Alex's Bachelor's Party

Imperial Treasure Super Peking Duck, Paragon
Tasted Saturday, June 4, 2011 by Paul S with 642 views


Alex's big day approaches, and very fittingly this celebration was one of the very best, if not the best dinner we have ever had as a group. Some big names were on the table, but it was more the balance and variety of the wines poured, the fact that each one was drinking well, and that all were paired perfectly with the food that made this dinner so special. It helped that the chef really outdid himself this time - we had a one hour wait between dishes for delivery of a live crayfish that had supposedly been flown in from Vietnam on the day. Amazing stuff. Every dish was cooked to perfection, so I will break out from the usual mold by the listing the wines along with the food that it was served with. Thanks to everyone for making this such a special, special evening, for the conversation, the generous wines, and most of all for the friendship. A big congratulations to Alex. This was a night to remember.

Wines were all served blind as always.


  • NV Jacques Selosse V.O. Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut 95 Points

    France, Champagne, Champagne Grand Cru

    A truly excellent Champagne, yet I was sure glad I served this first, because the wines just seemed to get better and better through the night. This was disgorged in July 2006, and given the fact that Selosse ages the wine that goes into this cuvee for some 42 months in barrel, it had quite a bit of age on it. Yet for all that, it still needed all of two hours in an opened bottle and another 30 minutes in our glasses to really start showing. When it did, it had an incredible nose. Full of aromas reminiscent of golden apple flesh, along with lime peel scents, some umami tones, with flecks of white meat, dusty earth, stony mineral and a whiff of forest floor - woah, deep, enchanting stuff. The palate was a bit tight at first, even after the extended aeration. It had a super fine mousse, crisp, clean, precise and very minerally on entry, with super bright lemons dominating the fruit spectrum. With time though, it unfolded quite dramatically into fleshy golden apple flavours spreading across the midpalate beyond the citrus and mineral notes. Great weight and depth here, but somehow always guided by that laser-like precision that struck me at first sip. The wine then finished really very dry, with a linger of lime zest and apples on a layer of stone, but all with somewhat less length than I would expect at first. With even more time though, some dollops of cream, a touch of bread and some yeast shows up, filling up the gaps beautifully. I thought the wine was great even then, but with food, especially our fried oily beancurd skin appetiser, it zoomed up yet another notch, literally exploding across the mouth with fresh green apple fruit and flinty minerality - just tons and tons of energy that appeared to come from nowhere. This was a supreme example of Blanc des Blancs - an intellectual, even profound Champagne, yet one that was a real pleasure to drink. Opinion was later split on this, with some on the table preferring the weighter, more powerful, and every bit as superlative Jacques Selosse Substance that we had a couple of weeks ago in Burgundy, but a couple of others, me included, thought this wine was better given the sense of tension, focus, even elegance it had behind its strength. Like a Grand Cru Burg on skating on ice I thought. This is best served in a white wine glass rather than a flute of course. However, if you have a bottle with a later disgorgement date, I would suggest letting it sleep for a few more years - it is well worth the wait. I finised my last sips of the wine more than two hours after we first poured it into the glasses, and over warm though it was, it was drinking every bit as well, if not even better. Beautiful.

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  • 1999 La Chablisienne Chablis Grand Cru Les Preuses 95 Points

    France, Burgundy, Chablis, Chablis Grand Cru

    I had this two years ago and liked it quite a bit - this was like another wine altogether though. It had moved from being merely a very good bottle into a mindblowing experience. It could well be because this particular bottle was purchased at La Chablisienne itself and kindly hand-carried back to Singapore by Kelvin. And to think that we almost left it in Burgundy because we had too much wine - thank goodness we did not. The nose was really awkward at first unfortunately. Very stinky, suffering from both reduction and sulphur I thought. But when it blew off though, you got cream, chalk, button mushrooms, fleshy white fruit, a smoky background, all in a thick, buttery melange that shouted Grand Cru as it swirled out of the glass. I thought Cote d'Or, maybe Batard, at first, but with time, the bouquet became more and more dominated but layers of chalky, oyster shell minerality. The palate was a surprising change of gear after all that creamy faux Montrachet scents - it just screamed minerality, with a serious streak of flinty, metally, stony, seashelly goodness that more or less charged across the mouth from attack, through the mid-palate and into a long, long finish. Weighty, deep, intense, but this was a wine that did not have an ounce of fat on it. Even on the expressive midpalate, where there was fleshy apple fruit, pears, even melons, wed to a gentle undertone of mushrooms - lots of concentration and fleshy weight, but this was all about precision and minerality, with every flavours underscored by a sense of definition and focus. Still young, so much so that we were all years off with our guesses of the vintage, all hitting the 2000-2002 mark, but really incredible, and a perfect pairing with deep-fried white bait fish.

