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Old vs New at the Tower Club

December 28, 2014

These are notes from the Presidential Dinner of the Growth Hormone Research Society at its annual world congress in Singapore on 16 October 2014 at the Tower Club. Bob Rees of Wine Exchange Asia had kindly arranged the outstanding menu as well as the wines, such that each course is accompanied by a wine pairing of Old and New World. With Bob, one is never short of supply. In fact, each guest had an allocation of 1.3 litres of wine that evening….

The evening began with a pair of aperitifs. The Arlaux NV offered excellent aromatics of fresh fig, nectarine and melons, lifted with flinty minerality, topped off with lovely notes of toast and mild yeasty overtones. Regal and refined, displaying great definition and expanse on the palate. Next to it, the Arras Brut NV, a well-regarded sparkling from Tasmania, exhibited an alluring deep bouquet with a mild lovely pungency, generous in body with grassy elements and clear crisp citrus cutting through to a long finish but, ultimately, lacking in true depth and complexity, becoming more brazen over time.

The first pairing of whites saw the 2013 Cadcina Bruni Gavi di Gavi pitted against the 2012 Terrace Edge Pinot Gris. The former, grown from Cortese grapes from the Piedmont region, exhibited cool grassy notes of sweet pomelo, light-to-medium bodied with subdued acidity, yet lively enough and well-balanced. In contrast, the Terrace Edge was far more extroverted with characters of white flowers, green fruits and some grassy element, rounded and generous, almost luscious and glowing with an attractive sweetness that tapered towards an austere finish. For the next pair of whites, the 2014 Perrin Cote du Rhone Reserve Blanc, only recently bottled, was a tad too crisp and sharp for my liking with a dominance of grassy notes and green fruits, ending in a minty finish. I can imagine this would be quite lovely in the future, but it is just too unsettled for now. In contrast, the 2010 Carrick EBM chardonnay displayed classic notes of buttery cream, gentle at first on the palate before going on to develop an urgent intensity coupled with an attractive earthy pungency.

There was just a single pairing of reds to go with the excellent lamb. The 2004 Borgogno Barolo proved to be excellent, displaying predominant notes of red fruits and plums and great salty minerality on the mid-palate, structured, generous and rounded and well-balanced with a long finish. The 2011 Escarpment Pahi pinot noir may not be a fair comparison but, on its own merit, this wine is very successfully crafted with forward notes of red cherries and fragrance, just slightly heavier than usual, matched with a mild salty minerality that is all very lovely.

To finish, we had a highly generous contribution in the form of the 2009 Ch Suduiraut, oozing with nectar and apricot with a hint of rye and malt, displaying crisp acidity and great balance with a lasting presence, yet to develop secondary characteristics. In contrast, the 2013 Spy Valley Gewurtztraminer was cool in demeanour, well-balanced with dominant grassy notes. Full credit to Bob Rees for making all these possible. Thanks, Bob.

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