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Restaurant Andre, Singapore.

January 27, 2018

Helmed by Taiwanese Andre Chiang who cut his teeth in Montpellier, Andre in Singapore has earned pole position as the leading modern French restaurant locally within the relatively short span of seven years since its inception in 2010. Restaurant magazine rates Andre amongst the “The World’s Best 50 Restaurants” while no less a publication than The New York Times has gone even further, proclaiming Andre as one of the “Top 10 Restaurants in the World Worth a Plane Ride”. The Singapore Michelin Guide appears to differ in opinion though, awarding Andre two stars (since the inauguration of the Guide in 2016) while Joel Robuchon at Singapore’s Sentosa Island has been plastered with three, the only establishment locally with that honour.

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In Singapore, however, where everyone is blessed with discerning palates, nobody needs the Michelin Guide. And it seems everyone who has dined at Andre has had to struggle for superlatives to describe their experience. How does Andre do it? To secure a seat there, one needs to book at least four months ahead which is one of the reasons why I never bothered to discover what the fuss was about…until Andre himself caused a stir late in 2017 by announcing abruptly that the restaurant will be closing for good come 14 February 2018 and that he would, in future, decline to be featured in subsequent editions of the Michelin Guide. Now, that immediately set off a few thoughts: is Andre pissed at not being awarded 3 stars? Is the pressure of having to consistently satisfy lofty expectations getting to him? Or has he already achieved his goals with nothing further to prove? But for foodies, the pressing question is: should one secure a table at all cost before it disappears forever, bearing in mind that from the time Andre dropped the bombshell until the last sitting on 14 Feb, dinner at Andre will cost a whopping SGD800 per head? It didn’t take us long to decide. We simply had to take the plunge to discover restaurant Andre for ourselves. A call to Centurion (thanks Vic!) ensured that we got the reservation on 17 January 2018.2018-01-17 19.05.42

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Exploding black cherry…an awesome start

Tucked within a long row of shop houses towards the tail end of Bukit Pasoh Road with its unassuming entrance somewhat recessed, one would most certainly miss Andre if you weren’t looking for it. Every expected guest was received at the door and led upstairs to the main dining hall which appears limited in capacity. The SGD800 farewell dinner menu comes with wine pairing, and the food consists of past and present favourites that Andre had rolled out over the years split into three categories of appetizers, mains and dessert.

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Classic you tiao that looks like charcoal

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Dehydrated watermelon

So how did it go? I’m not a food critic and I shan’t try to describe each individual course in detail. Suffice to say though, I same away mightily impressed. Some restaurants try too hard to pull off surprises to the extent that their culinary creations seemed contrived. At Andre, every creation is an effortless surprise and delight, beautifully presented yet unpretentious. There is no unnecessary deconstruction, so popular at other establishments but seldom proves the point. Whatever that is supposed to be eaten generally appears as it is. Rather, it is a case where textures, layering and flavours far exceed your expectations of the form. Such transfiguration of form to a much higher level without adulteration of flavours is where plenty of thought and effort has been spent on. The appetizers tease your palatal senses to no end. What appeared like beef carpaccio proffers vaguely familiar flavours in the mouth yet you cannot quite pin it, only to realise that is actually dehydrated watermelon! Ingredients have been carefully sought to complement the main food item for each course. Textures and flavours are fused seamlessly, never jarring the senses. Such was the subtlety and gentle progression that, in spite of the long degustation that lasted till almost midnight, our palates were never in danger of wear. A breakdown in the central air-conditioning was the only blemish of the evening. When the ambient temperature became appreciably too warm for comfort, the staff quickly installed several portable cooling units until the fault was eventually rectified.

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The wine pairing, I must say, was really well thought out, generous in scope and variety, offering wines from regions that one would usually not have ventured into. Here, the wine service was quite impeccable, the progression of flavours complementing the food in perfect unison with fresh stemware produced for each wine.

Champagne Lelarge Pugeot Les Meuniers de Clemence. A premier cru bubbly from Vrigny. Deep on the nose with toasty hues and yeasty tones, exploding with a brilliant burst of clear yellow citrus and crystalline minerals on the palate, excellent in concentration with attractive complexity yet sufficiently delicate, finishing with lasting intensity that imparted a superb stinging mouthfeel. Excellent.

2015 Herve Villenade Les Arcacias. This wine from the Loire Valley, though somewhat darker in hue than expected, displayed light tones of grassy elements with lifted aromas of sweet tropical fruits amidst overtones of ginger, recessed chalk and aged crème, excellent in intensity and concentration with a bit of sharp acidity, becoming more relaxed over time. Quite excellent.

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Fish & chips

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2013 Michel Laghere Arbois Chardonnay Les Crets. Gentle aromas, slightly subdued, but explodes on the palate with brilliant white citrus and floral tones, layered with subtle acidity, showing excellent linearity and length. Very fine.

2006 Hubert & Heidi Hauscherr Vague A L’ame Sunngass. Lovely tones of petroleum diesel, quite expansive, displaying good concentration and integration with some gentle sweetness on the sides.

2015 Domaine L’Escarpolette Escarpolette. A wine from the Languedoc made by Ivo Ferreira with quite a cult following, this is a blend of 60% Cinsaut and 40% Carignan. Usually picked before full ripeness in a bid to maintain freshness, this wine has a forward balance of aged tropical fruit with superb complexity amidst characters of raw earth, sweet incense, peaches and bark. Intriguingly refreshing.

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2015 Sylvain Bock Faux sans blanc. This estate produces natural wine (whatever that means) from the Ardeche region of southern France, this particular example being a blend of two-thirds chardonnay and the remainder grenache blanc, vinified most unusually in fibreglass tank. Exuding enticing aromas with a teasing quality, this full-bodied wine shows excellent concentration of fruit with notes of icing, white flowers and burnt cider, displaying good depth and intensity of flavours. Excellent.

2013 Domaine Etienne & Sebastian Rifaud Sancerre Les Quarterons. Lovely gentle sweet aromas on a light-medium palate, displaying light tangerines with good acidity and intensity, well structured.

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2010 Domaine de Rapatel Cuvee Nadege. Also from Languedoc, this wine is shut, rather one dimensional though superb in concentration and intensity with a rustic feel of aged creme and seaside minerals.

2013 Decelle Villa Morey-Saint-Denis. Dark cherries dominate on the nose though the open fleshy palate is brightly lit with fine intensity and detail with fresh acidity, highly supple, finishing well.

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2015 Monts & Merueil Syrah also from Languedoc. Deep dark opague purple, exuding a gentle earthy pungency amidst fragrant dark roses and cherries, rather bright with good concentration and intensity with silky textures enhanced by finely grained tannins.

2000 Ch Tour Grise Les Etourneaux. From the Saumur appellation of the Loire Valley, this wine displays characters of aged plums, raw nutmeg, oriental and medicinal spices and herbs, rather dry in texture with overtones of rye and malt. Drinking well.

