Lo Hei potluck with 1999 Bordeaux and other wines

Alex's place
Tasted Saturday, January 31, 2009 by Paul S with 702 views

Introduction

Another AWFS event, this time a Chinese New Year potluck at Alex's. We had Brian and Serene, Alex Koh and Kate, Kelvin, John and Elaine, William, Josephine, Nancy and of course Alex and Fiona making up the party. Starting with Lo Hei, we had live abalone and scallops and then lots of yummy potluck dishes, including a fab oxtail stew from Brian. I contributed a Tau Yew Bak dish.

Flight 1 - Lo Hei (1 Note)

  • 2007 Klipfel Riesling Cuvée Particulière 87 Points

    France, Alsace

    Pretty enough nose, with peach, flowers, musk, some sweet nectar, pineapple and orange zest, undergirded with just a bit of dirty earthiness. I thought Alsace Gewurz at first, but the palate really threw me off. It some typical lychee and rather lowish acidity, but it had an oily, heavy texture with quite a bit of hear weaving in and out of peach and flower flavours, and a touch of grapefruity acidity at the end. Rather tropical - most of us thought Pinot Gris instead. An okay wine, but the heat was disturbing and I found this to be just rather imbalanced and disjointed at the edges. Not too had with the Lo Hei and live abalone though.

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Flight 2 - 1999 Bordeaux with potluck dishes (7 Notes)

  • 1999 Château Haut-Brion Blanc 93 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan

    My contribution to the evening. This was really interesting, and quite unlike anything else I have ever tasted. Golden yellow in colour. Nose held peach and other white fruits wrapped in notes of butterscotch and toffee along with hazlenuts, buttered potatoes and chalky minerality in a little layer of earth. With time, some beeswax started floating around. Palate was super rich, with loads of weight on its white fruit tones, all very nicely layered and integrated with more buttery potatoes, hazlenuts, a touch of marzipan and chalky mineral. Really long, dry, minerally finish with lots of little oyster shells. This was one classy wine, with great finesse and structure and a nice seam of lemony acidity running through it; really rich, yet with a nice sense of terroir. Went really nicely with live scallops. Although there's quite a bit of life left in this yet, it is drinking quite nicely now, with the Sauv Blanc taking a back seat and intriguing matured Semillion characteristics coming to the fore. I would drink now or hold for a couple more years.

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  • 1999 Château Ducru-Beaucaillou 91 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien

    Certainly not a profound wine, but this was lovely and drinking very nicely. Darkly fruited cassis and cherries on the nose, shading over to dried cherries with time, along with touches of meat and earth and a light layering of cedar. Classic Ducru notes of stewed tea and fragrant flowers - chrysanthemum maybe? Very luscious and seductive palate, Plush on the mouth, but never too dense or modern, just nicely balanced with fargrant cherry flavours and touches of spice and tea leaves towards the finish with a little layer of vanilla. This was a big hit with the ladies.

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  • 1999 Château Grand Corbin Flawed

    France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru

    Hopelessly corked - TCA made the wine taste like it was strained through a cardboard box.

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  • 1999 Château Larmande 88 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru

    Not bad, but not very impressive at all, though the wine is still quite tight and had some fruit - it will probably improve in the next couple of years. When we got to it, the nose was shy and woody, with some cherries and prunes with a slight dried fruit tang. Nicely balanced with fresh acid, the palate showed firm tannins, again rather woody, with some cherries and herbs moving into its shortish finish. I felt that this was just a bit new world in style - maybe from the sweetness of the underlying fruit and the wood treatment.

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  • 1999 Château La Tour Haut-Brion 90 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan

    This was the sleeper of the night, and very much enjoyed by everyone. Nose was rather sweet, with thickish creme de cassis and preserved blueberry flavours with some pencil shavings, cigar box and a sprinkle of fragrant flowers and some vanilla. Very modern, but rather attractive. Served blind, quite a few people misled by the cassis, cigar box and pencil shavings thought it was one of the Pauillacs. Palate was pretty and rather mote Graves, with more preserved blueberries wrapped in plush, velevty tannins. Dense and weighty, but with a nice sense of balance that just dropped a little towards the finish. A little woody grip and a hint of prunes, before it died away. Yummy, probably can last a little while more, but drink up soon - I do not think this will improve much.

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  • 1999 Château d'Armailhac 91 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac

    Low scores on CT - probably weighed down by many Brett-hit and otherwise flawed bottles. This was William's contribution, from a holding that was bought en-primeur. Provenance was excellent. I found this rather impressive, and certainly one of the better wines of the night. Very classic Pauillac. Nose had tobacco leaf, high-toned cassis, lots of leather, and a dry forest floor - like walking through the woods on a warm spring day. the was a touch of toasted vanilla and, with time, a sweet tomato tone. Rather lovely. The palate was marked with bright acid, woody tannins and pure, fleshy cassis tones. Nice, crunchy texture from the acid and tannins, so that this went pretty nicely with an oxtail stew. Medium length finish, pretty decent, with a linger of toasty tobacco. It is quite a testament to the strength of the wine that it stood up pretty well to a Pichon-Baron 1999 that was served on the same flight. Right in its drinking window, I would drink it over the next year or so.

