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2005 Emmanuel Rouget Cros Parantoux 1er 1990 Ch Lafite Rothschild

November 4, 2015

Cros Parantoux is a rather small vineyard in Vosne-Romanee just before Richebourg, if one is coming from the north. Interest in this premiere cru only came about in recent times. It was relatively unknown until a certain Henri Jayer acquired a majority holding in this plot (with the remaining tiny portion belonging to Meo Camuzet) in the mid-1950s and replanted the vines. IMG-20Cros Parantoux seen from Richebourg151029-WA0003During the initial years when the vines were young, the wine made from Cros Parantoux by Henri Jayer was simply bottled and sold as Vosne-Romanee village. By the time the vines had matured in the 1980s, Henri Jayer had already mastered its terroir. It goes without saying that Henri Jayer’s production is small, with estimates running between 700-3000 bottles annually. With the last vintage being 2001, it is practically impossible to source for a genuine bottle of Henri Jayer Vosne-Romanee Cros Parantoux 1er nowadays. On the other hand, Henri Jayer’s holdings were shared between him and his nephew-cum-protege Emmanuel Rouget, and it is well-known that Henri Jayer had often played a large part in the winemaking at Domaine Emmanuel Rouget, particularly when the latter had been indisposed in the late 1990s, adding to further frenzied interest in the wines of Emmanuel Rouget. With the passing of the old master in 2006, all the holdings previously under Henri Jayer came under Emmanuel Rouget. The mysticism and romance of Cros Parantoux reached its peak when these wines of Henri Jayer and Emmanuel Rouget played a major part in a story of rekindled love in the Japanese manga comic The Drops Of God, with the older winemaker being revered as the “God of Burgundy” while the wine of Emmanuel Rouget was touted as “99 percent” similar to Henri Jayer’s. 12c-Les-Gouttes-de-Dieu-Bild3I’m not sure how Henri Jayer would have reacted had he lived to witness the fanatical interest in his wines but the fact is: Emmanuel Rouget has benefitted most from it all, the wines are expensive and they are extremely difficult to procure. However, the key question remains: how good really is it?

To be honest, I have never tasted any Cros Parantoux until we popped a bottle of the 2008 Emmanuel Rouget Vosne-Romanee Cros Parantoux 1er only a couple of months ago at Lameloise in Chagny. That bottle, undoubtedly, displayed rich abundant characters of glorious red fruits and cherries but it was still far from any kind of secondary development, the subtleties of great burgundy still obscured by broad swathes of new oak. We had wasted a precious bottle of this wine that, in the first place, the restaurant should not have included in its wine list.

Our hearts beat faster again when Dr Ngoi proffered another bottle, this time a 2005 Emmanuel Rouget Vosne-Romanee Cros Parantoux 1er at dinner at Tunglok Signatures, Orchard Parade Hotel, Singapore, on 31 Oct 2015, in the presence of Philippe Capdouze (CEO of FICOFI Singapore) and Jean-Paul Dumond (Sales Director of Joseph Drouhin) who had flown in from Beaune. Would a further 3 years of bottle age make any significant difference? I arrived an hour before dinner to open the wine, airing it in bottle for 3 hours before it was served. In spite of this, a certain amount of bottle stink was evident which KG concurred and, for a moment, I quietly feared that the wine was corked although Philippe and Jean-Paul seemed to feign polite ignorance. Thankfully, it disappeared after an additional second pour of the wine, allowing one to revel in intoxicating aromas of red fruits, dried red plums and brandied cherries, rounded with a quiet intensity on the palate, sufficiently open to permit a glimpse of camphor, blueberries and raspberries of immense depth and concentration, tightly coiled, simply waiting to burst forth, finishing with great length. Yet, this is never, at any point of time, a hedonistic monster. This is a wine of understated elegance at the present moment that will most certainly be wonderful and sublime in another 10-15 years. 2015-10-31 21.58.55Did the beautiful woman in the strawberry field turn around to kiss me, as romanticised metaphorically in The Drops Of God? Well, I think I caught a side profile, more than a glimpse perhaps, but that kiss is still elusive.

In contrast, the 1990 Ch Lafite Rothschild, decanted on-site for 3 hours and drunk alongside the Cros Parantoux, was distinctly feminine, displaying a wonderful perfumed fragrance and lifted aromas of rose petals, red fruits, red plums and blueberries, rounded with added notes of white pepper and mild earthy pungency on the palate without much of the Pauillac dryness, brimming with elegant intensity, understated power and great persistence throughout its length with no hint of the wine having hit its peak. A quintessential Lafite, like a woman whose beauty is apparent, yet unfathomable.

Between these two outstanding wines, the 1990 Lafite Rothschild is drinking very well now at less than half the price of the 2005 Emmanuel Rouget Vosne-Romanee Cros Parantoux 1er. The latter, on the other hand, is far from ready but could turn into something truly special. But, as of now, the magic of a Cros Parantoux still eludes me. Thank you, Dr Ngoi, for the tasting opportunities.

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