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Montrachet: 2011 Ramonet, 2008 Drouhin; Emmanuel Rouget V-R Cros Parantoux 1er: 2003, 2005 & 2006

August 26, 2018

No prizes for guessing who came up with the idea of drinking one of the rarest wines of Burgundy. For the longest time, Dr Ngoi has dreamt of organising a dinner centered on a mini-vertical of Vosne-Romanee Cros Parantoux 1er. The problem, of course, lay in sourcing the wine, itself rare and very expensive. The 1.01 ha of Cros Parantoux 1er at the westerly boundary of Vosne-Romanee produces only about 4000-5000 bottles annually, split between Domaine Emmanuel Rouget (0.7 ha) and Domaine Meo Camuzet (just a shade under 0.3 ha). Apart from its rarity, the romance about this wine lay in its synonymous association with the late Henri Jayer who had single-handedly resurrected this tiny patch that once grew only artichokes in the 1950s.

20180822_194314.jpgThe great master had also been instrumental, at one stage, in helping these two domaines in the vinification of Cros Parantoux 1er. Our past experience with Cros Parantoux 1er had only been a 2008 at Lameloise in Chagny (thoroughly wasteful) and a 2005 (from Dr Ngoi) that was still elusive. For this event at Nicolas on 22 Aug 2018, MH, Eddy, Dr Ngoi and Grace had generously popped some precious bottles from their respective cellars. Knowing that these wines need a very long time to be at their best, these bottles had been aired under temperature control since morning, something absolutely imperative if anyone is considering drinking these wines. And if one is drinking Cros Parantoux 1er, what ought to be the supporting act? Montrachet, naturally, and d’Yquem for whites, while only Richebourg would be deserving for red. As a digression, LF had two bottles of Armand Rousseau that needed to be drunk urgently as a malfunctioning wine chiller had almost frozen the wines just days prior. With Nicolas and his outstanding team on hand to prepare dinner and serve us the wines, we were set for a most memorable evening though, I must say, the greatness of Cros Parantoux 1er, save for the 2003, remained elusive that evening. Nevertheless, my heartfelt thanks gentlemen, and Grace, for your wonderful generosity.

2000 Philipponnat Clos des Goisses, courtesy of LF. Shy on the nose though the palate is open with zesty yellow citrus, rather dry, underscored by subtle ferrous minerals with gentle yeasty tones and toast. Became fuller and more minerally, gaining an unprecedented level of richness once the very fine bubbles had dissipated, the wine becoming quite indistinguishable from a Puligny-Montrachet. Excellent.

2003 Dom Perignon Rose, courtesy of Hsiang Sui. Closed as well on the nose, proffering mainly grapefruit on the palate with very good depth of gentle red fruits, fleshy but dry with traces of sweet, staying somewhat stern before it eventually blossomed with tight blazing intensity.

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2011 Domaine Jean-Claude Ramonet Montrachet Grand Cru, courtesy of Jonathan Chan. This wine exuded a most delicate colour and bouquet with a soft glow of floral fragrance, infused with a gleaming tone of white fruits and gentle minerals on the full palate, quite ethereal and seamless as it sat in the glass with quiet intensity, eventually displaying its signature minerally glow that lingered with lengthy persistence. Wonderful stuff.

2008 Joseph Drouhin Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche Grand Cru, courtesy of Vic. Closed even after being double decanted since morning though the palate offered very fine detail of floral characters, white fruits and minerals, tonally rich with excellent purity. It took its time to open up further with an emerging hint of tropical fruits before blossoming into a full-bodied wine, layered with rich minerality, becoming more poised and ethereal over time. Lovely but essentially far from ready.

2011 Domaine Leflaive Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru. White fruits dominate with subdued minerals and recessed chalk that exuded a soft gentle glow with early complexity, gaining in creamy richness and fullness that culminated eventually in a gleaming rich chromatic tone, utterly seamless and open.

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2004 Domaine Armand Rousseau Chambertin Clos de Beze Grand Cru, courtesy of LF. Dark rose petals and cherries dominate on the nose and palate, beautifully ripe and succulent with beguiling freshness, quite sublime in acidity with soft refined tannins that hinted at traces of black pepper, displaying excellent definition and linearity throughout its length. Not the most profound of wines from this famous estate though this is probably a function of the vintage. Excellent, by any standards.

2001 Domaine Armand Rousseau Chambertin Clos de Beze Grand Cru, courtesy of LF. Similar to the 2004 in bouquet and palatal tone where dark cherries and raspberries dominate, highly supple and fleshy and inviting though it loses out in definition and detail. But I guess no one will ever complain when given the chance to taste any Armand Rousseau for free. Drinking well but unlikely to get better.

2003 Domaine A F Gros Richebourg Grand Cru, courtesy of LF. Delicious dark cherries and currants on the nose and palate, beautifully layered with plush textures that conferred great presence and suppleness though a tad short.

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2003 Domaine Emmanuel Rouget Vosne-Romanee Cros Parantoux 1er, two separate bottles from the same batch, courtesy of MH and Eddy. Opague purple. Generous bouquet of complex red fruits that exuded an exciting exuberant glow, matched by a rich opulent palate of dark currants and warm ripe fruit still imbued with a hint of vanilla, fairly extracted and undoubtedly full though never threatening to overwhelm, structured with great sophistication and subtlety that imparted elegance and poise. Still youthful and a little tight but what a successful wine this is considering the immense heat stress of this vintage. Outstanding.

2006 Domaine Emmanuel Rouget Vosne-Romanee Cros Parantoux 1er, courtesy of Dr Ngoi. Brighter in tone, similarly rich in its concentration and depth of fruit, structured with sublime acidity and unobtrusive tannins, mellowing quite quickly to reveal good definition and detail, becoming more delicious over time though it seemed to lack the last ounce of sophistication that one would expect from its pedigree, a tad short as well at the finish.

2005 Domaine Emmanuel Rouget Vosne-Romanee Cros Parantoux 1er, courtesy of Grace. Dark. Much more reserved on the nose, definitely less expressive, in spite of the abundance of fleshy warm ripe fruit that suggested red plums and red apples still cloaked in enamel, its steely acidity and brazen intensity adding to its bold masculine structure, though never abrasive. But, on the whole, there’s no escaping the feeling that this wine is still a little unsettled on the palate. Needs better resolution but may be great in time to come.

1989 Ch d’Yquem, courtesy of Sanjay. Apricot, nectarine and aged honey dominate on the nose, stuffed with fabulous concentration of fruit, layering and intensity, still full and astonishingly fresh in its ageless acidity.

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