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1996 Rousseau Chambertin-Clos de Beze, 1976 Bouchard Pere et Fils La Romanée, 2005 Leflaive Bien-Batard-Montrachet

March 30, 2019

I had the distinct privilege of adjourning straight to one of those super-exclusive bungalows in Sentosa, Singapore, immediately after work on 23 March 2019 (yes…we work on Saturdays too) for an exquisite private lunch of steamboat specially prepared by my hosts. Their generosity extended to the wine line-up as well that blew me away. Needless to say, after such a fulfilling long afternoon, I didn’t need to be fed for the rest of the weekend. Short notes will suffice for the wines, rare and outstanding as they are, for words fail when the table is overflowing with so much sublimity. Thank you very much for such a fabulous and unforgettable experience, my dear hosts, and may you enjoy many many more happy returns.

20190323_125618.jpg2005 Domaine Leflaive Bienvenues-Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru. Clear intense luminosity in the glass, very quiet and brooding at first with the faintest whiff of cork taint that seemed to have pervaded onto the palate with resulting dullness and fatigue. Just as I thought all was lost, this wine sprang to life 90 minutes later, the mustiness having blown off completely to reveal quite a glorious bright gleaming tone of deep dense chalky graphite minerals and distilled crème de la crème laced with crisp acidity that imparted a certain austerity, distinctly stern in demeanour even as it opened up with greater intensity and deftness.

1976 Bouchard Pere et Fils La Romanée Grand Cru. Great clarity of colour in spite of its age. Slightly reductive initially with some earthiness and mild yeasty pungency which I find highly attractive, leading to a very open mellow palate imbued with lovely purity of red plums that confer seamless smooth silky elegance, gentle and feminine, still retaining superb acidity and good concentration of fruit amid a slightly deeper vein of dark currants whilst its tannins have long melted away. Poised with quiet confidence, just a tad short but not at all dry or fragile. What a great privilege! One of only six monopole grand crus in Burgundy (if one excludes Chablis), La Romanée at 0.84 ha is the smallest appellation of all Burgundy. The wine used to be vinified and sold under Bouchard’s label as a negociant service. The estate’s owner Domaine Comte Liger-Belair began bottling the wine under its own label from 2002 onward. However, between 2002-2005, the wine of La Romanée, quite confusingly and for reasons unclear, could be found on both labels! This ceased completely from the 2006 vintage onward.

1996 Domaine Armand Rousseau Chambertin-Clos de Beze Grand Cru. This stalwart of the Cote de Nuits lived up fully to its lofty reputation, exuding a great lifted purity of bright red fruits with a lovely rosy fragrance, displaying superb depth of glorious fruit that oozed sublime definition and acidity with quiet intensity, utterly seamless as it finished with glowing persistence. Outstanding.

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Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Saint Georges 1er: 2007 & 1990 Henri Gouges; 2006 Faiveley Les Porets & 1993 Leroy Nuits-Saint-Georges

March 26, 2019

As I have alluded elsewhere, Nuits-Saint-Georges tend to be unfairly overlooked. Perhaps this is because no grand cru is to be found within this commune, or that the wines are perceived to be sandy, stern and uninteresting. This is, of course, wonderful for those who appreciate Nuits-Saint-Georges for what it is as prices are still sane and accessible although I have noticed them creeping up a little over the last few years. For me, Domaine Henri Gouges is the undisputed doyen of Nuits-Saint-Georges but, as this themed line-up revealed, there are plenty of excellent stuff from other producers. Saint-Pierre of Singapore lived up to its new-found Michelin star on this evening of 12 March 2019 where Emmanuel Stroobant was given carte blanche to pair the wines to excellent effect.

2007 Egly-Ouriet Millesime Brut Grand Cru, courtesy of Kieron. Lovely yeasty depth on the nose, leading to a lively palate of zesty lime and clear citrus infused with bright minerals, bathed in very fine bubbles that conferred a certain deftness and dry gentle intensity, finishing with lingering sweet citrusy intensity. Quite excellent.

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2004 Domaine Henri Gouges Nuits-Saint-Georges La Perriere 1er, courtesy of LF. Displaying a dull golden lustre, this unique pinot blanc (a mutated form of pinot noir) proffers an unusual complex of smouldering ember, lifted orange peel, light yellow citrus and marmalade on the nose, rather difficult to place as it is neither chardonnay nor anything else. Equally engaging on the palate where its lithe acidity and excellent presence further enhances the superb intensity of complex tangerines, a little dryish in tone but finishing with superb length and glowing persistence. At its best. Excellent.

1993 Domaine Leroy Nuits-Saint-Georges, courtesy of Robert K. In spite of its 26 years, this village, showing a beautifully evolved red, still exudes a deep bouquet of red fruits and cherries with a distinct tone of tangerines, remarkably full and supple with superb freshness, imbued with very lovely acidity and juicy svelte tannins as it evolved with further notes of raspberries tinged with kumquat, adding further dimension and depth. Truly wonderful, easily standing its ground against the line-up. Outstanding.

2002 Domaine Henri Gouges Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Vaucrains 1er, courtesy of LF. Deep vermillion, exuding a sharp earthy pungency with a superb lift of deep red fruits and currants. Medium-bodied and fleshy, layered with lovely depth of lithe tangerines with a distinct ferrous streak on a bed of velvety tannins, displaying excellent purity. Superb.

2006 Domaine Faiveley Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Porets-Saint-Georges 1er, courtesy of Vic. Good colour, flushed with deep aromas of ripe dark berries, red currants and dark plums. Open and fleshy with a certain warmth and forwardness, displaying a very precise even tone of fruit and linearity that I find to be the hallmark of Faiveley’s Nuits-Saint-Georges, finishing with classic earthy minerals. Very fine.

2007 Domaine Henri Gouges Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Saint Georges 1er, courtesy of Kieron. Beautifully evolved with a stealthy earthy pungency, proffering gentle dark currants on a palate suffused with sublime acidity and controlled intensity of fruit, very beautifully proportioned, finishing with a brief ferrous twinkle. Excellent.

