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Old Bordeaux: 1966 Ch Leoville Las-Cases, 1971 Ch Pétrus, 1989 Ch Lynch-Bages…

November 1, 2019

With prices of Burgundy, already such a scarce commodity in most instances, attaining stratospheric proportions, Bordeaux is beginning to look more and more like a distinct bargain. Hence, we hit upon the theme of mature Bordeaux at Jade Palace on 14 October 2019. Thank you, everyone, for your generous contributions.

2006 Perrier-Jouet Belle Epoque Rosé, courtesy of LF. Beautiful deep luminosity. Faint grapefruit with some toast and yeasty notes on the nose. The palate is characterised by very deep intense core of clear citrus and crystalline tones with some faint floral fragrance, displaying a delicate stony lift underscored by a deep minerally streak that extended all the way to its ferric finish. Quite excellent.

1978 Drappier Carte D’Or Brut, courtesy of Sir Robert. Disgorged 1999. Deep golden lustre, yielding deep attractive yeasty tones with layers of fruit that is still remarkably fresh and intense, showing excellent vigour and acidity across a broad expanse of mature chalkiness. Excellent.

1996 Ch Leoville Las-Cases, courtesy of Vic. Mature deep garnet core. Highly reticent, yielding only a light mentholic nose. Distinctly rounded with a soft feminine suppleness, fully mellowed, still imbued with very good presence and fullness though the lack of tannin structure (having melted long before) robs the wine of some character.

1982 Ch Le Bon Pasteur, courtesy of LF. Mature deep garnet red, exuding gentle aromas of deep currants with a mentholic trace. Medium-bodied. Good presence of dark fruits and raspberries laced with very subtle acidity, rather quiet at the finish, developing a firm medicinal trace just as it turned more musty on the nose over time. Hard to place.

1998 Ch Beausejour Becot. Glowing fragrance of red fruits, red currants and haw on the nose, quite beguiling, though the palate is rather more recessed, distinctly medium-bodied and soft with rounded suppleness and very fine acidity, finishing gently even as it gained further intensity on the nose over time. Drinking very well but unlikely to improve further.

1971 Ch Pétrus, courtesy of Sir Robert. Mature deep garnet core, proffering gentle tones of dark plums and currants on the nose whilst the palate still possesses very good levels of fullness and presence, structured with svelte tannins that still impart fine intensity with further notes of soy coming on late. Proves the point that there is no such thing as an “off year” for Pétrus. Excellent.

1989 Ch Lynch-Bages, courtesy of Kieron. Deep garnet red, glowing with a classic claret tone of dried tea leaves and snuff. Softly rounded with excellent concentration within a supple medium-bodied proposition, imbued with ripe dark fruits, black currants and fine acidity that is still remarkably fresh. At its best, and will probably hold for another couple of decades, at least. Outstanding.

1998 Ch Haut-Brion, courtesy of Pipin. Deep impenetrable red, exuding a youthful bouquet of Bovril, deep dark currants, enamel and varnish. Medium-full. Beautifully warm and ripe, superbly supple, caressing the palate with its cedary richness that imparted some teasing intensity. Excellent.

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Happy birthday Roger!

October 22, 2019

Roger threw a lovely birthday dinner at the newly-renovated Imperial Treasure Great World on 12 October 2019. I’m not really sure why the restaurant bothered with any renovation, since it still appears largely similar to its previous incarnation and the food, whilst excellent, is not necessarily better. As usual within this group of invited friends, Burgundy is the default theme and all wines are blinded. Unless otherwise indicated, all wines were generously provided by Roger himself, aired in bottle for about three hours prior. The line-up was elegant and distinguished without any undue flamboyance, much like the birthday boy himself. We could have drunk more had a Leflaive BBM and a Henri Gouges NSG La Perrieres not turned out to be prematurely oxidised. Thank you and many happy returns, Roger!

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White 1. Aged golden hue with, perhaps, the faintest whiff of cork taint before an overwhelming bouquet of apricot, peaches and fig swarmed the senses with lovely aromas. Very fine in acidity and concentration of citrus with a very even high tone, rather minerally though there wasn’t much layering, slipping into recessed chalkiness after some time as it tapered with good linearity to a quiet finish. Undoubtedly a Puligny but Alvin hit the bull’s eye: a 1996 Domaine Robert Ampeau Puligny-Montrachet Les Combettes 1er.

