This is still a work in progress as I upload tasting notes and wine labels from as far as 1999... Check back once in a while to get the updates.

December 31, 2008

Ringing in the new year

Dinner at a friend's house.

2003 Beaucastel Blanc - I have always liked the wines made by the Perrins, and this is a really beautiful white wine. Nose of honey, minerals and pear. This was our pre-dinner wine.

1999 Zind Humbrecht Pinot Gris Clos Jebsal Selection de Grains Nobles - I remembered that our hosts really enjoyed the Zind Humbrecht Pinot Gris SGN during our meal at El Bulli, so I thought it would be a good idea to have this with thefoie gras. Very sweet on the palate, with nose of marmalade, acetone and some floral notes. However I was a little disappointed with this, because I expected the nose to be more complex and blow me away. Oh well.

2004 Clos Dady - Mr. Ho opened this bottle of Sauternes as the SGN was running out. Nose of marmalade, honey and a bit of acetone. Not as sweet on the palate was the SGN.

1997 Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay - I wanted to bring a nice bottle of white to go with the risotto, so I took this bottle that has been aging in my cellar for a few years. Turned out to be a great choice. Buttery nose with notes of oak, minerals, spices, orange and sweet grass. Color is now golden, and the nose just kept on giving...wonderful stuff.

1999 Clinet - one of the guests brought this bottle, which was drinking wonderfully. Telltale nose of brett, smoke, sweet fruit and lots of bacon, with some mint and slightly alcoholic. Still reasonably tannic on the palate, but what a wine!

2005 Torbreck the Bothie - this nice little Muscat that Mr. Ho brought out was perfect with the dessert. It reminds me of the Muscat de Baumes-De-Venise from Rhone, with its telltale lychee nose, and makes perfect sense given David Powell's lineup of Rhone varietals.

Mr. Ho very kindly shared with us some of his 1976 Cognac made in Petite Champagne, given to him by his parents. It has a nice little story behind it, and is the third time ever that I've actually liked Cognac (incidentally all within 2008).

2000 Dom Perignon - I still think is a really good wine given the quantity it is produced in. It capped off a really good evening, and I hope that everyone will have a very good 2009!

December 27, 2008

2003 E&E Black Pepper Shiraz

2003 E&E Black Pepper Shiraz - drank over dinner at El Toro in Taipei. It wasn't a "wow" wine, at least not now, but it was pleasant and easy to drink.

December 23, 2008

MNSC Dinner - China Club

MNSC dinner at China Club, hosted by Pineapple.

Our generous host decided to serve us some really old wines tonight - some almost a century old. We should have known by the fact that the wines were opened immediately prior to serving, without being decanted. As it turns out, most of our guesses in the blind tasting were off by half a century. This isn't surprising, given most of us have little or no experiences with wines dating from pre-WWII era...

1993 Pol Roger Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill - wonderful stuff with nose of caramel and crème brûlée.

First flight:
1918 Gruaud Larose, chateau bottling - very sweet nose with notes of vanilla, oak, a little smoked meats, and surprisingly strawberry. The last element was the reason we thought it was a Burgundy... Very smooth on the palate. 93 points.

1918 Gruaud Larose, chateau bottling, ex-Nicolas cellar - nose was very farmy with lots of bacon, opulent smoked meats, and even stinky tofu (臭豆腐)! Fairly acidic on the palate. 89 points.

Second flight:
1918 Cheval Blanc, chateau bottling - nose of mint, sweet red fruits, honeydew melon, smoke, with a bit of medicinal brett. 89 points.

1918 Cheval Blanc, Calvet bottling - pretty sweet nose with the finish being a little tart in the beginning, but improved with a bit of time. 92 points.

Third flight:
1928 Cos d'Estournel - nose was a bit medicinal with some fruit. Finish was a little acidic. 88 points.

1928 Léoville-Las Cases - medicinal and brett, farmy, peppery, grilled meat with sweet fruit. Acidic finish. 92 points.

Fourth flight:
1978 Charles Noëllat Richebourg - explosively sweet nose with lychee, grilled meats (tea-smoked duck), farmy yet caramel nose. Acidic finish. Fantastic wine. 94 points.

1978 DRC Richebourg - even better than the Noëllat. Really sweet nose with tons oflychee, black cherries, preserved plums and mint. 97 points and wine of the evening by a large margin.

I am ever thankful for the generosity of our host, for the chance to drink these gems which will not exist in the cellars of mere mortals like myself. May I suggest that we do this on a more regular basis, so that we get more exposure to really old wines. How about a '21 Yquem next time?

Full post on dinner is here.

December 19, 2008

MNSC Dinner - Fook Lam Moon

MNSC dinner at Fook Lam Moon (福臨門), hosted by Lord Rayas.

Our host was extremely generous and offered a vertical of Chateau Lafleur - the famed Pomerol estate. Wines were served blind, as usual, in three flights.

First flight:
1964 Lafleur - nose of soy sauce, preserved plum, game meats and a bit of smoke. Still tannic and grippy for a wine of this age. 88 points.

1971 Lafleur - grassy nose with good amount of sweet fruit, including orange, tangerine. A bit alcoholic and spicy. 87 points.

Second flight:
1981 Lafleur - nose of grilled meats and some sweet red fruits. A tad acidic on the palate. 93 points.

1983 Lafleur - a hint of smoke and mint at first. Very smooth on the palate, with a curious orange finish. Later on sweet fruit and forest notes emerged. 94 points.

Third flight:
1986 Lafleur - a really nice wine, with a really sweet nose and again orange notes. Still tannic and grippy on the palate. 95 points and my favorite of the evening.

1989 Lafleur - very concentrated but nose has shut down. A bit of smoked meats and soy sauce in the nose. 93 points.

December 18, 2008

Henri Bonneau and Dujac

Dinner at San San Trois.

1988 Henri Bonneau Châteauneuf-du-Pape Réserve des Célestins - I brought and opened this with much anticipation. However, as I uncorked the wine in the office, a very musty smell came from the cork, and I can't help but think that the wine is corked. After we started drinking at the restaurant, my fears were confirmed. What should have been an awesome bottle was indeed corked. And I think I bought this bottle from I was much luckier with its older cousin - the '86 - which I bought at the same time and drank a couple of years ago. The nose was initially muted with very little fruit and some wet chalk. It did improve over time in the decanter, but still a fraction of what it should have been. Totally disappointing.

1996 Dujac Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Combottes - this was a beautiful wine. Initially the nose was heavy smoked game meats, sweet red fruits and plums. Classic, beautiful Burgundian nose. With time additional notes such as strawberries and florals emerged. Thankfully we had at least one great bottle for tonight.

December 17, 2008

2001 Kistler Pinot Noir

2001 Kistler Pinot Noir Kistler Vineyard - drank over dinner at Brasserie on the Eighth.  The wine never really showed its full potential. The wine was a bit acidic on the palate at first, which improved with aeration as it gained body in the decanter. But it fell far short of what it could have been, and in fact performed worse than the Kistler Sonoma Coast that I had a few weeks ago.

December 16, 2008

1996 Dominus

1996 Dominus - drank over dinner at the IFC branch of Lei Garden (利苑). It's still a pretty young wine, and I definitely felt the tannins on my tongue. Initially the wine was slightly acidic on the palate - a bit Bordeaux-like - but eventually showed its true colors as a Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. A good wine that needs a bit more cellaring time.

December 14, 2008

Winos drink too much...

Dinner with the Winos at a friend's house.

1990 Dom Perignon en magnum - a beautiful Champagne with lots of toasty oak, lemon and minerals.

2002 Comtes Lafon Meursault Clos de la Barre - ripe nose of lemon, lots of minerals with sweet butter. For a while it was acidic both on the palate and on the finish. Towards the end the palate was a bit sweet and ripe. This wine is already mature.

2002 Ravaneau Chablis Valmur - lots of mineral, flint and lemon in the nose. Very smooth and soft on the palate.

2000 Sylvain Cathiard Chambolle-Musigny Clos de L'Orme - notes of sweet grass, currant, a little farmy. Nose was pretty open and easy to drink.

2000 Armand Rousseau Chambertin - minty, smoky, a bit of smoked meats, alcoholic. Lots of concentrated sweet fruit. Delicious, especially towards the end after further aeration.

2001 Vieille Julienne Châteauneuf-du-Pape Vieilles Vignes - pretty alcoholic nose, a bit sweet with farmy, sous-bois, and some orange marmalade towards the end. Fairy concentrated. This appears to the last vintage for this cuvée.

2005 Lou Dumont Charmes-Chambertin - vanilla, currant notes with a hint of roast meats. Acidic on the palate.

2001 Masi Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Mazzano - I got to this wine rather late, and it tasted flat and lightly acidic.

1996 L'Eglise-Clinet - a classic Bordeaux. Smoky, grassy, currant, slightly minty. Very open and a very nice wine.

2002 L'Eglise-Clinet - minty, alcoholic, smooth and concentrated.

1996 Chapoutier Hermitage Vin de Paille - an amazing nose of cane sugar - just like the Cantonese drink of 竹蔗茅根- as well as honey, orange marmalade and honey dew.

December 13, 2008

Kikuhime Yamahai

Kikuhime Yamahai Ginjo (菊姫山廃吟醸) - offered by Imamura-san during dinner at Imamura (今村). This is from one of the best sake houses in Japan. Very fragrant and a bit on the dry side.

December 10, 2008

2001 BOND Matriarch

2001 BOND Matriarch - drank at Olé over dinner. This was a wine that's big enough to go with heavy food. As expected the wine was massively concentrated, with nose of vanilla and caramel on top of red fruits. The wine is still very young, and the tannins are still very much in-your-face. This would need another couple of years before reaching maturity.

December 9, 2008

White wines for oysters

Dinner at Nine.Line Oyster & Grill.

