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1996 Bordeaux

February 24, 2016

Bacchus met, again after a long absence, on 28 January 2016 for a 1996 Bordeaux horizontal. Chris and Vincent had very kindly made available Lienville as the venue for fine dining, where we had the privilege of a private chef prepare for us a bespoke traditional French cuisine in its kitchen. As we awaited the arrival of all guests, Vincent served up a free flow of 1999 Salon S champagne that showed a fair degree of restraint on the nose although it was, expectedly, dry with a dominant tone of crisp citrus, toast and crème de la crème, very lively with plenty of verve, just a tad stern towards the finish with a graphite trace. As if this wasn’t enough, a 1996 Dom Perignon (courtesy of David Ong) was thrown in for good measure as well, displaying a slightly forward balance of green apples and melons underscored by a chromatic tone with a mild attractive pungency, subtle in both acidity and intensity on the palate, oozing with sweet citrus at its lengthy finish. Following on, the 2002 Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru (courtesy of Kieron), was characteristically oily with fluid textures, medium-bodied with attractive notes of incense and fig, open on the palate with a certain lightness and subtle intensity.

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The reds were served in three flights, basically traversing the Haut Medoc in a northerly fashion from Margaux. The  1996 Ch Figeac (courtesy of Vincent), displayed perfumed aromas of rose petals in its wonderful bouquet, highly aromatic and feminine with lovely traces of camphor, appropriately soft and rounded with fine acidity on the palate though not quite plumbing the depths, finishing with good length. Next, the 1996 Ch Palmer (courtesy of Victor) was equally aromatic with attractive notes of pines, wild flowers and earth, medium-full, absolutely harmonious in its blend of red and dark fruits that glowed with an irresistible fragrance all the way to its long minty finish. Wonderful stuff.

In the second flight, the 1996 Ch Montrose (courtesy of Pipin) produced a powerful glow of heated stones, dense tea leaves and a soy-like character that reflected the ripe red fruits and dark berries that imparted fabulous intensity, richness and structure, unmistakably masculine and yet to peak. 2016-01-28 19.59.21Its neighbouring estate, the 1996 Ch Cos D’Estournel (courtesy of Chris), displayed intense aromas of roses and dark plums, very cedary on the nose though somewhat lean on the palate where it was open and relaxed, lacking the massive structure of the Montrose, tapering towards a stern minty finish. Traversing into Pauillac, the 1996 Ch Lynch-Bages had all the trappings of a classic claret, displaying a rich deep vein of ripe blueberries and dark berries that contrasted very well against dry textures of earth and snuff, open with subtle tannins, fleshing out very well, slightly minty at the finish.

The third flight pitted three estates in very close proximity. The 1996 Ch Leoville-Las-Cases (courtesy of Kieron) displayed powerful lifted aromas of complex tangerines and kumquat contrasted against red and dark currants, producing a perfumed fragrance unusual for the wines of this estate. On the palate, the wine was robust and structured, layered and fairly open at this stage although a mild tannic spine remained. It is always fascinating to compare the two Pichons (separated physically by just the two-lane D2 highway) from the same vintage. The 1996 Ch Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande (courtesy of David Tan) offered a rose tinted bouquet of predominant red fruits that was well-replicated with excellent concentration and depth on the palate where it was open with supple tannins and just a slight vegetal hint that is typical of Pichon Lalande, unmistakably feminine, a touch minty at the finish. 2016-01-28 22.59.23In contrast, the 1996 Ch Pichon Longueville Baron (courtesy of Daniel) opened with a mild bottle stink that dissipated soon enough, noticeably more masculine and deeper wine compared with Pichon Lalande, open with raspberries and blueberries of fabulous intensity along with overtones of tangerine.

Finally, a First Growth on its own to end the evening, served blind. Displaying a deep garnet red with just a trace of evolution at the rim, the wine was soft, rounded and distinctly feminine, offering red fruits and red roses of excellent concentration on the nose and palate with a hint of gravel, very correct in its balance, somewhat nonchalant and aloof in its demeanour. Most of us guessed a Mouton Rothschild, but it turned out to be the 1996 Ch Latour (courtesy of Li Fern). You just never know when a Latour will show up.

We concluded the evening with a 1996 Muller-Catoir Haardter-Burgergarten Riesling Eiswein (courtesy of Hiok) that offered great concentration and intensity of nectar, apricot, honey, pineapples and tropical fruits, displaying fine acidity and immense complexity. My sincere thanks to everyone for their kind generosity.

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