White 2. Pale, exuding some faint icing and white floral tones on the nose, slightly flinty. Excellent sharp, clean lift of clear citrus and white fruits on the palate though somewhat narrow in spectrum with a high-toned minerality, displaying fine precision. Clearly a young wine, becoming more distinctly Chassagne later. I was spot on with the producer: a 2013 Paul Pillot Chassagne-Montrachet La Romanée 1er.

Red 1. Evolved pinot colour. Softly rounded, proffering aromas of delicious red fruits and cherries amid traces of earth. Very open and seamless. Highly supple, showing good acidity and intensity of fruit, structured with very finely-grained tannins as it finished with gentle persistence. Rather bright and distinctly feminine. We were floored when it was revealed to be a 2007 Domaine Armand Rousseau Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru.

Red 2. Dark pinot tone and colour, proffering a deep bouquet of delicious fruit. Matched up to expectations with an equally deep core of dark cherries, red fruits and currants on the palate, showing excellent concentration and harmony though darker in tonal shading, structured with youthful tannins that confer tight tension and intensity. Yet to open. We were correct about the commune and thought it likely to be a Vogüé, but it was the 2003 Domaine Georges Roumier Chambolle-Musigny Les Cras 1er.

Red 3. Displaying an evolved pinot tone and colour, this wine exuded a delicious floral fragrance of rose petals and red fruits amid traces of enamel. Highly lifted, open and supple, imbued with a trace of earthiness amongst its depth of fruit. Poised with lovely velvety elegance and controlled power. We’re were unanimous about it being from Vosne-Romanée, but we certainly didn’t expect it to be the now-defunct 2001 Domaine Rene Engel Echezeaux Grand Cru. Beautiful.

Red 4. Showing an evolved pinot tint, this wine proffered lifted tones of red fruits with a core of tangerines that danced on the palate with a certain deftness, open with great suppleness. Utterly seamless and harmonious, displaying excellent verve, energy and refinement. Most agreed with me that it was likely to be a Romanée Saint-Vivant, probably from Hudelot-Noellat or even D.R.C. Instead, a 2000 Domaine Dujac Clos Saint-Denis Grand Cru. Fabulous!

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Red 5. This wine presented with an appreciably darker pinot tint with plenty of depth on the nose, notably of dark fruits, currants and steamed food though the palate seemed somewhat attenuated in spite of the open suppleness, bright with pebbly characters, still coiled with tight racy intensity. Surely a Vogüé – the 2006 Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé Bonnes-Mares Grand Cru. Not ready.

Red 6. Displaying a deep garnet red, this wine proffers excellent depth and concentration of dark cherries and currants, very generously proportioned with fabulous racy intensity and tremendous verve but still tight. Undoubtedly from one of the stalwart vintages. A 1999 Domaine Meo Camuzet Clos Vougeot Grand Cru, courtesy of WCY.

Red 7. Literally popped and poured. Displaying a deep garnet core with some evolution, this wine is big, ripe and sweet, concentrated in dark currants and raspberries on a dense bed of graphite minerals that imparted some brightness, finishing with tight structured intensity. A 2005 Domaine Alain Burquet Chambertin-Clos de Beze Grand Cru, courtesy of John Ling. Truly one for the long haul.

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FICOFI: Domaine Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne 2017, 2011, 2001, 1994