2004 William Fevre Chablis Les Preuses - Chablis is one of the best matches for oysters, in no small way due to the fact that the sub-soil contains fossilized oyster shells. The wine had a steely, flinty nose with lemon notes. The finish was very long and dry.

We followed with a bottle of daiginjo sake. This was on the sweet side, and worked perfectly well to balance the briney flavors of the oysters in the mouth, almost like a palate cleanser! I must remember this next time.

2004 Didier Dagueneau Silex - an explosive nose of minerals, green apples and muscat. Steely acidity cuts through the flavors. What a wonderful wine that is giving so much now, without having realized its full potential.

2005 Domaine de la Mordorée Lirac Cuvée de la Reine des Bois - the violet, floral notes were really nice. It's also a treat to drink something that is produced in reasonably small quantities.

December 8, 2008

MNSC Dinner - Amber

MNSC dinner at Amber, hosted by Juliano.

1995 Dom Perignon Oenothèque - one of the best Champagnes I have tasted in a while. Huge, powerful nose of toasty oak, pain grillé, yeast and minerals. This was really, really enjoyable.

First flight:
1985 Solaia - from the nose it was clear that this wine was old. Hint of grass, red fruits, caramel, and some oxidation. A bit acidic on the palate. 92 points.

1999 Solaia - smoky nose with star anise, mint, coffee, ripe prunes and a bit of wet chalk. Alcoholic and huge, tannic finish.

Second flight:
1988 Mouton-Rothschild - one of the surprises of the evening. Very smoky, grassy, grilled meats, coffee, pepper nose. Very smooth on the palate with a slight acidic finish. 96 points.

1986 Mouton-Rothschild - everyone's biggest disappointment, given the 100-point rating by many critics. Smoky, grassy and sweet - classic Left Bank nose. Good concentration. 94 points.

Third flight:
1994 Pesquera Janus - very sweet and exotic nose with orange, lychee, pineapple, jackfruit and red dates (jujube) notes. The finish tasted like the Thai sticky rice with coconut milk that is often paired with mango or durian. 95 points.

1994 Vega Silicia Unico - very sweet nose with lots of orange and minerals, almost blood-like. Reminds me of a Californian Syrah. 96 points.

December 5, 2008

Last day in San Fran

2007 Barrel 27 High on the Hog - drank over lunch at Boulevard in San Francisco.  This was a Rhone-blend with Viognier, Roussanne and Marsanne. The wine was a bit cold so the nose was very light, with only a bit of oak and lemon. Sweet and hot on the palate with a bitter, long finish. Not very impressed.

2005 Guigal Côtes-du-Rhône Blanc - drank over dinner at Bistro Boudin in San Francisco. Way too cold, and showed nothing in the nose.

December 3, 2008

Wine pairing at Michael Mina

Dinner at Michael Mina in San Francisco.

Chartogne Tallet Cuvée Michael Mina NV - typical citrus and oak notes, with lots of bubbles and a pretty yeasty attack. The wine was crisp and not too dry on the palate, which was quite a nice balance. Most of all, the finish was very long. Quite enjoyable.
2006 Kracher Cuvée Beerenauslese - I'm a big fan of the sweet wines from Austrian producer Alois Kracher, and it was refreshing to see this on the menu. Nose of honey, honeydew, apricot, orange blossom, with a bit of sharp acetone. The wine was actually slightly bitter mid-palate, tasting like orange marmalade.

2005 Ladoucette Pouilly-Fumé - a totally underrated wine. Lots of minerals, flint and oak here, with a hint of lemon, a bit of sweet butter. Long and spicy finish.
2006 Gros Frère & Soeur Vosne-Romanée - the nose had lots of jammy sweet fruit, with hints of smoke and some caramel after a while, it was also very alcoholic. Basically the wine is just too young, and was very 'grippy' both in terms of tannins and acidity. Not well-balanced at this stage.
2005 Domaine du Caillou Châteauneuf-du-Pape - this was pretty good, but still very young and alcoholic. Nose was a bit minty with strawberry marshmellows. Very long finish.
2006 Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage - this was a wonderful wine. Despite being made from 100% Syrah, the nose was very much like a Côte-Rôtie, with the telltale floral notes of violet and rose. The wonderful nose also included classic notes of smoked meats. Unfortunately it is also still a young wine, so it was too tannic and grippy on the palate.

2003 Royal Tokaji Company Tokaji 5 Puttonyos - this has got to be the "Blue Label" and another perennial favorite of mine. Nose of marmalade, cloves, a bit of honeydew and just a tad sharp with the acetone. The wine is still young and has a nice balance between the sweetness and the acidity.

Full post on dinner is here.

December 2, 2008

2007 Cambíata Monterey County Albariño - drank over dinner at Kuleto's.  I wanted something that wasn't a Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio. The rather full glass delivered pleasant results - nose of tropical fruit, a hint of oak and minerals (even though the wine sees no oak). The wine was a bit flat (hence easy drinking) mid-palate, but it had a nice long finish...especially in the back of my throat!

Full post on dinner is here.

November 28, 2008

1994 Von Schubert Maximin Riesling Spätlese

1994 Von Schubert Maximin Grünhauser Herrenberg Riesling Spätlese - drank over lunch at Pierre.  This was an aged bottle, and showed a big nose of urethane/plastic, acetone and petrol. Then lemon notes emerged with green apple following. Initially fairly dry, it gained a bit more sweetness as it opened up. A wonderful wine to drink at lunch.

Full post on lunch is here.

November 27, 2008

Riesling and Huadiao

Dinner at Tien Heung Lau (天香樓).

2006 Dr. Loosen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese - I thought this went down easy with Hangzhou food due to its sweetness.

We also enjoyed some Huadiao wine (花雕), which has been blended by the restaurant using something of a solera system employed by sherry producers. The oldest vintage dates back some 20-odd years. Wonderful stuff with served warm.
Full post on dinner is here.

November 25, 2008

An evening with 3 Burgundian winemakers

Dinner at Classified cheese room with Nicolas Potel, Henri Boillot, and Alain and Sophie Meunier (of Jean-Jacques Confuron).

2003 Jean Boillot Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Clos de la Mouchère - toasty oak and minerals in the nose. The wine was ripe and sweet on the palate.

2000 Jean Boillot Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Pucelles en magnum - lots of classic minerals and was ripe and sweet on the nose. Initially it was a little acidic on the palate but improved in glass.

1985 Nicolas Potel Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Combettes  - this was easily the wine of the evening for me - it was so beautiful that I wish my glass would never go empty... Lots of green apple, sweet grass, straw and honey in the nose. Oh-so-smooth on the palate due to its age. I need to get my hands on some of this...

2006 Nicolas Potel Savigny-les-Beaune 1er Cru Les Hauts Jarrons - relatively big and full-on, with plenty of red fruits on the nose.

2004 Jean-Jacques Confuron Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru - comes from a couple of vineyards. It was silky smooth and velvety, with loads of fruit and a bit of grilled meats on the nose. Such fragrance! While tasting the wine, Paulo commented that it was "Unmistakably Chambolle-Musigny!" I reminded him of MNSC's general poor performace in blind tastings, and told him I would make sure to test him at a future blind tasting that we hold...

2000 Jean-Jacques Confuron Romanée-St-Vivant en magnum - the wine was still very fresh and young, with sweet caramel and a hint of grass on the nose. It was still a bit grippy with higher acidity than I anticipated. I think this wine actually needs more time to pull itself together.

Dow's 20 Year Tawny Port

Full post on dinner is here.

November 24, 2008

Altaya annual tasting

I attended the annual wine tasting hosted by Altaya Wines at the Grand Hyatt. Paulo is a friend and a member of our MNSC, so we all try to show our support, and get to taste some fantastic wines at the same time.

This was their biggest event so far - taking up the Residence area with two large tables serving finger food and the wonderful cheese selection from Classified - one of Paulo's other ventures. There were 24 tables serving wines from around the world, and many winemakers or family members of the winemaker were there to pour their wines for us. The familiar faces were Pierre Perrin from Chateau Beaucastel, Rob Fisher from Fisher Vineyards, Don Weaver from Harlan Estate... There was also a strong contingent from Burgundy, including Nicolas Potel, Henri Boillot (both in person), and Alain and Sophie Meunier from Jean-Jacques Confuron.

I spent more than 3 hours at the tasting, going through many wines and chatting with friends and winemakers. There were just too many wines so my notes are a bit simple and blurry...

2004 Harlan Estate - waaaay too early to drink

2005 Henri Boillot Savigny-les-Beaune 1er Cru Les Vergelesses - loads of minerals, flint, oak and sweet butter in the nose.

2005 Henri Boillot Volnay 1er Cru Les Caillerets - nose of prunes, grilled meats and smoke. A bit acidic.

2004 BOND Melbury - minty, pruny, with lots of oak and high alcohol. Pretty tannic right now.

2006 Fisher Whitney's Vineyard Chardonnay - still as sweet and ripe as I remember. Lots of buttery and toasty oak here.

2006 Nicolas Potel: Bourgogne Rouge Cuvée Gerard Potel, Côtes de Nuits-Villages Rouge Vieilles Vignes, Nuits-St-Georges - while these were decent wines for everyday drinking, they weren't as impressive as the 4 wines that followed...obviously!

2006 Nicolas Potel: Savigny-les-Beaune 1er Cru Les Hauts Jarrons, Chambolle-Musigny Vieilles Vignes - these wines were obviously a class above the first three, and are amazing value for money.

2006 Nicolas Potel Grand Crus: Clos St.-Denis, Charmes-Chambertin - really, really nice wines, especially the silky smooth Charmes with the lengthy finish.

2004 Argiano Solengo - not that impressed. Still a bit tannic.

2005 Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge - classic Beaucastel and good to drink now.

2005 Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc - another beautiful Rhone white from Beaucastel that is accessible now.

