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Not the professorial dinner: 2002/2004 Faiveley Clos de Beze, 2001 Louis Lequin Batard-Montrachet, 1990 Batailley & more…

August 21, 2010

Following a most successful dinner a month earlier, the breakaway faction re-grouped again on 27 July 2010 at Absinthe, with KP managing to arrange an excellent chef’s menu for SGD150, all in. A theme of Burgundy had been specified, even though most of the members of this group have little experience with this compared to Bordeaux. However, I must say we managed to do pretty well. I’d promised to bring for Li Wei a Ramonet Chassagne-Montrachet, but in my excitment, it completely slipped my mind. Instead, we had to make do with a 2006 Louis Moreau Valmur Chablis Grand Cru (courtesy of Li Wei) from the restaurant list, which was reasonable enough at SGD135++. This was light golden, clear, full of delicacy and the fragrance of white flowers, with a rich mixture of flint, citrus and minerals on the palate. Light-medium, yet yielding excellent concentration and complexity, the minerality expanding on the palate with an explosion of colors whilst retaining its delicate poise, the wine becoming more weighty as it sat in the glass. Excellent, really.

PS generously supplied a 2001 Louis Lequin Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru, which I was grateful to have the chance to taste, for this negociant is represented by one of the major retailer chains locally at an affordable level. A nice golden hue, but the wine was very muted on the nose initially, light-medium on the palate but rather austere and stern, with hardly any minerality and certainly containing less stuffing than expected for a Grand Cru. Some degree of sweetness and caramel began emerging, together with notes of vanilla, slightly toasty, eventually it developed an intense body, becoming more luxuriant and richer, but it certainly took a long time coming and the nose still remained reluctant.

We kicked off the reds from the south of the Cote d’Or with a 2005 Comte Armand Pommard Clos des Epeneaux 1er Cru (courtesy of GPP), a monopole in the Cote de Beaune, although it quickly became clear this is not what one would normally expect of a Pommard. Very deep violet in color, matched by a wine that’s almost New World in character, a powerful musty bouquet reminiscent of nail varnish, huge dense and full-bodied on the palate, extracted to the hilt. It mellowed after two hours, becoming softer, but it still couldn’t shake off the immense density and concentration, not opening much at all. Rather wasteful to have opened it at this stage, but it is certainly not my style of preference for a Burgundy.

Kieron then offered a blinded pair. The first displayed a classic pinot hue with lifted aromas of red fruits amidst a considerable amount of complex minerality even though it didn’t quite have the depth nor layering. But  what was most striking was the perfect integration between the excellent fruit, tannins and wood within the overall structure, all coming through quite effortlessly. Very lovely – a 2000 Louis Jadot Gevrey-Chambertin Clos St-Jacques 1er Cru. I should have guessed a Chambertin, at least, given the remarkable expression and purity of the fruit. In contrast, the other pinot had a much subdued tone, minty on the nose,  soft, quite harmonious, slightly musty, definitely had an aged quality to it but, at the same time, a rustic feel as well, less layered and rather short on the finish. Somewhat one-dimensional. It was difficult to place. A New World pinot? It turned out to be a 1995 Comte Senard Corton Clos des Meix Grand Cru monopole. A fine wine in its own right, but a Clos St-Jacques Chambertin would always come out tops.

The following pair was also the focus of a fascinating comparison. Culina happened to hold its Faiveley clear-out sale during that week, where Chris managed to secure a 2004 Domaine Faiveley Chambertin Clos de Beze Grand Cru. This prompted me to bring along a 2002 of the same wine for comparison. The 2004 was more opague and less intense on nose. Medium-bodied, soft and radiant, quite harmonious, but the intensity and opulence was a notch lower although it is drinking well, whereas the 2002 Domaine Faiveley Chambertin Clos de Beze Grand Cru displayed a deeper ruby glow with a lovely fragrance of fresh red fruits. A big wine, but beautifully balanced, cohesive and structured, revealing wonderful depth and focus with a great deal of minerality in the body. Excellent. I should have bought more previously, but that was my last bottle.

The final pair were Bordeaux reds, of which the 1990 Ch Batailley (courtesy of Hiok) turned out to be a great surprise. Normally a perenial under-achiever, the 1990 proved to be a worthy exception. Dense on the mid-palate, displaying a classic Pauillac signature, harmonious and well-integrated, with excellent depth, structure and power. We’d thought it was a 1990 Lynch-Bages. Still a youthful red with the legs to last another 20 years, easily. By the time the final red, a 1994 Ch L’Eglise Clinet (courtesy of Vic) was poured, my jaded palate had just enough life left to appreciate the extracted richness emanating from the deep purplish red, loaded with glycerin, aided by more than a touch of modern winemaking from an ancient commune, with layers of flavours unfolding towards the finish. Amazing results from a wet vintage, perhaps justifying the use of interventional techniques to churn out good-tasting wines regardless of vintage conditions, at the expense of retaining its identity.

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