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Notes in brief (November 2009)…

November 3, 2009

2000 Ch Carbonnieux rouge, all to myself at Moomba (well not really…a couple of generous pours going to Jeremy and Leonard, the chef). This is, by far, the best showing of this wine  after having tasted it on 3 different occasions over the past year. The nose was quite forward right from the first pour, offering loads of cool ripe black berries intermixed with some soy and earthy tones, fairly deep and inviting. The entry was soft, the wine medium-full with a bit of hollowness on the mid-palate initially, finishing with some unresolved tannins. Things changed by the second glass, however, the wine becoming more open, gaining greater weight and intensity, the hollowness replaced by a fresh layer of richness and depth hitherto not encountered, leading to more sophisticated tannins at the finish. On the verge of developing secondary characteristics. Very good. At SGD88, it’s worth getting more should you chance upon it at Carrefour.

2003 Maison Louis Latour Puligny-Montrachet, my second (and last) bottle in as many months, at the in-laws. Not a good one. Too little fruit, lacking in minerality, too low in acidity, with too much leafy greeness, producing a dominant barley note. Not at all like a Puligny-Montrachet. Good thing it only cost SGD20.

2003 Ch Lascombes, after hours. I’d originally opened this bottle 10 days earlier in a restaurant, thinking that I’d share it with some people. But upon seeing that nobody could really drink, and that the bottle had been left untouched for about 30 minutes, I’d re-corked it very tightly (managed to push the cork almost entirely back into the neck) and left it reclining in my cool office. Surprisingly, it still tasted very fresh without any trace of oxidation. This is quite an atypical Margaux – big, full-bodied, toasty, dry, of cedar and dried leaves, not at all feminine or fragrant, but still unmistakably Bordeaux in character, managing to remain quite transparent in spite of its relative heaviness, becoming a bit softer and sweeter after some time. We drank it neat, but it would show even better with food. Would be an excellent table wine, but definitely not for purists.

2007 Krugscherhof spatsburgunder eiswein, bought cheaply for 22 Euros at Frankfurt duty-free, tasted right after the Ormes de Pez below at Ming Kee. Rather dull off yellow, but it hit all the right notes on the palate – heavier notes of peach, lychee and apricot, rather than the usual honey and nectar. Very fresh, not over-bearing at all.  Took on a slightly more lifted and lighter note after some time, with pineapples creeping in.

2000 Ch Les Ormes de Pez, from the same winemaker as Ch Lynch Bages, over dinner at Ming Kee. Dark red. The initial pour was dominated by wood all over, with the wine coming cross as thin, not helped by rather acerbic tannins on the finish. It took on quite a dramatic transformation after about 45 minutes: the wood was gone, and one could then appreciate the classic Medoc character of dark fruits, with a trace of raspberry, and dried leaves and tobacco on the nose. The wine also began to flesh out considerably – medium-bodied, soft, packed with good fruit quality offering some depth, underscored by well-integrated tannins. Last tasted at Imperial Treasure T3 a year ago, where I thought it tasted better, being more evolved and mature, whereas it seemed somewhat out of sorts this evening. That’s the last of my standard bottles, but I still have a magnum of this same vintage, which I’ll probably keep for another 10 years.

2006 Oddfellows Langhorne Creek shiraz, at The Pod on the 16th floor of the National Library on the occasion of the ASM’s official dinner. I must say this is quite a good shiraz – deep purple, heavily scented with ripe plums, raisins and liquorice, full-bodied but not unctuous, tinge of sweetness with a moderately long finish without any trace of heat. Does its job as a good table wine, but don’t expect any serious complexity.

1999 Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cr “Les Clavoillon”, courtesy of D, over a 4-course  impromptu lunch at Les Amis, consisting mainly of salmon, cod and pork. Beautiful clear light golden. As expected of Leflaive, lovely lifted aromas of chalk, minerals, less of citrus and lime, more of butter, almonds, cream crackers. “Les Clavoillon” is rated lower than “Les Pucelles”, and it shows on the palate, prefering to remain smooth, slick, and even, missing some of the depth and complexity that comes so easily with “Les Pucelles”, even though it was quite dense, only gaining some intensity after 2 hours. Probably worth keeping longer. I enjoyed it.

