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An evening with S S Ngoi: 1998 Angelus, 2000 Pichon Baron, 1982 Leoville-Poyferre, 1988 Clos de Tart, 1982 Leoville Las-Cases…

April 28, 2015

Thanks to the generosity of Dr S S Ngoi again, I was invited to a dinner hosted by him at Tunglok Signatures at Orchard Parade Hotel, Singapore, on 27 April 2015 that included M. Philippe Capdouze, Founder and Chairman of FICOFI. Almost all wines were provided by the great Dr Ngoi himself, making sure that they were aired or decanted well in advance and that there was more than enough to go around the big table of twelve.

We began with a magnum of Verve Cliquot Brut Yellow Label which must have benefitted from the large format bottling, for this champagne displayed far greater depth and balance than I have encountered before from this label, forward in zesty citrus and ripe melons that balanced nicely against the moderate degree of dryness, enhanced by lovely notes of toast and yeasty pungency, appropriately steely towards the finish. Delectable lobsterThis was followed by a pair of 2012 Ch Cos D’Estournel Blanc, made predominantly of sauvignon blanc and a splash of semillon. This youthful white exuded an abundance of glycerin, coconut and petroleum fumes that I found particularly attractive, smooth and rounded with further notes of seared caramel emerging much later that went very well with the caviar-topped lobster and shark’s fin soup.

We kicked off the list of distinguished reds with a pair of 1994 Ch Leoville Poyferre, displaying a beautiful hallowed glow of red fruits and darker currants so fabulous that one could simply go on without sipping the wine. On the palate, this medium-bodied wine was seamless and open with the graphite tone of Saint Julien being particularly prominent, just lacking in lushness and short at the finish. This is a red that will do very well at any meal, showing just how severely under-rated 1994 is.

Next up was a magnum of 1988 Clos de Tart Grand Cru, procured by Philippe directly from the cellar of this famous domaine and transported personally to our dining table. Many Happy Returns, Dr See-Tho !!This stellar wine, just one of nine monopole grand crus in Burgundy (according to the Bureau Interprofessionnel des Vins de Bourgogne), proffered a glorious bouquet of red fruits and rose petals coupled with great purity of fruit and depth on the palate, its power mellowed by the passage of time to be replaced by wonderful finesse and balance, its acidity still holding up very well, just slightly short at the finish, providing a taste of what the best of Morey-Saint-Denis can achieve.

We moved back to Bordeaux, albeit the Right Bank, with a pair of Ch Angelus from the outstanding vintage of 1998, displaying a deep inky purple, loaded with a generous abundance of ripe merlot of fabulous intensity, its velvety supple tannins imparting great structure to the wine, achieving excellent linearity and definition all the way to its lasting finish. Yet, the impression is that this wine is still far from peaking. Superb.

Hopping back across the Dordogne, we moved on to a pair of the 2000 Ch Pichon Longueville Baron, very dark in color, displaying loads of blueberries and dark currants, now starting to develop some early complexity with notes of cinnamon and dark plums, medium-full, beautifully structured and masculine, still laced with traces of enamel that painted a stern finish without much of the dryness of Pauillac.

Best wishes & words of wisdomAnd, finally, a pair of delectable Saint Julien. The 1982 Ch Leoville Poyferre gave off a powerful earthy pungency on the nose (some thought the wine corked but it definitely wasn’t) that blew off after some time, revealing a medium-bodied wine that was utterly seamless although this bottle seemed much more evolved than previous examples of the 1982 Poyferre that I’ve had, much lighter in texture and weight than before. Is this an issue of poor provenance or is it really beginning to thin out? Will reserve judgement here. Suitably though, the piece de resistance was provided by the 1982 Ch Leoville Las-Cases (courtesy of Miah Hiang), a deep garnet red rimmed by vermillion, having mellowed significantly from a previous bottle tasted six years ago, much softer than before but still imbued with the graphite and ferrous quality of its famous terroir with notes of ripe raspberries and the indescribable complexity of aged Bordeaux, quietly masculine in character with great purity and definition. Some commented whether it really merits 100 points but, like I’ve mentioned before, it is what is in the bottle that truly matters and, as far as I’m concerned, Leoville Las-Cases belongs under premier cru, bringing the evening to a wonderful end. Thank you again, Dr Ngoi.

A delectable line-up

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