1990 Domaine Henri Gouges Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Saint Georges 1er. Ex-domaine. Somewhat opague with a marked salinity at first when the bottle was first popped. Things were totally different after 90 minutes of aeration, turning deep vermillion with a deep controlled bouquet of glorious red fruits, beautifully open, poised with fleshy delicate elegance with a rich velvety tone of red cherries and currants that stretched out with glorious intensity throughout its gentle length, oozing with gentle sweetness at the side. Reminds me of a similar bottle tasted at the domaine’s cellars in October 2018, courtesy of Gregory Gouges. This is Les Saint Georges at its very best.

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FICOFI: 2017 Faiveley Montrachet Grand Cru

March 23, 2019

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Jerome Flous, winemaker of Domaine Faiveley

This FICOFI event on 05 March 2019 at Peach Garden, OCBC Centre, Singapore, featured a well-curated promenade of 2017 wines of Domaine Faiveley, still in cask, followed by a generous triptych of Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Saint Georges 1er, Corton Clos des Cortons Faiveley Grand Cru and Mazis-Chambertin Grand Cru to go with dinner with its winemaker  M. Jerome Flous in attendance. Having joined the domaine in 2007 at the behest of its seventh generation owner M. Erwan Faiveley (who took over from his father Francois in 2005), Jerome has largely been responsible for the shift in style of Faiveley over the past decade: wines that are more individualistic and expressive about each unique terroir, imbued with more power and layering without sacrificing the elegant beauty of Burgundy. With holdings of more than 130 ha, Faiveley certainly has plenty of depth and volume to offer. It is, therefore, not surprising that every Faiveley tasting event places severe stress on one’s mental and liver capacity. In spite of the allotted 90 minutes, I barely had time to finish up the promenade before moving on to dinner. It was a pity we didn’t have a wider range of the 2017 whites to taste (no Batard, no Corton-Charlemagne), but there was still plenty of excellent stuff. It’s no coincidence that the 2017 reds featured this evening come entirely from the Cote de Nuits. Erwan had explained to me in person last year that one has to be highly selective about 2017 reds and he’d felt that the Cote de Nuits reds were preferable than those of the Cote de Beaune. And it appears he is absolutely right, as the 2017 reds are nothing short of excellent, showing great sophistication with plenty of depth, layering and controlled power. Faiveley has had to buy in grapes for NSG Les Saint Georges 1er and Puligny-Montrachet Les Referts 1er in recent years while its own vines are being renewed, hence accounting for the non-domaine label for these two wines after 2015.

2017 Joseph Faiveley Puligny-Montrachet Les Referts 1er. Raw nutmeg with wild grassy elements on the nose, showing lovely restraint. Very well-proportioned with good focus, structured with fine intensity of clear citrus before finishing on a quiet note.

2017 Domaine Faiveley Bienvenues-Batard Montrachet Grand Cru. A distinct step up from the 1er, more lifted and poised with a rich creamy tone that led to an excellent presence of ripe clear citrus. Rather tight initially, uncoiling itself after some time to reveal superb acidity and layering, displaying great restraint and elegance with controlled intensity, finishing with a lovely tangy mouthfeel. Excellent.

2017 Joseph Faiveley Montrachet Grand Cru. The bouquet here is thoroughly unique, highly lifted in its perfumed exuberance of varnish, dense white flowers and vanillin that matched very well with very fine white peppery tones, longans, wild flowers and traces of nutmeg on the palate, very gently layered with lovely transparency and fine acidity, superbly proportioned and balanced, finishing with quiet refinement and linearity. Early days still, but already quite outstanding. Only 1 barrel available annually since 2014, from grapes purchased (from the Puligny side of Montrachet) in exchange for 2 barrels of Faiveley’s Chambertin-Clos de Beze.

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2017 Joseph Faiveley Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Saint Georges 1er. Expressive nose of raspberries and bright cherries amid traces of vanillin that carried well onto the soft fleshy palate with lovely ripeness and concentration, yielding transparent textures suffused with saline minerals, subtly structured with highly supple tannins and subdued acidity. Very fine.

2015 Joseph Faiveley Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Saint Georges 1er. Bright crimson. Exuding a gentle earthy pungency, this wine is beautifully poised with an abundance of red fruits with a bright polished sheen on the palate, its supple tannins conferring highly seamless textures with a soft gentle ferrous depth, finishing with good linearity. Already highly approachable. Quite excellent.

2017 Domaine Faiveley Gevrey-Chambertin Les Cazetiers 1er. Gentle red fruits dominate, softly aromatic with good density and oiliness in its mid-body that conferred a bit of boldness, imbued with bright salinity. Good finish.

2017 Domaine Faiveley Clos Vougeot Grand Cru. Forward balance of red fruits. Rounded and fleshy, coiled with tight intensity, not yielding much detail. A bit too overdone, I feel.

2017 Domaine Faiveley Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru. Red fruits dominate with some stern minerality on the nose that carried well onto the palate with gravelly detail though quite subtly integrated, softly structured with fine intensity.

2017 Domaine Faiveley Latricieres-Chambertin Grand Cru. A perennial favourite within Faiveley’s portfolio, the Latricieres in 2017 is showing well, subtly flavoured with dark roses and red fruits that exude a lovely rosy fragrance. Very well layered on the palate with excellent presence and purity, already open and fleshy with fine intensity and vigour. Excellent.

2017 Domaine Faiveley Mazis-Chambertin Grand Cru. Deep ruby. Effusive in perfumed aromas, covered with great open concentration of ripe wild berries, grassy elements and earth, gently nuanced with subtle intensity. Highly supple with poised elegance, tapering to a rich velvety finish. Excellent.

2017 Domaine Faiveley Chambertin-Clos de Beze Grand Cru. As expected, the king of Chambertin exudes a bold presence of ripe wild berries, earth, dark cherries and black currants, structured with excellent intensity of fruit with fine inner precision and layered with highly detailed earthy minerals, yet impeccably proportioned for such a masculine wine. Already accessible now with great potential for future complexity. Quite a complete wine already even at this stage. Outstanding.

