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Notes in Brief (April 2011): 1999 Banfi Castello Brunello, 2003 Lyndenhurst, 2005 Rockford Basket Press, 2007 Moss Wood, 2004 Smith Haut Lafitte

April 27, 2011

 2003 Lyndenhurst cabernet sauvignon (courtesy of PS), at a ward dinner at Foo House on 21 April 2011. Decanted for almost 6 hours, I believe. True to its Napa roots, this dark purple wine was still huge in proportion with out-sized herbal and medicinal aromas, the ripe grapes, intense minerality and finely-grained tannins combining to produce a dense, full-bodied wine with an accentuated attack at its finish. It settled down with food, loosening up a little on the mid-palate, but the vanilla from the new oak remained perceptible. You got to accept that this is the style of the Californian terroir. It probably won’t be an appropriate match for fine European cuisine, but on this occasion, it was the perfect counterpoint to 2.4kg of rump beef and a huge platter of crispy pork knuckles.

2005 Rockford Basket Press, at the above dinner at Foo House, 21 April 2011. Double decanted for 90 minutes since 0930h (!!), after which it was aired further in bottle for another 7 hours. Surprisingly shy on the nose, preferring instead to express itself on the palate, where warm ripe plummy shiraz fruit with a touch of licorice and a hint of orange peel caressed the palate in broad swathes, medium to full-bodied, rounded at the edges, well integrated and quite seamless, excellent in concentration and depth with tannins kept in check. Still tight. Has enormous potential, but needs plenty of bottle time.

2004 Ch Smith Haut Lafitte (courtesy of Ben), at Foo House on 21 April 2011. Popped and poured. Even after the initial two heavyweights (above), the SHL has no difficulty establishing its identity. The drier, balanced and layered character of Bordeaux came through easily. In particular, the terroir of Pessac-Leognan was unmistakable right from the first whiff – earthy with a bit of attractive barnyard aromas, saturated with ferrous minerality, poised and elegant. A classic claret. Highly enjoyable now, and I suppose will be extremely rewarding if re-visited during its second decade. Outstanding.

2007 Moss Wood cabernet sauvignon (courtesy of Ben), at Moomba on 15 April 2011  Decanted on-site. Deep purple. Surprisingly soft and accessible, fruit forward both on the nose and palate with notes of red and dark fruits, blueberries and raisins, producing good concentration and density without any jarring edges, the acidity and tannins very much suppressed. I get the impression that it’s crafted to produce a “safe” wine, such that it ends up lacking in distinction. Perhaps it needs plenty more time to flesh out and develop in bottle. We shall see.

Billecart-Salmon rose champagne NV, at Asia Grand on Good Friday with the family. Pale rose tint. Nutty, imbued with lively citrus and overtones of orange peel, somewhat smoky and yeasty. Perhaps the acidity is a little over-bearing, resulting in persistent dryness that remained even at the end of dinner. My last bottle, but I don’t think I’ll miss it.

2008 Peter Lehmann botrytis semillon, at Asia Grand, Good Friday. A dominant note of preserved mango and apricot, underpinned by bitter-sweet pomelo that ensured that the wine’s sweetness remained understated, providing a trace of complexity at the finish as well. I enjoyed it.

2008 Lady May Glenelly. Double-decanted and aired for almost 3 hours; half of the bottle drunk at Tung Lok Classics at Chinese Swimming Club, after which I passed the other half to Kieron, who had this to say: youthful but open nose with notes of licorish sweet vanilla and toasted oak, staggering concentration on the attack, hollows out towards the end, finishing with a little burn. I say that you’ll never guess it hails from Stellenbosch, South Africa. Very impressive.

2004 La Fleur de Bouard (courtesy of F), at a Dept function at Saltwater Cafe, Changi Village Hotel, 27 April 2011. Deep dark purple. A gentle bouquet of dark berries, faintly sweet. Medium-full, fairly dense, a good deal of dryness amidst strong primal notes of ripe fruit.

2002 D’Arenberg Dead Arm, at Changi Village Hotel, 27 April 2011. Deep impenetrable red, from which floated a fairly heady and hedonistic mix of plummy shiraz, warm, ripe and dense without being saturated nor over-bearing. Fleshy, some early development, finishing in a rush of spice and pepper. Lacks clear distinction, though. 

1999 Banfi Castello Poggio d’Oro Brunello di Montalcino, on the occasion of Monster’s birthday, 6th April 2011, at Otto. This is the higher end brunello from this estate. Decanted on-site. Deep clear purplish red. Highly engaging nose of blueberries and raspberries that carried well onto the palate with a bit of vanilla coating. Still rather tightly coiled, the alcohol and fruit being concentrated in the mid-body with a slightly deeper note of glycerin. It became more accessible after 90 minutes, much more relaxed with other red fruits appearing, tapering to a lengthy finish, but yet to develop secondary nuances. I’d have thought that 12 years would have been a reasonable length of time for the wine to mature, but given the outstanding vintage and grape selection, it probably needs another 6-8 years in bottle.

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