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Notes in brief (Nov 2011): 2003 Lagrange, 2007 Smith Haut Lafitte, 1995 Figeac, 2000 Chasse-Spleen, 2004 Gloria…

December 1, 2011

2004 Ch Gloria, SGD180 off the restaurant list of Salt Grill, 55th floor of ION Orchard, on 4 Nov 2011. Decanted on site. Deep crimson with a hint of evolution at the rim. Attractive notes of dark berries, bramble, forest floor and earth. Medium-bodied, soft at the edges and fleshy with a mild salty note, turning more ferrous and austere towards the finish, consistent with its St-Julien origin. It became more homogenous over time although a good deal of rusticity remained, not a bad thing at all as it added more to the wine’s identity. A good drop.

1995 Ch Figeac, over dinner with the wifey at Novus, 5 Nov 2011. Decanted for around 75 minutes at the restaurant. Dull purple with a powerful earthy aroma amidst other notes of dark berries and blackcurrants with a mild musty overtone. Soft and medium-bodied on the palate, notable for its salty minerality with a hint of soy and receding acidity that was, nonetheless, still quite adequate, leading to a minty, spicy finish. It opened up to reveal more layering as dinner wore on, the fruit still surprising full, the tannins supple yet grippy. Compared to two previous tasting some 3 years ago (at Kome & Les Artistes Bistrot) , the current impression has more character and heft. Quite excellent, and I’d probably leave my last bottle alone till 2015 or beyond.

2004 Mitolo G.A.M., over a buffet dinner at the Holiday Inn Atrium. 6 Nov 2011. Deep inky red, exuding intense aromas of plummy ripe McLaren Vale shiraz, blackcurrants and licorice, saturating the palate with powerful medicinal overtones before dissipating in a warm alcoholic trail, not developing any further even after two hours. Well crafted, but I can’t imagine how else it’ll develop even with further cellaring other than becoming even more concentrated and dense.

2007 Ch Les Carmes Haut Brion, a half bottle over an excellent lunch at Bedrock Bar & Grill, 7 Nov 2011. Decanted on site. Very good concentration of dark berries, wild flowers and a bit of dried leaves, slightly plummy though there wasn’t much of earthy tones of Pessac-Leognan, opening up quite nicely after some time. Enjoyable, albeit rather four-square in character.

2006 Ch Corbin, my final half-bottle from a half-dozen, at Foo House, 10 Nov 2011. As expected, simple and straightforward with good concentration of red and dark berries, probably split down the middle between cabernet and merlot, smooth and supple with decent balance. But I don’t think I’ll miss it.

2007 Ch Smith Haut Lafitte, over 220g tenderloin steak at Brawn, Marina Bay Link Mall, 11 Nov 2011. The number of superb and classy steakhouses in Singapore is growing exponentially, and this new establishment far eclipses Bedrock and Salt Grill to be almost on par with Morton’s, but considerably friendlier on your wallet. Popped and poured. After an initial whiff of an exuberant lovely fragrance, the nose seemed to shut down quite quickly, although it hits all the right notes on the palate – medium-full and fleshy with excellent concentration of ripe berries and tame tannins, expertly crafted with sophistication as one would expect from this estate, so much so that I thought it’d lost its Pessac-Leognan identity, becoming too “international”. Already accessible and drinking well at this stage. At SGD75, it will please every palate over a meal, as long as you don’t get too cerebral over it.

2003 Ch Sociando-Mallet, a half-bottle brought to Imperial Treasure T3 for dinner, 13 Nov 2011. Dark inky red with an excellent bouquet promising fresh dark cherries amidst a very inviting deep glow of blackcurrants and blueberries. Medium-full and firm on the palate, softening considerably over time although the ferrous minerality underlying the mid-body persisted throughout, leading to well-integrated but stern tannins, ensuring that the wine remained austere and tight. Expertly crafted without any hint of burnt, consistent, I suppose, with the excellent quality of its neighbouring estates in St-Estephe that year. Think I’ll refrain from tasting again till 2018, at least.

2000 Ch Chasse-Spleen, SGD180 off the restaurant list of Gunther’s, 16 Nov 2011. Popped and poured, already showing an evolved bright vermillion shade with a darker purplish core. Highly attractive aromas of ripe berries, redcurrants and plum of great concentration, giving off an intense glow suffused with secondary nuances of mushroom, leather and toast, very open and inviting. It quickly gelled into a seamless, soft and fleshy wine with the dryish character of Bordeaux emerging after about 30 minutes. Really excellent. We had to finish our meal within an hour, but I can imagine it would be truly wonderful if given another 3 hours of aeration. Superb.

2010 Drouet Freres Privilege chardonnay, on board Singapore Airlines economy class, 17 Nov 2011. Decent aromas of mild vanilla, citrus and stony minerality with just enough fruit on the palate to match the acidity, slightly hollow towards the finish. A decent effort, still, and better than the airline’s previous Paul Mas offering.

2006 St Hallett Old Block, off the restaurant list of Xu Lounge at Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, 18 Nov 2011, where it was a rip-off at VND3.3 million (SGD203). Decanted on site and drunk over the next 90 minutes. As expected, the wine was deep dark inky red, saturated with warm ripe Barossa fruit displaying characters of forest floor, earth and a particularly strong herbal note peppered with spicy notes leading to a hot finish, still primal without any sign of secondary change. Almost a blockbuster, unlike its neighbour across the main road – the Rockford Basket Press – of the same vintage which has a lot more layering and subtlety beneath its bold front.

2003 Ch Lagrange, decanted at Moomba on 23 Nov 2011. Lovely deep ruby with aromas of ripe blueberries and blackcurrants. This wine has changed significantly since a previous tasting some 2 years back, much softer and more open, even thinning out a little initially, having lost its woody vanilla cloak. It fleshed out better after some time, decidedly medium-bodied with lowish acidity, decent in concentration and depth without any hint of the hot growing season, hence rather unremarkable in its overall demeanour. Drinking well. Will be interesting to see how it develops further. Another 10 more bottles.

2004 Ch Sociando Mallet, double decanted for an hour before pairing it with an excellent wagyu beef steak at Gourmet Plus, 29 Nov 2011. Translucent purple with a dominant glow of medium-bodied plummy fruit framed by limey citrus with a faint streak of darker berries in the background, not unlike a sangiovese or nebbiolo. On the palate, this wine has lost its angular sharpness compared to a previous tasting 3 years ago, considerably softer, more feminine and fleshy with reasonable depth although it hasn’t quite completely gelled together. Very good.

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