2017 Domaine Faiveley Corton Clos des Cortons Faiveley Grand Cru. This monopole is highly aromatic with an open bouquet of perfumed red cherries and strawberries, very bright and bold with faint overtones of rye, malt and paraffin amidst dense red fruits, displaying fabulous intensity and concentration. One of my perennial favourites. Excellent.

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This was followed by the triptych of NSG Les Saint Georges, Corton Clos des Cortons Faiveley and Mazis-Chambertin at dinner, featuring three vintages per wine where the 2013 and 2007 were common to all…

2015 Domaine Faiveley Puligny-Montrachet Les Referts 1er. Pale. Notes of cool vanillin with distinct bright minerals dominate on the nose with further dense white floral tones and wild grass on the bright minerally palate, revealing raw detail amid the lovely acidity and concentration with traces of paraffin, just slightly short. Quite excellent.

2013 Domaine Faiveley Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Saint Georges 1er. This wine exudes a great earthy pungency with a forward balance, excellent in concentration and intensity of fruit with an acidic spine. Bright, bold, powerful and deep without being too assertive, showing tremendous swagger. Highly attractive. Very successful for a tough vintage.

2007 Domaine Faiveley Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Saint Georges 1er. Complex earthy nose with some evolution. Deeply layered with abundant fruit and complex minerality that is particularly rich and sophisticated. Very classy. Almost opulent. Superb.

1999 Domaine Faiveley Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Saint Georges 1er. Incredibly deep garnet core, proffering lifted dark currants and dark plums with a medicinal trace. Beautifully integrated and structured with gravelly detail and earthiness amid deep velvety textures that impart great succulence, finishing in a flourish of open intensity. Quite glorious.

2013 Domaine Faiveley Corton Clos des Cortons Faiveley Grand Cru. Some early evolution is evident. Sleek narrow structure, imbued with very good depth of red plums that impart fine presence but somehow it lacks distinction. Probably a vintage-related issue.

2007 Domaine Faiveley Corton Clos des Cortons Faiveley Grand Cru. Outstanding bouquet of complex deep velvety characters, deep dark berries and dark cherries with an attractive earthy pungency that carried very well onto the medium-full palate. Rich and opulent, poised with lovely crisp acidity, brimming with quiet intensity. Superb.

2000 Domaine Faiveley Corton Clos des Cortons Faiveley Grand Cru. Evolved with a vermillion rim surrounding a deep garnet core, proffering deep dark currants amid slightly dryish textures with overtones of white smoke and licorice. Fleshy and rounded with excellent concentration and good transparency, just a tad short. Quite excellent.

2013 Domaine Faiveley Mazis-Chambertin Grand Cru. Closed on the nose though the palate is rather full, imbued with gentle dark currants and black berries that belie its bold tannic intensity, quite seamless but lacking inner definition. Short as well.

2007 Domaine Faiveley Mazis-Chambertin Grand Cru. Dark in colour and tone. Medium-full, open with a lovely succulence of tangy dark currants and ripe raspberries that stretched with fine linearity to a long glowing finish. Quite excellent.

2003 Domaine Faiveley Mazis-Chambertin Grand Cru. Glorious hue of deep ruby. Closed on the nose though the palate is beautifully open with chiselled definition, imbued with a deep velvety cushion of ripe raspberries and wild berries with overtones of smouldering ember without any trace of heaviness nor heat stress. Excellent.

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Happy birthday Professor!! 2001 Margaux, 1995 Haut-Brion, 1990 Lafite Rothschild, 1996 & 2002 Chateau Mouton Rothschild, 1985 Latour & 1997 Gaja Darmagi

March 18, 2019

IMG-20190318-WA0003.jpgHow do you celebrate the life of someone who has looked after you very well, without whom you wouldn’t have achieved today’s success? The Professor needs no introduction to those whose paths have crossed. As brilliant as Moriarty but infinitely kinder, he has righted many wrongs, saved countless souls, put people in their respective places when necessary and helped his country win the fight against SARS. The man loves Bordeaux, and we were only too happy to roll out an entire First Growth line-up to celebrate his big round number at Silk@SICC on 15 March 2019, even though nobody really knows when the red-letter day actually is. With the exception of the Lafite, all wines were aired on-site. Many happy returns Professor! We shall always remain indebted to you.

1996 Dom Perignon, courtesy of Kieron. There was a distinct cork taint on the nose that pervaded slightly onto the palate, obscuring somewhat the soft yeasty pungency of this well-aged champagne warhorse that’s still holding well with crisp acidity and controlled intensity of clear and yellow citrus on a bed of recessed chalkiness, imbued with gentle dryness.

2001 Ch Margaux, courtesy of WCY. Surprisingly shy on the nose, proffering only faint aromas of dark cherries and dark currants though this wine is glowing with fresh mulberries and dark fruits on the palate, fleshy and rounded, suffused with sublime acidity amid traces of ferrous minerals that yielded transparent tertiary textures, finishing with peppery traces. Superbly balanced and proportioned. A classic Margaux.

1995 Ch Haut-Brion, courtesy of Kieron. More effusive than the preceding Margaux, this lynchpin of Pessac-Leognan exudes a gentle earthy pungency along with plummy tones, kumquat and tangerines at its core with greater immediacy, utterly seamless in its mellowed elegance as it dressed the palate in svelte tannins and lovely acidity. Doesn’t quite plumb the depths (not a hallmark of 1995) but makes up for it with its overall sublimity, culminating in a long glowing finish. Reflects very well the vintage characteristics.

2002 Ch Mouton Rothschild, courtesy of KP. Deeply coloured. Darkly flavoured with a bolder extraction of cool ripe mulberries, raspberries and black currants, still rather tightly coiled with an acidic spine though never astringent, opening up with greater transparency over time, revealing a hint of vegetal trace but it remained cloaked in dark tones.

1996 Ch Mouton Rothschild, courtesy of Hiok. Deep dark garnet core. Surprisingly reticent, though there’s never any doubt about the abundance of dark fruit lurking beneath, proffering dark chocolates, complex smoke and incense as the wine became more mellow and relaxed over time, quite seamlessly integrated with very refined acidity but it could do with more layering.

