intensity within a velvet glove. Already showing subtle nuances here and there, a touch of austerity but entirely appropriate for such a big wine, ending on a savoury note. Gorgeous yet elegant. Obviously has plenty of legs to last a long while. Trust the Italians to make a wine resembling a beautiful woman.

When I reviewed my notes, I found the same few words describing each wine: mature, balanced, elegant, drinking beautifully. It’s clear that we caught every red tonight at or close to its peak. So seamless were the wines, and such was the level of sublimity, that I only discovered back home that I’d forgotten to snap a picture of the line-up!! A shame, but, never mind, the memories linger…just like great wines.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Vic permalink
    July 25, 2009 18:42

    Molto bene, Ricardo!

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