October 14, 2019

FICOFI hosted an excellent dinner event at The American Club, Singapore, on 08 October 2019 that featured the wines of Domaine Bonneau du Martray with its general manager M. Thibault Jacquet in attendance. For many, this domaine is synonymous with Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru. Occupying 9.36 ha mid-slope on the Corton hill that is largely south-facing all the way from the lower border adjoining Corton Grand Cru (where pinot noir is planted) to the top of the hill more than 300 metres high, Bonneau du Martray is the largest landowner of these hallowed grounds. Its unique location facilitates even exposure to both the morning and afternoon sun. Biodynamically farmed since 1994, the slower-maturing grapes favour a longer growing season, resulting in wines that harbour fuller flavours and finer acidity. To this day, even after Jean-Charles de la Moriniere had sold out to American (shudder) Stan Kroenke in 2017, the white of Bonneau du Martray remains the yardstick by which all other wines of Corton-Charlemagne are judged. And, lest we forget, this domaine also produces a Corton Grand Cru from three separate plots (one of which actually lies within Corton-Charlemagne) totalling only 1.5 ha. They drink well but it is the Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru that will, rightly so, be forever worshipped by wine lovers throughout the world. Prices have jumped significantly since the takeover. One often hear of people talking about the greatness of pre-phylloxera wines. In the case of Domaine Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru, will it be a case of the pre-2017 wines that will always hold a special place in our hearts? Only time will tell. Merci FICOFI.

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2006 Philipponnat Clos des Goisses Brut. Poured from magnum. Highly aromatic, exuding a great lift of peaches and exotic tropical fruits with distant notes of icing. Open with very fine bubbles, underscored by subtle crisp acidity with the darker traces of pinot noir distinctly discernible. Very well textured with citrus and sweet white floral tones at just the right intensity with further notes of gentle yeast and toast coming on late. Excellent.

20191008_200617.jpg2017 Domaine Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru. Pale. Distinctly minerally in its sharply-defined lifted bouquet, almost flinty, with a hint of oiliness. Displays very good concentration of supple white fruits and clear citrus with delicate precision within a slim profile, imparting great subtlety and transparency, evoking further notes of nutmeg, heated gravel, crème de la crème and sake that hinted at fabulous future complexity. Beautifully balanced and proportioned. Already imbued with that extra dimension found only in the best vintages, this wine clearly has plenty of understated reserve but just only revealing teasing glimpses of its potential greatness at this stage. Outstanding.

2011 Domaine Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru. Lovely clean feminine lift of white flowers. Superbly proportioned with rounded restraint within a slim profile where layers of delicate fruit are readily discernible with excellent inner definition and precision. Highly poised and elegant, exuding tremendous subtlety throughout with controlled power and concentration even as it developed an expansive tone of white pepper at the finish. Highly cerebral. Very correct in every way, like the perfect demure beauty with brains. A connoisseur’s white. Outstanding.

2001 Domaine Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru. Pale luminosity. Gentle complex of distant nutmeg and icing, reminiscent of sake. Open with supple concentration, instilled with moderate intensity of clear citrus as well as a deeper streak of refined minerality on a backdrop of distant white floral tones. Took on greater intensity and definition over time, eventually settling with a Zen-like calm to a waxy finish amid faint traces of white pepper. Excellent.

1994 Domaine Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru. Clear luminosity. Shy, rather evasive on the nose. The palate is distinctly minerally with gentle chalky tones, somewhat narrow in profile, showing good transparency though its concentration appears to be flagging a little, tapering to a quiet nondescript finish. Feels tired. A second pour from another bottle fared only marginally better, perhaps a little more even in tone and concentration with a more pronounced chalky glow amid overtones of nutmeg but decidedly restrained, developing greater intensity but still missing in true complexity and tertiary development.

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2017 Domaine Bonneau du Martray Corton Grand Cru. Glorious clear deep purple. Forward in ripe raspberries, dark cherries and currants. Rounded and supple, showing good control of power and concentration with fine presence, subtly intense, oozing sweet understated tannins but lacking structure and inner detail. Somewhat short.

1994 Domaine Bonneau du Martray Corton Grand Cru. Showing early evolution in colour with quite a lovely deep bouquet of bright red fruits, cherries and some raspberries. Open and fleshy, softly rounded with good suppleness, displaying fine tertiary development but not spectacular, missing inner detail and depth as it finished on a quiet note with good linearity.

Bual 1969 Blandy’s Madeira. Deep seductive bouquet of glowing ember and burnt toast, layered with glorious concentration of fruit that is still remarkably fresh, exuding a lovely rounded burnished richness amid light medicinal tones with traces of sweet tobacco snuff. Excellent but really more of a connoisseur’s drop.

