Savoured…Happy 70-ish Birthday

When I am 70, I would still love to drink this well.
A couple of months ago, we celebrated a dear friend’s 70ish birthday during one of the regular wine group dinner gatherings that I am a member of. My bad, I must have drunk too much or had too much fun, I forgot his exact age. But I know he is in the 70s.

Nothing start a party like a Champagne.
Dom Perignon 2003-001
And so to adhere to the rule of starting from light to heavy, this became the obvious first red:
Ch Figeac 1964-001
The grand dame has aged rather gracefully. Sure, she has lost some of her rosiness and she should, but she was still interesting. Like a classic, there was dried rose petals sweetness laced with savoury notes, stewed plum, well-worn leather, and cedar shavings, slightly medicinal. Gently fading, not faded.

The next few Bordeaux were younglings by comparison, but full of potential with patience.

Pictures2Chateau Grand Puy Lacoste 2009
By comparison, it exuded bright ruby hue with youthful purple tint. It wore a brand new leather jacket offering just ripen dark fruits and smoke of a just lighted cedar shavings. It was not quite ready with firm acidity, notable hard tannins,  and tight fruit structure. I would have love to taste it 18 hours later.

Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou 2005
It was ravishingly bright of deep ruby hue. Wonderful aromas of savoury spices, game, floral perfume, caramel, jammy red fruits and smoked meat. It took a while for me to taste the wine because I was so in love with the aromas. Then it embraced me at first sip with fleshy just ripen red fruits, and smashed plum and baked sweetness. Beautifully round and lush. Took me a while to put the glass down.

Chateau Pedesclaux 2005
Bright ruby hue with inky core. Revealing a conservative aromas of leather, rubber, sweet ripened cherry, blackberry, forest floor, and blueberry jam. Spices made its presence upon sipping showing firm and vibrant dark fruit acidity. Very enjoyable now.

Chateau Margaux 2002
The wine was aptly opened about 4 hours before we got to drink it. 14 years of cellaring was not not long enough to fade the dark youthful hue. First whiff revealed musky, wood, sweat, celery stalk, and savoury spices with a firm sense of masculinity. Gaminess made its first impression on the palate, followed by fleshy meatiness, savoury, sweet nuts, and steamed fruits. Seemed to have dulled out with weight or still tight, not quite ready to be drunk maybe?

Pictures1Chateau Haut Brion 1995
It showed some ageing with amber hue on the edge. Barnyard like aromas with notes of game, musk, wax, cedar chips and baking spices. Flavours were more revealing with notes of spice, red fruits sweetness, oak, and leather. The finish was slightly bitter of medicine and graphite. Every time, I revisited, I was getting rather different flavour notes. Quite a chameleon.

Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1995
Compared to the Haut Brion, this looked more youthful with tint of deep blue core. Aromas were quite tight with hints of violets, nut, dark fruits such as blueberries and blackberries, firm leather, dusty minerality and austerity of tar. The flavours echoed the aromas with notable firm acidity, restrained sweetness and texture that seemed rather aggressive, firm and chewy.
Definitely needs at least 10 more years for it to give.

Chateau Petrus 2004
It showed impressive bright ruby hue. It presented itself at first whiff of graphite-like minerality, mint and lead, accompanied with warm tone of burnt rubber and bullish approach (not sure why I wrote this in my notes?). Flavours came through brighter with red sourish sweet cherries, lip-smacking vanilla cream, and racy acidity (rather fast and furious type). This was my first Petrus, fingers cross that it will not be my last.

Chateau Y quem 2004
My view on Y quem has always been DO NOT DISTURB FOR AT LEAST 20 YEARS. The sweetness of a dessert wine should not be too upfront and make you cringe. This didn’t quite did that, but I thought it would be perfect in about few more years. It revealed notes of melon, honey, vanilla cream, nuts such as hazelnut and almond, nougat, oak and citrus rind like bitterness on the finish. There is a sense of effervescence and bite. For me, everything just needed to mellow out a little more, but very delicious nonetheless.

