Off-Vintage Wine Dinner

Jade Palace, Forum Galleria, Singapore

Tasted March 21, 2014 by Paul S with 441 views


The Loire group (less Peter and Pei Yuin, but with Clement added) gathered for dinner at an old haunt. It was a good opportunity to do another geeky theme - this time "off-vintage" wines. Not everyone got the memo (as can be seen from the notes), but we had a smattering of interesting ones, all blind of course. Some outperformed their vintages, others clearly showed why the vintages were considered weak.

Flight 1 - BUBBLES (3 notes)

White - Sparkling
N.V. Henri Giraud Champagne Grand Cru Hommage A François Hemart Brut France, Champagne, Champagne Grand Cru
92 points
A very classy NV champagne - this is a consistently solid performer that always comes across very dapper and well put-together. In fact, this is probably the best of the bottles I have had so far. It had subtle nose of white fruit, yeast and a little spice, with some lovely mineral accents alongside. The palate was not the most expressive by any means, but it had really neat, compact flavours of white fruit and lime zest held in lovely seamless balance by a fine mousse and good acidity. There was also beautiful stony minerality woven into the entire palate as well. I liked the sense of finesse here. Quite subtle, but it was a really good, taut package. Impressive - this seemed a touch more serious than the last couple of bottles I had.
White - Sparkling
1998 Duval-Leroy Champagne Blanc de Chardonnay Brut France, Champagne
92 points
Like chalk and cheese next to the Henri Giraud, but every bit as good. This was much more developed then the former wine. While the nose there was subtle and understated, this was quite intensely fruited, with ripe red apples, pineapples and even nectarine aromas, layered with a dollop of cream, a touch of yeast and some sweet butterscotch and brioche notes. With time, some minerally scents crept in as the nose opened even more. A very expressive, attractive bouquet. Similarly, the palate was very giving and generous, with a round, fleshy attack that showed rich flavours of apples and sweet white fruit wrapped in a creamy mousse. For all it s generosity and expressiveness though, this was still very nicely reined in on the midpalate with a bright acidity and a taut minerality that puled away into a sinewy finish, where another little hint of brioche came out. I thought this was very nice.
White - Sparkling
1997 Diebolt-Vallois Champagne Blanc de Blancs Millésimé France, Champagne
90 points
Still decently good. Unfortunately though, this bottle was rather less enjoyable than the last one I had just a week or so ago. The nose seemed more developed, with a little oxidative edge running through slightly browning aromas of red apples and pears, along with a touch of toast and cream. Still quite attractive though. The palate seemed to lack some of the definition and precision that I liked on the last bottle, again showing slightly oxidative notes running through rather rich flavours of apples and lemons and some savoury preserved kumquats tailing away in a little kiss of spice. Still quite yummy, especially with a great dish of raw-fish noodles. However, it was significantly weaker than the last bottle, which was just fresher, brighter and all round finer. I hope my other bottle goes back to form.

Flight 2 - WHITES (2 notes)

2007 Hugel Riesling Jubilee France, Alsace
90 points
This had been opened the day before, and according to those who tried it then, it was actually much better tonight. It had a n attractive nose, with little grass and flower notes, almost a hint of chamomile there, along with citrusy scents of grapefruit, lime and green apples, with some sweet nectar accents floating about. The palate was a slight change in gear though. It was less fresh than the nose suggested, almost feeling a little soft and rich, with a with waxy, viscous feel to its otherwise quite neutral white fruited notes that made some suspect that it may have been a Pinot Gris at first. On the midpalate, some lemony tones and just a of hint of floral sweetness emerged before the palate leaned out into a really dry finish seasoned with some deep-set notes of spice. It was a pretty good wine, but should be held for quite a few years yet before drinking. It had nice depth and quite substantial weight along with a decent balance, but it all felt a bit soulless at the moment.
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2012 Domaine Déramé Gros-Plant du Pays Nantais Cave du Château de la Morandière France, Loire Valley, Pays Nantais, Gros-Plant du Pays Nantais
87 points
More interesting for geek value than actually being a good wine, but this was certainly better than the first (and thus far only) Folle Blanche that I had before. It had a really pale, almost transparent, water-like hue. The nose strangely smelt like a good sake, with white flowers, rice, and neutral white fruit scents. It was clearly a wine on the palate thankfully, but a remarkably neutral one, with white fruit at the fore and indistinct citrus backnotes - in fact, there was hardly any character to this except for its super-bright, bracing acidity that gave it a real grip. There was nothing wrong with the wine. It was decent drinking, but it was rather characterless, so that it was hard to put a finger on exactly what it was.

Flight 3 - REDS (2 notes)

1997 Nicolas Potel Volnay 1er Cru Champans France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Volnay 1er Cru
91 points
Another quite solid 1997 from Potel. I am not always a big fan of his wines as they gather age, but this was quite nice. The nose showed some woody notes, with dried root herbs and a more perfumy drift of dried flowers, alongside matured notes of almost preserved cherries and sour plums, and then some meaty aromas started coming up with time. Nice. The palate had a bright, juicy attack, with a good depth of black cherries and plums layered with dried flowers and a sweet spice. Very nice, almost pretty, but it also had a solid sense of substance, especially on the chewy midpalate. The weaker vintage only showed up at the finish, where fruit dried out a little, leaving behind a shell of high acidity and fine tannins, with a suggestion of dried plum and root herbs and menthol trailing behind. Altogether, not a great wine, but certainly a nice one. Very charming and with a good deal of character to boot.
1994 Domaine du Colombier Hermitage France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Hermitage
90 points
I liked the fact that the wine had a distinct aged Hermitage character wed to a nicely matured elegance. However, while pleasant, it was also clearly a child of a poor vintage. The nose was very herbal, with lots of Chinese herb aromas to be precise - tree bark, orange peel, dried longans and menthol, then some brambly aromas mingling with fruitier notes of blueberries and blackcurrants. Pretty nice if you like your boiled herbs. The was very soft and mellow in the mouth, with the remnants of fine tannins almost disappearing into the ether, leaving the wine's bright acidity to carry its nice flavours of blueberries and black plums, together with a more savoury note of olive tapenade on the midpalate. The finish had more of those boiled herb nuances picked up on the nose, alongside licorice and spice notes curling away at the end on stream of rather prickly acidity. Overall, this was pretty nice, but not top-notch. Very mellow, gentle and drinking well, but it also came across a bit too soft and lacking in conviction.
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