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1990: Cos Labory, Clos de L’Oratoire, Sociando Mallet & Les Ormes de Pez

September 22, 2011

I returned to Table At 7 (run jointly by Eugenia and Karl, the partnership that also runs private dining at Au Petit Salut) on 11 Aug 2011, barely a week after my first visit there. Hiok had arranged dinner that was to be sponsored by F. As a matter of principle, I never turn down any offer of a free meal and, by pure coincidence, most of us had brought along a 1990 Bordeaux each.

We began with a 1983 Ch Grand-Puy-Lacoste (courtesy KP). Popped and poured. Dusty red. There were fears that this wine would exhaust itself in no time, but it gave a gutsy display of sweet rosy fragrance and lovely mature red fruits, grippy and strong on glycerin but rather four-square, finishing short with biting tannins. Suitably complex but still has unresolved fruit. The initial exuberance settled down after about 45 minutes when it began fading on the nose, but it remained soft and seamless right till the end of dinner, still well and alive.

We drank the next pair together. The 1990 Ch Clos de L’Oratoire (courtesy Chris), aired in bottle, was dark dusky red, producing powerful sweet medicinal aromas not unlike Chinese cough mixture, complete with a sense of thickness, difficult for other flavours to penetrate through. For sure, it was dense, almost unctuous and hedonistic, most unlike a Bordeaux even for a modern-day Saint-Emilion and I don’t think it’ll turn out to be anything else even with further cellaring. Next to this, the 1990 Ch Cos Labory, also aired in bottle, was still remarkably fresh and youthful, open, soft and harmonious with a dark citrusy trail and a glow of orange peel and kumquat, although somewhat reticent and austere at the corners. Fully mature and elegant without possessing outright power, eventually developing great concentration and grip at the end of dinner with mouth-puckering intensity. This was the most evolved of the three St Estephe wines, and showing better than a recent tasting in June this year (see post). Excellent value at SGD115, a recent purchase from Crystal Wines.

As good as the above wines were, the next pair actually raised the bar further. F produced a 1990 Ch Les Ormes de Pez, most appropriately, as my introduction to fine claret had begun with a half-bottle of the same wine at Saint-Pierre, also courtesy of F, back in 2003. This wine was simply quite gorgeous, dark in color, exuding a superb bouquet of rich ripe fruit, medium-bodied, excellent in concentration with grippy velvety tannins, ending in a long lasting finish. Still seemingly youthful in character, becoming more full over time yet retaining great transparency. Quite astonishing from this cru bourgeois estate. To match this outstanding red was the equally outstanding 1990 Ch Sociando Mallet (courtesy Hiok) that had been decanted from home and brought to the restaurant. The waiter, unfortunately, accidentally knocked a hole in Hiok’s decanter, spilling some of the precious wine but we managed to rescue most of it. It displayed a deep luxuriant red, throwing off an attractive powerful earthy pungency with other subtle tertiary characters, very opulent, lush and open with a touch of green and a hint of gravel, not gaining in intensity, just simply holding ship throughout the whole course of dinner.

This tasting goes to show that you don’t need to bust the bank for a memorable 1990. My thanks to all for their generosity.

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