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RWJ Anniversary Dinner

May 26, 2010

I am constantly amazed that people actually hit on my wine journal, intentionally or unwittingly. Either way, I’m simply grateful that RWJ has not languished as a lonely webpage, keeping alive my fantasies that RWJ actually feeds, nourishes and fulfils the curiosity and appetite of oenophiles around the world. Of course, such a milestone deserves a celebratory dinner but, really, it’s just another excuse to pop another lineup of excellent wines. Although it took place on 18 May 2010 at Saint Pierre, the dinner should have happened on 12 April, but I guess it’s better late than never.

We began with the customary 1996 Dom Perignon (courtesy of David). Dull golden, creamy with plenty of yeasty overtones and bitter citrus, slightly sweet. Great presence. It opened up with time, becoming more transparent and deeper, developing great mineralityand vibrant acidity but never assertive nor domineering. Broader and infinitely more expansive on the palate after the poached egg. It evolved quickly after settling into its temperature window, turning on its power yet remaining elegant and seamless. Most aristocratic. Second time I’m tasting this wonderful champagne, the first occasion in Dec 2009 (also courtesy of D) at the same restaurant, where it’d seemed a bit more multi-dimensional. Perhaps this time we’d drunk it a bit too quickly.

The three reds were tasted simultaneously after the champagne. The 1990 Mount Mary Quintet (courtesy Hiok) represents the first time I’ve tasted an Aussie cabernet blend that’s aged 20 years. Dusty dark red. Powerful bouquet and silky, giving way to dark berries, bit of plum and licorice. Slight herbal medicinal lift. Medium-bodied. Smooth. Not showing much depth nor length initially but it finally hit its groove after a couple of hours, gaining more depth and weight, revealing glorious rich red fruits laced with glycerin, turning on its feminine charm. Absolutely harmonious with no longer any trace of plumminess. Beautiful.

The 1994 Joseph Phelps Insignia (courtesy Kieron) that followed was  unmistakably New World right from the start. Very deep red. Undeniably powerful, very ripe and extracted (though not overdone), producing a mild medicinal overtone. Obviously deep, very rich and concentrated. Lost its heaviness after a couple of hours, whereupon it morphed into a very seamless and harmonious whole, not unlike the Mount Mary, but more masculine, no doubt about that.

And then came the 2002 Ch Lafite Rothschild, a testimony to this famous estate’s skill and resources in producing a wine of exceptional quality in spite of such a poor growing season. I’d double decanted it at around 3.20 PM, leaving the decanted wine (as well as the washed empty bottle) inside my kitchen fridge to maintain temperature integrity, pouring the wine back into bottle 3 hours later. As the bottle was still rather cold when I arrived at the restaurant, the Sommelier wisely allowed it to gradually warm up to ambient temperature before uncorking it. One could not help but notice the intense brooding nose arising from the deep garnet red, very reluctant (as Kieron noted), almost sullen, but there’s no mistaking the rich fruit and dark berries that lay beneath. Gradually, like the proverbial flower that greets the morning sun, it began to bloom. Slowly but surely, the rose-scented fragrance began emerging, matching the sweet blackberries and a deeper vein of raspberries  laced with the minerality of creosote. Initially medium-full, a tight masculine Lafite, but it kept developing in the glass, gaining more breadth and weight but, at the same time, becoming more relaxed and softer, and eventually by the final pour, a bit of the quintessential feminity came through within the velvety texture. Obviously we’d drunk this way before its maturity, but that was the whole idea – to gain insight into a developing Lafite, and the lesson learnt is that an off-vintage Lafite can still impress. Perhaps it’s best to let my remaining bottle rest another 10 years.

Finally, the 1989 Ch d’Yquem (courtesy of PS). I am reminded of the 1989 Rieussec – a darker hue of gold, almost orangey, producing a lovely mix of nectarine, apricot, honey and brandied cheries. Still quite lively on the mid-palate although this mature wine has lost a bit of its acidity, enhancing the essence and concentration of the remaining fruit. A lovely end to a wonderful evening of quiet dining, and the beginning of greater things to come for RWJ.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Kieron permalink
    May 27, 2010 11:37

    Dear Richard, Congratulations on the anniversary of RWJ and achieving over 5000 hits in a relatively short space of time. It is indeed a testament to your creative writing style, wondeful photography and sharply-tuned palate. Cheers to superb wine and friendship!

  2. Ric permalink*
    May 29, 2010 14:39

    Dear Kieron, Thank you for your keen support of RWJ ever since its inception. I have learnt tremendously from your brilliant dissertations and incisive comments on countless occasions, and I look forward to infinitely more wining and dining experiences together.

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