We concluded with a rich, smooth and luscious 2004 Vignoble Rousset Peyraguey from Sauternes, displaying smoky tones with characters of aged nectarine and apricot. I only realised at the end that we’d drunk twelve different wines, each generously re-filled throughout the evening.

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Andre pays tribute to the local ice-cream uncle…a nice touch

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Now that I have dined at Andre, I must say it truly deserves its accolades. The food is highly original in its invention, showing off well the master chef’s special talent for combining the right ingredients within the right context such that the whole well exceeds the sum of its parts. In fact, I don’t think I have come across any other top restaurant in my (limited) dining experience that has managed to combine the elements of food, ingredients, imagination and invention with such fluidity, uniqueness and understated flair. If there is an area that may do with further refinement or improvement, it would perhaps be in the area of service where I feel a more relaxed but well-informed kind of engagement with diners (especially regulars who return) works much better compared with a rehearsed but stuffy and hesitant presentation. I know, good staff is hard to come by these days. In fact, Andre the man himself is a highly engaging person, and one can easily see that he really enjoys spending time at the tables talking not only about his food, but just about anything under the sun.

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Hardworking staff inside the small kitchen of Andre

In my books, the food at Andre is clearly worth three Michelin stars, no question about that, but it would be absolutely perfect if the supporting staff could loosen up and show that they really enjoy what they do as much as Andre himself does. Sad to say though, the best restaurant in Singapore will no longer be around after 14 February 2018. Dining there had been a distinct privilege and I had enjoyed my experience. Our best wishes to you Andre. We know you’ll be back with a different restaurant later at 41 Bukit Pasoh Road. For sure we’ll be back.


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Many happy returns, Dr Ngoi !

January 21, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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Short notes from France

January 8, 2018

These are miscellaneous wines tasted during our trip to Burgundy from 18-26 November 2017, outside of visits to various domaines…

2013 Domaine Hubert Lamy Saint-Aubin 1er Clos de La Chanterie VV, plucked from the list of L’Asperule in Auxerre, en route from Paris to Beaune, 18 Nov 2017. Lovely hue, exuding rich overtones of creme de la crème, chalk and incense whilst the palate possesses a very clean feel of clear crystalline quality and gentle floral lift, finishing in a lengthy minerally glow. Excellent.

2013 Domaine Bart Chambertin-Clos de Beze Grand Cru, plucked from the list of L’Asperule in Auxerre, en route from Paris to Beaune, 18 Nov 2017. Good colour with a delicate lovely fragrance of raspberries, dark cherries and rose petals. Medium-bodied, surprisingly open and gentle, slightly recessed initially, gaining better weight and intensity after some aeration, finishing with good balance and refinement.

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2017-11-18 17.55.552011 Hospice de Beaune Beaune 1er Cuvee Guigone de Salins, courtesy of Vincent Martin of La Terre d’Or, drunk at its premises in Beaune, 18 Nov 2017. Raspberries, mulberries and strawberries dominate on the nose, medium-bodied with good acidity but missing in true depth and layering, tinged with traces of green.

2012 Vincent Girardin Saint-Aubin Les Murgers des Dent de Chien 1er, from the list of  Bistro de L’Hotel, Beaune, famous for its whole roasted chicken Bresse, 19 Nov 2017. Crème, icing and complex minerals dominate with expressive richness, tight at first but loosening up to reveal excellent fullness, detail and structure, turning more minerally over time with fair intensity. Excellent.

2014 Benjamin Leroux Saint-Aubin Murgers des Dent de Chien 1er from the list of  Bistro de L’Hotel, Beaune, famous for its whole roasted chicken Bresse, 19 Nov 2017. Compared with the Vincent Girardin (albeit from different vintages), this wine is more poised and reserved, more minerally with good concentration of clear citrus, rounded and crisp with smoky tones. Very well balanced.

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2013 Joseph Drouhin Chambolle-Musigny 1er, poured from magnum at Bistro de L’Hotel, Beaune, famous for its whole roasted chicken Bresse, 19 Nov 2017. Deep tone of ripe dark cherries, camphor and earth, carrying good weight with tight tannin structure. Rather straightforward in character, though.

2015 Domaine Pierre Amiot et Fils Bourgogne Blanc, over a home-cooked dinner at La Terre d’Or, Beaune, 21 Nov 2017. Lifted notes of pears and gentle tropical fruits with lychees, open with good body and presence, showing reasonably good depth and freshness.

2016 Domaine des Lambrays La Rose Du Clos Bourgogne, over a home-cooked dinner at La Terre d’Or, Beaune, 21 Nov 2017. Reticent, showing just some gentle orangey tones and grapefruit. Unremarkable.


Fabrice Amiot with his 2009 Montrachet Grand Cru

2011 Domaine Pierre Amiot et Fils Morey Saint Denis Les Millandes 1er, over a home-cooked dinner at La Terre d’Or, Beaune, 21 Nov 2017. Deep red with an abundance of dark fruits, stern minerals and crisp acidity, highly intense, though rather dry, shorn of fat.

2011 Domaine des Lambrays Clos des Lambrays Grand Cru, poured from magnum over a home-cooked dinner at La Terre d’Or, Beaune, 21 Nov 2017. Gentle aromas of deep dark cherries and wild berries. Fleshy but lacking in opulence on the palate, marked by dry intensity, spice and earthy tones. Better over time but still uninspiring.

2009 Domaine Amiot Guy et Fils Montrachet Grand Cru (courtesy of the domaine owner and winemaker himself, Fabrice Amiot, who came in person), over a home-cooked dinner at La Terre d’Or, Beaune, 21 Nov 2017. Rich tones of creme de la crème with some chalkiness and early complexity on the bouquet, though there is an unexpected disconnect with the palate that is still tight and reticent with fruit that is set rather backward, showing mainly minerally tones and icing but not much else, rounded with regal elegance but aloof. Probably going through an awkward phase. Needs time to unravel itself.

2013 Domaine Jacques-Frederic Mugnier Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Clos de la Marechale, over lunch from the list of Le Millesime, 22 Nov 2017, located adjacent to Domaine J F Mugnier itself in Chambolle-Musigny. Deep purple, slightly opague. Medium-bodied. Fresh, open and supple with excellent concentration of ripe raspberries and cherries. Delicious.

2014 Domaine Jacques-Frederic Mugnier Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Clos de la Marechale, over lunch from the list of Le Millesime, 22 Nov 2017, located adjacent to Domaine J F Mugnier itself in Chambolle-Musigny. Delicious aromas of red fruits with a prominence of delicate tangerines and lemon, more minerally on the palate than outright fruit, displaying good balance, freshness and depth, exuding a beautiful glow after some time, finishing with fine detail and supple tannins. Lovely.

