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Saint Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classe A

December 1, 2016

This was the third and, probably, final gathering for Bacchus for this year, held on 03 Nov 2016 at Shang Palace, Shangri-La Singapore, a venue where the service is truly impeccable and the food entirely befitting of emperors. To up the ante further for Bacchus’ tenth anniversary, we introduced the pre-dinner promenade (in the style of FICOFI) and Shang Palace rose beautifully to the occasion by providing us with a luxurious adjoining room with an ample selection of small bites (thank you, Kieron) to go along before we eventually settled down for a private dinner. It was free-for-all for the inaugural mini-promenade and I’m glad members met up with expectations. For the promenade, we had…

2014 Chateau de Marsannay Chambertin Grand Cru. Gentle deep purple with intense characters of raspberries and camphor on the nose met by excellent concentration and purity of fruit on the palate, balanced by saline minerals and lovely acidity  with further notes of rose petals over time, displaying good linearity with subtle but sophisticated tannins. Beautifully crafted. Already highly accessible now but will age very well. Few have heard of this producer with important holdings throughout the Cote d’Or that makes wines of great sophistication at highly attractive prices.

2012 Bollinger La Cote aux Enfants (courtesy of Li Fern). This very uncommon red from Coteaux Champenois exudes great color with a deep floral bouquet, displaying excellent pinot character, acidity and balance, slightly lean with dryish textures and finishing a tad short. Nevertheless, still delicious. La Cote aux Enfants come from a small 70-acre plot in Ay, located in the heart of Champagne’s grand cru terroir, made from free-run juice only in exceptional years, aged in 3-5 year-old barrels.2016-11-03-19-12-362014 Domaine Jean-Claude Ramonet Puligny-Montrachet Les Enseigneres (courtesy of Li Fern). This is a named village, slightly restrained though some raw nutmeg and white pepper are discernible but absolutely glorious on the palate where it is beautifully open and balanced, layered with excellent concentration and delicate minerality. Excellent.

2000 Pierre Peters Les Chetillons Brut Cuvee Special (courtesy of Kieron). Deeply layered with rich tropical citrus and chalky minerality, exuding a full delicious complex of toast, yeasty overtones and malt. A superb champagne, perhaps not surprising at all as it abuts Salon in Le Mesnil-Sur-Oger.

1998 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage (courtesy of Andre). Tasted blind, displaying lovely color resembling a bright pinot tint with an arresting sharp fragrance of intense rose petals and camphor leading to a velvety palate of great concentration and acidity, yet beautifully balanced, tapering to a gentle finish. What a surprise it turned out to be when the wraps were removed. This is a great example of northern Rhone.2016-11-03-20-09-40Inspired by my recent visit to the Right Bank, Kieron and I came up with the theme of Saint Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classe A to go with dinner and I’m grateful that members responded generously with their contributions. All wines were decanted on-site (with the exception of the sole Pavie which had been double-decanted earlier) and tasted simultaneously…

2001 Ch Pavie. Mild pungency with earthy medicinal characters. Medium-full, stuffed with a rich vein of ripe blueberries, dark currants, cedar and violets framed by subtle sweet tannins with a graphite tone, finishing with a minty trace. Still youthful.

2000 Ch Angelus (courtesy of Hiok). This wine exudes a lovely glow of dark fruits, plums and currants and other complex undefinable flavours, medium-bodied, rich but open and mellow on the palate where the lovely acidity and fine minerals are absolutely seamless and harmonious, drinking very well and finishing with wonderful length. Excellent.2016-11-03-21-06-401999 Ch Cheval Blanc (courtesy of Kieron). Very lively and open with the distinctive note of camphor and a hint of vanilla from the predominant cabernet franc, highly harmonious with good concentration and subtle acidity, highly poised and composed. Beautiful.

1998 Ch Ausone (courtesy of David Ong). The last 1998 Ausone that I had was also at a Bacchus dinner at Iggy’s in 2010 where the wine was very full and richly layered, yet to open up. Now, another six years later, the 1998 Ausone, still displaying a deep color, has mellowed considerably, medium-bodied and superbly harmonious on the palate where it is most beautifully proportioned and unassuming, wonderfully subtle in structure with everything in place, enticing one to imbibe sip after sip, not at all showy. This has become quite the complete wine and will continue to hold for another three decades. Outstanding.2016-11-03-21-06-321994 Ch Angelus (courtesy of Victor). This particular wine tends to invite polarizing views but I have a soft spot for the 1994 and, on this occasion, it was positively singing, opening with a highly attractive earthy pungency leading to a lovely complex of raspberries, wild berries, blueberries, cedar and cinnamon on the palate, gentle and mellow with a lovely glow. One of the definitive highlights of an under-rated vintage.

1983 Ch Cheval Blanc (courtesy of Andre). Fully mature but still showing good color with a lovely feminine fragrance of camphor and rose petals, very open with a great kaleidoscope of flavours that kept evolving in the glass with fabulous definition, depth and subtle intensity, displaying great linearity throughout its superb length. There is a special reason why Cheval Blanc favours cabernet franc as its predominant grape and it takes thirty years for its full potential to be appreciated in bottle. Outstanding.

1982 Ch Ausone (courtesy of Li Fern). This is a truly beautiful Ausone, delicious and open with a lovely plushed complex of blueberries and raspberries and full of other subtle nuances, beautifully proportioned, masculine yet absolutely harmonious and silky with great acidity, producing a wonderful thrill on the palate. 2016-11-03-21-46-19This great Ausone, caught at its absolute peak and still going strong, was made during the time of internal squabbling between Alain Vauthier and his great-aunt Mlle Héylette Dubois-Challon but it is good to know that the winemaking remained unaffected.

1961 Ch La Gaffeliere Naudes (courtesy of KP). Okay, this wine isn’t really right on theme but, then, KP wasn’t obliged to do so and a 1961 anything is always welcome. 1961 was the last vintage under this old name, after which its name was shortened to Ch La Gaffeliere as we know it today. And it seems that 1961 was also the last great vintage of Ch La Gaffeliere Naudes before quality slipped for several years until Stephane Derencourt stepped in to turn things around. As if to prove the point, this wine was, amazingly, still very much alive, open and still quite full with a fabulous hallowed glow of aged claret, displaying an abundance of glorious fruit and sublime acidity, still going strong with plenty of verve and vigour. Cést magnifique!!2016-11-03-23-18-54

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