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Notes in brief (March 2012): 1988 Chasse-Spleen, 2007 Tignanello, 2004 J J Prum Graacher Himmelreich, 2001 Beringer Private Reserve, 1994 L’Evangile

March 26, 2012

1988 Chasse-Spleen, courtesy of KP at a chance meeting at Jade Palace, 2 March 2012. Beautiful evolved red, still reasonably deep in color. Most attractive bouquet of a beautifully aged mature claret, glowing with notes of dried leaves, mushrooms, tobacco, dark chocolate, toffee and ash, with just the right level of dryness on the palate, yet retaining excellent body and acidity, the tannins, of course, having melted away totally. Excellent.

2005 La Tour Carnet, a bottle kept in my office for the past 2-3 years, over a lovely meal of braised short ribs at Otto, 7 March 2012. Popped and poured. Dense ruby in color, exuding enticing aromas of sweet blueberries, raspberries and blackcurrants that were well replicated on the palate. Soft and accessible with chewy, unobtrusive tannins without any trace of wood nor its tell-tale vanilla. Compared to two previous tastings, first in 2008 shortly after its release where it was extremely woody and another last year where it was still a bit shut, it seemed to have emerged from its shell. Excellent.

2004 Domaine Faiveley Chambertin Clos de Beze Grand Cru, over lunch at La Barca, 9 March 2012. Decanted on site. Somewhat restrained on the nose, offering moderate notes of raspberries, blueberries, kirsch, redcurrants, mild salty minerality, earth and a dash of smoke, all nicely balanced, but the the parts somehow doesn’t quite add up to the sum. Having paid good money for a first division grand cru, one would have expected more power, stuffing, lushness and opulence, but I find that the wines of Faiveley seem consistently reluctant compared to real top-flight producers like Armand Rousseau. Disappointing. Better drink-up, if you’ve got any.

2010 Joseph Drouhin Cotes de Nuits village, just a 250 ml carafe from the restaurant list over a nice dinner of beef cheek at Bistro du Vin, 10 March 2010. Don’t expect too much, even though it hails from 2010 – rather lightweight with the usual predictable red fruits and a dash of tangerine citrus, neither remarkable in body nor depth. A wasted effort.

2002 Penfolds Bin 389 shiraz cabernet, over a simple but delicious Hainanese pork chop at Foo House, 11 March 2012. This is a bottle that I’d stored for quite a number of years, telling myself that I’d only open it at 10 years from vintage. Aired in bottle for over an hour. Dark inky red, the dense plummy shiraz fruit tinged with sweetness, coated with finely-knit velvety tannins, framed by the sterner cabernet structure that’s slightly dryish. A wine just entering its drinking window, and will probably need another 5 years to mature, at least. Very good. Penfolds is expensive nowadays, no thanks in part to the unfavourable currency exchange.

2005 Leeuwin Art Series Chardonnay, over dinner at Capri, 17 March 2012. Popped and drunk over the next 90 minutes. Lovely with an abundance of cream and butter amidst other notes of toast and walnut, supported by a firm bed of delicate minerality, weighty, expansive and reasonably deep, increasingly livelier as dinner wore on although its complexity isn’t on the same cerebral level as a true Burgundy.

2007 Tignanello, at Gattopardo on 20 March 2012 as part of Restaurant Week. Decanted on-site and drunk over the next 90 minutes. This is simply quite glorious, even at this youthful stage. Deep clear ruby. Already soft and accessible, offering initial notes of cool ripe blackberries and raspberries and sweet dark chocolate with some background plummy fruit, no doubt contributed by the sangiovese component, while the cabernet sauvignon imparted a pliant supple structure. The sweetness grew in proportion with further aeration, the wine opening up to reveal substantial layering with other notes of cedar and violets appearing, while the plumminess disappeared, eventually gelling into quite a seamless whole, yet retaining excellent definition. This is absolutely superb.

2004 J J Prum Graacher Himmelreich, over a lovely dinner at Vic’s place, 24 March 2012. Popped and poured. A full-scale assault on the nose and palate with an abundance of rich tropical fruits, peaches, lychees and zesty tangerine citrus providing an illusion of fizz, expansive, complex and laced with more than a tinge of sweetness, layered and lively at the finish. Fantastic, considering this is just a kabinett. Would have been perfect with pan-fried foie gras. Absolutely superb.

2001 Beringer Private Reserve cabernet sauvignon, over a dinner of roast beef at Vic’s place, 24 March 2012. Popped and poured, which allowed us to observe its evolution in the glass. This is showing much better than a previous tasting a couple of years ago where it was flat. This wine is loaded with top-drawer fruit at the right level of ripeness, offering notes of blueberries, dark red cherries, violets and cedar, framed by an unmistakable cabernet structure. It softened within 30 minutes, taking on a velvety texture with a coat of fine tightly-knit tannins, the quiet intensity beneath shielded by a predominance of emerging red fruits, complex enough in the middle, yet it’s clear this wine has yet to peak. Excellent, based on this tasting note.

1994 Ch L’Evangile (courtesy of Vic), decanted for at least 2 hours, over a dinner of roast beef at Vic’s place, 24 March 2012. Dark impenetrable red, although there’s the unmistakable hint of early evolution at the rim. One is struck by its remarkable fragrance, dominated by notes of roses, red cherries, raspberries amidst a slightly darker tone of minerality beneath, displaying excellent concentration and density, yet soft and supple with superb mouthfeel, the red fruits growing in strength and sweetness with each sip. As we’d tasted it blind, I was drawn to think that it was a Margaux. Outstanding.

2010 Privilege chardonnay, at the Star Alliance Gold Lounge, Changi Airport T3, 26 March 2012. Pale, dominated by chalky minerality with just enough fruit to cover it. Lively, but simple and straightforward.

2010 Ch L’Hospitalet, at the Star Alliance Gold Lounge, Changi Airport T3, 26 March 2012. Dominated by an opague overwhelming sense of earth and dense forest floor, straightforward and firm with a fair degree of alcoholic trail. I’m sure the better wines of Languedoc don’t taste like this.

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