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Domaine Jacques-Frederic Mugnier

2011 Domaine Francois Coche-Dury Meursault-Caillerets 1er over dinner, plucked from the list of Le Conty, Beaune, 22 Nov 2017, a bistro with a superb wine list strewn with all the great burgundies. Expectations are high for any Coche-Dury and this wine doesn’t disappoint, proffering a rich bouquet of creme de la crème, white flowers and icing with gentle gravelly minerality, displaying lovely concentration and focus of clear delicate citrus held in fine balance with characteristic fine fleeting intensity that seems to be a hallmark of this producer, gaining steadily in weight and proportion over time with glowing detail, almost ethereal, maintaining well its delicacy and depth throughout, finishing with great length. Truly outstanding.

2007 Domaine du Clos de Tart Clos de Tart Grand Cru over dinner, plucked from the list of Le Conty, Beaune, 22 Nov 2017. Lovely bouquet of rosy fragrance that led to a rich oily mid-body, showing very good concentration of fruit with gentle intensity, highly elegant, becoming more lifted and aromatic over time. Excellent.

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2015 Domaine du Chateau de Meursault Clos du Chateau, drunk over a home cooked meal, 23 Nov 2017. Great freshness with attractive crème and chalky tones, showing plenty of fat in the mid-body underscored by crystalline minerality.

2011 Chateau de Mersault Volnay Clos des Chenes 1er, drunk over a home cooked meal, 23 Nov 2017. Generally dark in tone with a generous spread of dark plums, supple with good acidity.

2012 Domaine Dureault Mercurey 1er Clos Voyens, 24 Nov 2017, drunk outdoors at a picnic at the hilltops of St Romain in the countryside surrounding Beaune. Fresh in cool dark cherries and strawberries, soft and rounded with supple acidity and subtle tannins. Delicious.

2015 Domaine Roulot Meursault Meix Chavaux, over lunch from the list of Le Cellier Volnaysien in Volnay, 24 Nov 2017, a spacious and charming venue. This wine displays a lifted bouquet of light tropical fruits, rich in creme, delicate citrus and finely-grained minerals, open, well-layered and rounded, developing good complexity by the final pour. Excellent, as usual, from this producer.

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2015 Alex Gambal Saint-Aubin Les Murgers des Dent des Chien 1er, over dinner from the list of Ma Cuisine, Beaune, 24 Nov 2017. This wine proffers soft floral aromas that grew in intensity over time with a deep minerally streak, matched by notes of pomelo, clear citrus and bitter lemon of fine intensity, opening up with good detail though losing a bit of focus at the short finish.

2005 Remoissenet Bienvenues Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru, over dinner from the list of Ma Cuisine, Beaune, 24 Nov 2017. Good colour, exuding lovely aromas peaches, lychees, nectarine and aged crème, showing some evolution with good concentration and depth of fruit, subtle in intensity with fine definition, more expansive over time, culminating in a spicy glowing finish. Excellent.

1967 M. Dudet Naudin Corton Grand Cru (courtesy of Dr Ngoi) over dinner from the list of Ma Cuisine, Beaune, 24 Nov 2017. Still quite dark in colour, exuding great pungent earthiness along with aged red plums and game, still fullish with good concentration and fine acidity, better over time with further notes of tangerines though still short.

1967 Louis Voilland Corton Grand Cru (courtesy of Dr Ngoi), over dinner from the list of Ma Cuisine, Beaune, 24 Nov 2017. Equally dark as the Dudet Naudin above, remarkably similar in character as well though more pronounced in earthy pungency, slightly sharper in focus, displaying an evolved tone of dark plums, lychees and sweet melted tannins, short initially but gradually growing in lovely intensity and breadth. Excellent, and what a privilege it has been to have tasted these two grand dames side-by-side.

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2013 Domaine de Haut Marchand, at the bar of Les Pavillon des Lettres, Paris, 25 Nov 2017. Hailing from Montagne, Saint-Emilion, this wine proffers dark red plums, wild berries and dark fruits on the nose and palate, showing good concentration and intensity with fine acidity and balance, slightly dryish in texture, finishing with gentle sweet tannins. A good drop.

2014 Domaine Jean Claude Bachelet & Fils Saint-Aubin Les Charmois 1er, over dinner from the list of the 2-Michelin-starred La Clarence, Paris, 25 Nov 2017. Rich and creamy with a gleaming tone, quite glorious, displaying superb concentration and intensity of delicate clear citrus, excellent in depth with well-defined minerals and some early complexity, maintaining great power, delicacy and poise throughout. Outstanding.

2013 Claude Dugat a La Gibryotte Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru, over dinner from the list of the 2-Michelin-starred La Clarence, Paris, 25 Nov 2017. Deeply aromatic with a forward balance of ripe dark cherries and raspberries, layered with glorious fruit and graphite minerals of fabulous intensity with seamless acidity though yet to develop. Excellent.

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The cellar of La Clarence, Paris Notice the large format bottles hanging from the ceiling.



Nov & Dec 2017: 1986 Ch Lafite Rothschild, 1999 Dom Armand Rousseau Chambertin, 1999 Abreu, 1999 Comte de Vogue Musigny, 1978 Leoville Las-Cases

January 3, 2018

I can’t believe how much I had eaten and drunk in the final two months of 2017…these are miscellaneous notes outside of major or formal events…

2012 Ch Tour Massac, house pour of Tanglin Club at a company dinner hosted by Stephen Co, 08 Nov 2017. Character in keeping with traditional Margaux, proffering a minerally nose of graphite and earthy elements matched by attractive red currants and rose petals, showing good concentration and smooth textures though finishing with traces of green .

2015 Le Petit Chevalier Blanc, at Crystal Wines megasale tasting, 11 Nov 2014. Attractive forward balance of crisp citrus, white flowers and mild chalky tones, refreshing with good lift and plenty of verve, slightly sweet at the sides.

2012 La Chapelle de La Mission Haut-Brion, at Crystal Wines megasale tasting, 11 Nov 2014. Earthy tones, forest floor, redcurrants and woody characters dominate, displaying good intensity and acidity though its fruit is somewhat subdued and backward, rather tight and minerally, finishing with sweet tannins. Not convincing.

2013 Ch Le Crock, at Crystal Wines megasale tasting, 11 Nov 2014. Forward balance of red fruits and raspberries, medium-bodied with camphor and rose petals, gentle but reserved.

2014 Domaine Hubert Lignier Bourgogne Rouge, at Crystal Wines megasale tasting, 11 Nov 2014. Good colour, revealing delicate red fruits of gentle intensity and gorgeous acidity, seamless with good linearity and lovely balance though not much in terms of structure.

2014 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc, at the SilverKris Lounge of Singapore Airlines, Changi Airport T2, 12 Nov 2017. Highly aromatic with a wild exuberance of white flowers, yellow citrus, sweet tropical fruits and nectarine, almost full-bodied with great vigour and freshness imparted by its dense citrus tones and controlled acidity, finishing well with a trace of stern pomelo. Highly reliable and successful.

