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Notes in brief (August 2009)…

August 6, 2009

2005 Ch de Fieuzal, decanted and poured over dinner at the in-laws. I’ve never really been drawn to the wines of this estate, partly because of the very un-French name. However, this tasting may change my attitude. Deep ruby. Very shy on the nose, not revealing anything. However, it carries all the hallmarks of the great 2005 vintage: medium-bodied, good body of cool ripe fruit, silky smooth, quite seamless from start to its lingering finish with absolutely no trace of wood nor heat. It began to open up after a couple of hours, developing a more intense savoury note, but still retaining its wonderful balance. Hasn’t got complexity nor depth presently, and doesn’t quite match up to Domaine de Chevalier. But at SGD71 (cheapest deal, from Crystal Wines), it’s definitely worth acquiring more to lay down.

Absolutely inviting...a great shot2005 Chateau de Villars Fontaine Les Jiromees, over a simple dinner at Ka-Soh. This is a white Burgundy close to Nuit St-Georges, and always highly recommended by Patrick of Le Benaton. Dull golden, with intense flavours of chalk and limestone on both the nose and palate. Good body, but not much in the way of depth or complexity, perhaps obscured by the high acidity, giving it a crisp edge with a hint of undergrowth. Very tight. This is the second time I’ve had this since the first at Imperial T3 a year ago where it had seemed more open and less intense. The ageing potential is not in doubt. I remembered drinking a 1991 and a 1994 at See Lim’s couple of years ago, and they were gorgeous. Perhaps it just needs more bottle time. Four more left.

2005 Les Hauts de Smith, second wine of Ch Smith Haut Lafitte, over lunch at Imperial Treasure T3. Compared to the Grand Vin, this is, strangely, not so easy to find on the shelves, especially the stellar 2005 vintage. I gained a healthy respect for this wine after having been served the 2004 vintage at Les Sources de Caudalie, where I thought I’d been drinking the Grand Vin, until the bill came. Beautiful ruby red, fairly deep nose of dark fruits with bit of plum. Medium-bodied, with good mouth-feel and grip, without being over-extracted. Not quite complex, but it has good balance, ripe fruit, and excellent oak handling, finishing with some mouth-puckering tannins, but never obtrusive. I’ve not tasted the actual SHL ’05, but I believe this is cut from the same cloth. Excellent value at SGD58, from Wine Gallery.

2002 Ch Rauzan-Segla, from a half-bottle just bought from Vinum, all to myself over a late night juicy steak at Foo House alone. Dull red. The initial note wasn’t encouraging – decent entry but disjointed finish, subdued fruit, a touch of green. But it evolved very quickly over a few minutes, settling into a wine that’s fairly intense, medium-bodied, even, with fairly good grip, and most importantly, the green note had disappeared. A very decent effort from a difficult vintage. Went well with the steak. But don’t keep. Drink now.

2003 Domaine Armand Rousseau Clos de la Roche Grand Cru, at the Boathouse with Fatty’s usual suspects. The class and impeccable breeding is at once evident. Beautiful autumn red, deep, powerful nose of red berries, laced with a tinge of sweetness. Carries nicely onto the palate – sensuous, slick, quite full, great depth and layering. Yet to develop further complexity, but most certainly will, with time. Superb.

1993 Ch Rauzan-Segla, also at the Boathouse. A classic case where the wine is only about how it excites your olfactory senses  – very fragrant, floral, with a layer of vanilla. Otherwise, it’s just an empty shell. Hollow, too much wood and lacking in quality fruit.

I must say I eat very well2000 Ch Figeac, from a half-bottle over lunch at Les Amis.  Beautiful deep but clear red. Rich, dark fruits. Lovely perfumed fragrance of cabernet franc framed by sterner structure of cabernet sauvignon. Softening, beginning to develop its tertiary flavours, but there is still quite a bit of persistent wood. I was glad to have the chance to taste this, as I have a couple of bottles lurking somewhere.

2005 Domaine Patrick Javellier Mersault, drunk with the Figeac above. From one of the renowned producers of Mersault. Supposedly fastidious in his winemaking. It shows: a very expressive and scented bouquet, very floral. Beautiful nose. Medium-bodied, good minerality but it’s a bit hollow. Could do with more stuffing. Very agreeable, nonetheless. From a half-bottle.

2003 Joh. Jos. Prum Wehlenur Sonnenuhr Spatlese, with chilli crab at Long Beach on National Day. Pale golden, lifted aromas of citrus, medium bodied, just the right level of acidity, some bitter-sweet undertone, finishing on a pomelo note. Not as sweet as one would expect a spatlese to be. Lacking in complexity and richness. Could do with more stuffing. Not a great example of JJ Prum, and I don’t think it’ll improve further. Nevertheless, went well with the meal.

I like this estate2000 Ch L’Arrivet Haut Brion, over lunch at Imperial Treasure. You’ll pass by this estate enroute to Smith Haut Lafitte in Pessac-Leognan. I’m partial towards the wines of Graves, as I feel they represent the last vestiges of traditional Bordeaux style and goodness – unadulterated, pure, reflective of terroir and vintage, without being over-priced. This wine was no exception: luminous red, immediately exuding its scorched earth character on the nose, quite rich, ripe, good structure, bit of firm tannins but it is beginning recede. Great typicity of Graves. Quite similar to Domaine de Chevalier, but less sophisticated. Entering its drinking window. I’d tasted the 2005 last year, which was richer than this 2000. This is an excellent Graves, better than Ch Carbonnieux for about the same price.

1998 Penley Estate Reserve cabernet sauvignon over lunch at TMCC. Made by former winemaker of PENfolds Bin 707, Kym TolLEY, hence PENLEY. One of my favourite cabernet sauvignons from Coonawarra – I make it a point to visit its cellar door every trip there. I’d purchased 6 bottles shortly after my return to Singapore in 2004, mostly from Star Cellars, and another couple more from Auric Pacific. First tasted in mid-2005 at Romanee’s, after which I’ve opened a bottle once every year or so. Still going strong. Dark cherry red, lovely fruit with notes of redcurrant and plum, quite full, good grip, depth and structure, finishing long and cool. But lacking in the extra dimension that’s only found in a true Bordeaux blend. Nevertheless, it mellowed nicely in the glass. Drinking beautifully. Better than the last time I tasted it at Imperial Treasure last year, and marginally less evolved than another bottle at See Lim’s last year (when I pitted it blind against a horizontal of 1998 Bordeaux reds). I have to stop opening this. Only 2 bottles left!

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