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Many happy returns, Dr Ngoi !

January 21, 2018

Last year, the great man threw a big party to mark the successful completion of the five elements of his zodiac. A year on, we took the initiative to wish the great man many happy returns on the afternoon of 15 Jan 2018 at Jade Palace, where LF had arranged a superbly customised menu, matched only by one of the most outstanding line-up of wines in recent memory with impeccable wine service that is legendary at this favourite dining venue of many.

2018-01-15 12.41.36We began with a 1998 Krug (courtesy of LF), displaying a lovely hue that brought on notes of intense clear citrus and lime with mild yeasty tones, quite gentle on the palate initially with a broad expanse of excellent acidity and concentration before bursting with brilliant crystalline minerality, developing superb depth with more toasty characters emerging to the fore. Compared with a previous tasting six years ago, the 1998 Krug has shed its brazen dryness, now a far more sophisticated and profound proposition though it has yet to peak. Superb.

The highlight of the afternoon must belong, literally, to the birthday wine, a 1957 Ch Pichon Baron Longueville, brought by the man himself. Still looking remarkably youthful in bottle and colour, this wine possessed a most beautiful bouquet of earthy characters and dry tea leaves with an aged feel while the palate boasts gentle notes of snuff, distant red fruits, dark plums and tangerines, rather soft, fleshy and rounded though the fruit began to fade a little after an hour, turning more distant and backward amidst overtones of dried mushrooms. Slightly past maturity but it probably still has the legs to hang on for quite some time. What a privilege!

The 1982 Ch Cos D’Estournel that followed (courtesy of Hsiang Sui), though undoubtedly mature, still retained an attractive tarry quality with a  rich abundance of ripe dark berries and currants on the nose and palate, showing superb concentration and depth with plenty of verve, rounded with delicious tannins and understated intensity. At its peak but seems likely to hold in this manner for another decade or two. Superb. In contrast, the 1996 Ch Mouton Rothschild (courtesy of Sanjay, decanted on-site), still deep, dark and impenetrable, was absolutely reticent on the nose for quite some time before eventually revealing some notes of soy and dark plums though the palate is quite the exact opposite, infused with fabulous concentration of dark currants and dense black fruits, full-bodied with subtle dark intensity that imparted a huge sense of depth and layering, yet to unravel its full potential. Like its 1986 predecessor, this wine will take forever to evolve. Amazing!

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Following on was a 1982 Ch Haut-Brion (courtesy of MH) that exuded a superb bouquet of earthy pungency cloaked in velvety tannins., imbued with delicious dark currants and blackberries that glowed with fine intensity, fleshy and open,  still laced with fresh acidity though just a tad short. To round off, Li Fern produced a 1993 Domaine Armand Rousseau Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru that appeared well evolved in colour, evoking lovely characters of rose petals and red cherries with an enticing fragrance, layered with dark cherries and currants on an open palate cloaked with velvety tannins, displaying great power and intensity of flavours, more masculine and structured than usual for a Charmes-Chambertin, bringing this most memorable lunch of six superb wines to a wonderful conclusion. Happy birthday Boss!!

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