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The Professor’s men and lady from Changi

1990 Ch Lafite Rothschild. Aired in bottle for five hours prior, this wine opens with aromas of dark berries, mulberries and dark currants with a soft feminine fragrance, eminently elegant as it opened up with a deeper mentholic vein, still displaying very good presence and fine acidity, gaining further intensity with more velvety textures as it sat in the glass, just a tad short as it finished with a gentle ferrous trace. Quite the quintessential Lafite, still holding well even though its cork had turned too friable. From an OWC of 12.

1985 Ch Latour, courtesy of Vic. This Latour at 34 years is still darkly coloured, full and masculine, opening with a great lift of dark currants, ripe black fruits and violets that leapt from the glass, very open and fleshy, still imbued with an abundance of cool ripe fruit with after notes of tobacco leaves, structured with detailed velvety tannins that deliver power and smooth elegance in equal measure. Caught truly at its absolute peak. Very lovely. Superb!

1997 Gaja Darmagi Langhe courtesy of the Professor, a blend of 96% cabernet sauvignon and 4% cabernet franc. This wine from Piemonte displays a deep garnet core, superbly layered with a racy intensity of toffee, mocha and ripe raspberries within a highly supple tannin structure suffused with sublime acidity. Open and highly inviting, traversing the palate with great linearity all the way to its lengthy glowing finish. Outstanding.

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My dinner with Laurent

March 10, 2019

Laurent Ponsot is a name familiar to all Burgundy lovers, especially after the airing of the hit documentary Sour Grapes. Nevertheless, when I received an invitation at short notice from Dr Ngoi to a private dinner with Laurent organised by Wine Cliqúe at the one Michelin-starred Summer Pavillon, Ritz Carlton Millenium, Singapore, on 07 March 2019, I didn’t really know what to expect. For starters, the numerous bottles that were airing quietly in a corner didn’t sport the usual dull-yellow Ponsot label. They appeared distinctly modern in fashionable metallic hues with the name LAURENT PONSOT etched across in green lettering borrowed from Star Wars. No “Domaine” at all. What’s going on?

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Sure enough, when the man himself arrived a few minutes later, he looked exactly as he had been in Sour Grapes. Friendly, articulate and disarmingly engaging without nary a wrinkle around his twinkling eyes, Laurent is easily 20 years less than his 65. This is clearly a man who enjoys his work and who lives life to the fullest, abeit in a principled manner. And now, Laurent has to do it all over again. I hadn’t realised but, in spite of him having almost single-handedly raised the quality and profile of Domaine Ponsot to worldwide acclaim since taking over the reins from his father Jean-Marie at this mecca of Morey-Saint-Denis in 1981, things haven’t gone well for Laurent in recent years, culminating in him leaving the fold of this revered domaine in 2017 after 36 years, selling off his share entirely. But, as they say, you can’t keep a good man down. Laurent has started his own line under his own name, its inaugural vintage being 2015, with the help of his son Clement and several of his old-time staff, including his cellar master, who had also left Domaine Ponsot to support him. Laurent now functions as both grower and negociant. He still owns parcels in Griotte-Chambertin, Clos Saint-Denis and Chambolle-Musigny Les Charmes inter alia, but he now prefers to create blends from different plots of lieu-dit within each commune, buying in grapes or via share-cropping or, in the case of his Corton-Charlemagne, buying in the must (freshly crushed grape juice that contains as well the skins, seeds and stems). Both the Cote de Nuits and Cote de Beaune are well represented in its portfolio with the exception of Nuits-Saint-Georges, Volnay and Pommard for which Laurent has no interest. Neither is there any Chassagne or Saint-Aubin. All along, Laurent has advocated zero new oak for his wines. He stresses that the grapes growing in the vineyards are naturally exposed to the elements of terroir but not oak…so why should one expose it to fresh oak? Moreover, he explains that fresh oak tends to expose the wine to micro-oxidation. As such, he utilises only one-year-old used oak for premier cru and grand cru, whilst older wood is used for village. Laurent never fails to remind us that the vines represent a connection to Mother Nature and that his role is one of servitude rather than being a creator. In this respect, I am reminded of Comte Georges de Vogüe’s long-serving cellar master Francois Millet who espouses the same philosophy.

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Talking to Laurent, one senses that he is an absolute hands-on person who is guided by what he has seen and done throughout his long career. When I broached to him the issue of bottle closures, he lights up instantly for, after 16 years of intense study and observation, he has found the ideal closure in the form of a synthetic cork that is totally inert to chemical interaction with the bottled wine, yet allowing a controlled permeability to oxygen. In fact, Laurent has pin-pointed 100 parts per million of oxygen in wine as being ideal for the taste of a 10-year-old Burgundy, and he has helped to develop what eventually became known as the ArdeaSeal AS-Elite, with which he has famously used to stopper his wines since 2008. This is a man for whom tradition is useless if it fails him, and he is not afraid to walk away from such sacred cows.

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The conversation drifts to other things. Laurent has been to Singapore and many parts of Asia many times over. In the very early ’80s, Laurent was one of the very first vignerons to promote his wines in Asian markets, thus accounting for his ability to converse somewhat in Mandarin and Japanese, including a stammering of Malay. He has had countless Japanese women throwing themselves at him in absolute supplication, but he politely declines. Laurent loves his fried rice, particularly the stuff served at Summer Pavillon and we duly obliged him. He wants to be a pigeon in his next life, because it keeps coming back! You can’t help but like the man. You have the feeling that Laurent is a fun guy but he is serious about things that matter to him. He is comfortable talking about Rudy Kurniawan, but any mention about meeting up with Rudy again after his eventual release easily gets Laurent heated under the collar. And he isn’t too happy about Sour Grapes either. Being a retrospective production, it seems a number of deviations from the fact had to be made in order to spruce up the story and Laurent is only too happy to rectify such mis-representations in his forthcoming tell-all memoirs. I can’t wait for it to be published.