2005 Kilikanoon Killermans Run Shiraz - not a bad effort that is typically Aussie Shiraz

2005 Kilikanoon Covenant Shiraz - aged in a mix of American and French oak, the vanilla and tropical fruit of the American oak really shows through here.

2004 Kilikanoon Oracle Shiraz - nose is more subtle here as this is aged in French oak.

2003 Le Pupille Saffredi - a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, this was only so-so...not quite sure why this is a famous wine...

Quinta do Noval Colheita Port 1995 - I love all tawny Port, so understandably I went back for a few more pours of this one. Lots of typical nuts, caramel and a bit sharp from the alcohol.

2002 Suduiraut - my favorite of the trio tonight. Nose of celery, straw, honey, apricot, orange marmalade. There is enough sweetness here to make it interesting.

1998 Suduiraut - a bit bland on the palate as there really wasn't enough sweetness. Nose of cotton candy, apricot and marmalade.

1982 Suduiraut - not sure why some people were so wowed by this wine. Maybe because they had heard that 1982 was a great year for Bordeaux, without realizing that it wasn't exactly a good year for Sauternes... There's not enough botrytis here, even though Suduiraut produced one of the best wines in this vintage due to early harvest. Nose of tangerine and acetone, but pretty dry on the palate.

November 23, 2008

Wine and Korean food

Dinner at a friend's.

2000 Chateau Musar Blanc - a favorite of the hosts, it is always easy to drink. The wine has had a few years of aging and now appears to be light orange in color, with a bit of honey in the nose.

2002 Hugel Riesling Jubilee - big, plasticky nose with lots of petrol. There was only a bit of sweetness on the palate, as Hugel's Rieslings are fermented drier compared to their Gewurztraminers.

1997 Napanook - a real pleasure to drink, with a hint of mint and classic red fruits on the nose. It was very ripe and sweet on the palate - not surprising considering the vintage - and the tannins were silky smooth. Considering the price I paid for the second wine from Dominus - the Napa outpost of Chateau Petrus' Christian Moueix - I couldn't have asked for anything more.

2005 Librandi Duca Sanfelice - made purely from the local varietal Gaglioppo, this would have easily passed for a New World wine. The nose was ripe and sweet, full of tropical fruits and vanilla, and eventually saw chili and spice emerge. The wine was smooth on the palate, almost a bit bland. It actually worked reasonably well with the homemade kimchi we had.

2005 Librandi Gravello - a different wine altogether, with 40% Cabernet Sauvignon blended in with the Gaglioppo. The nose here wasn't as New World and sweet, but it did have the mint from the Cab and only a hint of sweetness. With a bit of kimchiaftertaste in my mouth, the wine tasted hot and spicy on the tongue.

2001 Cantenac Brown - a classic Bordeaux from a vintage that is great to drink now. Typical farmy nose with grilled meats. No surprises here but a solid wine.

2005 Clos du Mont Olivet Cuvée du Papet - this was such a good wine! The nose was really sweet with caramel notes, plus the classic grilled meat that comes from the Rhône. I kept drinking this wine instead of whisky after dinner, so I guess I'm showing my true colors...

November 14, 2008

Acker pre-auction tasting

2004 DRC Echezeaux - the very first wine I tasted this evening, and this set the bar high for the rest of the session. Wonderful open nose of smoked meats and prunes. A classic Burg through and through. A little acidic on the palate, but a wine that is drinking beautifully now.

2005 DRC Echezeaux - nose is much more closed compared to the '04, with a lot of smoke. You can sense the intensity but it's just too tight.

2004 Comte de Vogüé Bonnes Mares - nose was a bit smoky but otherwise not showing. Slightly acidic on the palate.

2004 Joseph Roty Charmes-Chambertin Cuvee de Très Vielles Vignes - one of the best surprises of the evening. What an open, gorgeous nose with lots of bacon fat and grilled meats! It's drinking so well I had to go back towards the end of the evening to get additional pours!

2005 Domaine des Lambrays Clos des Lambrays - nose had very high alcohol levels, with a bit of sweet fruit.

2005 Jean Grivot Clos de Vougeot - smoky nose with slightly charred bacon and a bit of sweet fruit. Very tannic on the palate.

2005 Armand Rousseau Gevrey-Chambertin Clos St.-Jacques - beautiful nose of sweet red fruits, smoked meats and sweet grass.

1996 Leroy Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Les Combottes - the first bottle was definitely cooked and smelled of stewed prunes. The second bottle was much better, with nice sweet nose of strawberries that was really enjoyable.

2005 Anne Gros Richebourg - nose was shut and I thought it was plasticky...a big disappointment.

2005 Bouchard Volnay Les Caillerets Ancienne Cuvée Carnot - pretty open nose, very sweet with animal fat and smoked meats. A nice wine.

1999 Beaucastel Hommage à Jacques Perrin - nose was funky and a bit vegetal, with some Oriental five-spice and stewed prunes.

1998 Guigal La Mouline - initial disappointing as there was not much on the nose and acidic on the palate. The second pour was much better. Third pour from the second bottle was amazing - sweet and classic Côte-Rôtie nose - and the wine is showing amber on the rims.

2005 Chave Hermitage Rouge - powerful smoky nose with a hint of chalk.

1983 Jaboulet La Chapelle - a bit disappointment with nothing but wet chalk in the nose. I've had many bottles tat were much better .

2001 Abreu Madrona Ranch - massive concentration, nose of minerals, iron, vanilla, sweet fruit and a bit of caramel. Really chewy tannins with a long finish.

2003 Sine Qua Non Syrah Atlantis Fe 203 1A - I finally had a chance to taste this, and all I can say is "Wow!" Massively concentrated with oads of sweet fruit, vanilla, minerals, iron, Oriental spices. The nose was just really fragrant and eventually almost Rhone-like.

1995 Latour - smoky, a bit of chalk, and ended up with some sweet fruit. Good but clearly inferior to the '96.

1996 Latour - very powerful nose with classic grilled meats, smoke, a bit of brett and sweet fruit.

1996 Margaux - a very good and classic Bordeaux with smoky nose.

2003 Montrose - a very tannic wine at the moment.

1989 La Conseillante - minty, smoky and sweet nose.

1986 Lafleur - nose of sweet candy.

1982 Lynch-Bages - pretty good classic Bordeaux with smoke and grilled meats in the nose.

1988 Lafite-Rothschild - nose was totally green peppers, vegetal and smoky. Pretty poor...

2000 Angelus - classic nose of smoke and ripe fruits.

1983 Mouton-Rothschild - classic Mouton nose of cigar smoke.

1995 Vega Sicilia Unico - nose was a bit smoky but after a bit of time, the core sweet fruit emerged.

November 11, 2008

Gosset + Kistler

Lunch at Pierre.

Gosset Rosé - a very nice Champagne. Unfortunately I didn't get much of a nose out of it, despite drinking it out of a very nice flute. The wine was great on the palate, very round and nicely balanced without excessive acidity.

2001 Kistler Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast - this drank beautifully out of the Riedel Sommelier Burgundy Grand Cru glasses. It was classic Kistler through and through, with lots of sweet fruit in the nose and a hint of the grilled meats. At 7 years of age the tannins are now silky smooth, and it's such a pleasure to drink.

November 10, 2008

Twelve disciples

Dinner at Kimberley Chinese Restaurant.

Jacquesson Cuvee No. 729 - this is technically a non-vintage wine but is based on the 2001 vintage. Toasty nose with citrus and a hint of caramel. Nicely balanced in mid-palate with a bit of a kick, and slightly acidic on the finish.

1996 Pol Roger Rosé - initially served too cold, nose showed some orange marmalade as it warmed up. Smooth on the palate with a nice, long finish.

2002 François Cotat La Grade Cote - this is technically a Sancerre, but this vintage was declassified by the authorities because of too much residual sugar/chaptalization. Without the Sancerre appellation printed on the label, we all thought this was a Chenin Blanc, and was very confused when I detected the trademark nose of green apples that screams Sauvignon Blanc... The pretty nose also had lots of muscat grapes, minerals and flint. A very refreshing wine that was ripe on the palate with a good balance between acidity and sweetness. I can see why the authorities worried about chaptalization...

2005 Henri Boillot Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Clos de la Mouchere Monopole - nose of toasty oak, minerals, ripe fruit and a hint of wet chalk. The wine is still a bit too young, but eventually sweet grass emerged, and finally turned much more steely and flinty towards the end. For me this and the Cotat were the white wines of the evening.

2006 Peter Michael Chardonnay La Carriere - nose of sweet Anjou pear, lemon citrus, marshmellow, vanilla and a bit of toasty oak. Surprisingly the finish was a bit hot and bitter. The nose pretty much fell apart in glass with time...

2003 Dame de Coeur du Chateau Peyfaures - this is a Bordeaux Supérieur with a pretty label, and actually drank quite well. Nose was sweet blackcurrant and a bit jammy and stewed, with plenty of smoke to balance out.

1989 Jean Raphet Charmes-Chambertin - a beautiful classic Burgundy, with telltale farmy, smoky nose full of bacon and grilled meats. Lots of sweet fruit in the nose here. A very clear, light-colored wine due to its age.

1999 Landmark Pinot Noir Grand Detour - nose was classic Californian Pinot, a bit sweet, jammy and grapy with orange marmalade notes. Surprisingly cloudy in its appearance.

1998 Clos Erasmus - the last time I opened this wine was in 2003, and of course 5 years makes a lot of difference in the development of a young wine. I am no longer blown away by the fantastically sweetness of the nose, but the wine has matured and developed into something much more complex. Initially the nose was a bit funky, chalky and medicinal. But star anise, mint ad a bit of brett came out later. Interestingly tannic and acidic on the palate at the same time, this wine can do with a few more years of aging. Fortunately I still have a couple of bottles left...

1997 Masi Amarone Costasera - a very alcoholic wine with acetone notes, nose is a bit minty and stewed. Like the Clos Erasmus, this was acidic and a bit tannic on the palate at the same time.