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  • 1999 Château Pichon-Longueville Baron 91 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac

    Probably the best Bordeaux of the night. The 1999 D'Armailhac and Ducru Beaucaillou gave as much pleasure on the night (more for some people on the table), but this certainly came across as having just a bit more quality and longevity - to my mind, it was the one wine that would do well with a good long aging in bottle yet. Nose showed toasty vanilla with some tobacco, smoke and green peppers, with a layer of earth and lots of plump, plummy fruit underneath. A little bit of secondary leathery flavour was just starting to show. Really bright acid on the palate, some felt that it was a bit tart when the wine was drank by itself, but it brought a really nice sense of balance and lift when we had this with food. Lots of weight and a surprising amount of power on the palate, very Baron indeed, with cassis, berries and cherries undergirded by a brawniness with meat and chocolate tones and a sprinkle of pepper. This wine also had the lengthiest finish of the Bordeaux, with nice balance and structure, with a squeeze of grippy, slightly bittersweet tannins giving a sense that this will be a nicely long-lived wine. 91 points for now with lots of upside.

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Flight 3 - Some slightly heavier bottles (3 Notes)

  • 2005 Domaine du Pégau Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Réservée 91 Points

    France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape

    Served blind, this took me a pretty long time to even identify as a CdP/ Nose was all prune juice and plums at first, rather sweetish, with a touch of flowers, ginger tones and, with time, some meat, pepper, bramble and the very lightest touch of funk started showing. More dried punes, plums and sweet berries on the palate, which was rather perfumed. Lots of 2005 structure, with fresh acid and fine-grained, but firm, chewy, sticky tannins especially as the wine moved towards its finish, with showed another shake of pepper. Might be going through a dumb phase at the moment, I found this good, but not great. It certainly needs a lot of time yet, 91-92 points for now.

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  • 2006 Château de Saint Cosme Gigondas Le Poste 93 Points

    France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Gigondas

    Absolutely intriguing, lovely wine, quite unlike anything I have tried from Southern Rhone - I found this quite a distance better than the 2005 Pegau CdP Reservee, which is saying quite a lot. Nose was super-perfumed, just exploding with flowers - rose water, violets, lavender, with some sweet, fragrant strawberry, almost a confectionary note, but nicely reined in by the delicate perfume of the flower tones. Obviously oaked, with quite a bit of sweet vanilla yet. There was also a high-toned, menthol, Baygone type note floating around somwhere. Strangely enough for a 100% Grenache, the flower notes just tumbled on into the palate, with rose water and lavender flavours floating around with strawberries and cherries. Super hedonistic, yet so very nicely balanced with great, fresh acidity. Nice long finish as well, with sweet prunes and more of the perfumy lavender that infused the wine. So very charming. Excellent now after a long decant, it will only get better with time.

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  • 1999 Greenock Creek Shiraz Seven Acre 90 Points

    Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley

    Nice without being outstanding. Nose showed menthol, eucalyptus, meat and plums wrapped in vanilla laced French oak. You could pick out the Barossa Shiraz from a mile away. Much the same on the palate, really rich, but decently enough balanced, with flavours of prunes and plums, some pepper, with a syrupy texture and softened, velvety, but still mouth coating tannins moving towards a dried pruney finish.

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Flight 4 - And a sweet to end the night (1 Note)

  • 1990 Château Doisy-Daëne 92 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes

    This showed a lot better than the last bottle I had, so much so that I could not could not pin down the maker when this was served blind, even though we had identified it as a 1990 Sauternes. Nose showed a nice botrytised note, with scents of mushroom, dried apricots, tangerine and lots of orange peel with a little stream of mineral. Nice and complex. Palate was syrupy, with preserved pineapple, more tangy, orangey acid, very fresh, and then nectar and spice moving into a long, minerally finish with a little whiff of smoke. Still rather primary actually. Some heat weaved its way in and out of the wine, otherwise it was really nice and hard to fault without quite hitting the heights. Beautiful with Elaine's grandma's pineapple tarts, but I think this will do much better with quite a few more years under its belt..

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Closing

Some thoughts on the reds that we tried from the 1999 Bordeaux vintage. I was generally surprised by the quality of the wines. None were astounding, this was certainly no 1990, 2000 or 2005. As far as the left-bank wines go, it was not even a 1995 or 1996. What I found though were very approachable, lush and generous wines marked with attractive red and black fruits and softer tannins. Not super structured and, apart from the Pichon-Baron, not built for the long term. However, this vintage may well represent good value for aged Bordeaux,. I think quite a few wines will show good amount of quality and give lots of pleasure. Time to go hunting.

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