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May 2013: 2005 Silver Oak, 1995 Ornellaia, 2003 Sociando Mallet, 1994 Pichon Lalande, 2004 Latour-a-Pomerol…

June 2, 2013

2011 Ashbrook Estate sauvignon blanc, aired in bottle, 1 May 2013 at Jeremy’s BBQ. Rather steely and narrow in spectrum, veering towards an austere finish. Unattractive.

2008 Frankovka Modra suche, aired in bottle, 1 May 2013 at Jeremy’s BBQ. A Slovakian wine made from an unusual grape, but common in central Europe. Bright purple in color with good transparency, suggesting a light-bodied wine which is exactly that. Gentle on the palate with notes of red fruits and cherries, lightly oaked without any significant complexity, short on the finish. Not far from Beaujolais in character. Could do with greater density.

Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve NV, aired in bottle and drunk over two hours at Jeremy’s farewell BBQ, 1 May 2013. Surprisingly good, loaded with very good concentration of green and yellow citrus with aromas of green apples, pears and melons, bold enough in body to match the champagne’s dryness, supported by solid minerality.

2010 D’Arenberg Original, a blend of shiraz and grenache, 1 May 2013 at Jeremy’s BBQ. Medium-full, a very successful blend where the chocolate and licorice of ripe shiraz is well-balanced against the leafy earthy notes of grenache, matched to a generous body that was smooth and rounded. Possesed much more character than the Leeuwin below. A very good table wine.

1998 Ch Lanessan, aired in bottle for about an hour on 1 May 2013 at Jeremy’s BBQ. Regular readers will realise that I’m popping the ’98 Lanessan every other month, because it’s such great value and so good to drink now, carrying quality dark fruits and wild berries with substantial weight and secondary nuances of forest floor, dry leaves, old leather and a dash of sweet tannins at the sides. I’m afraid Lanessan will always remain under-rated, which is great for folks who know better.

2004 Ch Latour-a-Pomerol, popped and poured at Jeremy’s BBQ on 1 May 2013. Weighty, saturated with premium dark berries and blackcurrants, traces of vanilla and enamel still discernible but definitely more open in the mid-body compared to previous tastings, eventually settling down into a rounded fleshy wine laced with sweet supple tannins. Yet to develop secondary characteristics. Keep.

2008 Leuwin Estate Art Series Shiraz, popped and poured at Beng Hiang restaurant, 4 May 2013. The fruit is recognisably shiraz, its warm ripe character with a touch of spice, plums and leafy medicinal note is unmistakable. But unlike its South Australian counterparts, this Margaret River shiraz is far too smooth, soft and cool for my liking, bereft of character and complexity, gaining a bit of austere metallic quality at the finish. Too straightforward. Not deserving of its Art Series labelling.

2010 Grosset Polish Hill Riesling, popped at home over a dinner of crepes, 6 May 2013. Generous in aromas of peach, apricot, rock melons and citrus that are well matched on the palate, buzzing with wonderful intensity, supported by dense minerality, slightly angular and steely at the finish. Great ageing potential. Try refraining from popping too many of these prematurely.

2006 Ch Malarctic-Lagraviere, decanted on-site at Burlamacco Ristorante, 14 May 2013. Compared to a previous tasting last year, this wine seems to have shed its vanilla coat, the ripe cabernet coming across with greater purity and milder intensity, imparting initial notes of plums, red fruits and wild berries before being overtaken by a broad salty minerality, carrying with it a touch of earthiness of Pessac-Leognan, softening over time, dry at the finish. Much more accessible than before if given adequate aeration. Perfect with the excellent medium-rare tenderloin with truffle fries.

2009 Ch Bernadotte, popped and poured at Imperial Treasure T3, 15 May 2013, and again at an impromptu tasting after hours at the office (when we’d run out of the 1994 Pichon Lalande), 23 May 2013. Compared to a previous note a year ago, this wine has definitely put on considerable weight, along with a most attractive bouquet of raisins, prunes, raspberries, briar and cedar, dark and attractive with fruit that is perfectly ripe, never before encountered in a Bernadotte. Medium-full and firm on the palate, displaying very good concentration. Developing very well in the right direction. Would have been quite savoury if there was greater fullness in the body. Very good indeed.