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Now, how about the wines? It seems Laurent has hit the ground running. Within such a short time, he has already achieved results befitting his famous name. Whereas a number of 2016 whites from some producers tend to be plump, flabby and tired, the whites of Laurent Ponsot display absolute purity and precision of expression, imbued with delicate elegance, energy and balance. The reds, too, show tremendous verve and detail, again ingrained with superb balance and purity. Most importantly, the individuality of each terroir shines through with effortless grace. Tasting these wines, one begins to understand why Laurent eschews new oak, for the lack of it actually enhances the inner definition and purity. They all have nicknames: the whites take after various species of flowers while the reds take after trees. Naturally, quantities are highly limited, particularly for such a low-yielding vintage as 2016 where only 47,000 bottles were produced in total and they do command a hefty premium.

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2003 Champagne Pommery Cuvee Louise Rosé. Lovely deep yeasty tones amid some lovely earthy pungency, developing more notes of grapefruit and heated gravel on the brightly lit palate, displaying very fine depth, detail and appropriate dryness, just a tad short. Quite excellent.

2016 Laurent Ponsot Meursault-Blagny 1er Cuvee de Myosotis. Pale. This wine opens with a cool clean lift of wild grass and shades of nutmeg, superbly integrated and proportioned with excellent presence and depth of fruit, exuding elegant vigour, delicate detail and refinement with a minerally shine without excess plumpness nor acidic assertiveness, finishing in a lengthy white floral tone with superb linearity. I’ve not come across such great refinement from this source. Excellent.

2016 Laurent Ponsot Meursault-Charmes 1er Cuvee de La Centauree. Pale. Slightly more creamy on the nose but it still has that superb delicacy and presence, substantially layered with nutmeg, olives and complex citrus on a bed of gentle chalkiness stuffed with sublime acidity. Almost racy at first, eventually settling down with great seamless elegance, exuding highly unique flavors that culminated in a great glowing lengthy mouthfeel. Outstanding.

2016 Laurent Ponsot Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru Cuvee du Kalimeris. Made from bought-in must. There is a lovely luminous glow of white fruits on the nose that grew with gradual intensity like a morning mist breaking cover, leading to a palate of delicate white fruits and clear minerals that shone with lovely purity, gentle richness and transparency amid traces of nutmeg, finishing with a persistent tangy mouthfeel. This is up there with the very best of Corton-Charlemagne.

2016 Laurent Ponsot Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru Cuvee du Cedre. Lovely colour though restrained, proffering gentle earthy tones, light red plums and currants on the nose, highly consistent with the generous tone of light cherries laced with ferrous elements on the palate, highly supple, its refined purity and teasing acidity producing a great open mouthfeel as it developed an excellent minerally depth over time. Deliciously seamless. Superb.

2016 Laurent Ponsot Griotte-Chambertin Grand Cru Cuvee du Saule. Superb deep ruby. Lovely aromas of cherries and redcurrants of superb ripeness and purity, matched by a deeper vein of rich fruit structured with exciting tannins that imparted wonderful mouthfeel, yet superbly proportioned in spite of its fabulous open intensity. Outstanding.

2016 Laurent Ponsot Clos Saint-Denis Grand Cru Cuvee du Merisier. Made from vines planted in 1905. Deep ruby hue, exuding a quiet restraint on the dryish bouquet, layered with rich velvety textures that reveal lovely inner detail within its incredibly svelte tannins, seamlessly integrated with tremendous verve and depth. Brilliant!

1990 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti La Tache Grand Cru, courtesy of the great Mr Oei HL. Well-evolved vermillion. As expected of this pedigree and vintage, this great monopole impressed at once with its stunningly deep bouquet of kumquat, strawberries, glycerin and tangerines amid darker currants, open with cool ripeness and tremendous energy that transcended the palate with great suppleness and effortless grace, layered with sublime acidity and fabulous depth as it stretched out with supreme power, elegance and length. Truly a complete wine. Outstanding.

I must thank the wonderful people at Wine Cliqúe for this intimate opportunity to meet M. Laurent Ponsot, as well as Dr Ngoi and Mr Oei for their kind generosity. This has been an unforgettable evening.

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Feb 2019: 2006 Drouhin-Laroze Clos d Beze, 1996 Ponsot Gevrey-Chambertin L’Abeille, 2000 Ducru Beaucaillou, 1996 La Mission

March 1, 2019

2012 Leth Roter Veltliner Klassik, a glass at Humpback, Singapore, 02 Feb 2019. This Austrian white sports aromas of light lemon and clear citrus on the nose with a gentle floral lift. Quite generous in green fruits on the palate, showing lovely deftness and delicacy with good weight, becoming more expansive in the glass, finishing with a lasting tangy presence. Very fine.

1997 Carpineto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva, decanted on-site over lunch at Otto Ristorante, 04 Feb 2019. Deep vermillion, exuding powerful earthy aromas with characters of mushrooms, ripe grapefruit and dark plums, layered with gentle medicinal and herbal overtones on the nose and palate. Medium-full. Fleshy and rounded with lively acidity, structured with smooth supple exciting tannins that impart lovely gentle intensity, finishing well amidst traces of sweet. Quite excellent.

2014 The Otazu Bond, popped and poured over Lunar New Year dinner at home, 05 Feb 2019. Magnum. Made from top-quality grapes classified as Pago appellation and blended by yours truly, this wine appears to have turned the corner, having finally shed its sheen of vanillin emulsion, revealing deep layers of black cherries, dark currants, dark plums and raspberries, very well concentrated with fine purity, subtly structured with good cohesion, focus and linearity. Quite excellent.

2003 Champagne Henriot Millesime, popped and poured at Yan, 06 Feb 2019. Magnum. This wine exudes excellent freshness and transparency in spite of its rich presence of green fruits and clear citrus, layered with crystalline tones amid subtle ferrous minerals and acidity, growing in intensity over time with a smoky granite density as it yielded further yeasty characters. Excellent.

2004 Mount Mary Quintet, popped and poured all too quickly at Dorothy’s place, 09 Feb 2019. Magnum. Darkly coloured. Ample in dark fruits, blackcurrants and graphite with a ripe dark plummy tone on the palate that opened up nicely with rich layers, oozing with sweet dark chewy tannins throughout its length. Quite excellent.