1998 Sine Qua Non E-raised - it's been 6 years since I last opened a bottle of this wine, and it still exemplifies what I love about SQN. The nose had lots of minerals, iron/blood, orange, and vanilla, coffee and caramel from the oak. Very smooth on the palate now, I can see this wine developing much further with age. I guess I will keep my remaining bottles in the cellar for now. Definitely my red wine of the evening.

1977 Taylor's - being a fortified wine, you would expect this to be alcholic but I was still taken aback. Nose of wet chalk and ripe fruit like Ribena, a bit sharp. I haven't had a lot of vintage Ports but do prefer my Madeiras...

Full post on dinner is here.

November 7, 2008

1997 Cos d'Estournel

1997 Cos d'Estournel - drank at L'Idiot in Taipei.  Decanted for about an hour before serving. This was a classic Bordeaux, with a bit of smoke wrapped around the red fruit core of the nose. The wine was very silky smooth on the palate. A very enjoyable wine.

November 3, 2008

An evening with Matthew Jukes

Dinner at Crown Wine Cellars with Matthew Jukes from Quintessentially Wine.

NV Ayala Brut Majeur 'Extra Age' - toasty, yeasty and a bit acidic on the palate. I would have liked to have tasted this a bit more, but needed to switch over to the whites... Should pit this special cuvée against some other NV Champagnes to see the difference.

2003 Ostertag Pinot Gris Zellberg - nose was initially muted as th wines were just too cold. Floral, bananas with a hint of wet chalk. A little ripe on the palate with a sharp alcohol finish. As the wine warmed up and opened there were also mineral notes on the nose.

2006 Taille Aux Loups Montlouis Sec Rémus - lots of tropical fruits like coconut, banana and a little toasty - with a surprising dry finish given how hot the nose is. A nice Chenin Blanc.

2005 Jean-Claude Bessin Chablis 1er Cru Fourchaume - huge and punchy nose, very steely, smoky and flinty...kinda not what I was expecting. On the palate, it was interesting that there was a start and a finish, but pretty much nothing in the middle!

2005 Lis Neris Fiore di Campo - a very funky wine, with a big, pungent nose of blue cheese and plastic. There is a lot of heavy, toasty oak here with a hint of sweetness and lemon. Not really what I was looking for in a white. Matthew suggested that there is some durian in the nose, but myself and a Singaporean guest beg to differ.

2004 Lusco do Miño Albariño Pazo Pineiro - lots of tropical fruit like tangerine, pineapple and a bit of green apple. A little bit tart on the finish, but a very enjoyable wine.

2004 Domaine des Saumades Châteauneuf-du-Pape - nose of ripe prunes, black cherries and very sweet. Stewed prunes and sweet dates emerged later. Tannins are firm here and I think this wine needs another few years of aging, which is quite surprising for something that is 100% Grenache.

2004 Cigliuti Barbera d'Alba Campass - an explosive nose of sweet fruits that kept on giving. Grippy on the palate with firm tannins. This was my second favorite red but needs a couple of more years in bottle.

2004 Jorge Moreira Poeira - made by the winemaker at Quinta de la Rosa (which I visited in 2006), the wine had tons of minerals, iron, chocolate and red fruits in the nose.

2004 Giaconda Shiraz Warner Vineyard - what a surprise! Here is an Aussie shiraz that, in a blind tasting, I would place as a Côte-Rôtie any day of the week. Classic Côte-Rôtie nose with only the faintest hint of the floral nose from the Viognier, with grilled meats, smoke and bit of that farmy nose. Very smooth and round tannins on the palate. Definitely my favorite wine of the evening.

2004 Frog's Leap Merlot - an interesting wine as I wouldn't have pegged it for a Californian Merlot. Sweet, red fruit nose with lots of smoke, almost Bordeaux-like. Only slightly sweet on palate which is deceptive.

2005 Larredya Jurançon Moelleux Cuvée "a Capcèu" - nose of mandarins, orange marmalade, ripe melon, acetone and honey.

November 2, 2008

2006 Selbach-Oster Riesling Fish

2006 Selbach-Oster Riesling Kabinett "Fish" - drunk at the Press Room. It's easy to drink during the day...a touch of sweetness nicely balanced with the acidity, and some minerals in the nose. It was kept a tad too cold so the nose didn't show fully, but's a casual wine.

October 31, 2008

Wino Halloween

Dinner at Babylon.

2000 Nyetimber Cuvee Classic - an interesting sparkling wine made from all three Champagne varietals in West Sussex, England. Toasty oak, yeast and minerals on the nose, while slightly acidic on the palate.

Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs NV - a very vibrant wine, crisp but not too acidic - a tad sweet even. Unfortunately the finish was a bit short.

1975 Pichon Lalande - classic Bordeaux nose, with plum and some red fruits left. Very smooth to drink but a bit flat on the palate.

2007 Novy Family Blanc de Noir - a very interesting wine made by the people at Siduri, from Pinot Noir grapes. Lots of tropical fruits like banana and pina colada, with nutty almonds, floral and sweet nose. Really enjoyable and my white wine of the evening.

2004 Domaine de Chevalier Blanc - a classic white from Graves, with very heavy, toasty oak and lots of minerals. It's surprisingly ripe on the palate with good acidity balance.

2000 Siduri Pinot Noir Pisoni Vineyard - really big and powerful sweet nose, a classic Californian Pinot, with a hint of orange rind.

2004 Pauillac - interesting and surprisingly good for the 3rd wine of Chateau Latour. A bit plummy, smoky and sweet, ripe fruit. Not sweet on the palate, however.

2001 Mustuguillo Quincha Corral - a Spanish wine made from Bobal, this was my red wine of the evening. Explosive sweet nose, very jammy with lots of power and oomph! A bit high on the alcohol and could use a bit more aging.

2001 Yarra Yering Dry Red Wine No.1 - very sweet nose with a hint of stewed prunes, grilled meats, smoke and coffee. The nose was a bit sharp but the wine fell a bit flat on the palate.

2004 Camille Giroud Corton Les Chaumes - a typical Burgundy with sweet fruit and black cherries. A bit more alcoholic than I expected.

1988 Hugel Gewurztraminer Selection de Grains Nobles - very floral nose with acetone, orange, pink grapefruit notes. Sweet on the palate but finish was a bit bitter. I'm glad I finally had a chance to open this bottle.

October 30, 2008

MNSC Dinner - Tuscany by H

MNSC dinner at Tuscany by H, hosted by Dr. Poon.

2003 Vincent Girardin Corton-Charlemagne - very smoky and lots of toasty oak, tons of minerals and petrol over ripe fruit. Initially the wine tasted flat on the palate, but the sweetness came out later and this grew into a wonderful wine. The toasty oak is still a bit heavy given the young age of the wine, but I am sure this would be a beautiful wine in another 10 years.

1999 Shafer Hillside Select - lots of concentration here with sweet fruit and a classic Californian nose. Tannins very firm. My style of wine but a little too young. 96 pts.

1999 Dalla Valle Maya - nose was initially a little funky and stewed, with orange marmalade and a bit of smoke, somewhat rustic. Tannins were firm, but there was also a lot of sediment floating in the wine. 94 pts.

1998 Ornellaia - smoky nose with good amount of sweet grass and also grilled meats. 95 pts.

1998 Solaia - minty with a bit of smoke. Silky tannins. 94 pts.

1990 Angelus - very smoky with brett, a bit of sweet fruit and coffee in the nose. A delicious wine and a classic Bordeaux. 96 pts.

1990 Palmer - classic brett and smoky nose of a Bordeaux, with a bit of sweetness and orange, coffee grounds and sous bois. 96 pts.

October 29, 2008

Hot and alcoholic wines

Dinner at Nino's Cozinha.

2001 Marcel Deiss Mambourg - this is a very interesting wine as it is a blend of all Pinot varietals: Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Pinot Beurot and Pinot Meunier. At 13.5% alcohol it tasted spicy and ripe on the palate, and was a bit fizzy on the tongue with a long finish. The nose was initially very muted, belying the complexity of the wine, but showed minerals and a hint of sweetness coming from ripe pears. A very tasty wine, and I'd love to get my hands on some of this.

2000 Turley Zinfandel Hayne Vineyard - the star of the evening, and at 16.7% alcohol packs quite a big punch. The wine was very sweet on the palate, but a bit spicy on the tip of my tongue. Nose was classic Turley sweet red fruits, but with some marmalade and a hint of acetone.

2002 Pax Syrah Alder Springs 'the Terraces' - I double-decanted the wine at home because of my last experience with Pax wines. These wines need lots of time to breathe. Unfortunately the result was that at dinner, the nose of the wine was initially muted without a lot of fruit. There may have even been a hint of TCA. But the nose did eventually come out about 3 1/2 hours after opening, with iron, cotton candy, marmalade and red fruits. The tannins were firm and chewy, and the wine was spicy on the palate. A bit disappointing, but maybe it's just bottle variation. 15.2% alcohol.

October 27, 2008

1990 Gruaud-Larose

Lunch at Cafe Causette.

1990 Gruaud Larose - this was dropped off at the Mandarin and decanted about 2 hours prior to lunch. While there was a hint of TCA (commonly known as cork-taint) in the nose, the wine drank beautifully. It had the classic St Julien nose, with sweet grass, a bit of green peppers, red fruits and a bit of smoked meats. Surprisingly, the tannins were still pretty firm, while the acidity was a tad high for my palate. It's been some years since I last drank this wine, and I think it remains a beautiful wine.

Full post on lunch is here.

October 25, 2008

Sipping wine at the Zachys auction

Zachys auction in Hong Kong today.

1998 Pol Roger Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill - toasty with a bit of caramel/creme brulee in the nose. Very young but had a nice acidity balance.

1988 Latour en imperial - classic, with mint, cigar smoke, prunes and a bit of brett in the nose. A nice wine to drink with the food.

