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.
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