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1999 Angelus, 1994 Haut-Brion & 1986 Pichon Baron

August 9, 2011

The following notes came from a dinner I co-hosted with some colleagues for the entire Division on 13 July 2011 at Otto’s private dining hall. Save for the De Fieuzal and Pichon Baron, all the wines were contributed by yours truly, and the maitre’d Paolo was kind enough to waive corkage entirely.

The evening began with a series of canapes that was washed down with half a case of Ca Del Bosco Cuvee Prestige NV, a superb sparkling wine that would be very difficult to tell apart from a true champagne, such was its balance and complexity, gaining further in concentration of citrus and minerality as the bubbles dissipated. As we settled down for dinner, four bottles of 2000 L’Hospitalet de Gazin, from a case that I’d purchased recently at Caveau’s mid-year sale for only SGD42 per bottle, were popped and liberally poured for the 24 guests. I suppose you can’t really miss the mark with any Bordeaux – even a second wine – from the outstanding 2000 vintage, and this was absolutely spot-on. Medium-full with an abundance of raspberries, red cherries and other red fruits on the nose and palate, slightly burgundian, imparting a lovely rosy fragrance, suitably structured and weighty, finishing with a citrusy trail. This is a great bargain.

Andrew contributed a 1996 Ch De Fieuzal that was popped and poured. Consistent with most Left Bank cabernet of that vintage, this is a big wine, very dark in color and tone, full on the palate with notes of graphite, earthy minerality and a solid core of dark fruits. Still tight, backward and unresolved but, obviously, this has great potential.

Then came the highly-anticipated trio of reds, starting with the 1999 Ch Angelus, from a case of six that I’d imported from Bordeaux Index, London. Aired further in bottle for about an hour. Deep dark red, reticent on the nose but surprisingly weighty and dense on the palate, though lacking in layering and complexity initially, rather short and stern at the finish, very austere in demeanour. Things took a much more favourable turn after 60 minutes, becoming more flavoursome with plenty of red fruits emerging amidst tight tannins, continuing to grow in power and intensity until, by the last pour, the layering came through. This is very fine indeed for a ’99 – astonishing, in fact – and I’d not open another for at least 3-4 years.

Next, a First Growth had been promised and I obliged with a 1994 Ch Haut-Brion, a single bottle imported from Bordeaux Index, London. There was some bottle stink that blew off after 60 minutes of double-decanting, and aired further for another hour. Still retaining a deep violet glow and, typically for this estate, there was a good deal of earthy, ferrous minerality balanced against a core of violets and blueberries, well integrated with good density and concentration, rather seamless, finishing with a citrusy trail. Another prime example of how Haut-Brion never makes a bad bottle. This has the legs to hold for many more years.

And finally, a glorious 1986 Ch Pichon Longueville Baron (courtesy Hiok) to round off the evening. Double decanted for 60 minutes, and aired further in bottle for another 90 minutes. Still very dark in color with a huge core of blackcurrants and sweet dark berries, still tight and backwards with intense dark tannins although it was more forthcoming after some persistent coaxing, eventually becoming more aromatic and lifted at the finish. Yet to settle into a seamless whole and I’d imagine another 10 years of cellaring is in order before re-visiting this wine. Solid!

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