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  • 1978 Pio Cesare Barolo 94 Points

    Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo

    First red of the night, and this was a very good way to set a high bar. The wine had an incredibly matured nose, lots of balsamic notes, some chocolate, wet soil and boiled herbs. I thought it might be over with all that balsamic at first at first, but thankfully, and very surprisingly, it actually opened up on the bouquet, to show more earth, dark fruits, plums, prunes and dark cherries, and even a bit of slightly wilintg flower scents emerging. For all that, the palate was a lot more alive than the nose would lead you to think. On the attack, it was all bright acidity and silky, completely resolved tannins framing lovely flavours of chocolate and sasarapilla root. This unfolded into dried roses and cherries on the midpalate, strawberries maybe, some soil, all still fresh, kicking and very delicious. There was a slight feel of thinness on the back-palate, and there might have been more fruit a few years ago, but this was still absolutely beautiful and incredibly seductive, with wilted rose petals floating all around the mouth and just at the finish, a little hit of orange peel and iron rust at the egdes. Soft, melting, delicious, with a bright acidity that made it a nice, of not quite perfect pairing with roasted suckling pig. A lovely experience. While the 1961 that we had the last time round seemed to have better raw material, this was far more alive and still holding on to much of its substance, and for those reasons was a more pleasurable drink.

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  • 1995 Domaine Amiot Guy et Fils Montrachet 96 Points

    France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Montrachet Grand Cru

    My first wine from this producer, and boy, this was amazing. We were all in the flow of raucous conversation, but the nose on this stunned the table into silence. Absolutely incredible - dried apricots, peach, little layers of chalk, some salted caramel, a bit of butter, with time some almond creme aromas - mature, developed and wonderfully complex. On to the palate then, and wow. I have never tasted anything like that. Absolutely matured, but it was so fresh, so alive. There was tons of weight though, clearly a Grand Cru, with layers of caramel, toffee, dried apriocts, peach, even a bit of figs, lemons peel maybe, with a backbone of serious mineral. Really developed, really mature, with all the flavours melting together into a wonderfully integrated mouthfull, but even then the wine had a shocking purity and pristine clarity, almost glacier like as it glided across the palate. The finish was incredibly long as well, with layer after layer after layer of dried lemons, salted caramel, stony mineral, just awesome. This was profound, mind-bogglingly complex, and yet still beautiful drinkable, with an elegance that made me guess it as a Chevalier Montrachet rather than Le Montrachet proper. A mind-altering experience. It was a bit of a shock when we found out it was a 1995, this tasted a good decade older to me, while quite a few of the others placed it as a Cote d'Or Grand Cru from the 1970s. Some indeed marked it down for being way too developed for its years, which we all agreed it was. Yet for all that, this was an brilliant wine at absolute peak and, while not exactly as well-matched as we had hoped, still a lovely pairing with live crayfish cooked with truffled egg-whites. One of the brigthest lights of the night on a night sprangled with stars. Now, I wonder what a properly stored / normally aged bottle would taste like.

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  • 1997 Penfolds Chardonnay Yattarna 96 Points

    Australia, South Australia

    This is not only one of the best new world wines, or the best new world Chardonnays I have ever had - it is one of the best white wines I have ever experienced period. We were stunned by this, back from a week in Burgundy, it did not cross any of our minds when blinded that this could be anything other than a top-notch Grand Cru from the Cote d'Or. In fact, put next to a Le Montrachet of great quality on the same flight, it was hard to choose between the two - while I just about preferred the Burg, some even thought that this wine might just have shaded the far more expensive old world counterpart. It started out with a lovely nose, with butter, cooked cream, mushroom soup scents, and then fleshy white fruit aromas spiked with some caramel and toffee, some nuts and a floaty, flowery accent casting a halo over the whole bouquet. Deep, rich, complex, and absolutely attractive - everything a Grand Cru Burg should be on the nose. Incredibly, the palate was even better. Absolutely pitch perfect balance and supremely integrated, I just could not wrap my mind around it. Woah, woah, woah. Rich, lots of buttery, creamy notes, some caramel, nuts, warm summery fruits, but also with more old worldy flavours of apples, pears, melons, lemons - it was just dripping with complexity and intense depth, yet at the same time, it was fresh, lively, absolutely precise, almost laser-like in the way it zoomed across the palate. The finish was incredible, brilliant length, great power, and absolutely palate staining flavours of mineral, toasty oak and yellow fruit. I could have sworn it was a Grand Cru Burg of the highest quality, and did. This was a mindblowingly good wine both in terms of quality and by the fact of its origins. Even more surprisingly, it look and tasted so young that we thought it was hovering around the 2000-2002 vintages. Just two years younger than the Monty we had alongside, but this came across at least a decade younger - another myth about new world Chards not aging well debunked then. The fact that it was younger, fresher and more vibrant also meant that while the Monty was a lovely pairing with our dish of live crayfish in a truffled egg white, this was a nocth up, making for an absolutely perfect marriage between food and wine. I know this wine has not been rated highly on CT, or by many professional tasters indeed, but this is again proof that blind tastings are the great levellers. Amazing stuff. I was gobsmacked, and continue to remain so. The only new world wine of the night, yet it was up there with the very best the old world could offer to our dinner.