2018 Frontera Sauvignon Blanc, tasted at Krisflyer Gold lounge, Changi Airport T3, 10 Feb 2019. This Chilean white excites the senses with rich earthy tones amid dense white floral notes, slightly peaty. Plump and very amply layered, revelling in its excellent fullness peppered with raw nutmeg, finishing with gentle intensity. Very fine.

2017 La Cazal Minervois, tasted at Heathrow Airport T2 Silver Kris lounge, 13 Feb 2019. Bright plummy tone on the nose while the full palate is imbued with dense dark fruits, forest floor and bramble amid traces of licorice. Rather straightforward.

Rodier Pere et Fils Brut NV, tasted at Heathrow Airport T2 Silver Kris lounge, 13 Feb 2019. Bold intense yellow citrus dominate on the bouquet, coupled with dry intensity of dense stony minerals on the palate amid yeasty tones, finishing with stinging persistence. Quite serviceable.

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All home-made…Yang can certainly cook.

Champagne Bonnaire Rosé, courtesy of Yang over dinner at her residence, 16 Feb 2019. Tasted blind. Deep colour. Reticent initially, gradually evolving with notes of grapefruit and mandarin orange on a backdrop of dry tensile minerality, displaying good depth and fine gentle intensity. Elegant. Resembles a Billecart-Salmon rosé.

2016 Domaine Arnaud Ente Bourgogne, courtesy of Yvonne over dinner at Yang’s residence, 16 Feb 2019. Tasted blind. Good colour. Slightly reductive at first, revealing only delicate grassy notes before it began blossoming with intense clear citrus layered with lovely minerality and teasing acidity that imparted some mouth-puckering intensity, well rounded and feminine with fine detail and transparency, finishing with gentle length but missing in persistence, eventually receding back into its shell as the wine became shrouded with recessed chalky tones. Undeniably attractive but not ready, even for a bourgogne.

2010 Domaine Henri Gouges Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Vaucrains 1er, over dinner at Yang’s residence, 16 Feb 2019. Tasted blind. This wine opens with a gentle rosy fragrance that overlay a deeper tint of ripe cherries, slightly earthy as well. Highly supple and sleek, imbued with orangey tangerines that exuded very refined feminine tannins that imparted lovely delicacy and acidity, finishing with moderate length but fabulous open intensity. Excellent.

1999 Domaine Faiveley Clos des Corton Faiveley Grand Cru, courtesy of Yang over dinner at her residence, 16 Feb 2019. Tasted blind. Deep colour with some evolution, exuding beautiful gentle aromas of earth, cedar, deep cherries, currants and violets. Rounded with lively acidity, fabulous depth and intensity on the palate within a lovely gentle tannin structure, underscored by a great ferrous linearity throughout its length. Excellent.

2008 Domaine Jacques-Frederic Mugnier Nuits-Saint-Georges Clos de la Marechale 1er Rouge, courtesy of Roger over dinner at Yang’s residence, 16 Feb 2019. Tasted blind. This wine displays a heavier mature tint, exuding a spicy bouquet of chives whilst coating the palate with a broad expanse of dark berries and black currants amidst light medicinal and licorice overtones, its weighty tone nicely offset by intense acidity, eventually mellowing with lovely presence and great suppleness.

2006 Domaine Joseph Drouhin Bonnes-Mares Grand Cru, courtesy of Alvin over dinner at Yang’s residence, 16 Feb 2019. Tasted blind. Lovely nose, featuring deep feral tones amid gentle dark plums and currants with a bare vegetal trace. Open with attractive depth of delicious dark berries. Full, vivacious and well balanced with good levels of ripeness and detail supported by a narrow spectrum of rustic ferrous minerals, taking on a waxy sheen with some secondary nuances as it sat in the glass. Excellent.

2006 Domaine Drouhin-Laroze Chambertin-Clos de Beze Grand Cru, courtesy of Alvin over dinner at Yang’s residence, 16 Feb 2019. Tasted blind. Very correct colour and tint, displaying quite an intoxicating bouquet of dark cherries and red currants with lovely purity, rather racy in its bold swagger and fragrance yet managing to stay poised and controlled, highly supple with a lovely gentle presence. Absolutely on song.

2001 Domaine Ponsot Griotte-Chambertin Grand Cru, courtesy of WCY over dinner at Yang’s residence, 16 Feb 2019. Tasted blind. Unmistakably aged in feel, evident in its evolved opacity with mature earthy tones amidst orangey tangerines that has receded too far behind such that its acidity has turned distinctly angular, difficult to ignore in spite of its feminine softness.

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2005 Ch D’Aiguilhe, over dinner at the in-laws, 17 Feb 2019. Big, bold and tannic, displaying an ample tone of ripe black fruits on a rich cedary floor amid traces of herbs, spice and licorice. Fleshy and structured, finishing with moderate length. Unashamedly modern, appearing to evolve at a glacial pace.

2009 Louis Roederer Brut, from the list of Summer Pavillon, Ritz-Carlton Singapore, 21 Feb 2019. Bright minerally shine, well balanced against gentle yeasty tones with light traces of kumquat and smoky incense. Layered with good concentration of sweet fruit, not too dry, developing some early complexity as it finished with intense notes of pomelo and bitter lemon. Very fine.

2014 Domaine Hubert Lamy Saint-Aubin Derriere Chez Edouard 1er, from the list of Summer Pavillon, Ritz-Carlton Singapore, 21 Feb 2019. Slightly reductive initially with an attractive earthy pungency, revealing  subtle acidity with very lovely nuances on a minerally base. Rounded with good density and layering, superbly balanced and integrated with an eventual warm caramelised tone.

2014 Domaine Jean-Marc Pillot Chassage-Montrachet Les Caillerets 1er, courtesy of Marc at Summer Pavillon, Ritz-Carlton Singapore, 21 Feb 2019. Lightly coloured. Belies the aromatic lift of floral fragrances amidst gentle rich creamy overtones, carrying over with a lovely density of complex minerals and white flowers in the mid-body, revealing excellent transparency and purity within its lean elegant profile. Excellent.