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1978 Hautes-Cornieres Santenay Gravieres, 2007 Comte Lafon Meursault-Charmes, 2002 Emmanuel Rouget Echezeaux…

October 7, 2019

These tasting notes stem from a dinner at Jinjo on 12 September 2019 in the presence of Desmond Lim (still over the moon about his restaurant Les Amis obtaining its third Michelin star) and Grant Ashton (founder of 67 Pall Mall), where the highly satisfying Japanese cuisine was matched by a diverse Burgundian line-up. Prior to that, we’d already downed a couple of large format sake as aperitif and it’s a miracle we were still sober enough to find our way home. The wines are detailed in the order drunk. Many thanks, everyone, for your generous contributions.

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Jinjo: fried rice with truffles

2007 Domaine Comte Lafon Meursault-Charmes 1er, courtesy of Pipin. Liquid gold. Lovely mouldy old feel on the nose with overtones of goat cheese. Very fresh, displaying superb transparency of clear citrus on the palate with a certain delicate elegance and understated intensity at the side. Took on a distinct sheen of paraffin, finishing with lovely supple intensity. Excellent.

1995 Domaine Coche-Dury Meursault, courtesy of Sir Robert. Superb clear luminosity, marked by sophisticated creme de la creme with an understated chalkiness on the nose. Very shy and gentle at first though that classic Coche-Dury signature is unmistakable: great structured mouthfeel, crisp clean finely chiselled minerally detail that shone with tremendous clarity and definition along with that extra layered dimension and verve, yet superbly smooth and elegant. Outstanding!

2014 Antoine Jobard Meursault Poruzots 1er, courtesy of Tim. Gentle earthiness whilst hinting at rich crème de la creme and vanillin. Highly refined with a gentle minerality that’s slightly briny, borne on the palate with a certain lightness and gentle intensity, almost aloof, finishing with good persistence.

2012 Domaine Roulot Meursault Meix Chavaux, courtesy of Kieron. Icy distant delicate bouquet of white floral tones with distinct minerally tones on the palate, marked by a certain salinity. Very well layered, utterly seamless, displaying superb depth and delicate elegance at a cool distance. Very very fine. Yet to really develop.

20190912_204137.jpg1978 Domaine des Hautes-Cornieres Santenay Gravieres 1er, courtesy of Sir Robert. Tasted blind. Well evolved in colour, exuding a wonderful tertiary complex of distilled dark cherries, dark currants and grilled meat tinged with orangey tangerines amid a slight reductive tone. Highly lifted. Open, rounded and fleshy with a deep understated intensity that yielded further notes of bright red fruits and camphor, displaying superb suppleness and persistence. Excellent.

2011 Domaine Dujac Vosne-Romanee Aux Malconsort 1er, courtesy of Kieron. Very shy. Light-medium textures with sandy undertones. Rather delicate with open suppleness. Distinctly feminine. Displays good presence and linearity but not showing much at this stage. Still rather backward and short, probably a function of the vintage.

2012 Domaine Georges-Noellat Vosne-Romanee Les Beau Monts 1er, courtesy of Tim. This wine opens with a slight reductive tone, imbued with abundant red fruits. Open with gentle understated intensity, slightly earthy but bright and utterly seamless, finishing well.

2009 Domaine Henri Gouges Nuits-Saint-Georges Clos des Porrets Saints-Georges 1er. Monopole. Good colour. Shy, just a faint whiff of red fruits. Medium-bodied. Shows good inner detail and typicity of terroir with some lovely understated intensity towards the finish. Quite open and seamless, taking on heightened intensity after four hours. Very fine.

1997 Domaine Bruno Clair Chambertin-Clos de Beze Grand Cru, courtesy of Stephen. Still quite darkly coloured though the nose is distinctly evolved, more of mature dark cherries and mulberries. Fleshy and subtly structured with good succulence, concentration, depth and layering, finishing on a note of austere minerals. Caught at its best.

1997 Domaine Faiveley Chambertin-Clos de Beze Grand Cru, courtesy of David Tan. Great pinot tint, proffering a great allure of roses, red cherries and raspberries on the nose and palate. Very fine concentration of glorious fruit, perhaps a tad more extracted than the preceding Bruno Clair but it feels correct, gently structured with a lovely feminine intensity that finished with gentle glow. Excellent.