2015 Albert Bichot Saint-Veran, at the SilverKris Lounge of Singapore Airlines, Changi Airport T2, 12 Nov 2017. Almost reticent, proffering just traces of citrus and clear minerals, equally reserved as well on the palate with its backward character, again with only traces of citrus fruit towards the back palate. Seemingly undistinguished, but another glass tasted on board SQ336 Business Class on 18 Nov 2017 was considerably better, more forward with better presence, character and intensity. Bottle variation, or was it a matter of differences in atmospheric pressure??

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Poisson…at Bistrot du Sommelier, Paris

2001 Leroy Meursault 1er Blagny (courtesy of Stephen Co), at Jade Palace, 14 Nov 2017. Somewhat reticent at first, displaying notes of light morning dew and some lemongrass with a resinous quality. Over time, it developed a great expanse and fullness with a delicate flinty minerality but slightly reductive, losing a bit of focus towards the finish before turning increasingly delicate with delightful deftness though it is paradoxically fuller and richer. Amazing!

1996 Ch Palmer (courtesy of Chee Wee), at Jade Palace, 14 Nov 2017. From its discouraging appearance – a dark opague rusty sheen – one wouldn’t have believed that this wine could proffer such a beautiful hallowed glow of dark berries and delicious dark currants, open with excellent definition and lovely freshness brought on by a deep vein of sublime acidity that culminates in a great tensile tone, fleshy and utterly seamless across its entire length, turning more and more effusive in its bouquet over time with a finish that never seemed to end. Fabulous stuff!!

2009 Peter Michael Les Pavots (courtesy of Kieron), at Jade Palace, 14 Nov 2017. Reticent, just showing some blueberries and sweet dark berries on the nose, though a lovely deep streak of ripe berries cuts across the palate with searing intensity and great succulence, rich in nuances of cedar and dark currants, positively glowing, developing even greater biting intensity and tightness over time, taking on a glossy sheen of dark prunes and blueberries that’s unmistakably New World. Huge potential here but far from ready.

2003 Domaine du Pegau Reservee at Jade Palace, 14 Nov 2017. Darkly opague with some evolution, imbued with gloriously ripe dark fruits with attractive overtones of earth and incense. Rich, expansive and succulent, displaying great acidity and tannins that are highly supple, culminating in a long slow glowing finish. Superb.

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2010 Domaine Ponsot Morey-Saint Denis Les Alouettes 1er, from the list of Iggy’s bar, 14 Nov 2017. Good pinot tint with some evolution, exuding intense aromas of camphor, dark cherries and bright red fruits. Rounded and fleshy with lovely acidity and fullness, quite seamless, developing a brighter tone over time, richer with a more glossy sheen yet remaining understated in power. Excellent.

2017-11-16 20.24.362009 Domaine Meo Camuzet Bourgogne Hautes-Cotes de Nuits Clos Saint-Philibert monopole, courtesy of Dr WKW, plucked from the list of db Bistro, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore, 16 Nov 2017. Light floral tones on the nose lead to a gentle note of crème with characters of faint morning dew on a palate glowing with lovely chalky intensity, excellent in complexity, depth, detail and freshness, finishing with icing and mint. Quite superb.

2012 Ben Glaetzer Bishop, tasted at the First Class lounge of Changi Airport T3, 18 Nov 2017. Big, bold and balanced, exuding a very deep bouquet of dark plums, black fruits and dark cherries, highly supple, displaying great verve and acidity, oozing with sweet dark tannins. Great choice!

2002 Piper Hiedsieck Rare, tasted at the First Class lounge of Changi Airport T3, 18 Nov 2017. Do not be misled by the mild bouquet of gentle yeasty tones and subtle minerals, for the palate is brazen with bone-dry intensity of crisp yellow citrus, very tight, finishing with bitter lemon and slight ferrous trace.

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Bistrot du Sommelier, Paris

Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve NV, on board SQ336 Business Class SIN-CDG, 18 Nov 2017.  Brioche, honeysuckle and yellow citrus dominate with mild yeasty tones and chalkiness, slightly dry but refreshing, well balanced, finishing om a note of gentle sweetness but still tight.

2016 Wairau River Sauvignon Blanc, on board SQ336 Business Class SIN-CDG, 18 Nov 2017. Dryish with grassy elements amidst tones of wet heat, earth and chalk, covering the palate with broad expanse of white flowers, finishing with great freshness and vigour.

2012 Ch Siaurac, on board SQ336 SIN-CDG, 18 Nov 2017. This Medoc wine is stuffed with good concentration of earth, mulberries and dark wild berries tinged with green elements and a good dose of ferrous minerals.

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Sorry not wine…but SQ Business Class is cool

2015 Ch Haut Mouleyre, at the Star Alliance Lounge of Paris CDG, 26 Nov 2017. Strong hint of forest floor, undergrowth, dark fruits and currants dominate with good concentration and full plummy presence, finishing with spicy tones.

2014 Stonier Pinot Noir, on board SQ335 CDG-SIN, 26 Nov 2017.  This wine is saturated with abundant cool fruit, showing red cherries, strawberries and light red fruits of superb ripeness, open with lovely transparency and feminine succulence. Excellent.

1978 Ch Leoville Las-Cases (courtesy of Nicolas Laurent), tasted blind at Otto Ristorante, 29 Nov 2017. Some evolution at the rim with a hint of bricking, exuding a delicious fragrance of red currants and dark cherries with a hint of dryness. Medium-bodied and well-rounded with good depth of fruit, displaying a deep core of orangey tangerines amidst a lovely spread of warm intensity throughout its superb length. Excellent, and still holding on well.

1996 Ch Grand-Puy-Lacoste, tasted blind at Otto Ristorante, 29 Nov 2017. Deep in colour with a bold savoury bouquet of sweet meats and dark cherries, full-bodied and expansive but still youthful, imbued with fabulous intensity of flavours amidst splashes of earthy minerals though without much of the classic Pauillac signature. May not have peaked. Excellent.

1990 Ch Ducru Beaucaillou (courtesy of Alex Olmedo), tasted blind at Otto Ristorante, 29 Nov 2017. Opague purple hinting at some evolution, dominated by a superb earthy pungency on the dryish nose and palate, medium-bodied, displaying good concentration and gentle intensity of fruit with predominant plummy tones, somewhat subdued towards the finish.

1998 Ch Latour-a-Pomerol, popped and poured at Wah Lok, 01 Dec 2017. Deep colour, exuding a deep bouquet of delicious dark currants, sweet black fruits and ripe wild berries. Medium-bodied and fleshy, open with notes of cassis and some lavender amidst secondary development, gelling together over time with a rich core of blackberries cloaked in svelte supple tannins, lovely in intensity with a fabulous earthy pungency though somewhat attenuated in depth. Quite excellent.

2017-12-09 21.44.442006 Ch Rayas Chateauneuf-du-Pape Reservé Blanc (courtesy of Dr Ngoi) from the list of L’ardoise, Paris, over a late dinner, 09 Dec 2017. Lifted tones of icing, vanilla, cider and some lychees, developing a growing expanse and intensity of white floral tones and paraffin, excellent in concentration, finishing with a powerful spicy glow. Quite superb, but would be hard to place in a blind tasting.