2002 Domaine Nicolas Potel Vosne-Romanee 1er Cru “Les Suchots”, over lunch back again at Saint-Pierre, with Ben. This bottle was actually purchased at a steep discount from this restaurant’s list during its pre-renovation sale. Clear dusky red. A highly perfumed bouquet, full of fragrant sweet red fruits and cherries. Medium-bodied, soft, mellow, with low acidity, already quite fully developed and mature, revealing good depth but, of course, not the most profound of burgundies. It doesn’t possess the heaviness and extraction that can be found in a number of young premier cru from this producer, all for the better.  This wine is entering its peak drinking period, and will probably hang in there for several years. I enjoyed it very much.

2005 Winemakers’ Collection Cuvee No.1, over a minuscule beef tenderloin at Otto. This is the sixth tasting of this wine, and the best so far, since I took delivery of 2 cases in 2008. It has developed beautifully, the color now a more luminous ruby red, clear yet deep, from which arose flavours of both dark and red fruits coated with glycerin, fairly intense and rich, nicely ripe without being over-extracted. The entry is soft but, revealing notes of chocolate and raisins, excellent presence and receding tannins that led to a moderately long finish without any sign of the fruit drying out, nor the austere greeness that marked the first few bottles last year. This is coming together very well, much more cohesive and seamless, on the verge of developing its secondary flavours. This project to allow a celebrated winemaker each year carte blanche to grow and make wine from a parcel of Ch D’Arsac had initially seemed gimmickry, especially as the bottling and labeling (completely in English) appear very un-Bordeaux, with a clear commercial slant. The vineyard, one of the first to be encountered south of the Margaux commune as one drives up north into the Medoc, certainly didn’t appeal to me at all when I passed it several times, lying on the “wrong” side of the D2 highway and appearing unkempt. It’s amazing what Michel Rolland has achieved for the inaugural vintage, no doubt assisted by the perfect weather in 2005. I shall have to carefully space out the remaining half-dozen lying in my office, and keep that un-opened case in cold storage even longer. Excellent.

2004 Ch Talbot, a half-bottle at Crystal Jade T2. Deep impenetrable red. A rather muted nose for a good 45 minutes, save for the obvious graphite note amidst the typical dark flavours of Left Bank Bordeaux. Full-bodied, steely and austere, backed by very firm tannins, imparting a very serious and business-like feel. Only after an hour did the wine begin to settle, revealing a lovely plummy note and softer tannins. The Brits would call this a classic claret, but it certainly will not put on a smile during its youth. I believe this is only the second time I’ve had a Talbot, the other being a 2000 couple of years back, which also left a similar impression. It’s a very good wine, but requires plenty of time.

2005 Les Hauts de Smith, at Imperial Treasure T3. Second time I’m having this in 3 months, also at the same venue. Deep crimson, imparting deep dark flavours with a hint of bottle stink that blew off after 20 minutes, revealing a full-bodied wine with firm tannins, with a bit of an austere, uneven finish. However, with food and time, it became much more savoury, developing velvety supple tannins that provided excellent mouthfeel and great grip on the palate, ending on a succulent raspberry note. This showing is even better than my previous experience, which was already positive. I’ll bet this second wine is cut very much from the same cloth as the Grand Vin. A great bargain at SGD58.

2004 Ch Gloria, a half bottle (SGD39), over a hamburger steak at Foo House. This cru bourgeois from St Julien has a bit of a cult following, but this effort is nothing to shout about. Dark purplish red, and very muted on the nose, with a faint hint of plums. One can tell from the colour this is not a saturated wine, which correlated accurately with the experience on the palate – light-medium, dry, a bit thin, lacking in richness, not even the rusticity of a  St-Pierre (4th growth), ending in a slightly austere finish, missing very much the joie de vivre which a very good unclassified growth can sometimes surprise with. Not that it’s a bad wine…just that it’s perfectly nondescript. Drink up.

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