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Notes in brief (October 2010): 2002-3 Cullen Diana Madeline, 2006-7 Egon Muller, 2002 Kay Bros Block 6, 2004 The Relic

October 29, 2010

2007 Wooing Tree pinot noir (courtesy of PS), over lunch at Moomba. Popped and poured. A slightly heavier pinot tint than usual from this Central Otago offering. Already very open from the first pour. The bouquet expanded further after 30 minutes, with notes of brandied cherries and raspberries leaping from the glass, with a touch of damp forest floor. Medium-full, rounded with excellent density, purity and length. Highly satisfying.

2005 Ch D’Aurilhac, over lunch at Prive. Popped and poured. Deep red, with a modest bouquet of dark berries that carried well onto the palate, settling very quickly to reveal excellent levels of ripeness, weight and intensity with a solid body of minerality, just very slightly metallic and salty towards the finish, rounded at the edges without any sign of astringency in spite of its youth. Compared to my first tasting note some 3-4 months back, this wine appears to have softened and developed slightly greater depth. Excellent value.

2007 Dog Point Section 94 sauvignon blanc, during a very impropmtu happy hour in the office on 7 Oct 2010. Thankfully, I had the good sense to put this bottle in the Dept refrigerator just hours before, in case any “event” arose. Light lemon-green. Powerful bouquet, rich in exotic fruits, particularly of coconut and macadamia. This gave way after a few minutes to a full-bodied wine with notes of bitter-sweet citrus and chalky minerality, expertly balanced, finishing with lively acidity imparting a very refreshing feel to the whole wine. A highly unique sauvignon blanc – I prefer this than the 2006.

2003 Cullen Diana Madeline, at the above happy hour event. Decanted for 30 minutes before tasting. Deep purple. Initially rather reticent on the nose, but it eventually blossomed with complex intense flavours of red and dark berries tinged with a trace of marmalade and graphite, producing an unmistakable New World signature that carried well onto the palate. The tannic structure is immediately apparent upon its entry, providing firm support to the rich fruit within without threatening to overwhelm, perhaps an early sign that the wine is beginning to soften. This is much preferable than a bottle tasted in 2007 at Victor’s place, where the tannins were far too astringent then. Excellent.

2007 Egon Muller Scharzhofberger Riesling Kabinett, a half bottle (courtesy of LW) shared with Vic over a black pepper crab at Long Beach Dempsey. Pale yellow with flavours of lemongrass, lime, green apples and other citrus and a dash of tropical fruits with understated sweetness and acidity. Perhaps not a great example of Egon Muller, the wine lacking in fullness and sweep, but it served its purpose well.

2006 Cesare Pavese Barbaresco DOCG, decanted for 2 hours at a happy hour afterwork on 13 Oct 2010. Dull rusty red with a significant degree of brownish tinge. Not much on the nose, except for a mild scent of rose petals. Soft at the edges, with more of red fruits and cherries representing the nebbiolo fruit, but it was barely enough to mask the 14% alcohol, rather one-dimensional and minty without any real depth. This is a disappointment, as my initial impression at the American Club tasting (see September 2010) had been rather positive. Not much point cellaring this.

2002 Cullen Diana Madeline, popped and poured right after the disappointing Barbaresco above. Dark red, with a deep powerful nose of dark berries and blueberries, displaying excellent concentration on the palate with a dash of earthiness. Yet to come together though, the fruit noticeably disjointed from the tannic frame, imparting a sense of austerity and backwardness. This is a firm, serious wine that’s probably best left alone for at least another 5 years, although one wonders whether will it ever evolve.

2003 Ch D’Aiguilhe, a half bottle that the staff of Imperial Treasure T3 carefully decanted, without prompting. Deep purple with a slightly brighter rim. It seemed to be more open and developed than before, although there is no mistaking the high level of extraction resulting in fruit-forward notes of blueberries, dark currants, kirsch, dark chocolate and raisins amidst some gravelly minerality, ending in a mild austere finish. My last bottle, shared with PS.