2000 Ch Barde Haut, at Summer Pavillon, Ritz-Carlton Singapore, 21 Feb 2019. Deep garnet core, opening with menthol and licorice with a spicy hint on a cedary floor. Quite fleshy and supple, very subtly structured, finishing with mild intensity. Drinking well.

2001 Ch La Conseillante, courtesy of Kieron at Summer Pavillon, Ritz-Carlton Singapore, 21 Feb 2019. Deep purple. Exudes gentle dark currants and raspberries on the nose. Medium-bodied. Fleshy and rounded with great suppleness, developing more of red fruits and bright cherries that imparted a quiet feminine intensity, slightly stern as it finished with good linearity though just a tad short.

2001 Vieux Chateau Certan, courtesy of Russell at Summer Pavillon, Ritz-Carlton Singapore, 21 Feb 2019. Deep purple, still carrying a hint of enamel and varnish. Nicely supple and lithe, displaying great succulence and fine detail in its deep layering of dense dark fruits and soy underscored by graphite minerals that lent a bit of austerity, finishing with great linearity in a long lasting glow. Excellent.

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2000 Ch Ducru Beaucaillou, courtesy of Melvin at Summer Pavillon, Ritz-Carlton Singapore, 21 Feb 2019. Delicate lift of graphite, raspberries and sweet dark currants marked by a lovely earthy pungency. Beautifully open with gentle intensity and concentration, very lively and deft with plenty of layering. Excellent.

1996 Ch La Mission Haut Brion, courtesy of Sandy at Summer Pavillon, Ritz-Carlton Singapore, 21 Feb 2019. Deep clear crimson. Shy and reticent but undoubtedly beautiful on the palate, very polished and poised with great open transparency, developing a very gentle feminine intensity as it tapered to a minty finish. Excellent.

1989 Ch Talbot, courtesy of KC at Summer Pavillon, Ritz-Carlton Singapore, 21 Feb 2019. Lovely rosy aromas with a slight earthiness on the nose. Medium-bodied. Possesses a sleek seamless profile with a lovely oily density, gently structured with detailed gritty tannins as it evolved with further notes of mocha and chocolate. Excellent.

2000 Domaine Zind Humbrecht SGN Roten Wintzenheim Pinot Gris, courtesy of Stephen at Summer Pavillon, Ritz-Carlton Singapore, 21 Feb 2019. Very deep colour with an appropriately deep burnished tone of dense honey and aged nectar, still imbued with lively acidity and concentration as it coursed through the palate with a discernible medicinal hint, just a tad short. Quite excellent.

2017 Coldstream Hills Chardonnay, popped and poured over dinner at home, 24 Feb 2019. This wine delivers on its promise of frangipani, clear citrus, cashews and moderate crème on the nose with a satisfying medium-full palate, showing good presence with a certain oily density in the mid-body before evolving with further notes of raw nutmeg, cane and wild flowers, taking on a bolder stance. Excellent value, not far off in quality from this estate’s “Reserve”. Very fine.

2004 Ch Latour-a-Pomerol at Crystal Jade Paragon, 26 Feb 2019. Perennially under-rated, this wine opens with a delicious deep bouquet of dark currants and black fruits, marked by brilliant quicksilver acidity that I’ve never encountered before from this estate. Quite excellent in concentration and fullness, developing quite a rich plummy tone with very fine depth and weight, structured with a subtle minerally base that imparted a certain stern demeanour over time. Very, very fine.

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2014 Francois Carillon Puligny-Montrachet, courtesy of Kieron at Park90, Singapore, 27 Feb 2019. Pale, proffering a gentle minerally glow with traces of tangerines, slightly bright on the palate. Took quite a while to open up with a lovely expanse of complex grassy elements amid white floral tones supported by a chalky density, showing good detail, becoming more minerally over time as it finished with a long stony persistence. Quite excellent.

2012 Domaine Jean-Claude Ramonet Chassagne-Montrachet Boudriotte 1er, courtesy of Kieron at Park90, Singapore, 27 Feb 2019. Delicious aromas of nutmeg and mint tinged with saline minerals. Very good presence on the palate with rich creamy textures that eventually transformed into transparent fleshy textures with the classic Ramonet signature of complex white flowers and lovely detailed minerals, finishing with gentle persistence. Excellent.

2010 Domaine Perrot-Minot Chapelle-Chambertin, courtesy of Kieron at Park90, Singapore, 27 Feb 2019. Generous tone of red cherries and dark plums with traces of marmite, softly rounded. Structured with great suppleness, revealing excellent depth of gentle dark currants, very well layered though slightly short.

1996 Domaine Ponsot Gevrey-Chambertin Cuvee de L’Abeille, courtesy of RK, 27 Feb 2019. Rich tone of tangerines and red cherries, beautifully mellow and supple, infused with subtle ferrous and saline minerals along with lively acidity, exuding very fine presence and purity. You’ll never realise it’s a village. At its absolute peak and holding well.

2012 Garofoli Grosso Agontano Riserva, decanted on-site at Jade Palace, 28 Feb 2019. Intense raspberries, black fruits and dark currants on both nose and palate, laced with stern ferrous elements. Full-bodied, very bold and  lively, mellowing quite a bit after an hour with more open fruit though it is still brimming with quiet savoury intensity. Not ready.