1997 Jaboulet La Chapelle in jeroboam - a little disappointing, with high levels of acidity and not much of the trademark nose that I have come to love. I guess it needed more time to breathe.

2000 Talbot - not bad, with mint, grilled meats, smoke and a hint of orange in the nose. It was a little acidic but overall a very pleasant wine to drink.

October 23, 2008

Arietta tasting

Tasting of Arietta wines over lunch at Cipriani, with Fritz Hatton in attendance

2007 On the White Keys - a Bordeaux blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, the nose packed a big punch of oak at the beginning with lots of minerals, but softened up a bit with a hint of citrus.

2005 H-Block Hudson Vineyard - with 80% Cabernet Franc, this would be the equivalent of Cheval Blanc in Napa. Vry ripe nose and initially the high alcohol was very evident, almost overpowering. Lots of sweet fruit, caramel and plum here with heavy and chewy tannins. Opened up in the glass and softened significantly with time. Surprisingly drinkable for such a young wine.

2002 H-Block Hudson Vineyard - a very big wine, with very sweet fruit on the nose and tannins that are a bit harsh and heavy. Second pour was a lot better. This wine just needs time to soften up.

2000 H-Block Hudson Vineyard - my first impression was a bit of 鐵打酒 (Chinese liquid Ben-Gay), which faded to reveal a wine that was very smooth with silky tannins. Sweet on the after palate.

1997 Proprietary Red - this is a wine that I drank EXACTLY 2 months ago, which blew me away. Interesting to see that this drank like a completely different wine today! With 80% Cabernet Franc, the nose was very typically Bordeaux with lots of brett, leather and sweet fruit. Like 2 months ago, there were still plenty of tannins left. The nose became a bit more medicinal towards the end, which I guess is just more of the brett coming out.

2003 Variaton One - the 2000 vintage of this wine (the first vintage made) was the first bottle of Arietta that I purchased. When I drank this last year, the combination of Syrah and Merlot totally blew me away, and confirmed that my decision to get on Arietta's mailing list was indeed a wise one. The 2003 is really big and fruity, a bit of a fruit bomb like the 2000. The alcohol level was a bit high, and the tannins were very evident. But this was a really good wine, with enough complexity to make it interesting. It packs the punch of the stereotypical Californian Syrah, but at the same time wears the velvet glove that is Merlot.

2006 Quartet - This is a combination of 4 Bordeaux-blend varietals (except Malbec) where the fruit has been sourced from David Abreu. It's a typical Californian Cab with a sweet nose laced with a little coffee, caramel and vanilla. The nose is powerful and still a bit sharp in terms of alcohol, and still pretty tannic on the palate.

2006 Variation One - surprisingly the nose was a bit muted with coffee notes. The wine was acidic on the palate. I wonder what happened to this bottle...

2006 H-Block Hudson Vineyard - A very sweet wine with high alcohol. Really needs more time to age.

2006 Cabernet Sauvignon - what an awesome wine this is! A classic Californian Cab that is very sweet both on the nose and palate. This is exactly what I love about Californian wine! The wine has been sold out on the mailing list, but I'm going to hold Fritz to his promise to sell me a couple of bottles...

Full post on lunch is here.

October 16, 2008

White Burg trounces Swiss white

Long lunch at Philippe Rochat in Crissiers, Switzerland.

2007 Chasselas Selection Philippe Rochat, made by Domaine du Daley - drank a glass of this. It’s a local wine so I thought I’d give it a try. Was not impressed. Perhaps the wine had been open since last night, and it has gone flat.

1999 Marc Morey Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Virondot en demi-bouteille - this turned out to be a wonderful wine. Golden, honey-colored after a few years of aging, the nose was also full of honey, butter, pear Anjou and green apples. You can taste the ripe fruit on the palate, and there was a good acidity balance and a reasonably long finish. Excellent!

October 15, 2008

2006 L et Mermoud Sauvignon Blanc

2006 L et Mermoud Sauvignon Blanc - drank a glass at Bistrot du Beouf Rouge in Geneva.
Pleasant nose of green apples, muscat grapes and minerals. Good for a quaffing wine!

October 10, 2008

The wines of Selbach-Oster

Dinner at Chiuchow Garden (潮庭) featuring wines of Selbach-Oster.

2007 Selbach Piesporter Michelsberg Riesling - mildly sweet on the palate, with some minerals in the nose.

2007 Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett halbtrocken - slightly sweet nose, with minerals, green apple notes. Pretty dry on the palate.

2006 Selbach-Oster Riesling Kabinett "fish" - this was a real interesting wine, which is a blend of different vineyards rather than the typical single-vineyard offering. Really powerful nose of petrol, lemon citrus, glycerin and urethane plastic. A full-bodied wine which tastes a bit "oily".

2006 Selbach-Oster Weissburgunder Kabinett trocken - made from Pinot Blanc, pretty dry with a touch of sweetness on the after palate. Ripeness was evident on the palate and in the nose, with minerals and a bit of spice.

2007 Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese trocken - made from ungrafted vines that are over 60 years' old. Steely minerals and osmanthus floral notes, with sweetness on the nose but not on the palate, and a ripe after palate. A complex and rich wine.

2007 Selbach-Oster Zeltnger Schlossberg Riesling Kabinett - powerful nose of minerals and flint, glycerin. Sweet on the palate with a finish of decent length.

2007 Selbach-Oster Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Spätlese - a bit of plastic and minerals in the nose. Nice, smooth and sweet on the palate.

1999 Selbach-Oster Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese - this has to be the wine of the evening. An explosion of minerals and petrol, with a bit of rich butter and plastic. Very rich and smooth on the palate, with orange marmalade on the after palate. This is actually only medium sweet for an auslese.

2007 Selbach-Oster Graacher Domprobst Riesling Spätlese halbtrocken - nose of minerals, green apple and a bit of honey. Slightly sweet on the palate.

2007 Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Schlossberg Riesling trocken - muted nose with some minerals, a bit of almond marzipan. Very dry on the palate.

2006 Selbach-Oster Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Auslese* - the wine that Mr. Selbach claims has a lot of aging potential. Nose of honey, minerals and even a touch of white pepper. The wine is already very sweet here, much more so than the 1999 tasted earlier, but right now it is far less complex. Hopefully this will develop after some aging.

This was a really good evening both in terms of food and wine. I got a chance to taste 11 wines from Selbach-Oster, and immediately put in my order for a few cases of my favorites from the evening...

October 9, 2008

2006 Selbach-Oster Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese

2006 Selbach-Oster Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese - drunk at Schurrbart, this was delicious, showing a big nose of petrol, minerals and sweet honey. It was slightly sweeter on the palate than I expected.

September 28, 2008

2005 Cloudy Bay Te Koko

2005 Cloudy Bay Te Koko - drunk at Braise in Singapore. The price charged by the restaurant was only a slight premium to what the wine sells for retail in Hong Kong, so it was a no-brainer for me. The wine was delicious as I remembered, with notes of muscat grapes, green apples, honey and minerals. I really loved this wine, and it's such a different expression of the Sauvignon Blanc grape.

Full post of lunch is here.

September 26, 2008

Kaganoi Daiginjo

Kaganoi Daiginjo (加賀の井大吟醸) - drunk at Goto (後藤) in Singapore.  Pretty sweet at +1 (日本酒度) and a very fine 40% seimaibuai (精米歩合). Nice and fragrant, with nose of banana and vanilla.

Full post of dinner is here.

2005 Weinbach Riesling Cuvée St. Catherine

2005 Domaine Weinbach Riesling Cuvée St. Catherine en demi-bouteille - drunk over lunch at Forlino in Singapore. Made from the grapes of Clos des Capucins. The nose immediately signaled a higher-than-normal alcohol content, which was fair given that this was the ultra-ripe 2005 vintage. Nose of orange flowers, apricots and some minerals were very pleasant, and only a hint of sweetness on the palate.

Full post of lunch is here.

September 19, 2008

In memory of Didier Dagueneau

Dinner at Yin Yang (鴛鴦).

2006 Keller Riesling Spatlese - this was initially very strong in terms of the petrol and wood/oak nose, to the point I wondered if the wine was corked. But it did open up later and there was a nice amount of minerals in the nose. Pretty sweet on the palate, but surprisingly lacks complexity.

2005 Didier Dagueneau Pur Sang - in memory of the great winemaker who had just died in a plane crash the day before. I am a big fan of Dagueneau's wines and rushed out to buy cases of wine upon hearing news of his untimely departure. The wine tonight was wonderful - green apple, toasty wood, mineral and sharp, flinty nose. The fruit was clearly very ripe - characteristic of the 2005 vintage across the board. Initially the acidity was a bit high and the wine felt slightly disjointed, but melded into a beautiful wine as the evening progressed. I think everyone enjoyed this.

2005 Nicolas Potel Savigny-les-Beaune 1er Cru Les Hauts Jarrons - a little too early to drink the 2005 reds, I think, but the nose turned out nicely. Very sweet cotton candy, strawberries, and surprisingly butter showed up in a red instead of a white! Unfortunately the palate was a bit lacking, and there was no finish. I think this wine could use another 5 years of bottle age.

September 18, 2008

German Riesling + Cali Cab

Dinner at Kimberley Chinese Restaurant (君怡閣).

2006 Dr Loosen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese - I knew this would have a bit of sweetness but this was more than my expectations. I think the ladies did like it, though... In any case this is a stellar year.

1994 Chateau Montelena in magnum - this was just too big for my cellar at home, so this was a good opportunity to drink it up. It was pretty classic Cali Cab, although the acidity was a bit high at the beginning.

September 15, 2008

01 William Selyem Hirsch

Drinking at home to remember Lehman Brothers.

2001 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir Hirsch Vineyard - initially the high alcohol (14.2%) was really evident in the nose. Smoky grilled meats, prunes, black fruits, sweet on the nose but not excessively so. Tannins were velvety and smooth, giving good body to the wine.  After almost 3 hours, minerals and blood emerged among the powerfully sweet fruit nose. A bit of bacon fat came out later.

