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1998 Ausone & 1998 Haut-Brion

October 13, 2021

Due to current dine-in restrictions, I could only meet up with Sir K at Origin Grill, Shangri-la Singapore, on 12 October 2021 where a superb grass-fed T-bone was washed down over the course of four hours with a pair of top-flight clarets that were decanted on-site. But, to start things off, Sir K had brought a mini-carafe of white that was blinded. Distinctly pale with an effusive bouquet of dry summer hay laced with pears and fig, this wine laid on a full velvety warmth of delicate clear citrus with a touch of bitter lemon that moved with quiet verve and deft agility, subtly layered with very fine precision and sleek intensity, finally developing notes of green capsicum amid splashes of white tones with a dash of spice. This wine was so much like a Meursault that I thought it to be a Roulot. I was blown away when it turned out to be a 2019 Shaw & Smith M3 Adelaide Hills Chardonnay!! Really…why pay top dollar for burgundy when this is available at only a tenth?

20211012_220157.jpgNext came the clarets, drunk simultaneously. The 1998 Château Haut-Brion courtesy of Sir K, displaying a deep garnet red, exuded a superb earthy pungency amid delicious hue of dark roses, wonderfully plush in its velvety fullness underpinned by sleek acidity. It gradually opened up to reveal a flinty minerally dimension with a deep core of dark currants tinged with mocha and chocolate before fleshing out with a rich opulence one seldom associates with Haut-Brion. Beautifully seamless and youthful, caught at its peak and is likely to hold station for another couple of decades.

Cracked from an OWC6 imported from London, the 1998 Château Ausone showed a deep opaque purple that proffered a hesitant nose at first of ripe wild berries tinged with Chinese medicinal powder. This cleared after a few minutes to reveal a succulent depth of dark cherries and black currants, deliciously ripe, eventually fleshing out with exciting intensity as it exuded a powerful glow of cedary characters amid splashes of capsicum. Vinified by Alain Vauthier, one senses more of merlot than cabernet franc. Like the Haut-Brion, this is likely to evolve at a glacial pace over the next two decades.

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