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Notes in brief (Oct 2012): 2003 Dominus, 1998/2003 Pape Clement, 2001 Calon Segur, 2004 Penley Reserve…

November 6, 2012

2006 Ch Fleur Cardinale, at an office party, 1 Oct 2012. Dark purple, rather restrained. One discerns notes of raisins, a dash of licorice and prunes with a trailing trace of sweetness within a broad swathe of nondescript fruit in this soft and fleshy, medium-bodied wine with tannins well in check.

2001 Ch Calon Segur, decanted on-site at Saint-Pierre, 2 Oct 2012. This wine appears to have evolved faster than I’d anticipated, soft and fleshy with a predominance of red fruits and dark berries, leaning towards some degree of dryness, missing the opulence and lushness that I was expecting from this under-rated vintage. Could certainly do with more soul and joie de vivre. Suggest you start drinking up if you have any.

Bisol Jeio Prosecco di Valdobbiadene DOC NV, SGD70 off the restaurant list of Bistecca, 5 Oct 2012. Popped and poured. The bubbles are fairly soft and gentle on the palate, the wine offering notes of green melons, apples and a hint of kiwi fruit, a tad straightforward but perfectly serviceable as an aperitif without any hollowness.

1998 Ch Pape Clement, decanted for an hour at Bistecca, 5 Oct 2012, paired with 1.2kg of Costata wagyu steak. Compared to a previous bottle tasted back in 2006, I’d say this wine has hit its peak and is drinking prefectly well now. It opened initially with notes of fresh violets and dark roses amidst some earthy aura that’s typical of the terroir of Pessac-Leognan, coupled with a mild intensity on the palate. It quickly settled within half an hour into a medium-bodied homogenous entity with a high plummy tone, underscored by a trace of salty minerality that’s utterly smooth and seamless, its tannins barely discernible. I’ve always found Pape Clement to be a bit too extracted and forward, but the 1998 possesses a natural unforced finesse and elegance through classicism. Outstanding.

2008 Sylvain Loichet Saint Aubin En Remilly 1er Cru, an impromptu night cap at Taberna with David and Kieron et al, 9 Oct 2012. Highly aromatic on the nose, layered with notes of walnuts, creme-de-la-creme, roasted cashews, apricot, toast and caramel. None of these, however, translated onto the palate, where the wine was rather severe and stern in character, steely and austere, finishing with a trace of ferrous minerality. Most unusual, but the bouquet is well worth nosing at for the whole night.

2006 Follin-Arbelet Aloxe-Corton 1er Cru Les Vercots, tasted right after the Sylvain Loichet above at Taberna, 9 Oct 2012. Decanted on-site. Darker than usual for a pinot. Slightly musty with an austere and brooding demeanour on the whole, definitely too dense on the palate, finishing short. Lacking in charm and sophistication.

2000 Ch Chasse-Spleen (courtesy of John), at Wall St Bistro, 10 Oct 2012. Popped and poured. My initial impression was that it seemed more backward and less full than two previous bottles I’d tasted over the past six months, littered with traces of vegetal greenness. It took almost an hour for the fruit to emerge, medium-full and slightly raisiny in character, supported by earthy minerality with a touch of burnt. It still seemed somewhat unsettled even after 12 years from vintage. Best to leave alone for at least another 3-4 years.

2007 La Chapelle de La Mission Haut-Brion (courtesy of John), at Amuse, 13 Oct 2012. Decanted on-site. Quite agreeable if somewhat simple, seemingly a watered-down version of La Mission with a good blend of red and dark fruits, slightly earthy, but lacking in development and character. Given the lofty prices of claret nowadays, second wines are no longer good value.

2002 Charles Melton shiraz, shared with Prof Gary Wittert (who’d brought it over from Adelaide back in 2005) at Jade Palace, 12 Oct 2012. Decanted on-site. I must say the initial impression was disappointing, the wine totally shut on the nose and one-dimensional on the palate, the firm tannins not helping at all. It took almost 90 minutes for it to gel into the Charles Melton shiraz that I knew: medium-full with ripe Barossa fruit distinctly from a cooler growing season, weighty but smooth and well-integrated, slightly tarry, displaying notes of dark chocolate, earth and a bit of plum, excellent in depth and layering without any alcohol excess. Delicious.

