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Jan 2016: 1999 Rene Engel Clos Vougeot, 2001 Penfolds RWT, 2004 Rockford Basket Press

January 31, 2016

1997 Ch La Croix de Labrie, popped and poured at Glen after hours on 04 Jan 2016. This wine has a pleasant bouquet of dark roses with notes of raspberries and dark berries on the palate, somewhat dry with a character of wood dust and earth, slightly austere towards the finish, a reflection of the unflattering vintage.

2012 Joseph Faiveley Bourgogne, popped and poured over a simple dinner at home, 06 Jan 2016. Lovely aromas of peaches, melons and a dash of apricot, fairly ample on the palate where buttery notes and some chalky characters dominate but do not overwhelm, quite open, slightly racy towards the finish. Quite attractive.

2001 Penfolds RWT, decanted on-site at Imperial Treasure T3, 08 Jan 2016. You could say this is a cousin of Grange, a 100% shiraz aged in French oak. Deep dark impenetrable red, dominated by powerful medicinal overtones on the bouquet, almost hedonistic on the palate where it is rich, concentrated and smooth, saturated with notes of licorice, camphor, raisins and savoury characters, gaining some transparency in the mid-body only after 90 minutes. I’d prefer some suppleness and layering but this wine doesn’t look like it is developing in that direction. BTW, Imperial Treasure now charges SGD30++ for corkage, making it far less compelling for casual dining.

2016-01-11 19.21.041999 Domaine Rene Engel Clos-Vougeot Grand Cru, popped and poured at Otto Ristorante, 11 Jan 2016, to celebrate Monster’s wonderful success. I last tasted this wine back in 2009 where it was still intense and primal. Now defunct since the tragic demise of Philippe (grandson of Rene Engel) in 2005, the Clos Vougeot Grand Cru is the flagship of this domaine in Vosne-Romanee. The 1999 appears to have mellowed considerably with aromas of roses, bright cherries and camphor, much more gentle and open on the palate where raspberries are well-integrated with saline minerals and earthy characters, smooth, rounded and ample in body, slightly feminine, although it seemed to lack structure and opulence until the final pour almost two hours later where some hint of layering and excitement in the tannins came into the picture. Drinking well now and probably at its best, but needs time in the glass to unfurl its full potential. Back vintages of Rene Engel appears to be enjoying a mini-Renaissance of sorts nowadays with the 1999 Clos Vougeot Grand Cru retailing for almost SGD400.

2000 Robert Mondavi cabernet sauvignon, decanted on-site at a celebratory dinner hosted by Joan and Eberta at Gattopardo, 20 Jan 2016. Poured from magnum. This bottle was much better than a previous one tasted last year. Displaying a deep crimson with some evolution at the rim, this wine offers notes of red plums, ripe wild berries and blueberries, open, soft and ample with recessed tannins though a trace of hardness is discernible on the back palate with a hint of vanilla. Almost Old World in style. A bargain at SGD70 for a magnum.

Franciacorta ’61, a sparkling wine from Lombardia bought off the list of Gattopardo, 20 Jan 2016. Vibrant with a forward balance of zesty citrus and lime with a hint of toasty oak and smoke, generous in fruit to match the dryness on the palate. Serviceable.

2008 Leeuwin Art Series chardonnay, a bottle presented to me by Dr Wang KW several years ago, now shared with him at Imperial Treasure Super Duck on 27 Jan 2016. Popped and poured. This wine got off to a tentative start, appropriately creamy with an oily texture, minerally from the start and imbued with clear citrus and white flowers. However, it was rather lean and stern on the palate, taking time to gain some weight and sweetness, eventually ending in a crisp biting finish.

2004 Rockford Basket Press, popped and poured at Beng Thin, 30 Jan 2016. As expected, this Barossa shiraz is saturated with ripe blackberries and redcurrants that produced a powerful whiff of medicinal characters on the nose, dominated by licorice and warm spicy peppery notes on the palate, rich and highly concentrated with controlled tannins, opening up substantially after some time to reveal a savoury dimension, becoming smoother as well although it remained full-bodied and muscular. Strictly for aficionados of Aussie reds.

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