2011 Alta Vista Premium, around SGD60 off the list of Salta, 21 May 2013, an ordinary-looking diner (I don’t think it fits my idea of a restaurant) at Gopeng St that serves extraordinary steak at ordinary prices. We need more of these joints around. Popped and poured. Deep purple and full-bodied, saturated with ripe malbec, displaying overtones of enamel, vanilla, dark currants, blackberries and a touch of spice, opening up slightly after some time though it remained rather four-square in character. Utterly predictable but does its job very competently.

2005 Ch Bernadotte, poured from magnum at Otto Ristorante, 22 May 2013, my second of this wine in three months. Dark red with notes of prunes, cedar, dark currants and earth, quietly understated, sitting in the glass with excellent poise and confidence, just revealing a glimpse of early secondary development. A tad shy and may, perhaps, shut down soon. This is a real sleeper. Grab a case if you can.

1994 Ch Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande (courtesy John), decanted for an hour prior to tasting after hours at the office, 23 May 2013. Compared to other more refined vintages, the ‘94 Lalande is more rustic at the edges, distinctly dusty in feel and texture with, perhaps, just a bare hint that the fruit, somewhat unexciting for this vintage, may begin to dry out soon although it offered a generous and attractive bouquet of cedar, cinnamon and licorice as the wine was served from the decanter, certainly very open on the mid-palate without any hollowness. I’m happy to drink this any time.

2011 Castella Pinot Grigio Friuli, SGD45 from the list of Da Mario, 24 May 2013. Popped and poured. Rather underwhelming at first, the backwardness of the fruit and an overwhelming sense of greenness raising fears that this would turn out to be a really cheap drink. Thankfully, it gained weight rapidly, adding layers of intensity, fleshing out very nicely with notes of zesty citrus, kiwi fruit, melons and peppermint supported by excellent minerality that never got in the way. Very good.

2005 Silver Oak Alexander Valley, popped and poured at Jade Palace, 25 May 2013. Regrettably, this bottle is far from ready. Deep dark inky purple, saturated with notes of blackberries, raspberries, dark chocolate and raisins, slightly tarry in texture with undertones of forest floor and a hint of graphite, framed by subtle tannins. But in spite of persuasive coaxing, this wine never really opened at all, remaining stubbornly coiled and undeveloped. Given time, this may turn out to be a real charmer. Don’t touch yours for another 6-8 years, I reckon.

2001 La Poderino Brunello di Montalcino, popped and poured at Imperial Treasure T3, 28 May 2013. In spite of this bottle’s less-than-pristine provenance and storage, it showed great promise when poured, offering a generous bouquet of licorice, dark currants and ripe dark berries with a dash of earth, weighty and structured. However, it never really came together, developing a touch of spice and pepper over time, just too heavy on the palate. Disappointing.

2003 Ch Sociando Mallet, popped and poured at Imperial Treasure T3, 29 May 2013. Ten years on and this wine is turning out very well. Huge, tannic and hard at the first pour, but it settled down rapidly, opening up to reveal some layering in the mid-body that was quite glorious whilst notes of cedar, briar, earth and a dash of violets complemented the ripe dark berries that will find a place in the top drawer of any classified growth, imparting a rich and luxuriant glow, beautifully structured, a wine that carries real sophistication and distinction. It reminded me very much of this estate’s 2001, but the present wine is more exuberant. Nowhere near its full potential at this stage but I imagine it will be absolutely fabulous in another ten years. Excellent.

1995 Ornellaia (courtesy John), decanted on-site at Amarone, 31 May 2013. Still quite impenetrably dark at its core, although signs of evolution are clearly visible at the rim. Sullen, tannic and closed at the first pour, perhaps a tad too cold. With aeration and some gentle coaxing, it gradually opened up, allowing more and more of the luxuriant dark berries to emerge, offering notes of blueberries, blackcurrant, violets and a touch of sur maturite, the bouquet glowing positively with a quiet intensity that eventually leapt right out of the glass, the wine becoming more relaxed and softer, framed by fine supple tannins, displaying excellent depth, concentration and definition such that by the end of the meal, the wine had developed to the extent that it would have been quite impossible to tell apart from a Bordeaux. Yet to peak. Excellent.

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