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1995 Ch Lynch-Bages & 2005 Stag’s Leap Cask 23, with Kobe beef

February 12, 2010

It’s good to know that I’ve not been forgotten as a honorary cardiologist. And so when the Tall Man invited me to partake in some fresh Kobe beef that he’d hand-carried back from Kobe, to be washed down with some Cask 23 at Kome, it was an offer that I couldn’t refuse, and the least I could do was show up with a ’95 Lynch. More about that later.

To his credit, Lawrence had also come up with some new creations (snails, some exotic soup contained inside a seashell), and so while he busied himself preparing the Kobe beef, we began drinking. The 2006 Dr Loosen Wehlenur-Sonnenuhr Auslese, light golden in color, was deeply fragrant, rich in notes of apricot, peach, and that petroleum character (some described it as “diesel”…good luck to those who’ve tasted diesel) so readily apparent in German rieslings. Medium-bodied, with undertones of malt and rye, and just the right amount of sweetness without being over-saturated nor overwhelming. Excellent. But a bottle of wine spread over 9 persons (including Lawrence) meant there wasn’t much to spare. Hence, we needed another white. The 2005 Domaine Patrick Javillier Mersault Les Clous was, perhaps, at a disadvantage coming right after the auslese. This producer, however, is a household name in Mersault and it shows. Straw colored, slightly yeasty with, again, a bit of malt and very little citrus notes. But, true to its roots, it offered loads of chalk and gravelly minerality. Somewhat thin initially, but it gained weight and intensity nicely after an hour, the hollowness on the mid-palate replaced by rich vanilla and caramel flavours, open and expansive, ending on a slightly grassy note. Now I remembered why I bought it from Le Benaton some time back, but that was my last bottle.

The 2005 Domaine Prieure Roch Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru is somewhat of a curiosity. Purportedly owned by somebody who has a share in Domaine de la Romanee-Conti (don’t quote me…I may be wrong), it sports a weird-looking tiny modern label and a nose that suggests more of chemicals than red fruis and cherries. Minty, dense, and rather undifferentiated on the palate, with some sour plums and pickled cherries. It gained greater focus and definition with time, but never developed any real depth nor complexity. It certainly doesn’t taste anything like a SGD200-300 wine. Gimme a Armand Rousseau anytime.

Another oddity cropped up in the form of a 2000 Ch Mouton, minus the Rothschild. Sounds impressive, and it even had the right level of deep garnet red, complete with a decent bouquet of dark fruits, dank undergrowth and a touch of banyard pungency. But it was a letdown on the palate – bland, austere, resinous, monolithic and undifferentiated, topped with a significant degree of alcoholic heat even after 10 years. Drinkable, I suppose, but I preferred not to waste my hepatocytes on it.

And so finally, we arrived at the two quality reds. The 1995 Ch Lynch-Bages, displaying an evolving red, was simply gorgeous, offering deep notes of red and dark fruits, and sweet berries against a background of dried herbs and tobacco. Soft, rounded with unobtrusive acidity, but still rather full-bodied in spite of its 15 years, superbly integrated with wonderful grip, focus and delineation across the palate. Perhaps not as complex nor deep as its bouquet had hinted, but this didn’t detract from its innate elegance that’s consistent with most of the Left Bank clarets of 1995. A wonderful wine.

In contrast, the 2005 Stag’s Leap Cask 23 cabernet sauvignon, an impenetrable red, was undeniably attractive with plenty of dense ripe fruit packed into a powerful wine of fierce intensity, obviously tannic with leafy undertones, producing a structured but austere and monolithic wine, toasty and resinous on the finish. To be honest, though, I’d have great difficulty identifying this as one of Napa’s pillars, for it lacked adequate distinction to set it apart other Napa reds, and I daresay that a Heitz Martha’s Vineyard is probably better and preferable. Nevertheless, I am grateful to have had the opportunity tasting it.

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