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Happy Birthday Dr Ngoi!

January 13, 2017

The great man threw a great party to celebrate his most significant big round number at his residence on 08 January 2017 where his cellar was generously open. I arrived to find all the appropriate stemware already neatly arranged with no less than Kok Hong himself (who usually presides over FICOFI events) taking charge of the wines. A wonderful buffet catered by New Ubin Seafood had been set up on the verandah with an on-site kitchen that prepared their signature chilli crab, black pepper crab and beef steak with the obligatory heart-attack fried rice on demand. 2017-01-08-19-02-41Dr Ngoi has touched and changed the lives of so many around him so much for the better that it would be difficult to imagine otherwise.

We began with a magnum of Pago de Tharsys Cava Brut Nature, sourced directly from Requena, Spain, by Dr Ngoi who knows its owner. This bubbly was rather shut on the nose, but the palate features generous tones of light citrus, lime and some pomelo, medium-bodied with good intensity, fairly robust with good length, just a tad stern at the finish but perfect for a balmy evening. Dr Ngoi had also strewn an entire case of 2012 Ch Pape Clement blanc, all appropriately chilled and ready. This wine proffered an enticing bouquet of incense and jasmine, blooming with white flowers and paraffin with surprising gentleness on the palate, displaying apricot and subdued acidity. Good stuff but this wine is really all about its fabulous bouquet.

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We kicked off the reds with a magnum of 2011 Ch La Fleur Petrus, displaying earth, morning dew and light tangerine on the nose, medium-bodied with abundant dark plums and dark cherries, already accessible with subdued intensity and good acidity amidst dryish textures from the mild ferrous minerality, somewhat lean but it suits the overall profile very well. 2017-01-08-19-32-21A jeroboam of 1986 Ch Leoville Las Cases had been promised but the keen anticipation was dashed by unmistakable whiffs of cork taint that robbed the wine of its freshness, a great pity as the dark fruits and currants that lay beneath was certainly rich in concentration and layering with good acidity to match the leathery supple tannins.

The disappointment was redeemed by the next wine, a double magnum of 2011 Domaine Prieure-Roch Vosne-Romanee Les Suchots “Pure” Sing Shang Ngoi 1er. Our eyes almost popped out when we saw that it was labelled after the great man, no less!! This wine displayed a forward balance of cedar and red fruits with a beautiful tangerine core, exuding great fragrance with an open easy quality, fleshy and superbly integrated with lovely acidity. Very classy and absolutely fabulous. Notice the word “Pure” at one corner? That meant bottling was conducted without the wine coming into contact with free oxygen, as explained by its winemaker M. Yannick Champ when he hosted the Prieure-Roch masterclass last year at the Tower Club, a special technique reserved for only a very small number of bottles and certainly not available off the shelf. This translates into additional freshness and definition compared with standard bottling. In fact, this wine was so good that it remained unsurpassed by the 2007 Domaine Prieure-Roch Chambertin Clos de Beze Grand Cru, featuring barbecued smoked meat and some tangerines with a lacquered texture, displaying good concentration and depth with great acidity, lovely balance and intensity. Excellent.

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A series of Right Bank greats took over the limelight, beginning with a 2000 Ch Pavie that recalled scorched earth, ferric elements and graphite minerals, still quite reticent on the nose though the palate is generously endowed with sensational rose petals, red currants and ripe dark berries, yet to really hit its stride for what should really be a very long-lived wine. The 1986 Ch Tertre Roteboeuf that followed was caught at its peak, slightly musty with some earthiness, bright with an abundance of rose petals, camphor and predominant red fruits, rounded soft and gentle with excellent presence and well integrated acidity. In contrast, the 1998 Ch Angelus, fleshy, delicious and fullish, imbued with gorgeous black fruits and currants with overtones of graphite and white pepper, was far from ready, requiring at least another decade of cellaring.

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To close the evening, a 2001 Ch Mouton Rothschild was popped for the piece de resistance, displaying some mild earthy pungency with lovely characters of dark currants, tangerines  and blueberries, medium-full with racy acidity, showing some early complexity as it sat in the glass but it is still early days for a classically structured claret that should last the full distance.

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All these would not be possible without the kind generosity of Dr Ngoi, to whom we shall always remain indebted. Many happy returns!!

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