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Koi (Oil on canvas by Chua Mia-Tee, 2008)

Jurade de Saint-Emilion: Singapore

February 21, 2019

IMG-20181128-WA0014.jpgThe Jurade de Saint-Emilion is the oldest wine brotherhood in the world, formed in 1199 to act as custodians of wine production in Saint-Emilion on behalf of the English crown. This commune, in turn, may trace its origins as far back as the second century when viticulture was first introduced by the Romans and, subsequently, in the eighth century when Emilion the Benedictine monk, famed for his feats of miracles, moved from Brittany to found a monastic town that eventually became Saint-Emilion, culminating in the construction of the Monolithic Church in the early twelfth century which still stands today. The function and tradition of the ancient Jurade continued until the French Revolution of 1789 when it was dissolved. It would not be until 1948 when several winegrowers came together to resurrect the Jurade as a band of global ambassadors for the wines of Saint-Emilion. In case you’re wondering why Saint-Emilion needs any further promotion, it would be worth remembering that this commune of 27 square kilometres houses more than 600 different winegrowers (plus another 500 if one includes its satellite regions of Puisseguin, Lussac, Montagne and Saint-Georges) across a multitude of differing microclimates, such that the usual names one encounters account for barely a fraction of the production available. The reality hit me when I discovered that, with the exception of Ch Angelus, I had never come across any of the wines at the inception of the Singapore Chapter of the Jurade de Saint-Emilion on 29 November 2018 at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore, led by our very own Chancellor Melvin Choo and graced by the Jurade’s Commandeur Hubert de Boüard de Laforest (famously of Ch Angelus) as well as the respective vignerons from each of the chateaux listed below. I found the wines to be very well crafted, layered with ripe fruit and possessing very fine minerality and acidity with great balance. It’s quite a wonder that they still remain “undiscovered”, a testament to the very stiff competition in the real world of wine business. Do look out for these labels from your local retailer.

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Forget-Brimont Brut Premier Cru. Quite minerally on the nose but shy. Good concentration of dried pears and gentle white fruits with an attractive depth of dark fruits, just a little short.

2016 Ch Lanbersac Cuvée Or Rouge. Soy, dark plums and licorice dominate. Bold and minty with a slight vegetal tinge, showing good concentration and linearity. A blend of predominantly merlot and cabernet france with some malbec, vinified Madame Francoise Lannoye at its 22-ha estate in Puisseguin Saint-Emilion.

2015 Ch La Rose Cótes Roi. Dryish tones of mushrooms and Chinese tea leaves. Ample presence of dark red fruits and mulberries, very well-integrated with lively acidity. Good finish. Made by Pierre Mirande.

2015 Ch Mangot. Effusive bouquet of ripe raspberries and strawberries amid overtones of chocolate, enamel and vanilla, highly attractive. Lovely supple fullness with excellent concentration, layered with very fine acidity and intensity of fruit, all very well-integrated with subtle detail. Excellent. Made by brothers Karl and Yann Todeschini focusing on low yields that bring about smaller riper berries, Ch Mangot may trace its roots back to 1556. Impressive.

2014 Ch Coutet. Some early evolution in colour with a lightly accented bouquet of fresh wild berries. Good agile presence with an abundance of mulberries amid transparent textures, structured with gentle sweet tannins, just a tad short. Highly elegant. Ch Coutet has been family-owned since 1601.

2014 Ch Pindefleurs. Glow of warm ripe plums. Medium-bodied with a juicy succulence, highly supple with seamless subtle acidity. Great freshness and charm, finishing with good persistence. Lovely. Originally a Carthusian monastery that was acquired by Dominique Laurent in 2006, the winemaker is supervised by Stephane Derenoncourt.

2014 Ch Moulin Gaihaud. Good lift of ripe raspberries and dark cherries. Soft and gentle on the palate, structured with seamless acidity and sweet tannins that offer gritty detail. Very fine. Founded in 1901, this estate is now run by its third generation owner Jean-Francois Gailhaud while Michel Rolland supervises the winemaking.

2012 Ch De Pressac. Some early evolution is evident, exuding broad swathes of warm red fruits, rose petals and red currants with a sweet open expanse across the palate, displaying excellent ripeness and intensity of fruit, finishing with good linearity. As the name Pressac indicates, there is a dash of malbec in the blend. Located in Saint-Etienne-de-Lisse, east of Saint-Emilion, this very property is the exact place where the English surrendered in the Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453), now owned by Jean-Francois Quenin.

2011 Ch Laroze. Rich vermillion hue. Good presence of red fruits and currants, highly supple, layered with subtle intensity and acidity. Quite seamlessly integrated. Founded in 1882, now managed by Guy Meslin.

2008 Ch Guadet. Sophisticated bouquet of dark violets, blueberries and black fruit. Equally engaging on the palate, teasing the senses with lovely subtle intensity of fruit amid svelte detailed tannins, very fine in concentration and acidity. Superbly balanced. Excellent, all for a fraction of the cost of a premier grand cru classé A. Founded in 1844, this estate is managed by Vincent Lignac.

2011 Ch Angelus. Expectations are high for any Angelus and this wine doesn’t disappoint, opening with a generous expanse of cool ripe fruits layered with mulberries, dark currants and blackberries, lifted with excellent concentration, fleshing out with fine open intensity within pliant supple tannin structures. Highly elegant and sophisticated.

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With Commandeur of the Jurade de Saint-Emilion Hubert de Boüard de Laforest

And, of course, we brought more of our own Saint-Emilion for dinner to accompany the excellent cuisine prepared by the team from Daniel Boulud…

2002 Ch Pavie Macquin, courtesy of Vic. Faint evolution at the rim. The nose is simply quite bequiling, an attractive blend of ripe red fruits, blackberries and dark currants that carried well onto the palate with a cedary floor. Medium-full, fleshy and rounded, structured with supple pliant tannins as more of delicious dark currants emerge to the fore over time.

2001 Ch Figeac, courtesy of Kieron. Generous expanse of delicious dark fruits, classically structured, very open and softly textured, imparting a mild gentle intensity.

2000 Ch Figeac, courtesy of CHS. Showing some evolution in colour, this wine exudes an interesting light nose of morning dew, clear citrus and light red fruits matched by a medium-bodied presence of feminine grace, softness and gentle intensity, very well-integrated, finishing well. Lovely.

1995 Ch Tertre Roteboeuf, courtesy of LF. Dusky red. Mild herbal medicinal tones and licorice dominate on the bouquet whilst the palate is softly rounded and highly supple, exuding quiet intensity with a lovely depth of ripe fruit amidst dusty textures. Excellent.

1995 Ch Ausone, courtesy of LF. This wine opens with a greatly evolved hallowed glow of an aged claret, fleshing out with great definition and focus on the palate, amply layered with cool ripe fruit that exude sublime acidity with subtle intensity, very supple and elegantly structured. Excellent.

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