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Notes in brief…(April 2010)

April 13, 2010

2007 Hobbs shiraz, a glass courtesy of Augustine Kum at Moomba. This wine is associated with Chris Ringland, who is behind the cult wine Three Rivers and, at one time, Rockford as well, and it shows. Impenetrable inky red. The wonderful shiraz fruit here is absolutely top-class, unmistakably Barossa in style but its density doesn’t compromise the superb definition and depth, still managing to remain quite elegant in spite of layers of ripeness, licorice, cassis, scorched earth and mint. Quite excellent, really.

2005 Les Haut de Smith, over dinner at Moomba. My fourth bottle over the past year. Deep impenetrable red. Aromas of black berries, blackcurrants, violets and roasted herbs. Fruit-forward with plenty of stuffing and grip, well-balanced, slightly dry on its minerally finish. It seemed slightly less intense on this occasion, but it still is a very good wine, no doubt about that, for only SGD60.

2004 The Moorooduc chardonnay, over crab beehoon and mussels at Ming Kee Live Seafood restaurant. Probably the third or fourth time I’ve tasted this wine over the past 12 months, always coming close but never quite making the mark. It finally hit all the right notes on this occasion. Very good levels of citrus, lime and crushed minerality, medium-bodied with soft vanilla textures, fairly lifted aromas, impressively fresh. Lacks the last ounce or two in opulence, weight and intensity, but it is very well balanced and served its purpose very nicely.

2006 Leeuwin Estate Art Series chardonnay, at the combined ward dinner at Long Beach Seafood restaurant on 27th April. Popped and poured. Very lovely right away, showing an excellent balance between the cutting acidity of citrus and a trace of sweetness of tropical fruits, its buttery texture topped with vanilla from the new oak, complete with some oily texture and fat in the middle, quite similar to a Puligny-Montrachet, just a touch lesser in minerality. Not as over-the-top as the 2005 vintage, but time may alter that perception. Bob Rees of WEA offers the best price for this (only SGD88). You’d be a complete idiot not to get any.

2008 Grosset Polish Hill riesling (courtesy PS), at the above dinner. Dry, crisp with very fresh acidity and some flavours of tropical fruit marked by a tinge of licorice that doesn’t really quite match. However, the drinking conditions were suboptimal – freshly popped and far too warm. A second pour was more reassuring, revealing much more body and depth. Nevertheless, this is the third time I’ve tasted this wine over a year and I’m convinced it’s a waste to drink this at this stage. I think it’ll age very well and I’m not gonna touch my remaining 2 bottles, not to mention another 4 bottles of the 2009.

1995 Ch Haut-Bailly, shared with the wifey over an excellent dinner of beef cubes and pork ribs at Asia Grand. This is showing better than an initial bottle 4 months ago at Kome (see “Notes in Brief’ Dec 2009), both sourced from Auric Pacific for SGD110. An evolving red with a deep garnet core, not really impressive at the first pour where it seemed rather lean. But it improved very rapidly thereafter with notes of tobacco, dried herbs, and lifted fragrance of red fruits on the nose, corresponding with the impression of raspberries and sweet cherries of considerable intensity and richness on the palate, medium-bodied, grippy, soft, revealing good depth and layering with just a hint of metallic earthiness at the finish. And it simply got better and better, gaining in richness and complexity with each pour. Quite gorgeous, really, even though its character leans very much towards a Medoc, rather unlike a Pessac-Leognan. This, together with previous tastings of Lagrange and Calon-Segur of the same vintage, confirms my opinion that 1995 is the first of the so-called good vintages of that decade that’s drinking very well now, which should continue to remain at the peak for several more years.

2003 Ch Clerc-Milon, over lunch at La Noce at Valley Point. I remembered buying  3 bottles of this for only SGD88 during its en primeur campaign (inclusive of freight/duties). Popped and poured without decanting, showing a deep garnet red with a very inviting bouquet of ripe dark berries, blackberries, tobacco, roasted herbs, and a hint of vanilla. Warm, medium-full, soft at the edges, structured, striking an excellent balance between the generous fruit and the intensity of the finely-knit tannins, displaying great length. Already quite accessible at this stage, confirming my observations, thus far, that the wines of 2003 may be enjoyed now. Even chef Salvatore Catalano liked it. Excellent stuff.

2006 Ch Lalande-Borie, over an excellent dinner at Jade Palace. Many tend to confuse this Saint-Julien cru bourgeois with Lacoste-Borie (second wine of Grand-Puy-Lacoste), but Lalande-Borie is an estate unto itself, run by Jean-Eugene Borie and part of the greater holdings of the Borie family that also owns Ducru-Beaucaillou. This medium-bodied wine doesn’t give away anything on the nose, but it was at once soft, rounded and smooth, with the excellent Medoc fruit producing its unmistakable notes of dark berries, cedar and a slight graphite hint cloaked within a light coat of vanilla from the oak, finishing on a mild plummy note with unobtrusive tannins. Unlike other wines of the Medoc, there is absolutely no trace of green unripe fruit nor toughness although, I suppose, it’s rather lacking in charm and character. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it. At SGD45 (usual SGD58), this will surely take some beating as a great housepour.

2007 Bliss Mendocino cabernet sauvignon, a gift, over lunch at Imperial Treasure T3. This Californian wasn’t encouraging on the first pour, where the wine, light red in color, seemed flat and hollow on the  mid-palate. However, it rapidly gained weight within minutes, showing off flavours of predominantly red fruits and redcurrants, very decent in quality, within a medium-weight structure with well-managed tannins. A good quaffer.

2004 Ch Desmirail, at an impromptu happy hour after work. I was hoping that this would be a good bargain (SGD58) given the excellent experience I’ve had recently with Grand-Puy-Lacoste and Lagrange, all from 2004. But it was not to be. Too much greeness, no doubt from grapes that were less than ripe, and rather one-dimensional with a steely finish. Quite symptomatic of the irregular consistency of the Margaux commune, it’d seem. We didn’t manage to finish the bottle in spite of four of us.

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