2006 Egon Muller Wiltinger Braune Kupp Riesling Spatlese, shared with the wifey on 15 Oct 2010 at Jade Palace (where we learnt that Fatty eats there thrice weekly without fail). Light golden in color. Notes of nectar, honey, kiwi fruit and a dash of apricot on the nose. Medium-full on the palate, where just the right level of alcohol and understated sweetness (always a good thing) struck a lovely balance against notes of pineapple, tropical fruits and bitter citrus, lively yet elegant. The fruit began to dominate after an hour, resulting in a wine that’s rich, even and fairlyintense. Quite similar in character to another bottle tasted some months back. Excellent, but it’s my last bottle.

2005 Ch De Fieuzal, over dinner at Imperial Treasure ION, 16 Oct 2010. Very deep dark red. Rather enticing on the nose when first poured, loads of delicious dark currants and ripe fruit with a dash of vanilla without any oakiness, settling eventually with more notes of earth and toast, ad none of the banyard pungency that sometimes accompanies Pessac-Leognan wines. However, it’s somewhat flat on the palate, where the predominance of minerals and a certain ferrous quality is evident, but missing the joie de vivre that the quality fruit is capable of. Keenly priced at SGD79 from NTUC Finest, but I don’t think I’m particularly drawn to this wine.

2002 Kay Brothers Amery vineyards Block 6 shiraz, over a superb Monster Burger with bacon at Foo House with the family. Popped from the Stelvin closure and poured right away. Typically very dark red with notes of plum and licorice. Initially disjointed on the palate, where the fruit seemed to be obscured by a faint layer of alcohol. But it came together quite well after 30 minutes, more homogenous, medium-bodied with good presence, surprisingly soft at the edges, littered with spice, black pepper, smoke and a tinge of greeness at the finish. Still rather four-square without any penetrating depth. The impression is that of the winemaker being careful to avoid any excesses in the end-product, with the result that the wine, perhaps, loses some of the distinctiveness that ought to be discernible from 110-year-old vines. I think D’Arenberg and Scarpantoni still hold the aces for McLaren Vale shiraz.

2004 The Relic, a single-vineyard Barossa blend of shiraz with a small percentage of viognier, produced by The Standish Wine Company (courtesy of TEK), drunk at a department function hosted by the three Chiefs on 22 Oct 2010. Decanted for 4 hours. Beautiful deep purple, with dense overtones of licorice, plum and a powerful herbal lift from the ripe warm shiraz fruit with a layer of the vanilla and creme de la creme coming from the viognier. A wine of immense proportions without being overwhelming nor unctuous, smooth and remarkably seamless with superb oak handling, leading to a somewhat austere and medicinal finish. I didn’t realise this was rated 99 points by RP, although it’s probably 92-93 by Ric…what am I talking about?!…RWJ does not score wines!!! It’s the tasting note that counts, man. So, this is obviously a very expertly crafted wine, but I’m beginning to move away from these monsters. Only for connoiseurs of Aussie reds.

2004 Petaluma Coonawarra, drunk at a department function hosted by the 3 Chiefs on 22 Oct 2010. Popped and poured. Deep dark purple. Full-bodied, noticeably extracted, dense and rather fruit-forward, which is a shame, as it tended to obliterate the limestone minerality, robbing it of a sense of the Coonawarra terroir.

2005 Ch D’Escurac, drunk at a department function hosted by the 3 Chiefs on 22 Oct 2010. Popped and poured. This is the complete opposite of the Petaluma, the unmistable terroir of the Medoc immediately apparent from the forthcoming bouquet, extremely rich in earthy minerality in the middle without any hint of greeness with overtones of dried leaves, wood shavings and cigar box. Remarkably well-integrated, displaying excellent concentration and intensity, ending in a slightly stern finish. A superb bargain at only SGD28 from Caveau’s sale.

2005 Episode One (Michel Rolland), aired in bottle for 45 minutes at Anne’s wedding on 24 Oct 2010 at the Meritus Mandarin. Dark red, medium-bodied, showing early signs of mellowing with notes of ripe red and dark berries and some transparency appearing on the mid-palate, revealing moderate depth. Drinking very well, with room for further improvement. This wine tastes better and better each time, with this current experience being the best. I have another 5 bottles to go, and another case yet unopened.

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