September 13, 2008

Burgundian evening

Dinner at Brasserie on the Eighth.

Laurent Perrier Grand Siecle - the luxury cuvée which is a blend of 3 vintages. I am not sure which three vintages were in this bottle, but it was certainly a good way to start the evening off.

2002 Leroy Meursault 1er Cru Les Blagny - the fruit was very ripe and sweet on the palate, while there was also a good balance of acidity. Toasty oak in the nose came out towards the end.

1999 Baron Thenard Montrachet - even though none of us knew the domaine, this was a real treat. Smoky, flinty and almost steely on the nose. The wine was pretty ripe on the palate, while again achieving a good balance with the acidity. Just about my favorite wine of the evening.
1996 Leroy Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Les Combottes - this was classically Leroy. Initially the tannins were still very obvious on my tongue, a bit surprising given that this is only a 1er cru. The nose showed slightly higher acidity initially, but this quickly disappeared and the old familiar Leroy came back, with plenty of sweet fruit and ripe prunes. Not a bad effort. Production of this wine was tiny - 1,461 bottles for this vintage.

1996 Roumier Bonnes Mares - this was highly anticipated. Prices for Roumier has skyrocketed in the last 18 months, thanks in no small part to the publication of the Japanese wine comic 神の雫 (Les Gouttes de Dieu) - where the 2001 Roumier Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses was chosen as the "first disciple".

Anyway, back to the wine. After a couple of hours in an open decanter, the nose that developed proved to be quite nice, with lots of very sweet red fruits, and very classic Burgundian. However there was something missing there. You can sense that the wine could be so much more. Perhaps we are just drinking it too early. In any event, it was quite a privilege to be able to drink this wine, and I have my friend to thank for it.

September 5, 2008

Burg, Bord-o and Rhône

Dinner at 90 A La Sante (酒食歐風朝) in Taipei.

2005 Vincent Girardin Meursault 1er Cru Les Genevrieres - the nose had some minerals, petrol, toasty oak to start, then gradually showed creamy butter and finally lemon and citrus. Sweet on the palate, and obviously a "hot" vintage. As with all the 2005 Girardins, the wine needed some time to open up. Actually I thought this was not a good choice of wine for drinking now - it was clearly too young, unlike the 2005 Chassagnes I have been drinking over the last few months.

1995 Guigal Chateau d'Ampuis - I had high hopes for this as it has been quite a few years since I popped open one of these. Unfortunately I think this bottle has been moved around quite a bit, and we can see signs of seepage on the label as well as the cork. The nose had classic mint, bacon fat, grilled meats that I would expect from a Rhône. The tannins were smooth, and the finish had some length although there was some obviously acidity there.

However, this was supposed to be a big wine - the first vintage where Guigal took a few vineyards and blended the fruit into a product that sits between the famousLaLaLa's (which I so love) and the regular Côte-Rôtie Brune et Blonde bottling. I didn't get the sense of power from this bottle, so I was very disappointed.

2004 Le Petit Cheval - the second wine of Cheval Blanc. This wine was still very young, with classic sweet fruit, mint and smoky, grilled meats in the nose. The tannins were still very firm and chewy. While it's pleasing to drink now, I would think that the wine could use further aging.

September 2, 2008

MNSC Dinner - Amber

MNSC Dinner at Amber, hosted by Juliano.  Theme was 1997 horizontal.

1990 Dom Perignon Oenotheque - being recently disgorged, this was clearly very fresh with a heady mousse, and sugar that you can taste on the palate.

1997 DRC Grands Echezeaux - color was clearly lighter than the others, with a slightly farmy nose followed by smoke and bacon. Pretty classic Burgundy. 93 points.

1997 Opus One - the nose was very much classic Bordeaux, with tell-tale brett but the core of sweet fruit came out strong as time went on. The tannins in this wine was still very strong and I enjoyed chewing on them. 94 points.

1997 Kistler Hirsch Vineyard - this was my wine of the evening, and most of us pegged it as a Kistler since we were pretty big fans. This was one wine where, being on the mailing list, I have drunk plenty of. The nose was really powerful and sweet, with some minerals (although not enough to be a Cuvée Catherine or Elizabeth) and lots of sweet orange marmalade. The tannins are still around. 96 points.

1997 DRC Richebourg - nose was a little grassy with a hint of sous bois? Afterwards sweet marmalade emerged, although not as powerful as the Kistler. Interestingly I gave it 93 points - the same as the Grands Echezeaux.

1997 L'Eglise-Clinet - the nose had lots of sweet grass, some brett, and smoky. Interestingly the sweetness came from the grass and not from red fruits. 94 points.

August 29, 2008

Burgs and a Riesling

Dinner at Legend Concept.

1999 J.J. Prüm Riesling Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese - the wine was very sweet on the palate - definitely late harvest. And the nose was full of toasty oak, minerals, and petrol - classic Riesling. 

1990 Nicolas Potel Pommard 1er Cru Les Pezerolles - unbelievably, there was massive amounts of tannins for a wine this age, and unfortunately the finish was short. The nose was reasonably elegant, with a bit of fruit still evident. The wine improved with time, but unfortunately it was still my least favorite bottle of the evening.

1994 Leroy Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru Les Vigneronds - a classic Leroy. There was amazing amounts of sweet fruit in the nose, along with obvious notes of leather. A very powerful wine with a good balance between acidity and tannin. Still going strong after a few hours.

1990 Armand Rousseau Clos de la Roche - Rousseau wines are known for their elegance and not power, so I thought this would be overshadowed by some of the other wines of the evening. In the end I was pretty happy, as the wine turned out to beat my expectations, especially considering the source of the bottle. This was a classic, elegant Burgundy through and through, with a nose of leather, grilled meats, good amount of sweet fruit (although not powerful like the Leroy), plum and even a hint of mint I thought. There was a good amount of acidity on the palate, but initially the wine faded quickly in the glass. Towards the end, a bit of smoke emerged from the nose. A very enjoyable wine.

1996 Robert Groffier Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses - a very big wine, my first whiff of the nose showed plenty of sweet caramel, then gradually came a bit of leather. The wine has lots of oomph! and has such concentration and finish. After a couple of hours it did soften a little, but was still going strong. A tough choice between this and the Leroy for the wine of the evening.

2004 Yves Cuilleron Condrieu Ayguets en demi-bouteille - this was a big dessert wine, with loads of orange marmalade, apricot, honey and a hint of ripe melon. Very, very enjoyable.

August 23, 2008

1997 Arietta Red

1997 Arietta Red - drunk over dinner at Brasserie on the Eighth.  As I expected, I was blown away by the nose of this wine. It was just so amazingly sweet through and through, with strawberries, cotton candy, and a hint of leather. The wine was very, very sweet on the palate, and I was frankly surprised by the strong presence of tannins in this wine. Being from 1997 and at over 10 years of age, I naturally expected the wine to have soft and lovely tannins on the palate. Well, there was still enough tannins for me to chew on, and the wine has been poured from a decanter! Definitely a powerful, full-bodied wine that was still drinking well more than 3 hours after opening.

August 18, 2008

MNSC Dinner - Highcliff

MNSC Dinner hosted by Lord Rayas at his temporary abode of Highcliff.

2000 Dom Pérignon - the first time all of us had tried this vintage. The nose was very toasty, and the wine was a little "heady" and vibrant due to its young age.

First flight:
1988 Beaucastel - smoky nose of grilled meats, bacon fat but the wine was a bit short on the finish. There was no sweetness at all on the palate, and in fact was a bit acidic while there was still a good amount of tannins you can chew on. 93 points.

1988 Joseph Roty Charmes-Chambertin - the first whiff presented a very explosive sweet nose which disappeared pretty quickly. Afterwards a bit vegetal with distinct nose of green peppers. 90 points.

Second flight:
1989 La Fleur de Gay - nose very sweet, a bit medicinal with acetone notes. The combination pointed to a right bank Bordeaux. Caramel emerged later on. 92 points.

1989 Le Gay - sweet nose but again distinctively right bank Bordeaux. Notes of chocolate emerged with time. 92 points.

1989 La Fleur-Pétrus - nose was a bit funky with distinct notes of preserved lemon peel (陳皮), a bit sweet on the palate and tannins were pretty evident. 90 points.

Third flight:
1998 Rayas - an explosive sweet nose, with lychees all over and clearing up your sinus...lots of tropical fruit. Sweet on the palate, too. If this weren't the telltale combination for a Rayas, I would wonder if we were served a red dessert wine... Color was surprisingly light and the rim was already orange, misleading us about its age. 99 points for this wonderful bottle.

1998 Beaucastel Hommage à Jacques Perrin - very farmy with nose of smoky, grilled meats. Tannins very firm. Very distinctively Beaucastel. Delicious now but I'm sure it would only improve with age. 98 points.

August 8, 2008

Wines to watch Olympics with

Dinner at Kimberley Chinese Restaurant (君怡閣).

1999 Moet & Chandon - very nice and easy to drink.

Jacques Selosse Brut Initiale - a very nice Blanc de Blancs Champagne. I had never heard of this producer before, but was very pleasantly surprised by the quality. The wine tasted yeasty and a bit sweet on the palate, but at the same time very crisp. The nose was a little toasty, and reminds me of aged Champagne that I love so much.

2003 Comtes Lafon Meursault Charmes 1er Cru - this had the sweet and ripe nose of Japanese pear, with straw, buttery corn and hints of minerals and melon. A beautiful wine. However, it was blown away by its elder sibling...

2001 Comtes Lafon Meursault Perrieres 1er Cru - a knockout, explosive sweet nose, with tons of caramel, marshmellow and a hint of sweet corn. Despite the nose being so sweet, the wine was surprisingly acidic on the palate. What an amazing wine!