2002 Domaine Emmanuel Rouget Echezeaux Grand Cru, courtesy of Desmond. Displaying a classic pinot tint, this wine exudes a wonderful glow of distilled red fruits and haw flakes, revealing lovely gritty inner detail on an open rounded palate layered with glorious dark fruits that bore exciting acidity and understated intensity. Still youthful. Quite superb.

2008 Domaine Hudelot-Noellat Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru, courtesy of Vic. Notably darker shade of pinot, quite richly imbued with very good concentration and presence of dark cherries and currants on a raspberry floor, structured with understated tannins. Finished with good linearity amid traces of sweet but missing in layering and detail.

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Sept 2019: 2016 Ch Peyredon Lagravette, 2005 Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon…

October 4, 2019

2003 Ch Clerc Milon, popped and poured at Otto Ristorante, 05 Sep 2019. Deep garnet red, exuding a dominant bouquet of red plums, dark currants and tangerines marked by a lovely rosy fragrance. Good concentration. Layered with raspberries that yield gritty detail amidst understated graphite minerals, structured with supple tannins. Drinking well.

2010 Ch Le Doyenne, popped and poured at Eat First, 18 Sep 2019. Full presence of blackcurrants, ripe raspberries and violets of considerable depth, structured with superb concentration and power without any jarring angularity across the palate, glowing with overtones of gravelly hot stones and stern minerals as it took on an exciting raciness with the development of svelte sexy tannins before finishing with a trace of bitterness. A real bargain at SGD45.

2015 Domaine Hudelot-Noellat Chambolle-Musigny, popped and poured at Jade Palace, 19 Sep 2019. Somewhat reserved on the nose, just hinting at dark roses. Similarly darkish on the palate, which is well-layered with blueberries, ripe raspberries, violets and dark currants on a base of very fine understated ferrous elements, brightening up towards the finish. Not ready.

2005 Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon, decanted on-site at Otto Ristorante, 20 Sep 2019. Bright opaque purple. Powerful aromas of varnish, dark currants, black cherries and wild berries amidst overtones of heated gravel. Fleshy. Softly rounded with supple pliant tannins, revealing good plummy depth with splashes of red fruits, exuding a warm ripe fruity fragrance. It transformed suddenly after an hour into a wine of great expanse and weight, imbued with rich savoury tones before mellowing with relaxed charm and refinement, finishing with a great velvety intensity. Excellent. For once, a Moss Wood cabernet that ages really well.

Rockford Black Shiraz 2006 disgorgement. Popped and poured over dimsum at Asia Grand, 22 Sep 2019. Showing a deep garnet red, this wine seemed rather subdued at first, proffering dark plums, wild berries and black cherries that imparted a bit of stern earthiness while its bubbles appeared to have fizzled out. It then underwent quite a dramatic transformation after an hour, firming up with greater breadth, depth and layering as it developed a greater bubbly presence, traversing the palate with blazing intensity of ripe dark fruits amid undertones of dry mushrooms and herbs. Perhaps it doesn’t quite possess the most complex of finishes that I’ve had with this wine but it can still lay claim as Australia’s finest sparkling shiraz. Drink now.

2016 Kaesler Cabernet Sauvignon, popped and poured at Crab At Bay, 24 Sep 2019. Deep purple. Aromas of sweet dark fruits, blackcurrants, violets and blueberries with traces of vanillin. 20190930_190213.jpgSmooth, rounded and fleshy, showing good sophistication and excellent ripeness of fruit, developing further notes of mocha and toffee as it turned slightly dryish with true cabernet textures but still forwardly balanced.

2016 Ch Peyredon Lagravette, popped and poured over dinner at home, 30 Sep 2019. Displaying a clear deep purple, this Haut-Medoc opens with delicious aromas of dark berries, violets and dark currants, softly rounded on the palate with good concentration, acidity and inner detail with understated intensity and unobtrusive tannins. One is struck by its lovely warmth and balance that is almost feminine in character rather than any outright power, possessing a level of sophistication hardly encountered amongst the wines of the Medoc in general. At SGD45 off the shelf, this is an absolute steal, even better than Ch Le Doyenne which I’d raved about previously. The magnum bottling should be even better. An unconditional buy. As a matter of fact, any 2016 claret is a buy if the price is right.

