Recent Bordeaux releases a real treat

Some of the best recent Bordeaux releases. PHOTO: N.K. YONG

(THE BUSINESS TIMES) - It's time to go back to basics. An evening of Bordeaux classics proved to be a most welcome reminder of how good they are, and indeed have always been. In the recent absorption with the more currently favoured burgundies, Bordeaux has been sadly neglected, much to our loss. It was therefore with much pleasure that this week at dinner we were treated to some of the greatest of recent Bordeaux releases.

Chateau Troplong Mondot 2000 en magnum
Dec 13, 2017

A youthful impenetrable deep black-red colour, inviting aroma of cedar, blackcurrants and tropical fruit; on the palate very concentrated dense rich flavours of sweet blackcurrant, and mixed nuts, long lingering finish.

A rich wine, still very youthful, undoubtedly in part due to the magnum size. (Wine in magnum size and greater always takes longer to evolve and develop.) This is a lovely wine, which will need another five or more years to reach full maturity, at which point it will remain for a good few years.

A great tribute to the late Christine Valette under whom this Chateau reached its well-deserved prominence. Sadly, she prematurely passed away in 2014, a great loss.

Chateau La Mission Haut Brion 2000

Dec 13, 2017

A reference wine from one of my favourite Bordeaux Chateaux. Black-red colour, denser than the Latour 2004 which followed. Very fragrant soft seductive aromas of cassis and cedar-box. Very long lingering finish.

A very dense wine, classic cabernet sauvignon wine, well-balanced, and finishing very long. This is classic true-blue Bordeaux at its best. If ever one needs to demonstrate how great Bordeaux tastes, this is the wine, La Mission Haut Brion 2000.

Chateau Latour 2004

Dec 13, 2017

Densely opaque black-red. A very fragrant, gentle (almost discreet) aroma of cassis and cigar-box cedar. The palate was classic Latour, great depth, great density of rich, very concentrated flavours of blackcurrant, very cedary, finishing long and lingering. At peak, at which it will stay for a good many years, at least five or more years. A very good Latour. A definitive definition of the classic that is Latour.

I am reminded of my first Latour. It was in June 1970, in Kuala Lumpur. I had acquired one bottle of Chateau Latour 1968, and proudly opened it one evening after dinner with a good friend, a colleague from the University of Hong Kong.

It was my first taste of Latour, and it made a huge impression on me (my wine experience had hitherto been very limited, mainly inexpensive Spanish Rioja), and thereafter I was sold on Latour. It has since been my favourite Bordeaux and my reference Chateau for Bordeaux.

Pluribus 2011, Bond, Napa Valley

Dec 13, 2017

The features of this wine clearly stood out in stark contrast to the three Bordeaux. It was characteristically soft, very rich, and very sweet, without much of a back bone, giving the impression of a considerable degree of over-extraction.

I have to admit that this style of wine, wherever it comes from, and whoever the winemaker is, does not appeal to me. Having been brought up from day one on the classic style of Bordeaux, (as so clearly demonstrated by Latour 1968), and then on the subtle complexity of Burgundy, I find this style of wine overwhelms my palate. I almost get the feeling of needing a good drink of water to clear and refresh my palate. But it is this powerful intense richness which is undoubtedly the secret of the wine's great popularity. I am not surprised.

Two classic examples of Bordeaux and one current, very popular, and very much sought-after Napa Valley wine starkly demonstrate the gulf of difference between the classic and the latest Napa showpiece.

It is rather sad that this Bond wine has become almost the showpiece of Californian wines. I would point to other well-known examples and my own favourites - Opus One, Joseph Phelps and Ridge Montebello. They represent for me California's closest look-alikes to Bordeaux wines.

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