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Notes in brief (October 2009)…

October 7, 2009

2002 Bass Phillip Belrose Pinot Noir, a real bargain at only SGD25 from Caveau’s warehouse sale. Popped and poured at Imperial Treasure, ION. The initial impression was that this was an atypical pinot: much darker, muted, woody, medium bodied, rather simple and straightforward with a short finish. However, it developed a true pinot character after 45 minutes – the woody element had disappeared, replaced by a fragrant nose of ripe cherries, the body fleshing out, gaining in richness, with some very decent layering topped with a dash of complexity, ending in a more satisfying finish. Very good.

2003 Ch Lafon-Rochet, second time in as many months, again from a half bottle over dim sum at Imperial Treasure T3. Dense and big, the heat from the prominent alcohol of this very hot vintage getting in the way of things, obscuring the flavours of the fruit, not helped by the tough unyielding tannins. Frankly, the previous occasion last month wasn’t much better. Although relatively inexpensive at SGD46 (375 ml), it’s not really enjoyable.

2003 Maison Louis Latour Puligny-Montrachet, bought cheaply from Bob from a distressed restaurant’s list. Only SGD20! Pale straw color. Decent body, with adequate stuffing of citrus and lime, laced with a grassy note, but uneven, ending a bit short. But I’m not complaining at this price.

The epitome of success!2006 Clos du Marquis, popped and poured right after the Cote Rotie below. Deep dark red, smouldering with rich ripe fruit. Excellent grip, full-bodied but balanced and surprisingly accessible for this particular wine, which can be a bruiser at such a young stage in other vintages. It gained further weight and intensity with aeration, becoming more savoury, even opening up a little to reveal some inner depth. A class act, definitely on par with a Second or Third growth. Very good.

1999 M. Chapoutier Cote Rotie “La Mordoree”, at Vic’s new practice location. Dusty red. Quite reticent on the nose, just a bit of mint and spice, preferring to unravel itself on the palate, where notes of cool mint and liquorice dominate its full body, finishing with the tell-tale plummy note of ripe syrah supported by firm but unobtrusive tannins. Not really complex, though, in spite of its age and old vine heritage (about 80 years). Also lacking in layering and depth. But when one’s thirsty, this does its job.

2002 Cullen Diana Madeline, over a wonderful steak at Foo House. I had decanted half into a half bottle 3 hours earlier, stashing it away in the fridge, bringing the remaining half to the restaurant. Deep, impenetrable red. There wasn’t much on the nose – just wild berries and a hint of undergrowth. On the palate, the wine was obviously big, and initially quite disjointed, both cabernet and merlot components clearly quite disaparate. After about 20 minutes, with the first morsels of food, it morphed together into a more seamless whole, open enough, with the merlot providing some sizzling intensity amidst the tight, silky tannins. But this wine, seven years after vintage, was still very primal, lacking in secondary development, finishing on an austere, almost bitter note. And so it remained. Honestly, if tasted blind, I’d have been hard pressed to tell that this is, supposedly, one of Australia’s top drops. I think Moss Wood reigns supreme in Western Australia. But I’m not giving up hope. Still have a few bottles from 2001-3. Will not open the next until 4-5 years later.

Close cousin to the Basket Press?2004 Rockford “Rifle Range” Cabernet Sauvignon, at the excellent Golden Peony, Conrad International. One of my favourite wineries in South Australia. Beautiful deep purple, with lifted aromas of sweet dark berries and currants that ran deep. Nicely ripe, but not over-extracted, with the unmistakable warmth of rich Barossa fruit supported by firm tannins. If blinded, I could well have mistaken it for a shiraz, such was the distinctiveness of its Barossa character, perhaps just lacking that plummy note typical of Barossa shiraz. This will be long-lived. Excellent, from a half bottle.

1997 Ch Sociando Mallet, at Hiok’s Bar after hours over camembert cheese and crackers. Murky reddish-brown, with an evolved rim. The initial sip wasn’t encouraging, the wine coming across as lacking in body, the fruit drying out, although there were adequate notes of dark chocolate and undergrowth. However, the final pour from bottom quarter of the bottle half hour later was almost totally different – a lot fruitier, more fleshy, rounded, even managing to add some depth and nuance. A satisfying table wine from a weak vintage.

2005 Ch Bernadotte, owned and made by Ch Pichon Lalande since 1996, over a simple dinner at Ka-Soh. Deep red with some lightening at the rim. The bouquet that rose from the glass after the first pour was opulent and delicious, seemingly more developed than the last bottle tasted 8 months ago. On the palate, however, it came across as being full-bodied and hard, lacking richness, with the tough tannins ensuring an angular finish. Forty-five minutes after pairing with blackpepper beef and roast chicken, it quickly mellowed, becoming much softer and rounder, with a smoother finish. The mid-palate could still do with more stuffing, though.

2004 Caves Jean et Sebastien Dauvissat Chablis 1er Cru “Montmains”, with bamboo clams, century egg, dim sum and seafood noodles at Asia Grand. Beautiful clear light golden. The initial bouquet was laden with vanilla, which gave way after a few minutes to lifted aromas of light citrus, honeydew, and limestone. Medium bodied, quite rich, with good focus and great acidity, ensuring plenty of freshness, the bit of austere touch at the finish providing great contrast. A wonderful match with century egg, which exposed the wine’s hidden depth and flavours.  Good stuff, from a half bottle.

1996 Ch Croizet-Bages, at Imperial Treasure T3. Bright red with a vermillon rim. There was some initial bottle stink – a strong barnyard nose – that blew off after a few minutes, revealing a fairly deep nose of brandied cherries. Still quite full-bodied in spite of age, but, unfortunately, it lacked quality fruit in the middle, drying out towards an angular finish. It became softer and rounder after about an hour, but the hollowness on the mid-palate still remained. Drink up, which was what we did.

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