2013 Domaine de Trevallon (courtesy of Chee Wee) from the list of L’ardoise, Paris, over a late dinner, 09 Dec 2017. Huge in concentration of dark fruits and black currants with smouldering ember and traces of licorice, tight and angular with crisp acidity and assertive tannins. Much more rounded and approachable after forty-eight hours of aeration in bottle, which says a lot.

2014 Domaine Theulot Juillot Mercurey Les Chenaults, at EUR66 from the list of Bistrot du Sommelier, Paris, over lunch on 11 Dec 2017. I have not come across this producer but what a revelation it turned out to be. Lovely in colour with generous creme de la creme and chalky tones, this wine displays superb intensity of fruit with just the right degree acidity, open with excellent detail, depth and delicacy. Outstanding. This superb dining venue has been renovated, now sporting a purple awning (instead of orange) while its dining space remains very limited.

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2001 Ch Lagrange, popped and poured at Asia Grand, 16 Dec 2017. Very earthy tones of aniseed and graphite elements amidst dark currants and cool black fruits, darkly delicious and fleshy, displaying great presence and acidity. Very fine. Lagrange of Saint-Julien is always under-rated.

1996 Paul Aine Jaboulet Crozes-Hermitage Domaine de la Thalabert, aired in bottle for an hour at Song Garden, 18 Dec 2017. Deep fragrance of dark berries and red currants with a tinge of tangerines, fully mature, rounded and open with good acidity, more minerally towards the back palate, highly seamless though not profoundly deep. I have worked through almost half a case of this wine. At its peak now and will not improve further.

2000 Moet et Chandon Grand Vintage, courtesy of Stephen Co at Senso, 20 Dec 2017. Mild yeasty tones, open with fresh clear citrus and green fruits.

2007 Vintage Tunina, courtesy of Stephen Co at Senso, 20 Dec 2017. Deep golden hue, closed initially with just a resinous trace and reductive notes of crème and chalk, eventually developing emerging notes of nectarine and apricot, satiny smooth with lovely layering and understated acidity, recalling the gentle glow of meadows in full bloom. Excellent.

1999 Domaine Georges Comte de Vogue Musigny Grand Cru, courtesy of Kieron at Senso, 20 Dec 2017. Deep colour. Rather reluctant at first, showing only dark cherries and muted red fruits but gradually opened up well, turning more masculine with great body and presence, deeply layered in glorious fruit of superb intensity and structure. Outstanding but far from ready.

1999 Abreu Cabernet Sauvignon, courtesy of Stephen Co at Senso, 20 Dec 2017. Dark, deeply intense and brooding. Densely concentrated with a hint of licorice and hot stones, attacking the palate with brilliant intensity and sharp acidity though smooth in texture with subdued tannins, becoming more rounded and fleshy over time with plummy overtones. Fabulous potential, but far from ready.

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2005 Clos du Marquis, decanted on-site at Osteria Art, 23 Dec 2017. Dark with barely a hint of evolution, quite full and fleshy, imbued with earthy dark fruits, currants and graphite minerals, showing good acidity and integration with fine detail, becoming more masculine and structured over time with a slight tarry quality. On par with classified growths.

Champagne Devaux Cuvee D, popped and poured at Asia Grand, 25 Dec 2017. Forward balance of fresh lively citrus and lime, open and inviting with muted yeasty tones and smoke, turning drier and more minerally with fine concentration. Very fine.

Bruno Paillard Rose NV, at Frankle Widjaja’s Christmas party at his residence, 25 Dec 2017. Distinctly feminine in its gentle characters of grapefruit and tropical fruits, displaying lovely presence with fine balance.

1998 Dom Perignon, at Frankle Widjaja’s Christmas party at his residence, 25 Dec 2017. This wine exudes perfumed aromas of dense tropical fruits with a mild yeasty pungency, quite lovely and delicate, while green fruits and complex citrus dominate on the palate with excellent depth and intensity of flavours, finishing with traces of pomelo, bitter lemon and graphite minerals. Highly refined and elegant.

1998 Ch Pape Clement, the house pour at Frankle Widjaja’s Christmas party at his residence, 25 Dec 2017. At 19 years, this wine is still bold and imposing, covering the palate in broad swathes of delicious dark currants and black fruits with silky textures, deeply intense,  culminating in a tannin structure of fine intensity amidst  tarry earthy tones. Excellent but still not quite ready.

1999 Domaine Armand Rousseau Chambertin Grand Cru, at Frankle Widjaja’s Christmas party at his residence, 25 Dec 2017. Served blind from decanter. Quite evolved in colour, slightly dusky, though the palate is swept up in a glorious lift of aged raspberries and cherries with deep tangerines at its core, displaying good intensity, presence and remarkable balance with a quiet depth, not showy at all, finishing with overtones of camphor and earth. Excellent, but may have been even better had it been aired in bottle instead. I guessed the wine correctly, though I thought it to be a 2003.

2016 Croix du Marquis, tasted at the SATS Premier Lounge of Changi Airport T2, 26 Dec 2017. Good concentration with notes of fresh grassy elements and morning dew, slightly recessed with a relaxed easy feel, finishing on a minty note. Perfectly serviceable for early drinking.

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1999 Champagne Salon, courtesy of Simon Cheong at Buona Terra, 29 Dec 2017. Lovely glow of yeasty and toasty characters with a bright and lively palate lit with citrus and green fruits amidst prominent crystalline minerality, slightly dry, finishing with bitter lemon. Highly refined and elegant.

2006 Domaine Vincent Girardin Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru, courtesy of Dr Ngoi, at Buona Terra, 29 Dec 2017. Good color though reticent and backward, rather minerally at first with a mild reductive character, developing more buttery notes over time with traces of icing. Quite fine but needs some coaxing.

1986 Ch Lafite Rothschild, poured from magnum, courtesy of Simon Cheong at Buona Terra, 29 Dec 2017. From its infinite depth arose a beautiful hallowed glow of rich dark berries, black fruits and dark cherries that led to deep delicious flavours on a palate infused with dark feminine charm amidst the classic Pauillac dryness, fleshy with crisp acidity, blossoming well in the glass with dark luxuriant plummy tones. Has the legs for another few more decades. My final drop for the year. What an outstanding way to end 2017!

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Ric’s Big Five-O @ Iggy’s: 1967 Mouton Rothschild, 1961 Ducru Beaucaillou

December 31, 2017

I last celebrated my big round number ten years ago at Iggy’s at the Regent Hotel Singapore (a location fondly missed by all who have followed the fortunes of this restaurant) with a most memorable line-up of wines that included a 1988 Haut-Brion, 1964 Cheval Blanc and 1967 Climens. Ten years on, I decided it would be perfect to host dinner again at Iggy’s, now at the Hilton Singapore, on 05 December 2017 with the same small group of close friends who were there back in 2007, albeit with a different line-up of wines, where Iggy himself was also able to join us in the private room. No theme was set but, given the nature of the occasion, I knew we were set to taste some really mature stuff.



