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Notes in brief (February 2011): 2008 Lady May

February 19, 2011

2005 Ch La Motte, a gift from a colleague, drunk at home during dinner on the first day of Chinese New Year, 3 Feb. Aired in bottle for 3 hours prior. Dark inky red. Notes of plum and licorice, laced with some sweetness. Quite well-crafted as there was no trace of heat from the 14.5% alcohol. Rather saturated on the palate, although it managed to avoid being overtly fruity, striking a good balance. I don’t usually fancy South African reds but this is actually very decent. Went well with the Chinese dishes.

2003 Ch Cissac, a half-bottle bought from Enoteca (at Takashimaya Shopping Centre, Singapore, basement 2), popped and drunk rather quickly over 45 minutes with a Monster Burger at Foo House, 6 Feb. Dark red. The initial impression was a soft wine of moderate concentration and intensity with notes of bitter chocolate and a mild herbal undertone of bramble and bush, still bearing a relatively tannic spine, slightly oaky. It got better with time, more open with better concentration and more of the ripe fruit coming through, developing into a bigger wine. We drunk it too quickly, of course, but I daresay it has plenty of potential. At only SGD28, I’m getting half a dozen more.

2008 Lady May Glenelly, over a lo-hei lunch at Imperial Treasure T3. Any wine made on foreign soil by an established Bordelais is bound to raise comparisons between Old and New World, and I suppose we can’t run away here. This is a new label, a straight cabernet sauvignon from the region of Stellenbosch, South Africa, made by May de Lencquesaing of Ch Pichon Lalande, aged in French oak, of course. Popped and poured. Beautful dark red, lightening towards the rim. One senses something different from the first whiff – the nose fairly open with a mix of dark and red berries, not overtly forward. More interestingly, the classic cabernet character of dried leaves, tobacco and pencil shavings are all there. In spite of its relative intensity and concentration, the medium-full wine is surprisingly gentle on the entry, broadening on the palate with a rush of fruit laced with fresh glycerin mid-way through but receding just as quickly, giving way to a tight tannic spine that’s beautifuly controlled. There’s absolutely none of that woody, plummy, spicy licorice note of New World cabernet, nor any hint of its 14.5% alcohol. One admires the expert craftsmanship. Almost feminine, befitting its assocition with Comtesse de Lalande. Does this mean it truly resembles an Old World? In many ways it does, but it does justice to the local terroir too, which is probably the best compliment one can pay. This wine can easily sell for twice the price. But it’s only SGD60, from Bob Rees of WEA. Excellent!

2003 Ch Pibran, a magnum bought from Vinum for SGD140, drunk over a final Chinese New Year dinner at Hua Ting restaurant, Orchard Hotel, Singapore. Decanted for an hour. This Pauillac estate, with vineyards close to Mouton Rothschild, usually produces stern robust oaky reds during good vintages, whilst difficult years may result in weedy wines lacking adequate stuffing. The hot uneven 2003 vintage tends to favour the Left Bank, and it shows. There is a very decent mix of blueberries and dark fruits with good density and concentration and a bit of layering as well. It became more plummy and intense after some time, developing a tannic finish. Not bad at all. Something you can use as a starting red to slosh the non-drinkers.

2007 North Valley Pinot Noir, from the region of Willamette in Oregon. Bought off the restaurant list of Hippopotamus restaurant at Marina Square for SGD68. Popped and poured, served in decidedly sub-optimal glasses. A dull shade of pinot. Somewhat thin and alcoholic (13.6%) at the beginning, but this dissipated quickly, allowing the fruit, admittedly quite lovely, to emerge. Usual red fruits and cherries dominate, appropriately dense on the mid-palate with a trace of licorice and raspberries, good concentration, tapering to a sharp accent on the finish. This is a very decent effort.

2005 Ch Villars de Fontaine, a white bourgogne from the Hautes Cotes de Nuits, over a yusheng dinner at Roland restaurant on 5 Feb. This is my third bottle from a half dozen purchased from Le Benaton some 3 years ago. Aired briefly in bottle before being served. Dull golden. Grassy overtones dominate initially, the wine seemingly shut and bereft of character. Things got a lot better after an hour, with some caramel, cream and almonds appearing on the nose while a wall of stony minerality developed on the palate, slightly sharp but well-defined, admittedly. The grassy notes receded somewhat but still dominated at the finish. This wine could do with more layering, depth and concentration. Difficult to tell how it would all turn out.

1998 Louis Jadot Beaune “Clos des Ursules” 1er Cru, over dinner at Uluru steakhouse. Dull light purple tint. Popped and poured. Subdued initially on the nose, but it opened up after some airing to reveal abundant red fruits, strawberries and cherries. Medium-bodied and homogenous, somewhat thick in the middle with a salty accent, leading to a moderate finish. Lacking in real depth and layering, perhaps symptomatic of the reds south of the Cote des Nuits.

2008 Neudorf sauvignon blanc, from the region of Nelson, New Zealand, on a hot afternoon, 6 Feb, at the residence of the former Honorary Consul to Cyprus. Straw-colored. Bitter citrus and pomelo predominate, along with steely minerality that led to a stern, austere finish. I can’t say I enjoyed it.

2006 Ch Martet, a magnum ordered off the restaurant list of Le Bistrot du Sommelier in Singapore on the last day of February, courtesy of FJP. This is a 100% merlot grown in the region of Graves. Decanted in the restaurant. Deep garnet core with a dark purple rim. A bit muted on the nose initially, but it gradually opened up with notes of dark berries, blueberries and violets. Soft and accessible on the palate without the cabernet structure but the fruit is nicely ripe and long-flavoured, adding to the supple tannin along its spine. Lacking in real depth and layering, and rather pricey at SGD220 for what is, after all, an unclassified growth but it went well with the 1.6 kg of cote de boeuf.

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