I left this alone from the collage because for me, this was THE WINE of the evening, not just for me, but for several of others as well.
Ch Cheval Blanc 1999-001
At 15 years old, it showed density in colour with brilliance. Fruit notes didn’t stand forward, but leather and sweat made its presence first (without swirling). Aromas of blackberries, dusty blue fruits, mint, cedar wood and game came through with a little agitation. I could not stop smelling the wine because it was simply divine and intoxicating. When I was finally done smelling it, I sipped and found taste of black and red fruits, savoury spice, and stewed like sweetness (was thinking of bacon and egg with splash of worcestershire sauce). As expected, the tannins were still firm but elegant.

I am working towards a luxurious morning of Cheval Blanc with Bacon and Eggs one day, preferably before I turn 70.

Spotted…Being Cool

What do you do with a tricky cork?
Being Cool-001
It can be a frustrating, but it is even more important to keep your cool.
If you love old wines, it is almost inevitable that you meet a cork that will challenge your patience, wine-opening skill and sense of coolness. So don’t give up, keep your cool and you will definitely be rewarded. All else fail, decant.

Weekend Treat…Risky By-The-Glass

It wasn’t a weekend, but it was still a treat, despite the scary reports that I have been reading about it. This was my first Coravin by-the-glass. Served to me by a friend who is a Sommelier and the General Manager of the restaurant.
Coravin
When I indicated that there are reports of exploding bottles, my friend said “never mind lah. Give it a taste”. I was a little apprehensive, so I sort of leaned backward when the wine was flowing (quite slowly actually) into the glass, just in case.

But I am so happy to see a restaurant using it because that means that it will be possible to taste wine that are either old or/and expensive by the glass, without the restaurant worrying about wastage and spoilage. Also, after encountering of a fragile and brittle cork that eventually required the usage of a decanter last evening, I believe the Coravin can be extremely useful in this situation.

I hope the people at Coravin will be able to sort out the issue of exploding bottles soon. I would love to get one for myself.

Spotted…Fourth of July

Celebration of the Fourth of July came early this year for me.
The US Embassy throws a party every year, and this year without fail was a big one with I believe a couple of thousand of guests. There were lots of food, booze and dancing, just the way a party should be. Here’s wishing all my American friends…HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY.
American Flag-001

Savored…Alone with a Zinfandel

Home alone on a Saturday night is not that bad actually.
Other than still trying to figure out the world of Mac with a good friend on Team Viewer, while channel 515 is showing LOTR – The Two Towers, I decided to open this bottle.
Robert Craig 97 Zinfandel
I had this bottle in my wine fridge for quite a while. Every time I have friends over and suggest that we open this, it was always a unanimous NAH. I can understand due to the fact that it is a Zinfandel, and Robert Craig is not known to make Zinfandel. They would probably prefer a 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon. So being home alone, I thought I can drink it and if it is bad, it will not offend anyone.

Well it was not bad. The colour of the wine is showing age, borderline rosy brick. But the nose was still quite fresh with notes of plum, black cherry and leather. On the palate, the aromas echoed with notes of earth, forest floor and savoury spices. Good length and rather balance, but the alcohol was quite pronounce. The Zinfandel was indeed living up to it’s reputation of being high on alcohol content. After 2 glasses, I felt the urge to speak the Elvish language. Well, I actually do not know how to, but the wine was inspiringly good at that moment.

I tasted it again the next day, and there were still some fruits, with stewed like structure. It was holding up pretty well. Hubz thought it was quite savoury on the finish, but not too bad.

On Day #3…I will not cook with it.

Your Worth in Wine #MWWC10

Come rain, shine or hack, here is my second attempt of the challenge. wine-stain1-2

There are so many ways to approach the topic of value. It is easy to look at it purely on the basis of dollar and cents. After much thoughts, and mostly done while in the shower unfortunately, I felt that it might be interesting to approach it unconventionally. So this post has gone through several re-writings and editing.

The subject of value in relation of wine can go beyond its value.  Alone, it will sit on the shelf collecting dust. Its worth will always be tied closely to us the moment we take it off that shelf, revealing glimpses of who we are. I am not referring to the depth of our pockets for it. But our decisions as to how we access, handle and share them with the our friends.