We opened with a 2005 Leroy Meursault Blagny 1er (courtesy of Kieron) that exuded a lovely gentle fragrance of white flowers and delicate crème de la crème, setting an excellent tone with fabulous detail amidst a deeper streak of glorious fruit on the palate, becoming richer and broader and utterly seamless over time with superb complexity. Truly an outstanding start. We followed on with the 1998 Domaine des Comtes Lafon Meursault (courtesy of Kieron), displaying a deep golden hue with aromas of aged honeycomb, crème and cinnamon, slightly reductive though its palatal tone and depth cannot be faulted, growing in intensity and power over the course of dinner whilst turning more minerally and stony as well, finishing with subtle acidity.




Hiok kicked off the reds with a 1964 Jean Bourdy A Arlay Cotes du Jura, served blind but the distinctive bottle shape and light color of wine gave it away, dominated by saline minerals and high-toned acidity while the red fruits within have receded significantly, leaving some earthiness with mild degrees of sweetness.


Amazing colour of 1967 Ch Mouton Rothschild

The pair of clarets that followed demonstrated amply their true ageing ability. The 1967 Ch Mouton Rothschild from my birth year (thanks Vic !!) belied its age and supposed poor reputation of this vintage, still showing great colour, utterly seamless throughout its length though obviously having shed some cabernet weight over the passage of time, exuding gentle earthy tones with lovely feminine fragrance amidst characters of red fruits and plums without any sign of drying out, coming across as being seemingly younger than its fifty years. Poised with lovely elegance, this is a wine that has aged most gracefully. If only we ourselves can age so well likewise.




The piece de resistance to close the evening was a 1961 Ch Ducru Beaucaillou (courtesy of Kieron and David). Though its label has faded considerably and its cork thoroughly soaked through, this wine is still full of life, displaying good colour with dominant earthy tones and marked earthy pungency on the nose whilst the palate is infused with dark plums and tangerines of tremendous presence and gorgeous acidity tinged with earthy textures, still holding on well and likely able to continue as such for another couple of decades, just a tad short. Well, truly, great friends are for life, as are great wines. Thank you very much guys !!

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Ric’s Big Five-O: 2002 Lafite Rothschild, 2009 Baron Thenard Montrachet Grand Cru, 1966 Chateau Latour

December 28, 2017

For me, December 2017 is truly the month to let loose as I reach my half-century and I felt it would be great to spend a nice but quiet evening with just a few persons in familiar surroundings. One cannot really go wrong with Jade Palace, venue of so many past glorious wine and gastronomic events, and Mr Ho has, again, personally supervised the customised menu as we gathered on December 4th.

20171204_223738.jpgWe began the evening with a 1997 Champagne Salon (courtesy of LF), evoking powerful yeasty tones with a mild earthy pungency along with delicate citrus, displaying superb intensity of lime, citrus and tropical fruits on the open palate with excellent depth, detail and balance, not too dry and still far from peaking. A superb start.

The Alaskan King Crab, served cold, is one of the restaurants calling cards and, here, the 1999 Valentin Zusslin Pfingstberg Grand Cru, glowing with citrus, grapefruit and lime amidst recessed chalky minerals and a prominent diesel note, cut through the marine salinity of this crustacean with its robust tone and crisp acidity, showing excellent depth of fruity detail with gentle intensity. As we finished the dish, the 2006 Domaine Roulot Meursault Les Tessons Clos de Mon Plaisir was poured, rather muted on the nose though its delicacy of fruit and clear citrus was clearly evident, gradually opening up to reveal lovely intensity and inner detail with some early complexity supported by subdued chalkiness, carrying good weight. The most famous plot of Burgundy white was paired with rare abalone. Here, the 2009 Domaine Baron Thenard Montrachet Grand Cru, decanted and kept in ice for about six hours prior, exuded a quiet bouquet of gentle crème de la crème with lifted minty tones, thoroughly seamless on the palate where highly delicate white floral tones and gentle soft citrus dominate with understated richness and body, almost ethereal in its elegance though not quite reaching the degree of inner detail that I have come across from Joseph Drouhin’s Marquis de Laguiche Montrachet.


The reds were drunk in two flights to go with the meat dishes. The 1996 Heritiere Louis Remy Chambolle-Musigny Derriere La Grange 1er (courtesy of Sanjay) was lifted in aromas of dark cherries and currants with a dominant plummy tone, medium-bodied with an even deeper streak of dark fruit, thoroughly seamless., caught at its absolute peak. The 2007 Henri Bonneau Chateauneuf-du-Pape Reserve des Celestins (courtesy of Ooi CJ) was quite the perfect wine to follow on, expectedly deep on the nose and palate with lovely warm ripe fruit, its exciting tannins and superb acidity producing great intensity and verve without ever being too weighty.


For the final flight, LF produced a blinded red, clearly well evolved in colour and tone, evoking aged dry mushrooms with a lifted earthy pungency, still displaying excellent fullness and depth of ripe dark berries, utterly seamless with melted tannins. Definitely a Bordeaux Left Bank. I guessed aloud a 1970 Latour and was almost spot on…a 1966 Chateau Latour!! Outstanding!! Next to it, the 2002 Ch Lafite Rothschild, an impenetrable deep dark red, was stuffed with ripe dark berries and characters of soy, highly lifted in redcurrants, dark cherries and warm ripe fruit with open chewy tannins, exuding  lovely feminine charm. Having emerged from its brooding shell, this wine is much more engaging now than a previous bottle from the same batch tasted in 2010. All in all, I must say the line-up and progression for the evening has been impeccable, so much so that we weren’t even drunk at the end of it. Now for the next ten years…




FICOFI: Palais des Grands Crus 2017

December 25, 2017

At the end of each year, FICOFI hosts a grand party – Le Palais des Grands Crus – where practically all the estates and domaines associated with FICOFI from around the world assemble in Paris for a massive wine tasting-cum-gala dinner, plus a full programme of fringe activities that include luncheons at various wine estates or private visits to bespoke luxury brands (Cartier and Louis Vuitton feature this year). Members from all around the world fly in specially just to attend the week-long festivities, culminating in the grand Gala that took place this year on 11 December 2017 at Le Petit Palais museum near the Place de Concorde, followed by dinner at the 3-Michelin-starred Ledoyen within the Champs-des-Elysees.