1976 Lafite Rothschild, 1982 Cheval Blanc, 2012 Bouchard Montrachet

September 28, 2019

Dr Ngoi, in one of his generous fits, threw a dinner at Crystal Jade Takashimaya on 12 September 2019 to celebrate the birthdays of SKY and TMH. We were advised not to bring any wine. Of course, nobody heeded but we were truly humbled by the embarrassing riches of food and wine that evening, so much so that only a few select bottles were popped. Many thanks Dr Ngoi, and to SKY and Tony as well for their generous contributions.

Pago de Tharsys Brut Cava, courtesy of Dr Ngoi. Lovely lifted bouquet of dense citrus allied with crystalline tones, replete with some characters of toast and yeast. Good presence, layered with green fruits, melons and sour plums though without real distinction nor complexity.

2002 Dom Perignon, courtesy of Tony Chew. Predominance of delicate grapefruit on the nose and palate, imbued with toasty oak amid pungent traces that impart excellent body and presence. Very smooth, lightly textured and transparent with beautifully sublime understated minerality enhanced by the sheen of very fine bubbles. Seamlessly integrated with great linearity throughout its length, glowing with lovely intensity at its persistent finish. Excellent.

20190913_223800.jpg2008 Domaine Faiveley Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru, courtesy of Dr Ngoi. Served too cold initially, this wine gradually opened up with early complex citrus amid understated chalkiness and crème, revealing great presence and concentration. Took on a waxy sheen with more salinity – almost Puligny-like – as it slipped into a relaxed easy suppleness that carried wonderful verve, vivacity and freshness, finishing with moderate length. Excellent.

2012 Domaine Bouchard Pere et Fils Montrachet Grand Cru, courtesy of Tony Chew. Obviously too young to be popped but who can resist? This wine opens with a gentle white floral tone laced with cool traces of vanillin and icing, revealing very fine inner detail, proffering fleeting glimpses of nutmeg and exotic white fruits as it exuded gentle intensity. Highly poised with a superb ethereal refined elegance before receding in a demure finish. One experiences the very essence of Montrachet. What a privilege to have had this as 2012 was a very low-yielding vintage.

2010 Axelle de Valandraud. Very dark. Still laced with traces of enamel amidst generous swathes of raspberries, dark fruits and black currants. Well extracted. Very ripe and evenly toned, exuding remarkable intensity and great acidity without being heavy, aided by silky tannins that conferred sleek structure. Still way too young. Wait another ten years, at least. Carried back from Saint-Emilion, this is only the second vintage after the inaugural 2000, a blend of two plots of Ch Valandraud totalling just 1.5 ha.

1982 Ch Cheval Blanc, courtesy of Tony Chew. Clear vermillion with a deep garnet core. Absolutely beguiling in its effusive deep seductive bouquet of rosy floral fragrance and red cherries. Softly rounded and open with a highly even palatal tone underscored by a very fine earthy base, remarkably fresh, highly understated in its gentle minerally finish. Most delicious and delectable.

1976 Ch Lafite Rothschild, courtesy of SKY. Decanted from an Imperial bottling! Still imbued with a deep garnet core in spite of its 43 years, this wine exuded an astounding bouquet of dark berries, mulberries, black cherries and currants with a suggestion of  very fine graphite elements that was most alluring, matched with a lovely feminine suppleness filled with abundant peaches and tangerines on a rich cedary floor, still laced with gorgeous acidity that has the legs to carry on for many more years, just missing in the last ounce of profundity. This wine was drinking so well that I must have drunk almost a bottle’s worth. Outstanding!

