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Saint Emilion from the Great Vintages

April 25, 2013

Some brief notes from a seminal department dinner at Edge, Pan Pacific Singapore, 24 April 2013. John came up with the idea of a miniature Right Bank theme, and it turned out the bottles we brought all hailed from Saint Emilion in vintages where the Right Bank did well. These aren’t the usual superstar suspects of that commune but, perhaps, all the better as it may be more representative.

2000 Ch Monbousquet, decanted on-site. Compared to the previous time I had it (most memorable lunch at Saint-Pierre some 3-4 years ago with Kieron), this wine has become noticeably softer and less exuberant, yet more open in the mid-body, achieving a more natural balance where the grapes, at just the right degree of ripeness, offer a seamless blend of red and dark fruits enveloped by secondary nuances of tea leaves, toast and a touch of graphite, displaying excellent definition and delineation all the way to its lengthy finish. Saint-Emilion trioMonbousquet is a much under-rated estate that easily rivals its more expensive peers in outstanding vintages. Some may be wary about Gerard Perse’s preference for high extraction but at least now we know that it can work well, provided there’s enough bottle age. Excellent.

1998 Ch La Gomerie (courtesy John), decanted on-site. This is only the fourth vintage of this estate, having produced its first bottling in 1995. Some have charged that this garagiste operation favours a very forward, full and unctuous style. Surprisingly, however, it turned out to be highly similar in character to the Monbousquet, medium-full, remarkably well-balanced, the 100% merlot having softened over time, possessing substantial fat in the mid-body with a predominance of red fruits and plums, laced with sweet velvety tannins. This wine is just entering its optimum drinking window but I don’t think it has actually peaked. Excellent.

1990 Ch Canon La Gaffeliere (courtesy John), decanted on-site. Another under-rated estate but absolutely lovely. Awashed with notes of rose petals, cherries, raspberries and redcurrants with traces of violets and cedar, almost Burgundian, soft and totally seamless, holding steady at its peak throughout the entire evening without any sign of drying out, the acidity having receded long ago, ensuring an utterly smooth transition from entry to finish. Excellent

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