With each passing year, the Palais des Grands Crus gets bigger and bigger and the present 23rd edition is the biggest ever, attended by more than 300 members and their guests while more than 250 different top growths in large (no…make that huge) formats were waiting to be drunk. The front hall of the museum was lined on both sides with all the big names from Bordeaux, Burgundy, Spain, Italy and USA along with their respective owners or representatives and, everywhere, double magnums, jeroboams and 5-litre formats abound. If you’re imagining this to be some kind of an oenophilic mass orgy, you’re spot on. FICOFI usually compiles a full listing to allow members to plan ahead some sort of tasting strategy, for it would be well impossible to sample everything within the space of 150 minutes and I was also lucky enough to have obtained a distilled recommended list compiled by the famous writer and reviewer Eric Riewer who still remembered me from his recent masterclasses in Singapore.



Pierre-Henry Gagey of Domaine Louis Jadot makes a point

I arrived at 1745h to find that the tasting promenade had already begun. Aubert de Villaine and Jean-Charles Cuvelier (both from Domaine de la Romanee Conti) were there while Thibault Pontallier (Chateau Margaux) and Steven Spurrier (Decanter) were spotted as well. It was also good again to catch up with Pierre-Henry Gagey (Louis Jadot), Yannick Champ (Prieure-Roch), Pierre Damoy, Jean-Paul Dumond (Joseph Drouhin), Gregory Gouges (Henri Gouges) and Jacques Devauges (Clos de Tart), amongst many others. With so much mouth-watering wines to taste before they run out of supply, I headed straight for the deep end of the long hall, where Domaine de la Romanee-Conti was stationed with two huge methuselahs. The 1979 D.R.C. Romanee-Saint-Vivant Grand Cru was well evolved in colour with lifted tones of aged plums and red fruits, still imbued with so much fruit and acidity, rounded and gentle, displaying remarkable fullness and linearity, highly graceful, suggesting it still has a long life ahead in spite of its full maturity. Quite superb. Next to it, the 1992 D.R.C. La Tache Grand Cru, also well evolved in appearance, exuded more complex characters with great lift, more marked in cinnamon and cedar in addition to aged plums and tangerines, revealing great detail, acidity and tension, finishing with good length. Thereafter, as the crowd swelled, I had to throw my tasting strategy out of the window as I allowed myself to be swept up by the great line-up of wines within easy reach, simply tasting whatever caught my eye as I slowly worked my way back to the entrance:



2009 Domaine A. et P. de Villaine Bourgogne Cote de Chalonnaise La Digoine. Poured from magnum. Dusty red, proffering a most interesting nose of preserved fruit, cinnamon and red fruits, highly perfumed, most succulent with excellent fullness, acidity and length. Excellent.

1995 Ch Palmer. Deep colour, exuding notes of dry mushrooms and forest floor with an earthy pungency. Medium-bodied and fleshy, displaying excellent tone with very finely grained tannins amidst dryish textures, rounded and distinctly feminine. Superb.

2005 Ch Palmer, poured from double magnum. Deep dark crimson with, again, the consistent notes of dry mushrooms and dark fruits with a slight herbal trace, showing lovely ripeness, great acidity and presence, yet never overwhelming. Excellent now, but will be outstanding in time to come.




1998 Harlan Estate, poured from double magnum. Very dark, exuding an amazing bouquet of complex dark fruits and blackberries with lifted tones of ripe plums, tangerines and dry mushrooms. Equally lovely on the palate where it has mellowed into an open medium-full proposition, layered with superb acidity and a deeper streak of dark fruits, highly elegant in every way. Outstanding.

2006 Domaine Armand Rousseau Chambertin Grand Cru. Glorious bouquet of perfumed red fruits and cherries, exuding rosy fragrance, its soft feminine character reinforced by seamless acidity and superb gentle balance. Highly elegant, where beauty conceals understated power beneath. Quite outstanding.

2012 Domaine Armand Rousseau Gevrey-Chambertin Clos St Jacques 1er. Well developed with a truly glorious bouquet of red fruits, rose petals and bright cherries, exuding amazing fragrance. Quite full and seamless with excellent acidity. Not quite as detailed on the palate though its proportion and balance is faultless. Delicate enough with good power. Superb.


2012 Domaine Armand Rousseau Clos de la Roche Grand Cru. Deep colour. Again quite glorious on the nose with notes of raspberries and gentle red fruits. Full-bodied, displaying excellent concentration and acidity with a slight rasping intensity that I’ve found to be quite typical of this particular plot of grand cru, finishing with a minty flourish.

2006 Domaine Roulot Meursault-Charmes, poured from jeroboam. Great bouquet of lifted minerals and delicate creme in equal measure. Medium-full, layered with sublime acidity and finishing with white floral tones, highly poised throughout its length, showing plenty of refined balance, elegance and weight. Excellent.

2007 Domaine Roulot Meursault Le Mon Plaisir. Lifted buttery tones lead to a generous palate, open with a subtle minerally base, displaying superb acidity, concentration, tone and tension that build inexorably towards a tremendous finish. Absolutely delicious, seamlessly combining elegance and power. Outstanding.

2000 Domaine du Clos de Tart Clos de Tart Grand Cru. Poured from jeroboam, exuding lifted minty tones with a suggestion of deep complex red fruits beneath, displaying bright herries with plenty of body and lovely freshness, quite racy, finishing well with sublime acidity and balance. Excellent.



2006 Ch Ausone. Deep impenetrable darkness, big and tannic though undoubtedly rich in dark currants, grapefruit and dark cherries with a high-toned earthy minerality, slightly peppery, finishing with medicinal traces. Needs many more years to unravel its enormous potential.

1959 Ch Ducru Beaucaillou. Very pronounced tone of dry mushrooms and tobacco snuff, exuding a hallowed glow of distant red fruits and currants, still remarkably fresh and holding up very well with abundant body, flavour and feminine fragrance. Excellent, and what a privilege to have had this!



1996 Domaine Louis Jadot Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru, poured from jeroboam. Sharp bouquet of rich creme de la creme with a most delectable earthy pungency. Medium-bodied, rounded with gorgeous minerally tone and acidity. For those who like their Corton-Charlemagne done in robust fashion with bold strokes.

1989 Ch Cheval Blanc, poured from double magnum. Good color. Aromas and textures of dry mushrooms and forest floor dominate with an attractive earthy pungency, highly supple with a lovely glow of aged red fruits and currants swathed in excellent acidity, its tannins having melted over time, resulting in the emergence of a true cabernet franc character of excellent purity, just a shade darker. Excellent.

1996 Ch La Mission Haut-Brion, poured from double magnum. Lifted with rich earthy tones and evolved red fruits, exuding an aged feel, medium-bodied with good presence, displaying subtle intensity of aged plums, turning a bit spicy towards the finish.




1988 Ch Haut Brion, poured from a 5-litre bottle. Dark earthy pungency on the nose with pronounced graphite minerals, dryish feel with dusty textures recalling mushrooms and forest floor with dry herbal characters, seamless with good acidity though not profound.

2014 Domaine Henri Gouges Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Vaucrains 1er, poured from jeroboam. Good purity, full on the palate with bright red fruits, gorgeous acidity and subtle minerals, displaying excellent presence. Great stuff.