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  • 1999 M. Chapoutier Côte-Rôtie La Mordorée 94 Points

    France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Côte-Rôtie

    Boy, I am glad I have one bottle of this tucked away in a dark corner somewhere. Decanted for a couple of hours before serving, it was an example of why I hold the Chapoutier house in such high reagrd. When first popped, it was full of meaty, leathery, earthy Syrah aromas on top of a palate that was silkily elegant, yet really tight in terms of its flavours and nuances. However, two hours of air later, it was bearely recognisable. There was a beautiful nose now - wafting floral notes just filled up the bouquet, violets, roses, dark flower scents drizzled over with damp earth, then lush cherries, berries, a touch of spice - beautiful, sexy, seductive. I loved this. The palate was beautiful as well. Intense, concentrated, yet with lovely harmony, focus and balance to it. I got pure flavours dark cherries, blackberries, earth, along with some leather, forest floor, chanterelle mushrooms, woah. The long melting finish pulled away into the distance with touches of meat, earth and dried flowers. There was tons of power here, but with an underlying elegance and finesse that was really entrancing. In fact, and rather embrassingly it was so elegant, so floral that we all to a man guessed that it was a Burg. There was a firmness to it that made us think Corton, Nuit St Georges, Pommard, but a fineness to the way it was shaped that said Burgundy nonetheless. We should have know better given the lovely interplay of Northern Rhone meat and mineral that showed lightly in the background. A beautiful wine, and one with youth very much still on its side. While drinking brilliantly now, I would suggest giving this another 3 to 4 years or, if you cannot resist popping one, at least giving it the benefit of a couple of hours in a decanter.

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Flight 6 - A BORDEAUX INTERLUDE (1 Note)

  • 2000 Château Lynch-Bages 93 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac

    This was kindly poured by Sean, who was having dinner a few tables away by coincidence. From what a could tell, it had been sitting in the decanter for at least a couple of hours when I got to it. Very good indeed, at least as good as any Lynch-Bages I have ever tasted - this was a solid young Pauillac, just on the cusp of adulthood. The nise was very nice, still with a little layer of sweet oak, but warm, rich aromas of earth, tobacco, cassis and a little floral hint beneath that. The palate, in keeping with the vintage, had a rich thickness to it and a real sense of power with lots of cassis on the attack, almost sweet but not quite, accompanied by a whiff of tobacco and layers of earthy solidity beneath it all. This wine had beautiful depth wed to a lovely sebse of balance and poise and, unlike quite a few of the other vintages I have had where the wines were a little rustic, a clean, clear, pristine feel to it that made it ever so attractive. The long finish wrapped up with a whiff of tobacco smoke and a dollop of earth. Solid stuff with a long future ahead of it. I would love to try it again in 7 or 8 years down the road. This glass had the misfortune of turning up at our table just before a monumental 1982 Pichon-Lalande, which was a tidal-wave of quality that threatened to wash everything aside - otherwise it may have done even better!

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  • 1982 Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 97 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac

    Absolutely incredible, one of the very best Bordeaux I have had the privilege of drinking, and unlike a painfully young bottle 1982 Mouton a little while back, quite at peak and a supreme pleasure to drink. This was my favourite wine of the night, just edging out Alex's two brilliant whites. On first blush, this was clearly different from the 1990 Fleur de Gay that we served alongside, a more masculine wine to the Pomerol's feminine softness, yet somehow still with a sense of finesse and elegance that suggested left-bank but not quite so - our suspicions shifted to Lalande with that start. A bit of air, a bit of time, and wow, what a bouquet this had. It showed tobacco, capsicum, pure cassis and stewed tea leaves, a tiny hint of sweet spice - a dropdead gorgeous nose, full of bright, fragrant aromas and complex, earthy undercurrants. On the other hand, the palate was intensely smoky at first, with a whiff of cigar smoke filling the mouth on the attack. As that wafted away, it was quickly replaced with some sweet and absolutely delicious cassis and plum flavours, playing on a background of earth, forest floor and tobacco leaf. The fruit had a deliciously voluptuous ripeness to it that was not quite classic left-bank, a warm-year type of yumminess. Make no mistake though, the wine was perfectly balanced for all that voluptouness. It had beautifully layered depth, but was still always pure, clear, with a wonderful First Growth-like transperancy matched by beautifully integrated acidity that gave the wine a lovely freshness. We all thought it was a Pauillac from its sense of strength and structure - this was a wine with superb symmetry, yet somehow, it was symmetry in a more elegant, feminine shape, not quite a Mouton, Lafite or Latour, or even a Baron - it was definitely be a Lalande then, and a top-notch one at that. To top it all off, it had a long, long, long finish with waves of cassis, plums and tobacco leaf. Not a classic Bordeaux maybe, but this was a great, great wine, and when paired with our roasted lamb shoulder with drips of mint jelly, absolutely nuts, sending all sorts of taste receptors tingling like crazy on the palate. This was a pairing so perfect it beggars description. What a way to end the reds. An '82 Lalande, at peak, and crazy good.