It is not the value of the wine that matters, but the value of my friendship to my fellow wine friends and vice versa in our choice of wines, and the manner we chose to share with each other. It can be very revealing as to how we feel about each other. TS has been a member of our wine group for several years. We were brought together by our interest for really good local cuisines, to compliment our personal wine collections. Over the years, good food is still key, but wine starts to take centre stage where we will blind each other with our contributions, and challenge to identify them correctly. Unlike the rest of us, TS does not collect wine. But TS has never been discouraged by us. Most time, he will ask me or other fellow members to bring a bottle for him, at value or quality that the rest of us will enjoy. For TS, he enjoys our friendship and conversation. He doesn’t think we are snobbish or arrogant based our wine preference. Occasionally,  his wine contribution (when he brings the bottle himself without any help) may be a simple straight forward wine to me, but I enjoy it because it is his effort. Most of all, I admire TS for his confidence in himself, and in us when he asks us for help. He is not faze by us when we talk non-stop about wine, and he could not quite participate.

20140506_210636Most time when we attend wine dinners, we arrive right on time for aperitif and hope that wine and dinner will not be too far along. If G is the one who did the organising of the event, you know that the wines that you will be savouring have been well researched and considered in the wine serving process. G takes a lot of care and consideration in when the wines should be opened, if they need to be decanted, and how long they should be aerated. If dinner is at 8pm for 40 guests, G will be at the restaurant at 2pm, sometime with his children. Together with the service staff, and he will open up to 40 to 50 bottles of wines,  and taste them to assess their condition, and to determine the need to decant. If need to (most time we do because the wines are older and sediments need to be separated), the wine will be decanted and carefully monitored. This process can take the whole afternoon and/or longer. On one occasion, I arrived at 5pm to assist, but the process took longer than we expected and he was unable to change for dinner. For such dinners that he organises, he would have been at the restaurant for 10 hours or so. Without such dedication and care, the wines would not have shown and tasted at its best. Most of our dinners are on a Saturday, and such sacrifice of time away from his family is simply admirable and incredible. For me, there is so much more value in his effort than the wine itself.

I have a friend who loves old wine, the older the better (not necessary sometime as we have learnt). When we first met, it was over old California wine. I was wondering why he kept asking me for old California Cabernet Sauvignon. In the last few years, we started meeting at least twice a month over old wines with several mutual friends. C is wealthy, and he doesn’t think twice to share really interesting, most time rather expensive, but intriguing wines as long as he knows you understand, appreciate and know how to enjoy them. Not many people knows how to appreciate a 1972 Mouton Rothschild, or 1988 DRC. When we first started drifting more into these vintages of wines, I was rather apprehensive because I have a rather more modest portfolio. And on several occasions, I turned down dinners with him because I could not meet that calibre of value in wine.  It didn’t take long for C to note the reasons of my absences, and we talked openly. The bottom-line is that he values my friendship and honesty in regards to the wines. He is able to afford these wines but lack the type of friends that will appreciate them. He is not concern about the value of wines that I am able to bring to the table, but the sincerity and respect we have for these wines. Hence he is more than happy to share them with me. I used to think that I can learnt to appreciate all wines, but from him I learnt that life is too short for crappy wines.
DRC 1988
Life indeed is too short. I keep these friends close to me because I can see that we will still be drinking and laughing, and what we will be drinking will not even matter. Now that is valuable.

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Weekend Treat…wife cake

It is 1120pm, Sunday.
I have been writing several posts, but none are quite complete. It has been a strange week, and that pile of clean laundry to be put away staring at me is not helping to get the writing juice going. This morning started out fine because I slept for 10 hours (now that’s a real treat on its own). I had my green juice (broccoli, spinach, pepper, cucumber, celery, green apple, orange, grapefruit and ginger) and I got the coffee brewing. Then I noticed something I brought back from Hong Kong 3.5 weeks ago and I thought and smiled happily…Breakfast is served!

Wife Cake-001
It is not quite a cake or biscuit (as the Chinese character translates), although it is called one. Basically it is flaky pastry with winter melon paste filling flavoured with honey and green tea. Perfect with my coffee splashed with just almond milk.

Just as I finished my delicious morning treat, Hubz called for rescue. Poor babe woke up at 430am this morning for a 120km ride, but could not ride home because his bicycle started to give him problem just probably shy of 20km from home.

As you can see, I can visit the treat again in 7 hours.