20171211_184752.jpg2003 Ch Margaux, poured from 5-litre format. Barely evolved in colour, proffering a great attractive earthy pungency on a full palate layered with prominent deep streak of ripe dark fruit, lifted with great acidity and verve on a backdrop of mild ferrous minerality, finishing with a trace of dusty tannins without any sign of that vintage’s heat stress. Highly consistent with a previous ex-chateau bottle tasted at FICOFI’s Margaux event in Bali in May 2017. Excellent.

2014 Bouchard Pere et Fils Le Corton Grand Cru, poured from jeroboam. Great color and purity, imbued with substantial red fruits, layered with rich oily textures yet superbly delicate in spite of its fullness, never too heavy. Excellent.

2000 Ch Leoville Las-Cases, poured from double magnum. Deep tone of ripe black fruits and dark currants with some bright spots, displaying characteristic dryness and subtle tones of cigar box, excellent in concentration and weight with  seamless acidity. Still youthful. Excellent, truly for the long haul.

1997 Colgin Cellars, poured from double magnum. Deep dark tones, almost forbidding, delivering generous loads of fresh red and black berries with dark currants, creating huge tension across the palate with its cutting acidity, framed by bold but supple tannins. Crafted with great sophistication but still far from ready.



That is 1996 Ch Lafite Rothschild

1996 Ch Lafite Rothschild, poured from double magnum. Deep bouquet expressing great earthiness with a mild attractive pungency, almost tarry. The palate is imbued with a great tone of dark currants and black fruits supported by a highly minerally base with sublime acidity that imparts brilliant intensity, attack and precision, though turning stern again as the lengthy finish returns to its minerally roots. Fairly consistent with a previous tasting within the famous circular cellars of Chateau Lafite Rothschild in 2008 but it has fleshed out over time with superb detail and power. Outstanding but far from ready.

2001 Domaine Leflaive Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru. Excellent tone of crème de la crème and chalky minerals, medium-bodied, very well proportioned and open, displaying good transparency with subtle nuances, finishing with a floral flourish.

2001 Domaine Leflaive Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru. Lifted exuberance of white flowers and creme de la crème with a pronounced minerally tone on the palate, displaying lovely fullness and balance though slightly stern. There’s plenty going for it, still yet to peak in spite of its 16 years.


2003 Domaine Pierre Damoy Chambertin-Clos de Beze Grand Cru. Well extracted and darkish in tone, revealing great concentration of ripe dark berries and raspberries with gentle biting intensity, finishing with notes of ferrous minerals. Needs time.

2004 Dom Perignon, served from methuselah. Full-bodied, open with lifted deep tones of clear citrus and green fruits amidst crystalline minerals with a hint of tropical fruits, rounded with toasty characters, displaying great freshness. Should cellar further.

2008 Philipponnat Clos des Goisses. Dry, clean, slightly minerally with grassy and crisp cutting acidity. Lovely.

1988 Ch Lynch Bages, from double magnum. Lifted bouquet marked by the hallowed glow aged claret, displaying plummy tones with stern ferrous minerals, still retaining good concentration and acidity.



By then, my palate was becoming jaded but the evening was far from over. As the bell rang for dinner, we took a stroll through the museum en route to Ledoyen just next to the museum, where I found myself seated between Mr & Mrs Pablo Alvarez, with Marie-Andree Mugneret of Domaine Georges Mugneret-Gibourg on the same table as well. Naturally, more wines were to follow:

2012 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Cotes Haut de Bourgogne, specially bottled for FICOFI. Aromas of light morning dew, very clean feel on the palate, recalling white pepper and mint with gentle lean crystalline minerals, finishing with ferrous elements but on the whole rather shy and reserved.

2000 Dom Perignon P2. Powerful aromas of fresh citrus and green fruits along with a lovely yeasty pungency. Full-bodied and deep with dry cutting acidity supported by a broad base of ferrous minerals.

Krug NV, poured from magnum. Deep golden hue, exuding deep yeasty tones of aged creme and clear minerals, quite open, revealing good detail with finely grained textures, just a tad dry.


2016 Egon Muller Scharzhofberger Kabinett Riesling. Fabulous nose, showing a great deal of pungent earthiness with classic diesel tones, almost peaty, while clear tones dominate the palate with good transparency, understated sweetness and acidity. Excellent.

20171211_214521.jpg2014 Domaine Georges Noellat Grands Echezeaux Grand Cru, poured from jeroboam. Dusky with characters of grapefruit and dark red fruits amidst some intense earthiness, full-bodied but rather lean on the palate. Too young to be drunk now.

2012 Domaine Georges Mugneret-Gibourg Ruchottes-Chambertin Grand Cru. Drunk in the presence of the estate owner Marie-Andree Mugneret herself. This wine is imbued with generous dark berries and raspberries of good intensity and concentration with lovely purity of fruit supported by sweet tannin structure, infinitely masculine in character (in spite of it being made by women in this family-owned estate), yielding good definition.

2011 Domaine Bruno Clair Bonnes-Mares Grand Cru. Coming from holdings almost adjacent to Clos de Tart, this wine exudes dark cherries and raspberries on the nose and palate with a slight tangerine core, displaying good concentration and fullness with some saline minerality, finishing with good intensity and structure.

2000 Vega Sicilia Unico, drunk with owner Pablo Alvarez and his lovely wife Elisa Kwon de Alvarez sitting next to me.  Full-bodied with an abundance of ripe dark berries and dark currants, layered with great acidity and intensity of flavours though generally darkish tone, still very youthful. Excellent but a waste to pop now.

1986 Ch Figeac. Still remarkably dark in spite of its age, full with pronounced earthy tones and ferrous minerals, still quite intense on the palate but becoming lean, the fruit clearly drying out. Drink up.


Dr & Mrs Sanjay Nalachadran in intimate discussion with Marie-Andree Mugneret


1999 Vega Sicilia Unico, poured from double magnum. Opague black. Unbelievably full, big and tannic even after almost twenty years, dark in tone, imbued with layers of dark cherries, dark currants and black fruits, yet to develop secondary characteristics.

1994 Ch Petrus, poured from magnum. This is a masculine Petrus stuffed with deep currants and intense black fruits, framed by a bold structure of austere minerals and dusty tannins that produced a very lovely earthy pungency. So much for so-called off years. Excellent.

2008 Ch Ausone. Quiet on the nose, somewhat closed though the palate is dominated by strong ferrous elements with good concentration of fruit and acidity but stern in demeanour, dark in tone throughout its length. Going through an awkward stage now.

1997 Ch De Farques. Overtones of ash and incense, excellent in depth and intensity with a glossy sheen, exuding characters of nectarine and varnish.


Wines that were still remaining from the evening’s promenade were then assembled on a large table where, after dinner, it was free-for-all for anyone to continue with their tasting. But by then, my palate had truly deserted me. It was past midnight by the time I staggered along the Champs-des-Elysees and across the Place de Concorde back to my hotel. FICOFI has done very well and the organisation has been outstanding. I’ll be back!