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FICOFI: Chassagne vs Puligny

September 25, 2019

FICOFI organised a mini comparison between the whites of Chassagne and Puligny (lest we forget that the former still produces delicious reds) on 19 September 2019 at FICOFI House, Singapore, a delectable theme that’s simply begging to be played out. I don’t think anyone can ever be tired of tasting the wines of these appellations, particularly the premier crus and grand crus. It has never ceased to amaze me how the monks in the old days already knew precisely which were the best plots and so on, as nothing has really changed since. Puligny has always been described as being minerally though, to me, that distinction is better expressed by Chassagne, always more delicate and feminine whereas Puligny has a different sort of minerality, at once more chiselled and chalky and bold. It’s not surprising that most people tend to favour Puligny for its obvious attraction but I feel Chassagne, in the best years, possesses greater mystery and character. However, the tasting that evening wasn’t quite the case of apples versus apples. The 2014 Ramonet 1er was pitted against a 2016 Henri Boillot 1er (2016, while excellent, is always half a step behind 2014), while the trio of grand crus all hailed from Puligny without any representation from Chassagne (remember Montrachet and Batard-Montrachet are split equally between Chassagne and Puligny, while Criots-Batard-Montrachet sits entirely in Chassagne), all differing in vintage as well. Nevertheless, one mustn’t pass up the opportunity to taste such wonderful whites after a busy day at work. Merci FICOFI.

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Map by Fernando Beteta, obtained from http://www.tenzingws.com

1996 Henriot Millesime Brut. Poured from jeroboam. Displaying a pale straw luminosity, this wine opens with a lifted gentle complexity of cool ripe citrus, pomelo and lime amid traces of bitter lemon. Layered with delicate chalkiness, transparency and depth, softly rounded, exuding a mild feminine intensity as that note of bitter lemon came back again to haunt its long persistent finish. Beautiful.

2014 Domaine Jean-Claude Ramonet Chassagne-Montrachet Clos du Caillerets 1er. This monopole comes from a walled section within the premier cru site of Les Caillerets in Chassagne, first bought by the negociant Vincent Girardin from Chateau de Pommard in 2003 and then subsequently sold to Heritage (an arm of FICOFI) which then leased to Ramonet. What an ingenious scheme. This inaugural vintage has never failed to delight the senses, teasing the nose first with cool gentle icy vanillin and delectable creme de la crème that transited seamlessly to a rounded creaminess on the palate, layered with dense white floral tones that fan out with pervasive charm and increasing power all the way to its persistent finish, yet with so much more held in reserve. Absolutely stunning, like a very well-mannered attractive lady whose beauty and mystique steadily grows on you. Consistent with a recent tasting note in August 2019. Glorious!

2016 Domaine Henri Boillot Puligny-Montrachet Clos de la Mouchère 1er. More effusive and powerful on the nose with chromatic tones of chalky minerals and crème de la crème, seamlessly integrated. Distinctly more extroverted with superb presence of delicate clear citrus and lime on the palate, imbued with sublime acidity and fabulous understated intensity, maintaining its racy character throughout the evening. Comes from a 4 ha monopole of old vines aged almost 80 years, sandwiched between Clavoillon and Les Perriéres. Vinified in large barrels since 1990. Superb.

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2013 Domaine Faiveley Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru. More developed and accentuated on the nose, displaying a sharp focus of cool icing and mint on a bed of dense white floral tones though the medium-bodied palate is unexpectedly rather delicate with a narrower spectrum of flavours, more minerally in intensity with understated chalkiness, losing focus towards the finish where some vegetal trace is discernible. Reflects well the vintage characteristic. Faiveley’s vines are located smack in the middle of the Puligny side of the 6.2 ha Batard-Montrachet.

2014 Domaine Bouchard Pere et Fils Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru. Blended from various plots on all four terraces of the clay-dominant Puligny high slope, this wine exudes controlled regal power with beautifully defined inner detail of dense white floral tones and nutmeg, evenly toned with a deep minerally focus, very tightly knit and seamlessly integrated with concentrated depth though surprisingly open in spite of its youth. Still yet to truly develop with plenty of potential in reserve. Superb. Bouchard vinifies each plot separately, blending them only after barrel ageing has been completed.

2015 Joseph Drouhin Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche Grand Cru. From the largest land owner of Montrachet occupying the Puligny end, this Holy Grail of whites was truly on form, proffering a gorgeous bouquet of exotic spices and nutmeg that contrasted beautifully against the bright gleaming chalkiness in the mouth, imbued with a cleanly-defined intense minerally depth that shone with great detail, exuding controlled power across the palate as it built up to a climactic finish with excellent linearity. Still tight but what a treat nevertheless. Outstanding.

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