1998 Ch Lanessan, just a quick mouthful at Crystal Wines’ French Wine Mega Sale, 13 Oct 2012. The vegetal notes that I’d expected never materialised. Instead, this wine exudes predominantly ripe dark berries with very good weight and concentration with a touch of rusticity that’s not entirely inappropriate. At SGD33, I wasted no time in acquiring a half-dozen. Tasted again with consistent notes at a buffet party at home on 27 Oct 2012, the degree of ripeness, with some complexity breaking through, being quite unprecedented for Lanessan. Very good.

2010 Jean Claude Chatelain Pouilly-Fume Chailloux, just a quick mouthful at Crystal Wines’ French Wine Mega Sale, 13 Oct 2012. You wouldn’t have guessed this is 100% sauvignon blanc. The highly aromatic bouquet of white flowers, cream and walnut, generous and rounded on the palate, all seemed to point towards a chardonnay. Tasted again with consistent notes at a buffet party at home on 27 Oct 2012. Good stuff.

2003 Ch Pape Clement, popped and poured at Absinthe, 17 Oct 2012. I wasn’t quite prepared for the powerful lifted aromas that leapt out from the glass, presenting forward notes of blueberries, raisins and a highly exotic note that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, a mixture of fine gravelly minerality, silica, prune and a dash of plum. Most attractive. Although soft and fleshy with excellent definition and delineation, this medium-bodied wine hasn’t quite unravelled itself yet, the velvety supple tannins still poised by the edges, tapering to a long finish. But, by far, this is one of the best 2003s I’ve had, managing to better Ch Mouton Rothschild in character. Quite superb, but wait another 3-4 years.

2004 Penley Estate Reserve cabernet sauvignon, paired with a 1.0 kg T-bone done to perfection at Pietra Santa Ristorante, 19 Oct 2012. Decanted on-site. I’ve had a number of Penley Reserves before, but this present bottle was the perfect complement to one of the culinary highlights in recent months. Disjointed initially, masked by a domineering tannic spine. This dissipated very quickly as the wine settled into a rounded medium-full proposition with more and more of cool ripe emerging, combining well with the very finely-knit graphite-like ferrous minerality, merging seamlessly with layer of dark berries, slightly tarry in character, boasting great definition with notes of kirsch, plum and cinnamon, becoming highly complex and lifted by the final pour. A fantastic experience that I never thought would be possible from an Aussie cabernet. Pity it’s my last bottle. Must source for more!

2008 Corte Giara Amarone della Valpolicella (courtesy Ben), at Imperial Treasure T3, 31 Oct 2012. Popped and poured. Dark red, predictably full-bodied and dense, rather spicy initially, settling down rather quickly to reveal saturated characters of forest floor, ripe dark berries, mildly medicinal in after taste and a slight ferrous minerality that was somewhat heavier towards the finish, weighty and structured without any hint of over-extraction with just a trace of sweetness. Quite perfect with the refined Cantonese cuisine. I enjoyed it.

2008 Ch Clerc Milon (courtesy Ben), over a white truffle dinner at Otto Ristorante, 31 Oct 2012. Popped and poured over 60-90 minutes. As expected, this wine was dark inky red with stern notes of dark berries and blackcurrants, the discernible vanilla coat not helping matters, medium-full, finishing with a bit of a ferrous quality. Yet like so many Bordeuax wines over the past decade, the craftsmanship has moved up a notch or two such that the tannins never got in the way, the wine fairly approachable even at this early stage. Clerc Milon has never quite sailed my boat and I don’t think this tasting changes anything, but it is worthy of its position.

2003 Dominus, over a white truffle dinner at Otto Ristorante, 31 Oct 2012. Popped and poured. Compared to the Clerc Milon, this was much more open on the nose and body in spite of its fullness, with predominant notes of ripe cherries, raspberries and red currants, displaying excellent definition and concentration. It didn’t quite have the dryish quality of an aged Bordeaux, being slightly more fruit forward, the earthiness well recessed, but it is simply quite gorgeous and exciting at this stage. Drinking well, but certainly will be even better if left alone for another 5-7 years.

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