1999 Sine Qua Non Tarantella - this interesting blend of Chardonnay, Roussanne and Viognier always produces interesting results. With the first pour, the Chardonnay was more evident and you get loads of minerals, toasty oak, as well as honey and some of the floral notes from the Viognier. Later on beeswax and sweet corn emerged, and as the wine developed further the Viognier became dominant, and it was floral all the way. The color was now golden and I must say that I really enjoyed this wine, and it's a much better showing than the last bottle I had 4 years ago.

1991 Kistler Cabernet Sauvignon - this turned out to be much, much better than any of us had expected. In a blind tasting many of us would have marked it as a Left Bank Bordeaux, and probably a Pauillac! The nose was classic Pauillac with lots of smoke and a bit of grilled meats. There was no hint of the concentrated sweet fruit that would give it away as a Californian, except of the minty nose which would have pegged it as a Cabernet Sauvignon. Given the bottle age, the tannins have now become very smooth and yummy. This could have just been an off-vintage Bordeaux classed growth. I think most of the crowd really enjoyed this one.

2002 Red Car Sugar Daddy - opened around 7pm and only got to taste after more than 3 hours. It was without question a Californian Syrah - the nose was totally sweet and sugary, like alcoholic Ribena as I like to say. There was tons of minerals, again to the point of smelling like blood, and lots of sweet strawberries. Even after being put into a decanter, there was very little softening of its massive concentration. Not sure that this is the style of wine that this group enjoys, so maybe I should refrain from similar types of wines in the future...

August 4, 2008

MNSC Dinner - Caprice

MNSC dinner at Caprice, hosted by me.

The theme I chose for the evening was a '70 horizontal, across 6 different regions and 4 different grape varietals. I had been collecting some of these wines for the last few years, and had been eager to organize this tasting for my friends. I would be tasting some of the wines for the first time along with them.
1990 Dom Perignon - this tasted very young for a Champagne of its age, with notes of straw and toasty oak. I haven't had a '90 for a while so it was nice to be reminded just how lovely this wine is...and the fact that replacement cost is now triple of what it was worth a few years back.

First pair:
1970 Gros F&S Vosne-Romanée - plenty of bacon fat, grilled meats in the nose. Thought I also detected a bit of wet rag but it faded quickly. There was certainly a core of sweet fruits, but showed inconsistently because it was being masked by the meats. Even though this was only a village wine, the storage conditions seemed excellent when I picked it up a few months ago.

1970 Guigal La Mouline - I've been waiting to taste this wine for a few years since I acquired it. La Mouline is probably my favorite wine, and this older vintage certainly did not disappoint! Totally smoky, again with a lot of bacon fat, mint, espresso bean grinds and at the same time lots of sweet fruit comes through. Very awesome. Because of the age, the acidity did show through a little on the palate. Definitely the wine of the evening with an average score above 96 pts by the group.

Second pair:
1970 Musar - classic nose of sweet grass and brett as well as sweet fruit. I had this wine a few years ago and have been wanting to serve it at an MNSC tasting. Funnily enough I have been seeing younger vintages of this wine show up in the last month at friendly gathering.

1970 Vega Sicilia Unico - nose was sweet but a bit funky, with some wet chalk emerging in the middle only to fade away. I served this wine for my birthday at an MNSC dinner in 2002, when it was very well received. This bottle was the biggest disappointment of the evening.

Third pair:
1970 Latour - classic Left Bank Bordeaux, with mint and enough sweet fruit but not overpowering. A bit smoky. Good balance with acidity and tannins. This bottle showed much better than the one I served in 2002.

1970 Sassicaia - very powerful nose of strawberry jam, plenty of oak. Acidity was reasonably high. This was another wine for which I had high hopes, and it didn't fare well in my book.

To compensate for accidentally leaking the identity of Sassicaia before the blind tasting started, the manager kindly offered each of us a glass of 1971 Cognac. I am by no means a fan of this drink, but what I had in my hand was just incredibly aromatic - lots of toasty caramel and sweet grass.

August 2, 2008

Dassai Junmai Daiginjo 23%

Dassai Junmai Daiginjo 23% (獺祭「純米大吟醸」磨き二割三分) - drunk over dinner at Sushi Hiro. This fruity and slightly sweet (甘口) sake is one of my favorites, with the rice grains having been grown down to only 23% of the original weight. The nose was very fragrant with notes of banana and apricot. At a rating of +5 (日本酒度) it was nicely balanced between sweet and dry on the palate.

August 1, 2008

Two ripe Viogniers

Dinner at Da Domenico.

2003 Kongsgaard Viognier/Roussanne - this was a delicious wine. A very floral nose that was just classic Viognier, with notes of almond marzipan, minerals and sweet corn. The wine was very ripe and sweet on the palate, and with 14.1% alcohol it certainly also tasted very "hot". I loved it and couldn't have enough of this wine.

2005 Guigal La Doriane - it was so different from my last bottle. The wine was explosively ripe both on the nose and the palate. Coming from 2005, it was understandably "hot" with a spicy after palate. It was pretty atypical for a Condrieu, since the floral notes were not very evident. We went through about half the bottle and I save the rest for another day.

July 31, 2008

2006 Sigalas Santorini

2006 Sigalas Santorini - drank over dinner at Mandarin Grill + Bar. I had a chance to try this wine last year on a visit to Pierre, and I was sufficiently impressed. The nose packed quite a punch, full of toasty oak and minerals. The wine was full bodied, ripe and sweet on the palate, but there was also enough acidity on the finish - and it was a pretty long finish.

July 28, 2008

A mostly French evening

Dinner at Kiangsu and Chekiang Residents Association (蘇浙同鄉會).

2003 Barratt Piccadilly Valley Chardonnay - ripe and oaky, very New World but not so interesting. No refills on this one...

1996 Billecart-Salmon Grande Cuvée - which had a very yeasty nose and reminded me of - would you believe - Kellogg's cornflakes... The wine was sweet on the palate but had a decidedly sharp finish. I normally go for either the NV or the NV Rose, so having the Grande Cuvée was certainly a treat.

2005 Vincent Girardin Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Abbaye de Morgeot - this really showed its colors about 1 1/2 hours after popping the cork. While others finished their glasses early, I left my glass untouched until theeastern star garoupa steamed in soy sauce was served. The wine tasted a little "hot" on the palate at first, with nose of toasted oak, minerals, buttery corn. There was good balance of acidity and sweetness, and the wine was so round and smooth on the tongue, with a very long finish. Yummy! I don't think you can go wrong with any 2005 white Burgundies right now.

2003 Haut-Brisson - despite having heard so much about the wine in the Greater China wine world, I had never had this wine before. The proprietor is Elaine Kwok, daughter of Peter Kwok. Peter is a senior figure in the Greater China finance world, having made the rounds at my old shop Bankers Trust and later at CITIC Ka Wah Bank as well as CITIC Resources. The wine has a large following in the region thanks to Peter. The wine was pleasant to drink, with lots of minerals - almost reminding me of blood - and a good amount of sweet fruit.

1990 Thibault Liger-Belair Nuits-St-Georges 1er Cru les Saint Georges - as the domaine is relatively new, this bottling is actually a negociant wine. I was a little worried since my last experience with this wine, the 1999 vintage, was quite disappointing. At first I was unable to detect much from the nose, but as the wine opened up I noted mint and sweet fruit, and eventually a hint of wet chalk. There was good balance between the tannins and acidity. Quite enjoyable and better than my initial expectations.

To finish off the evening, a very old bottle of Hennessey Cognac XO emerged. This bottle is reputed to be more than 30 years old, judging by the import label on the back of the bottle. While I do not normally drink Cognac, I was blown away by the brown liquid sitting in my glass. There was lots of salty preserved plums (話梅), salty preserved orange rind (陳皮), and caramel. There was no more burning of the throat than a single malt whisky would have delivered, and the spirit had aged and oxidized beautifully. Now if only I could find a case of this stuff...

July 19, 2008

Huadiao and Chateau Musar

Dinner at Tien Heung Lau (天香樓).

We started with a pitcher of their aged Shaoxing wine (紹興酒) - actually Huadiao (花雕) - but this time at room temperature without heating it up. In retrospect perhaps we should have drunk it warm, as heating would help hide the defects and impurities of the wine. Served cold, there was a distinct vegetal nose, and a bit moldy. I can imagine that the wine sat in ceramic jars for years, aging and the top of the wine acquiring its layer of mold (the Spaniards would call it flor).

1999 Chateau Musar - We drank 2 bottles of this. It's so curious that I would have friends bring bottles of this wine twice over the last 3 weeks, since I probably haven't had the Musar red in about 3 years! The wine was wonderful, with a big nose of minerals, sweet red fruit and even a hint of caramel towards the end. I was so happy to have the opportunity to drink this.

July 10, 2008

More wines for Bresse chicken

Dinner at San San Trois.

2003 Schlumberger Gewurztraminer Kitterle - the half-bottle was drunk with the sashimi. While I normally expect the Alsatians to ferment their Gewurz with some residual sugar, this wine was much sweeter than I expected. Perhaps I should have remembered that 2003 was a very ripe year for French wines...and brought something drier for the food. Anyway, the typical Gewurz characteristics were all there - lychee, minerals... But I must admit that I still find something in Schlumberger wines not quite to my liking.

2001 Kistler Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast - we had another bottle of this in the office just last Friday afternoon, but I thought it would go well with both the kama as well as the roast chicken. Indeed the wine opened up very well after 1 1/2 hours, and the usual grilled meats, minerals and very sweet red fruits were all present in the nose. Gave it a little more time, and even caramel started showing up. Full-bodied but not overpowering. Despite this being Kistler's cheapest offering, I still found it very enjoyable.

