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Ric’s Big Five-O: 2002 Lafite Rothschild, 2009 Baron Thenard Montrachet Grand Cru, 1966 Chateau Latour

December 28, 2017

For me, December 2017 is truly the month to let loose as I reach my half-century and I felt it would be great to spend a nice but quiet evening with just a few persons in familiar surroundings. One cannot really go wrong with Jade Palace, venue of so many past glorious wine and gastronomic events, and Mr Ho has, again, personally supervised the customised menu as we gathered on December 4th.

20171204_223738.jpgWe began the evening with a 1997 Champagne Salon (courtesy of LF), evoking powerful yeasty tones with a mild earthy pungency along with delicate citrus, displaying superb intensity of lime, citrus and tropical fruits on the open palate with excellent depth, detail and balance, not too dry and still far from peaking. A superb start.

The Alaskan King Crab, served cold, is one of the restaurants calling cards and, here, the 1999 Valentin Zusslin Pfingstberg Grand Cru, glowing with citrus, grapefruit and lime amidst recessed chalky minerals and a prominent diesel note, cut through the marine salinity of this crustacean with its robust tone and crisp acidity, showing excellent depth of fruity detail with gentle intensity. As we finished the dish, the 2006 Domaine Roulot Meursault Les Tessons Clos de Mon Plaisir was poured, rather muted on the nose though its delicacy of fruit and clear citrus was clearly evident, gradually opening up to reveal lovely intensity and inner detail with some early complexity supported by subdued chalkiness, carrying good weight. The most famous plot of Burgundy white was paired with rare abalone. Here, the 2009 Domaine Baron Thenard Montrachet Grand Cru, decanted and kept in ice for about six hours prior, exuded a quiet bouquet of gentle crème de la crème with lifted minty tones, thoroughly seamless on the palate where highly delicate white floral tones and gentle soft citrus dominate with understated richness and body, almost ethereal in its elegance though not quite reaching the degree of inner detail that I have come across from Joseph Drouhin’s Marquis de Laguiche Montrachet.

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The reds were drunk in two flights to go with the meat dishes. The 1996 Heritiere Louis Remy Chambolle-Musigny Derriere La Grange 1er (courtesy of Sanjay) was lifted in aromas of dark cherries and currants with a dominant plummy tone, medium-bodied with an even deeper streak of dark fruit, thoroughly seamless., caught at its absolute peak. The 2007 Henri Bonneau Chateauneuf-du-Pape Reserve des Celestins (courtesy of Ooi CJ) was quite the perfect wine to follow on, expectedly deep on the nose and palate with lovely warm ripe fruit, its exciting tannins and superb acidity producing great intensity and verve without ever being too weighty.

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For the final flight, LF produced a blinded red, clearly well evolved in colour and tone, evoking aged dry mushrooms with a lifted earthy pungency, still displaying excellent fullness and depth of ripe dark berries, utterly seamless with melted tannins. Definitely a Bordeaux Left Bank. I guessed aloud a 1970 Latour and was almost spot on…a 1966 Chateau Latour!! Outstanding!! Next to it, the 2002 Ch Lafite Rothschild, an impenetrable deep dark red, was stuffed with ripe dark berries and characters of soy, highly lifted in redcurrants, dark cherries and warm ripe fruit with open chewy tannins, exuding  lovely feminine charm. Having emerged from its brooding shell, this wine is much more engaging now than a previous bottle from the same batch tasted in 2010. All in all, I must say the line-up and progression for the evening has been impeccable, so much so that we weren’t even drunk at the end of it. Now for the next ten years…

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