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An evening of great Burgundy

July 28, 2016

Bacchus isn’t doing too badly this year, having managed to meet twice before a third of the year was over. Burgundy was the theme for dinner on 26 April 2016 at the newly-relocated Saint Pierre, now on the second floor of One Fullerton, Singapore, where it commands an unobstructed view of the iconic Marina Bay Sands (pity, though, that the chandelier lights within the restaurant reflected badly off the slanted windows, actually obscuring the view). It seemed Saint-Pierre has refocused on delivering what matters most to diners: food and service quality, for the restaurant has downsized significantly from its previous incarnations, now just comprising a simple dining hall with limited capacity and a very small adjoining private dining room. On both counts, Saint-Pierre has delivered well with chef Emmanuel Stroobant displaying plenty of flair and imagination. On this occasion, a long table had been set for dinner with a customised menu. As we awaited everyone’s arrival, we began with a 2006 Perrier Jouet Belle Epoque (courtesy of Li Fern), dominated by notes of cinnamon, peaches and toasty oak against a backdrop of stony minerality, very well-proportioned with dry textures, developing some floral fragrance after some time but stern in overall demeanour.

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We kicked off dinner proper with a trio of excellent whites:

2007 Domaine Joseph Drouhin Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru (courtesy of the Tan brothers). Terribly shut initially before gradually emerging from its shell as it warmed up to the correct temperature, its intensity more discernible within a narrow spectrum, eventually blossoming into an effusive expanse of crème de la crème and buttery characters with chalky minerals that are very well integrated, generously proportioned with plenty of fat. Full and voluptuous and very correct on the palate. Superb.

2010 Domaine Henri Boillot Criots-Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru. Quite an impressive earthy pungency on the nose, noticeably lighter and more minerally with a sense of delicacy (reflecting its terroir well, given that this tiny plot lies between Chassagne and Puligny), displaying great suppleness and intensity from the firm concentration of citrus, finishing with traces of bitter lemon. Excellent.

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2005 Patrick Javillier Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru (courtesy of Li Fern). Typically of this producer, this wine displays aromas of aged crème and cinnamon and wisps of scented white flowers, slightly nutty, but the general impression is one of shy understated tones.

We began the reds with a blinded pairing. The first wine displayed an aged dull ruby with a sweet medicinal trace on the nose that gave it an aged feel, open and quite seamless with good balance but seemingly lacking in structure and layering, somewhat short and minty at the finish. When the wraps were removed, I was surprised that it turned out to be a 1995 Georges Comte de Vogue Bonnes-Mares Grand Cru (courtesy of Hiok). However, this bottle was neither as masculine nor as fresh as another bottle tasted in January 2016 with Jean-Luc Pepin of Comte de Vogue that came straight from the estate’s cellars, proving a point for buying ex-chateau.

The second red, tasted blind alongside the Bonnes-Mares above, was dull red, suggesting significant bottle age, displaying some camphor and bright red fruits on the nose, quite vigorous on the palate with a deep vein of red currants that betrayed its New World origins, becoming more settled and harmonious after some time with a predominant tone of ripe strawberries and a minty finish. I was correct when the wraps were removed: a 1994 Willem Salyem pinot noir (courtesy of Li Fern), an excellent pinot noir with a cult following.

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The line-up thereafter was absolutely outstanding:

1996 Georges Comte de Vogue Bonnes-Mares Grand Cru (courtesy of Andre). Notes of heated stones and earthy tones dominate on the nose with a distinct trace of brett that took some time to blow off, revealing predominant red fruits with a masculine tone. Still rather backward, though it gradually built up to an attractive intensity with firm tannins that still await further resolution.

2006 Claude Dugat Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru (courtesy of Timothy Goh). Characteristic of this renowned estate, this wine boasts predominant red fruits with bright tones, ample in cool ripe fruit with good purity, harmonious with well-integrated acidity and subdued tannins that lend a distinct feminine feel, just missing in layering and opulence, which is usually the case with Charmes-Chambertin.

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2010 Dujac Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru (courtesy of Chris). Earthy tones dominate with traces of oak still discernible in this young wine, expectedly quite full on the palate with excellent concentration to complement the attractive bouquet of fresh dark cherries and red roses, taking time to blossom, finally singing towards the end of dinner. Highly successful.

2001 Ponsot Clos de la Roche Grand Cru (courtesy of David Ong), a wine that let rip with superb earthy pungency on the nose, distinctive in red fruits and overtones of tangerines, open with excellent intensity, detail and linearity down to its lasting finish. Superb.

2007 Ponsot Clos de la Roche Grand Cru (courtesy of Pipin). Fascinating to compare both bottles of Ponsot from the same plot, separated by 6 years. The 2007 is superbly aromatic and forward with an abundance of camphor, rose petals and red fruits, broad and open on the palate, gravelly in texture with excellent intensity, structure and detail throughout its length though the 2001 possesses greater complexity. Excellent.

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2003 Armand Rousseau Chambertin-Clos des Beze Grand Cru (courtesy of Kieron). This legendary estate never disappoints, producing a most beautiful bouquet, full-bodied, sweet and powerful, brimming with warm ripe fruit and tangerines with a medicinal minty trace that, perhaps, betrayed the hot vintage. Otherwise, this wine is absolutely harmonious, its plush tannins exuding a luxurious velvety feel only possible from such breed. Quite outstanding.

1997 Remoissenet Pere et Fils Chambertin-Clos des Beze Grand Cru (courtesy of KP). It would have been fascinating to compare this with the Armand Rousseau but, unfortunately, this wine was corked although there seemed to be a good deal of red fruits and acidity beneath. A pity.

1995 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Echezeaux Grand Cru (courtesy of Daniel). Any wine from this famous estate is guaranteed to raise expectations beyond the roof, even if it is “just an Echezeaux”. This wine was highly aromatic, suggesting rose petals, dark cherries, camphor and raspberries of undoubted power and fragrance. It turned out to be surprising mellow and open on the palate, ample in soft red fruits with overtones of tangerines supported by saline minerals, all held in a lovely balance with understated acidity, complemented by an eventual note of ash as it settled down to a gentle finish. A very fine example of a Vosne-Romanee grand cru, certainly excellent by any standard.

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Taking a leaf from lessons learnt in Burgundy, we saved the best whites for last to go neat with an excellent cheese spread. The 1999 Domaine Louis Jadot Montrachet Grand Cru (courtesy of Vic) was most unusual on the nose, recalling pine forest, fig and what seemed like glue that was almost intoxicating on its own, leading to a floral fragrance and characters of aged creme on the palate, still spiked with tight intensity in spite of the understated acidity amidst some restraint. This is a masculine Montrachet, somewhat brooding and quirky, partly because, I suspect, it did not receive adequate aeration and the whites of 1999 are big wines that evolve at a glacial pace.

Paired with the above was the 2003 Coche Dury Mersault (courtesy of Kieron), displaying a complex of distilled citrus and tangerines on the nose with delicious presence on the palate, exuding some fat with characters of aged creme, yet poised and delicate enough due to understated minerality. Quite unbelievable, coming from a village but that is the magic of Coche Dury.

My sincere thanks to everyone for an outstanding evening.

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