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Singapore Airlines Business Class (June 2011)

June 28, 2011

As I had alluded to before, the best way to enjoy the trappings of Singapore Airlines’ Business Class travel is to fly on one of its long-range non-stop flights, typically between Singapore and New York or Los Angeles, especially on the Boeing 777ER or the Airbus A345. The wining and dining begins at the Silver Kris lounge at Changi Airport T3, where the current wine selection seems to have improved significantly:

2010 Yalumba Unwooded chardonnay. From the remaining half of an opened bottle. Pale. Lots of lime and citrusy flavours but somewhat hollow in body with inadequate fruit to match the crisp acidity, although it seemed better after some food, expanding more on the mid-palate.

2009 Penny’s Hill Cracking Black shiraz. From the last third of an opened bottle. A big wine, deep red with notes of dark cherries, ripe red apples, anise and vanilla laced with a tinge of sweetness at the edge without the usual licorice nor medicinal aromas, generous in body giving the impression of decent depth, peppery and spicy at the finish. Managed to appear more sophisticated than it is. A very well-crafted McLaren Vale shiraz.

2008 Rubio San Polo Montalcino. From the last third of an opened bottle. Deep red, highly attractive on the nose with generous notes of red and dark berries, possessing that easy balance and elegance on the palate that’s unmistakably Old World as opposed to the sculpted New World of Penny’s Hill. Tend to fade a little at the finish but it’s a very good table wine. I’ll happily drink these two reds with every meal.

On board SQ38 to LAX, I sampled the entire range on offer:

Champagne Bollinger Special Cuvée NV. Attractive complex glow of toasty oak, complemented by peat, almonds and echoes of apricot and mandarin orange. Highly attractive on the nose, although it felt somewhat superficial on the palate – too straightforward. One would have expected more depth and development.

2008 Cuvaison chardonnay, Napa Valley Carneros. Surprisingly good! Medium-toned crystalline minerality. More creamy and buttery on the palate than suggested from its bouquet. Generously concentrated.

2008 Dr Loosen Riesling Kabinett, a perennial feature on board SQ Business Class, and it’s not difficult to understand why. Luminous pale. Rather vague bouquet. There’s plenty of fruit but it eludes characterization, something of a mix of yellow melons, a hint of honey, some tropical fruits. Medium-bodied with appreciable sweetness. Better defined on the palate where pineapples dominate, with a touch of bitter citrus and understated acidity, becoming highly perfumed later. Some people tend to be snooty about the ubiquitous Dr Loosen, but it held up well to scrutiny.

2007 Château Paloumey. I had my doubts about this initially, but the actual tasting blew me away, showing just how much negative bias may be created just by knowing the identity of the wine. Dark red with lifted aromas of dark fruits, graphite, preserved dates and traces of vanilla, a case where the slight oakiness contributes to the wine, rather than detract from it. Medium-full with excellent mouthfeel and concentration, dominated by brighter, fresher flavours rather than the dour greenness one normally associates with Haut-Medoc wines. I enjoyed it.

2007 Tenuta al Castiglioni. This Toscana is rather fruit-forward and considerably lighter in texture than the preceding Bordeaux. A tad simple and lacking in depth.

How about the wines at the Star Alliance lounge at Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX? Of course, it isn’t exactly a 100% SIA lounge, and it shows – decidedly cheap-looking. The 2009 Estancia chardonnay from Monterey County, supposedly one of the best-value whites in this month’s Wine Spectator magazine, was decent – substantial notes of chalky minerality with the usual butter and cream, more intense on the palate than nose. The 2009 Rutherford Vintners chardonnay from Napa was less chalky, more of green melons laced with a fair level of sweetness. The 2009 Silver Ridge cabernet sauvignon was far too simple, just a touch of earth without any structure. The 2009 Laurier cabernet sauvignon from Alexander Valley was much better, stuffed with chewy red fruits and licorice, fairly linear right to its finish.

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