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The perfect dinner at Iggy’s

December 13, 2009

It was difficult to imagine how the last dinner at Iggy’s could have been surpassed, where the food and service had been outstanding, the wines (’02 DRC Grands Echezeaux & ’94 Petrus, inter alia) utterly sublime, and the entire experience unforgettable. But just as records of all kinds could be re-written, we took a quantum leap with our gazetted dining experience on 9 December. There is simply no other outfit in Singapore to better Iggy’s at present, and the miracle was that this restaurant could even better itself on this occasion, fully deserving of its No.2 spot in the 2009/10 Miele’s Guide to Asia’s Finest Restaurants, and to be counted amongst S Pellegrino’s World’s Top 50. How it was done I know not, but I suspect it is only through hard work, the continuous search for inner inspiration, driven by a passion for perfection without fear of boundaries, that the unachievable was attained: we had the perfect dinner.

I arrived on time to find proprietor Ignatius Chan himself, ever humble and jovial, engaged in relaxed banter with K and DT at the Chef’s Table, the wines carefully decanted, and soon we were joined by the usual suspects, bearing wines, obviously of immense value, that had been double-decanted and blinded. So familiar were we at the Chef’s Table that we settled into our usual positions, not unlike Arthur’s RoundTable, sipping the 1990 Krug (courtesy K) that flowed freely, as commanded by Bacchus. Light golden, full-bodied, dry (but not to the extent of Salon), with the ripe yeasty note of Krug complementing the lovely deep fragrance of white flowers and malt. As the bubbles dissipated, the wine softened, revealing a complex deeper core topped with caramel, slightly toasty with a smoky afterglow. A complete wine, unquestionably. Wonderful.

I stared at the customised menu. There were 11 items, plus an impromptu kurobuta pork thrown in along the way for good measure, making it 12 items altogether, plus 2 huge blocks of white Alba truffles that were meant to be shaved down completely just for this dinner. Never have I encountered such an extensive menu at Iggy’s. This  was really serious stuff. No wonder Iggy himself was on hand!

The 1990 Domaine Leflaive Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru (courtesy K), which accompanied the first few courses, shared some similarities with the Krug. A luminous pale marble yellow, quite restrained on the nose, giving away some light minerality. On the palate, the low acidity wine was ultra-smooth, seamless and harmonious, revealing some mild yeasty flavours and deeper notes of limestone after some time. Excellent depth and body. This wine may have been derived from the “bastard”, but it was on its best behaviour: quiet, understated, unassuming, not showy at all, yet multi-dimensional and aristocratic. Caught at its peak. It takes people of similar character to appreciate such qualities…ahem. Lovely.

The first red was poured. Showing a beautiful deep ruby, it produced a superb fragrance, most intoxicating and sensual, yet delicate and not too sweet on the nose, combined with a great body of red fruits and cherries, rounded at all the right places, silky, possessing good weight and intensity, yet absolutely harmonious, very inviting and seductive. The Armand Rousseau Chambertin (courtesy K) was like a beautiful woman that you really shouldn’t be seen with but you’re helpless, and it was hard to believe that a 2003 Grand Cru could be so supremely effortless at this stage. This is the epitome of finesse and elegance. Just misses the power of a DRC, but that might upset the balance. Truly fantastic! 

Red #2 (courtesy Hiok), blinded and double decanted, showing an evolving red, was strong on pencil lead, but the entry was gentle, the wine soft and fragrant on the palate with predominantly red fruits, imparting a very feminine feel (but not resembling a Margaux), deeply layered with complex tertiary flavours, structured and superbly integrated. The table was unanimous that this was a quintessential 1990 Lafite Rothschild, but we were brought to our feet when it was unblinded: a 1988 Ch Le Pin!!! We were absolutely flabbergasted. None of us had had any previous experience with Le Pin, only with the exception of Iggy who felt that this vintage of Le Pin was somewhat rustic, but I thought it was beautifully poised at its peak drinking plateau. There was no clue at all that this was a Right Bank, only that it was a mature Bordeaux, but I suppose the lesson is that Pomerol is truly the master of disguises in blind tastings. Outstanding!

Compared to this, Red #3, also blinded and double decanted (courtesy Hiok), was almost a non-event. The bottle shape, combined with the deep purple as it sat in the glass, gave away that this was a New World and, not only that, it was likely a Harlan Estate. True enough, from 2005. Huge, saturated with ripe fruit, svelte and sweet but not overtly exuberant, showing some restraint, well-controlled with very good balance, revealing deep notes of soy and raisins, obviously still primal with sizzling intensity. Definitely a hedonistic and very sophisticated wine, but, I feel, not distinctive.

My palate must have taken some beating from this last red, for the concluding Sauternes, a 1983 Ch D Y’quem (courtesy K) took me a while to adjust to. Deep orangey in color, still containing good levels of acidity and intensity, the nectarine flavours nicely balanced and persistent without any edginess, still as fresh as the morning dew, bringing the entire line-up of wines to a beautiful finish.

But that wasn’t all. Word was out that had it not been for this evening’s dinner, I would have dined the following evening at Iggy’s for my birthday. The restaurant surprised me with a lovely birthday cake at the end, concluding an extraordinary evening of dining and wining. Along the way, we’d consumed 89 grammes of white Alba truffles that went along with re-invented classics such as cappellini pasta, egg and bacon done the bourgogne way (oeuf meurette), fresh inspirations such as the delectable French toast that Iggy dreamt up with the chef from Jaan, as well as the obligatory wagyu beef, and we had drunk wines that cost 3 times as much as the food. It took a steady hand to sign my share of the food bill which read SGD707.

This has been the finest evening in the history of Bacchus. We had taken our wining and dining experience to levels hitherto unheard of, including the price. On the other hand, tonight’s dinner was also something of a bargain, considering that my simple lunch at La Tour D’Argent in Paris already cost about SGD545, and definitely nowhere as extravagant or sublime as this evening’s. Certainly I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to taste these wonderful wines if not for the sheer generosity of these friends, to whom I’m infinitely indebted, and I leave the reader to enjoy these lovely photos that say more than words.

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