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Notes in brief (April 2012): 1985 Sociando Mallet, 1986 Cos D’Estournel, 1996 Pape Clement, 2000 Domaine de Chevalier…

May 4, 2012

A great great month…

1996 Ch Moulin St-Georges, decanted on-site at Stellar, part of 1-Altitude at the 62nd floor of One Raffles Place on the occasion of Monster’s birthday, 6 April 2012. Earthy and dusty on the nose initially although, on the palate, it was fresh with notes of red and dark berries, soy, lighter tones of violets and cedar with a little bit of salty minerality creeping in. The bouquet became more lifted after some time, offering more of dark cherries laced with significant sweetness, highly inviting, the wine mellowing into a soft and seamless whole. Compared to a previous bottle last year, this wine has shed the backwardness of this vintage, caught here at almost its peak, and will probably hold for many years to come. A “poor man’s Ausone“? From the same winemaker, no doubt, but it lacks the last ounce of weight, depth and distinction. Still, it’s very very good.

2005 Ch Dominique, at Imperial Treasure ION, 7 April 2012. Popped and poured. Deep dark red. Loads of very ripe dark berries, a dash of red rruits, orangey citrus, soy and licorice. Dense, tight, weighty and assertive with a rising tannic spine as one moves towards its spicy finish, as if reminding one of its explosive potential. Almost like a New World in character, save for the emerging complexity on the palate that prevents this from being a fruit-bomb. This is totally different from another bottle, also bought at the same time a few years ago from Carrefour, which was a lot more open, softer and approachable, which had led me to think that this wine was evolving faster than most. Apparently not. If properly cellared, I doubt if it’ll be ready within this decade.

2001 Ch Lafleur-Gazin, at Otto Ristorante, 11 April 2012. Popped and poured. Dull red. Rather restrained on the nose, although the predominant red fruits, kirsch, blueberries, earthy and leafy tones are evident. Soft, medium-bodied, the flavours staying within a fairly narrow spectrum, but this is a wine that prefers not to stand out from the crowd, almost nondescript although it’s perfectly drinkable. Shy.

2007 Lookout cabernet-shiraz, a bottle popped for a casual Examiners’ Lunch in the midst of a MRCP PACES mock exam, 14 April 2012. Medium to full-bodied, ripe with notes of wild berries, wild mushrooms and leafy morning dew. A simple quaffer.

2009 Domaine Vincent Girardin Bourgogne Rouge Cuvee St Vincent. After an entire Saturday wasted on the mock exam on 14 April 2012, I treated myself and the family to a lovely meal at Brasserie Gavroche, a relatively new bistro along Tras St that’s extremely quaint (it doesn’t have a signboard) and very French (run by real Frenchmen and women), somewhat similar in setting to Bistro du Vin, except Gavroche is far better in terms of service and setting. Nevertheless, I was surprised that a faux pas should occur when the waiter (who seemed to be looking after the wine service, though perhaps not a true sommelier) placed 3 white wine glasses and proceeded to pour a tiny volume for me to taste. He seemed surprised when I pointed out that he should be serving the wine in Burgundy stemware instead, and he had to revert to the manager (presumably, for he said he’d “check” and popped out of sight) before returning to rectify the error, with apologies. At SGD78 off the restaurant’s modest list (their corkage policy is a one-for-one), this is actually a very good drop. Deep ruby in color that correlated with a higher level of extraction than usual for pinot (consistent with the house style of Vincent Girardin), this wine exuded a modest bouquet of roses and red cherries, predictably heavier and almost full-bodied as the palate is awashed with ripe red berries, heavily rose-scented with a hint of vanilla and varnish, displaying excellent depth, cohesion and fullness in the mid-body, rounded at the edges, tapering linearly to a long finish, eventually loosening up after an hour, the mid-body taking on a chewy note. An over-achieving generic bourgogne, I’d say, one that is likely to turn out very well given further bottle age. Do keep a lookout.

2001 Ch Bernardotte, from magnum, at Foo House, 18 April 2012. Popped and poured. Dark red with violets, dark cherries and sweet wild berries with a touch of green juxtaposed in perfect balance, fleshy and rounded, weighty as well. Will improve further. A classic claret, perfect for the everyday meal as well as the marbled steak. Very good. A steal at SGD75 from Crystal.

1996 Ch Pape Clement (courtesy of John), over beef tenderloin and pork knuckles at Foo House, 18 April 2012. Aired in bottle. Remarkably weighty, infused with rich earthy minerality. The fruit is still rather recessed and backward, shielded by an opague sheen that opened up only slightly after an hour, affording a hint of the huge potential that lay beneath. Far from being ready, in spite of the years past. I’d wait till 2016, at least.

