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Notes in brief (Jan 2012): 1982 Pape Clement, 2002 Penfolds St Henri, 2002 Cos D’Estournel, 2004 Rockford Black Shiraz…

January 29, 2012

1982 Ch Pape Clement (courtesy KP), at Hiok’s residence, 2 Jan 2012. Distinctly brownish in color and unmistakably aged, revealing notes of earth and old leather that gave off a musty “old” feel, slightly plummy on the palate, appropriately dry with other notes of herbs and mushrooms. Gained weight over time but I’d expected it to be bigger, though. Still drinking well, but won’t get any better.

2009 Kanonkop Pinotage (courtesy Hiok), at his residence, 2 Jan 2012. Hand-carried from South Africa. Very deep purple, weighty and dense, almost port-like given its high level of intensity with a trace of sweetness. It did open up a little over time, becoming smoother and sweeter but still retaining its big, bold forward character. Admittedly quite attractive though difficult to place if tasted blind.

2004 Rockford Black Shiraz, at Hiok’s residence, 2 Jan 2012. One of 6 bottles I’d hand-carried back from Adelaide sometime in in 2007. Deep, complex and layered with excellent depth, almost velvety with medicinal overtones of liquer and linctus, whilst the bubbles remained gentle and unobtrusive. Became more distilled and intense over time, the liquer component gaining in prominence. Excellent.

2007 Les Carmes Haut Brion, a half-bottle over lunch at Gourmet Plus, 2 Jan 2012. Popped and poured. Distinctly austere, earthy and dry, with fruit that seemed to be thinning out. But it gained weight after 30-45 minutes, developing more grip and bite although it remained unsmiling. Don’t think I’ll miss it.

2004 Glaetzer Godolphin, decanted on-site at Etoile, 6 Jan 2012. Deep purple. From the looks, one would normally have expected a bruising Aussie blockbuster and, indeed, its bouquet of powerful spice, earth and anise seemed to promise all these and more. On the palate, however, this was anything but a Barossa shiraz. There’s not a hint of the usual licorice nor pluminess, just an open wine, remarkably smooth and layered, filled with a mixture of ripe red and dark berries caressing the palate with velvety finely-knit tannins with a touch of orange peel. Sophisticated and expertly crafted. I would’ve bought more if I’d known it’d be this good. My only bottle.

2010 Albert Ponnelle Reserve de la Chevre Noire Bourgogne, popped and poured at Porta Porta, a small charming family-run restaurant at Stanley St, 7 Jan 2012. Notes of green melons, apples and grassy overtones dominate, by no means effusive but neither hollow as well. In fact, it fleshed out over time, gaining in body and limey minerality, even managing to produce a bit of layering. Not bad at all.

Guerrieri Rizzardi Prosecco NV, at SGD65 off the wine list of Gattopardo at Fort Canning Hotel, 9 Jan 2012, with my Residents. An enticing nose filled with musty smoky incense married to the perfumed fragrance of white flowers, melons and pears, medium-bodied and well-balanced with soft bubbles. Very enjoyable.

2004 Poggio Il Castellare Brunello di Montalcino, double-decanted for an hour before airing further in bottle at Gattopardo, Fort Canning Hotel, 9 Jan 2012, with my Residents. Served in a Burgundy glass, and rather appropriate too for its Burgundian semblance. A light tinge of red with aromas of cherries and strawberries instead of dark fruits, medium-bodied and open on the palate, almost pure, smooth and seamless without the power and depth of the best brunello, but this is a wine caught at almost its peak, and will probably hold for several more years.

2004 Domaine de Chevalier at Prive, 13 Jan 2012, decanted on-site. Deep purplish red with an early hint of development. Very lovely on the nose with classic earthy barnyard aromas of Pessac-Leognan amidst notes of ripe dark berries, laced with a tinge of sweetness. Medium-full on the palate, the mid-body opening up after 30 minutes to reveal a softer core of red and dark fruits, well-integrated with excellent depth and layering, framed by velvety tannins, finishing with a touch of ferrous minerality. Expertly crafted and sophisticated, yet retaining enough of its rustic charm and identity, which is why I love this estate. This is showing so much better than a previous tasting some 2 years ago where it was still a tannic monolith. Excellent.

2002 Penfolds St Henri shiraz, at the new Italian restaurant Pepenero along Stanley St, 14 Jan 2012. Decanted on-site. Still showing a deep purple, absolutely unevolved in color. Medium-full initially on the palate, slightly dense with notes of blackberries, bramble, musty forest floor with a faint hint of licorice and medicinal aromas without the usual plumminess of Aussie shiraz. It softened considerably within minutes, decidedly medium-bodied and rounded, opening up to reveal fruit that is gloriously ripe but cool without any alcoholic trace, framed by finely-grained tannins, eventually developing excellent depth and layering with a trace of sweetness, rather lively at the finish. It reminded me of a Rhone syrah, betrayed only by the firmness and density. This wine is approaching its peak, compared to a previous tasting some 4 years ago. But I suggest you refrain from popping another till at least 5 years later.

2004 Ch Gloria, at the Chinese New Year reunion dinner, 22 Jan 2012. Aired in bottle for an hour plus. Unimpressive at first, the wine too big and forward for its own good, savoury and rustic, almost New World-like. It eventually settled down after another hour, opening up to reveal more of cedar, cinnamon and raisins, slightly austere towards the finish, resembling quite closely a previous tasting in Nov 2011. However, I don’t think I’ll miss it.

2009 Joseph Drouhin Laforet Bourgogne chardonnay, drunk at home over dinner on the first day of the Lunar New Year, 23 Jan 2012. Aired in bottle for 90 min. Pale yellow-tint. More of green apples, citrus and lime than any firm chalky minerality despite the creamy bouquet. A simple chardonnay; quite agreeable, nonetheless.

2002 Ch Cos D’Estournel, drunk at home over dinner on the first day of the Lunar New Year, 23 Jan 2012. Aired in bottle for 90 min. A dark-toned wine with initial notes of wood and dusty tannins dominate, perhaps as a result of it being drunk too cold. It opened up to reveal more of blackcurrants and dark cherries, but there was precious little in the way of secondary development, still rather one-dimensional and lacking in layering, missing in charm and elegance as well. Certainly it’s still very dark in color, so I doubt it has fallen off the cliff. It’s probably still wrapped up, yet to approach its drinking window.

2002 Clonakilla shiraz-viognier, at Gourmet Plus, 27 Jan 2012. Popped and poured. Dark cherry core with an evolved rim, producing powerful aromas of plums, brandied cherries with more than a trailing dash of orangey citrus, no doubt the contribution by the fraction of viognier. On the palate, however, the fruit is hopelessly overwhelmed by the dense alcohol content, and neither further aeration, food nor any form coaxing could do any good. I’d harbored high hopes for this wine, given the quality of the 2004, but I certainly didn’t like what’s happening here, contrary to what those Aussies will tell you.

2007 Dog Point Section 94 sauvignon blanc, at a Chinese New Year dinner at Roland restaurant, 28 Jan 2012. Aired in bottle for 45 minutes. Compared to an earlier tasting more than 1 year ago, this seemed to have lost some of its vivacity, tasting more like a straight sauvignon blanc with plenty of fresh citrus and pomelo amidst creamy minerality, crisp and well-defined at the edges, tapering towards a complex but slightly steely finish. It’s good stuff but I can’t take too much of this…gimme my red!

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