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  • 1990 Château La Fleur de Gay 94 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol

    Beautiful. This had been decanted for about two and a half hours, and was absolutely singing when we got to it. A wonderful contrast with the 1982 Pichon Lalande we had alongside, this was so elegantly beaufitul that it made even the usually lady-like Lalande feel downright masculine. For a start, it had a wonderful nose - plums, cassis, inflections of leather and tobacco some a pat of earth, some floral perfume - violets maybe. Classic right-bank, and very nice. Even then, the palate was a lot more feminine than the nose would lead you to believe, with a beautifully plush, warmly ripe mouthfull plums, raspberries and pure morello cherries, with a whiff of sweet flowers, a touch of tobacco, all wrapped in the slinkiest, silkiest tannins. The balance was pitch perfect too, with perfectly integrated acidity barely noticeable as it gave the ripe right-bank fruit a ring of freshness. Finally, the finish just melted across the mouth with a wash of milk chocolate, dark fruit and fruit tea, all laced with just a cheely hint of gravelly mineral. This was at a beautiful place now, and when paired with truffle-oil and lingzhi mushroom mee pok (wheat noodles), with the earthy, truffley flavours of the wine calling out to the food and vice versa, just perfect. For a right-bank to show up next to a singing bottle of 1982 Lalande is one thing, to do so and come out still standing is another altogether, and a real testimony to the sheer quality of this wine. While quite at peak now, I can easily see this keeping at the same level for quite a few years more.

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  • NV Forteto della Luja Loazzolo Piasa Rischei 93 Points

    Italy, Piedmont, Asti, Loazzolo

    May have been a vintage wine, may not have been - William brought this directly from the producer, and we could not find any sign of the year on either the bottle or the cork. It was a lovely wine though - a passito style Moscato, it came across as a Moscato d'Asti on speed. Ridicously beautiful on the nose, this showed white flowers galore, with osmanthus, daisies, chrysanmthemums, along with fragrant tropical notes of lychees and rambutans, with a good dose of white musk wafting. Just drop-dead fantastic - this could as easily have been bottled as perfume. The palate was a real surprise as well. Beautiful balance framed incredibly floral notes -so much came to mind, frangipanni, daisies, chamomile, white roses, just incredble, with every sip melting across the palate along with a small touch of white chocolate and white peach swirling at the finish. This may not have had the most depth, structure or even complexity, in fact the Donnhoff Auslese we had alongside was a clear notch up and went better with food to boot. But I don't care - this was incredibly beautiful, a wonderful ethereal, supremely floral glassful of nectar. A really fun wine.

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  • 2005 Dönnhoff Oberhäuser Brücke Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel 94 Points

    Germany, Nahe

    A brilliant wine. From a half-bottle, served blind, we all thought it was a top-notch Auslese immeidately. No mistaking the nose here, little drops of petrol were drizzled over lovely aromas of peach, apricot, fresh red apples, a very fruity nose, with just a touch of honey rounding up the edges. The palate still had plenty of baby fat, with sweet, rich, with fruit at the fore - peaches, nectraines, sweet apples and pears, sweet lemons, but the expression here was pure, crstallined almost, and laced with a lovely minerality. For a wine this young, it was gorgeously drinkable with beautifully judged acidity, yet beyond that there was extract and structure and gorgeous minerality that gave it a sense of something more noble, aristocratic. At the finish, the wine had a little stream of stone and mineral that was ever so charming. This has gone past the stage where it was too painful to drink in its sugary infancy, but is still far from anywhere where it should really be approached. I would give it at least 7-8 years in the half-bottle format, if not more. Still though, it was a real treat on the day. It also helped that we paired it a lovely salted egg-yolk and custard bun dessert that went perfectly well with the wine, blunting its sweetness and yet allowing its other characteristics to shine. I was glad this was served blind, because I really would not have thought a 2005 Brücke would drink so well. A lovely way to end an incredible evening.

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