2007 Egon-Muller Scharzhopfer, a half-bottle at Jade Palace, 20 April 2012. Unbelievably rich and full on the palate with a wonderful explosion of tropical fruits, nectarine, white flowers, jackfruit and a dash of apricot, dancing across the palate, full of sparkle and vibrancy. Astonishing, for a kabinett. But then again, it’s Egon-Muller. Wonderful.

2000 Domaine de Chevalier, popped and poured over lunch at Absinthe, 20 April 2012. Compared to previous experience, this wine seems to have come out of its shell, finally displaying a glorious blaze of ripe earthy tones, sweet dark currants, graphite and fine minerality cloaked in svelte tannins, utterly smooth and sophisticated, carrying much more weight than this wine has ever had, possessing such natural balance with a trace of secondary development at the edges, throwing off even deeper notes of violets and cedar over time. A true connoiseur’s red. Proves that you don’t need to bust your bank to satisfy your palate. Excellent.

Zardetto Prosecco Brut NV, off the restaurant list of Bistecca, 21 April 2012. A lovely blend with the impression of peaches, green apples and green melons with a trace of sweetness although there isn’t much real complexity, lively without being too dry. Most agreeable, though.

1995 Ch Lafon Rochet (courtesy of Ben) at Bistecca, an restaurant along Mohd Sultan Rd that serves very good Italian cuisine. Decanted on-site for about 40 minutes. A wine marked by dominant earthy overtones on the nose with a trace amount of bottle stink that threatened to obscure the fruit beneath, which seemed slightly underwhelming and a tad hollow on the mid-palate. Soft and noticeably lowish in acidity, consistent with the vintage. Didn’t quite flesh out over time. Nevertheless, it was quite an agreeable accompaniment to the Fiorentina and ribeye steaks.

1990 Ch Cos Labory, decanted on-site to go with a tomahawk steak at Bedrock Grill & Bar, 24 April 2012. Dark opague red. Still amazingly youthful and assertive with notes of dark chocolate, blackcurrants, a dash of tangy citrus, graphite and a mild of leafy tone, the acidty still remarkably fresh at the edges. Compared to a previous note last year, this wine seemed weightier and fresher this time around, and may actually develop further if properly stored, proving to be a good match with the 1986 Cos D’Estournel below.

1986 Ch Cos D’Estournel (courtesy of John), decanted on-site to go with a tomahawk steak at Bedrock Grill & Bar, 24 April 2012. Remarkably fresh after all these years, caressing the broad with broad swathes of ripe cabernet, redcurrants, cedar, violets and sweet dark chocolate amidst other old world aromatics, immeasurably complex and seamless, almost velvety in texture. Very lovely. Possesses greater fullness and depth compared to a previous bottle I had in July 2007.

2007 Domaine Vincent Girardin Volnay VV, popped and poured at Brasserie Gavroche again, 25 April 2012. Bright and beautiful in color, as always from this negociant producer. Slightly dry in texture with bitter cherries held in restraint, the minerality being more ferrous and austere towards the finish, entirely in keeping with its origins. Drinking really well after an hour, but I guess the appeal for Volnay can never surpass that for Chambertin or Musigny.

2009 Ch Bernardotte, at the Dept dinner at Cafe Brio’s, Grand Copthorne Waterfront, 25 April 2012. Popped and poured from magnum. Deep purple, substantially weightier than the last time I had it. Primarily fruit forward, notably of raspberries and perfumed red berries with a bit of vanilla coating, the 8% petit verdot that the winemakers from Pichon Lalande favour making its presence felt.  Rather simple at this stage, but the depth and stuffing is certainly there from this stellar vintage, and I guess it’ll need another 5 years or more to transform into something really sophisticated.

2001 Ch Sociando Mallet, at the Dept dinner at Cafe Brio’s, Grand Copthorne Waterfront, 25 April 2012. Popped and poured. Very dark purple oozing with layers of dark berries and sweet dark currants, excellent in weight and depth but still remarkably youthful, the velvety tannins still pulling a tight punch. Still going through a troublesome adolescence – a good sign – and will be absolutely glorious when fully mature. Like I’d said before, buy as much of this as you can and sit tight for another 10 years.

1985 Ch Sociando Mallet (courtesy of John), at the Dept dinner at Cafe Brio’s, Grand Copthorne Waterfront, 25 April 2012. A more transluscent red with a rusty tint. Still remarkably full-bodied and dense with notes of licorice and a medicinal overtone, quite seamless although lacking in sophistication, the alcohol still marking its presence. This is the oldest Sociando I’ve ever tasted, but I daresay the wines of this remarkable estate over the past 12 years are better crafted and far more sophisticated.

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