1997 Beringer Merlot Private Reserve Bancroft Ranch - I still have a few cases of this wine because I enjoyed it so much, but this bottle was definitely off. The fruit in the nose was masked by the unpleasant smell of wet chalk and other aromas, and I think it even suffered from a bit of heat damage. Not great and we did not finish the wine.

July 8, 2008

1994 La Mission Haut-Brion

1994 La Mission Haut-Brion en demi-bouteille - drank at Shi Yang Shan Fang (食養山房) out of tea cups.  The wine never had a chance to show.

June 30, 2008

Wino Dinner

Dinner at a friend's place.

2004 Dagueneau Silex - from one of my favorite winemakers for white wines. The wine had a very nice, lightly mineral nose -interestingly almost like muscat grapes. The acidity was higher than I expected. Not what I expected from a Pouilly-Fumé but I liked it.

1992 German Riesling, unknown producer - which I believe was a QbA and not a QmP since it was not designated as a spatlese, kabinett...etc. This had a hint of tropical fruit, not quite lychee but something else. Some people thought it had the nose of a piña colada, but I didn't quite get that...

1997 Bollinger La Côte aux Enfants - this is a still red wine from Pinot Noir and designated Coteaux Champenois, made only in exceptional vintages from a small vineyard plot and in small quantities (5,000 bottles in this vintage). I found it fruity and like a light Burgundy, without much body. It's really more of a novelty, and I'd much rather drink a nice Burgundy from the same vintage...

1997 Roumier Chambolle-Musigny - this was a really nice bottle of wine, especially considering that this is only at the village level and not a 1er or grand cru. The nose was explosive and had lots of sweet fruit, smoked meats and bacon fat. Wonderful stuff.

1998 Musar Red - something I haven't had in a while is the best wine out of Lebanon, and this was just about my wine of the evening.  An explosively sweet nose, some minerals leading to a hint of blood, and some raspberries and leather. The wine had medium weight on the palate, which made it easier to drink. I was so glad that we had this bottle tonight, and I went back to it at the end of the evening.

1995 Pegau Cuvée Réservée - I had this wine some years ago when it was much younger, and this time it has evolved a bit more but my enjoyment was far less than I remebered last time. The nose was a bit vegetal and primarily of green peppers. There was a little fruit but somehow I felt the wine was a bit off.

2004 Faiveley Gevrey-Chambertin Les Marchais - a nice wine to drink with a very sweet nose.

1998 Artadi Grandes Añades - I decanted this for more than 2 1/2 hours. Once again the nose was explosive (do I use this term a little too much?) and full of sweet fruit at first. Later on I detected a hint of acetone, then stewed prunes. A little bit of heat damage, perhaps?

1996 Arlot Romanée-St-Vivant - this was a grand cru Burgundy from a good vintage, and it showed as a typical Burgundy. The nose was farmy, with smoked meats and also plenty of sweet fruits. A nice way to round up the evening since I didn't think I could drink more...

June 27, 2008

Tien Heung Lau's house blend

Dinner at Tien Heung Lau (天香樓). Drank a pitcher of their aged Shaoxing wine (紹興酒), which has been warmed up. A lot has been written about the quality this vino, but it really is very good and has a very long finish. The fragrance of the wine also lingers in your mouth...

June 22, 2008

1970 Mouton-Roschild

1970 Mouton-Rothschild - drunk at Da Shan Wu Jia (大山無價) outside Taipei.  My last bottle from the lot of 6 purchased some years ago. It was never a fantastic wine, but I do love the artwork on the label from Marc Chagall, with the trademark blue. The nose was classic Mouton, with lead pencil, smoke, pain grille and brett in addition to the red fruits. We did not decant the wine. We drank about half the bottle at the restaurant, and really enjoyed it. The remaining half of the bottle was finished at home, where the sediment got into the glasses and detracted somewhat from our enjoyment. Nevertheless, I was happy to drink this special wine.

Full notes on dinner is here.

June 19, 2008

2004 Teliani Valley Teliani

2004 Teliani Valley Teliani - drunk at Zheti Qazyna in Almaty, Kazakhstan. This is actually 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, and even though the wine is a bit on the young side, it was a reasonable bottle of wine that was accepted by international palates like ours. And the price of USD 70 seemed a bit more reasonable.

Full notes on dinner is here.

June 18, 2008

2005 Marani Kindzmarauli

2005 Marani Kindzmarauli - drank at Borodino in Almaty, Kazakhstan. This was semi-sweet. Not exactly to our liking, and we struggled to finish the bottle only because it cost USD 80.

Full notes on dinner is here.

June 14, 2008

A trio of Baltikas

In Bukhara, Uzbekistan.  We finally lined up three cans in the Russian Baltika range - Nos. 3, 7 and 9. We did a taste test... No. 9 has the highest alcohol content at 8%, while No. 7 was probably the winner in terms of taste.

May 30, 2008

MNSC Dinner - Amber

MNSC dinner at Amber, hosted by Dr. Poon.

Theme of the evening was to pair a grand vin with its second wine.

First flight:
1982 La Tour Haut-Brion - first impression was a hint of sweet grass, with plenty of alcohol in the nose, along with a bit of brett and smoke. With time the nose became a bit sweeter. I rated it 93 points while the Parker score was 99.

1982 La Mission Haut-Brion - nose was smoky, more open than the La Tour Haut-Brion. Good amount of sweet fruit on the nose, and there was more power here. Still plenty of tannins here but the finish became a bit acidic. I rated it 94 points against the 99-point Parker score. Quite disappointed in the wine, actually.

Second pair:
1986 Léoville-Las Cases - a very open wine with lots of sweet fruit on the nose. Powerful and concentrated. I rated this 94 points against the 98 points given by Parker. Oh and I did guess the wine's identity correctly...partly due to luck.

1986 Clos du Marquis - amazing amounts of sweet fruit, powerful and very open. There was good length on the finish, but after a while it was clearly fading in the glass. I rated this 96 points. No Parker score given.

Last pair:
1990 Montrose - what a wine! Amazing power and an explosion of sweet fruit. There was also a bit of smoky grilled meats and bacon fat. What else can you say about this wine? A few of us were able to immediately identify this wine from the memory of its sheer brilliance. This is a wine that never fails to impress. I rated it 96 points against its perfect Parker score, because the wine faded a little in glass at the end.

1990 La Dame de Montrose - I thought the Montrose was a great wine, but this was actually better! Once again an explosion of sweet fruit, with more smoky cigar and a large dose of "farmy" nose of grilled and gamey meats. This wine just blew me away. I rated it 98 points against Parker's score of 90.

We were utterly amazed by the result of this blind tasting. In general we preferred the second wines to their grand vin counterparts, and all of these wines have had enough time to evolve and reach their drinking plateau. In the case of the last flight, the two wines had a 10-point difference in Parker score, and we preferred the second wine that cost about 1/8 of the price of the grand vin!

May 28, 2008

2004 Frédéric Magnien Gevrey-Chambertin VV

2004 Frédéric Magnien Gevrey-Chambertin Vieilles Vignes - drunk over lunch at Pierre.  Initially the wine was all sweet fruit, very forward and just the new style that I like. Gradually the wine softened a bit and the structure, complexity and acidity came out, making it more balanced and classic. Finish was a bit short but hey, it's only a village wine after all.

May 26, 2008

Meeting François Mauss

Dinner at the Fortune Room of the Jockey Club with François Mauss of Grand Jury Europeen and Cecilia Roger from Morgassi Superiore.

2001 Ramonet Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Champs Canet - a very elegant wine with toasty oak, sweet grass, sweet butter on the nose. Medium acidty on the palate. This wine is fresh and showed lots of finesse.

1983 Leroy Meursault Les Narvaux - another great wine. The nose was very sweet with honey, apricot and pear notes. The palate had a touch of sweetness and not much acidity compared to the Ramonet. The nose had clearly oxidized somewhat, like a pear that had been cut open and sat around. At the end of the dinner, the few drops left in our glasses showed what a truly amazing wine this was.

2004 Rollan de By - pretty delicious for a wine that costs EUR 8 a bottle...nose of sweet fruit, a bit of smoke, lead pencil and that medicinal/antiseptic nose that comes from brett. Drinks pretty well but finish a tad short.

2002 Haut Condissas - with a much sweeter nose, also a bit of smoke, pain grille and (dare I say) oriental spices. A more complex wine with a longer finish, this is again excellent value at only EUR 15.

May 25, 2008

2005 Guigal La Doriane

2005 Guigal La Doriane - drunk over dinner at the Pawn.  It showed a nose of minerals, citrus lemon and a bit of butter; with a medium sweet palate and a "hot" and spicy finish. It was a yummy wine, but disappointing to me because it did not taste like a Condrieu. Where was the overpowering floral nose that comes from the Viognier? Frankly this wine tasted like a Chardonnay from a ripe vintage - in fact it tastes like a 2005 white Burgundy. I cannot help but feel a little cheated.

May 16, 2008

Mixing things up for a Chinese meal

Dinner at Fook Lam Moon (福臨門).

2005 Zind-Humbrecht Gewurztraminer Turckheim - everyone identified the intense lychee nose immediately, and there was also a hint of minerals. The wine was so sweet on the palate, more than I expected, and tasted a bit "hot". I checked the bottle and found that it was 15% alcohol. No wonder! But given that this came from 2005 I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised. They obviously picked from very, very ripe fruit.

1999 Clos Mogador - the first whiff of the nose showed lots of power, with sweet vanilla and fruit. Taking the first sip, however, I was a little disappointed. The acidity struck me, and I thought that this wine would turn out to be more traditionally Spanish than I had hoped for. Fortunately the acidity faded, but the wine was still tannic on the palate with a long finish. Not what I had hoped for.

2003 Hugel Gewurztraminer Jubilee - this was much lighter and more floral than the Zind, and still with a hint of lychee.

1997 Pahlmeyer Red - plenty of sweet fruit and vanilla in the nose. The tannins were round and smooth on the palate, and I liked it better than the Mogador.

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