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Notes in brief (Dec 2011): 1999 Parker First Growth, 1998 Penley Reserve cabernet, 2000 Sociando Mallet…

December 28, 2011

Ca Del Bosco NV, at Ming Kee Live Seafood, 2 Dec 2011. I must say this sparkling wine is really good, smooth with an even spread of bubbles, neither too dry nor brazen, very lovely in body and presence on the palate. My last bottle.

2007 Moss Wood Chardonnay, over a meal of chilli crab at Long Beach Seafood, 3 Dec 2011. The usual notes of vanilla and cream dominate, though by no mans effusive, with more than a touch of green citrus, slightly hollow in the mid-body initially. This became less noticeable as dinner wore on, but the expected layering and depth didn’t really materialise as well, much to my disappointment. In short, a rather nondescript chardonnay. You’re better off with a generic bourgogne from, say, Leflaive or Louis Jadot.

2010 Corner Stone Wines Classic French White, at the Silver Kris lounge of Singapore Airlines, Hong Kong International Airport, 16 Dec 2011. I thought SIA would at least serve something that’s more presentable. Nevertheless, this was surprisingly agreeable – lean limey citrus with grassy overtones, crispy at the edges, full enough on the palate, ending on a mild spicy note of white pepper.

2010 Corner Stone Wines merlot, at the Silver Kris lounge of Singapore Airlines, Hong Kong International Airport, 16 Dec 2011. Again, normally, I wouldn’t come near this wine with a 10-foot pole but, surprisingly enough, this was quite full without any discernible hollowness, earthy with notes of raisins and toast, grippy on the palate.

2003 Cullen Diana Madeline, paired with wagyu beef cheek at Gourmet Plus, 17 Dec 2011. Double-decanted for an hour. Deep red with notes of dark berries that ran deep, accompanied by a bit of burnt and sappy medicinal aromas, rounded off by a significant degree of ferrous minerality. It seemed a tad disjointed but things improved with further aeration and food, the wine finally gelling together with more plummy flavours appearing. Compared to a previous tasting note more than a year ago, the impression here is a wine that’s still yet to peak, but I’ve moved away from this kind of style. My last bottle, I think.

2009 Ch Barit, a Bordeaux Superieur from the Bordeaux sub-region of Entre-Deux-Mers that’s selling for SGD14 nett at all Esso petrol kiosk minimarts these couple of months. Not to be confused with Ch Baret of Pessac-Leognan. I was interested to know the performance level of a quaffer in an outstanding vintage. Popped and poured at Imperial Treasure T3 on 18 Dec 2011. Rather purplish and light on the palate initially with forward notes of sultanas and blueberries, but it rapidly gained weight after some aeration, adding some bite and grip, more fleshy at the finish than before although a tad austere on the whole. Not bad, but not compeling.

1999 Parker Estate First Growth Terra Rossa, a blend of cabernet sauvignon and merlot with a dash of malbec, at Jade Palace, 24 Dec 2011. Decanted on site. Still remarkably youthful in spite of all its twelve years, full-bodied with forward notes of ripe fruit layered with burnt toast, orange citrus, plums, earth, finishing in exuberant style which, no doubt, came from the malbec. Hasn’t quite gelled together, still displaying a rather sharp attack on the mid-palate, replete with some astringency towards the finish. I’m not sure if the wine will mellow over time, or gain even greater concentration. I’m a bit disappointed, to be honest.

2003 Steingruber Wolfoerger Grand Gru, a gewurztraminer from Alsace (courtesy LW at her party), 30 Dec 2011. Pale yellow. Resembles very much a German riesling with notes of ripe green melons, perfumed aromas and  a touch of nectar and honey, imparting a significant degree of sweetness, though without the complexity and layering of a true riesling.

1998 Ch Batailley (courtesy LW at her party), 30 Dec 2011. Popped and poured. Marred by significant cork taint on the nose, unfortunately, although it’s clean on the palate, where the dry Pauillac character is very much evident but there’s barely enough fruit to cover the framework, and whatever that’s remaining has thinned out. Not recommended.

2000 Ch Sociando Mallet (courtesy LW at her party), 30 Dec 2011. The top-notch quality was plainly evident, even though the bottle was simply popped and poured. Most remarkable for its lovely balance. There’s plenty of top drawer fruit, mostly of darker tones with just a nudge of secondary characters coming on, but this is still a very youthful wine with plenty of potential, judging from the layering, relative opulence and superb cohesiveness, but still rather tight even after eleven years. There’s nothing excessive about this wine, where everything is kept beautifully in proportion. I think it’ll need at least another decade of cellaring before attempting a re-visit. A clone of the 1990, but even better. Great stuff.

1998 Penley Estate Reserve cabernet sauvignon, over lunch at Bedrock Bar & Grill, 31 Dec 2011. Double-decanted for over an hour at home, and aired further in bottle at the restaurant. Compared to a previous tasting more than 2 years ago where it seemed to be evolving rapidly, this bottle still seemed remarkably fresh and youthful, yet to hit its peak drinking period, but this is a great time to catch this wine. Dark red, initially austere and brooding with notes of blackberries, dark cherries and bitter chocolate. Two hours later, it began opening up, transforming into a top drop that would have been difficult to tell apart from a modern-day St-Emilion in a blind tasting, such was the opulence, concentration, lushness and quiet intensity, emitting a lovely complex glow on the nose, big but beautifully proportioned, finishing with velvety tannins and notes of dried herbs and mushrooms and snuff. Really wonderful, and little wonder that 1998 is such a hallowed vintage for South Australia. Only one more bottle remaining, I fear.

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