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1997: Chateaux Figeac & Pichon Lalande 1998 Domaine de Chevalier

January 20, 2012

An evening again at Hinoki on 5 Jan 2012, probably the first time I’ve eaten there where Lawrence was absent and, perhaps, for the better as Gary gave us extra cuts of toro, sashimi and foie gras sushi. We began the evening with a 2009 Joh Jos Prum Wehlenur Sonnenuhr spatlese (courtesy Hiok). It seems there can be no such thing as a bad JJ Prum, for the 2009 was, again, generous in its offering of peaches, melons, white flowers and ripe tropical fruit, all very refreshing with excellent mouthfeel, though perhaps not as intense as the 2007. Nevertheless, this is still very lovely, remarkable for its balance and depth, a wine that you could keep on drinking the entire evening. Excellent.

Next came a pair of Bordeaux from 1997, both having been double-decanted by Hiok prior. The Figeac (courtesy KP) displayed a fully evolved color with a touch of kumquat and dried citrus, more tellingly on the palate where it was soft and well-integrated, the fruit not quite drying out but definitely lighter in weight, slightly weedy without much character, eventually thinning out over the course of dinner, becoming extremely dry. Past its prime, for sure. In contrast, the Ch Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande (courtesy Hiok), whilst displaying a similarly evolved color, came across as a weightier wine with better density and concentration of fruit, although the initial impression wasn’t encouraging given the prominent barnyard aromas amidst green woody notes, soft and light-weight on the palate, lacking in layering, rather linear and straightforward, short at the finish. However, its redemption came late, the dry Pauillac character surfacing only after an hour, the fruit beginning to emerge, eventually fleshing out into a fuller wine, staying that way right till the end. Not bad at all, considering the weak vintage, but we were unanimous that the Ch Pichon Longueville Baron across the road is a better bet for 1997.

The best was left for last, a Domaine de Chevalier from 1998, a vintage favouring Graves, which I’d double decanted for well over an hour, and aired further in bottle. Much weightier than any of the preceding wines but with a quiet intensity, for this estate is never showy, preferring to really let the vintage and terroir communicate with the drinker. A lovely effusive glow of ripe plummy fruit on the nose is matched by a soft and rounded wine of excellent concentration and delineation, with notes of ferrous minerality and dried mushrooms, very earthy in character, opening up further to reveal soft sweet velvety tannins. Truly beautiful. A connoiseur’s red. Don’t miss out on this.

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