One bad thing about dining at Absinthe is the somewhat dim lighting (and hence the quality of the pictures – well, they were taken using my iPhone and no flash too). But I guess if it’s too bright, the ambiance of the whole place would be completely different as well. I didn’t even bother checking the colour of the wines as it was an impossible task. So I relied heavily on my nose and olfactory senses on the brief tasting notes that I managed to jot down as quickly as I could.
1. Romanee St. Vivant 2000 Nicolas Potel
A little brett which dissipated pretty quickly, fresh dark cherries, indian spices; ripe juicy red cherries with a streak of silky tannin structure; medium to medium-plus acid and finish.
2. Clos de Tart 2000 Mommessin
Bretty (also vanished quickly), dried rosella flowers, slight reduction; concentrated briar fruits, strong ripe tannins, mocha, oak flavours; medium-plus acid and finish. Prominent tannic grip and an interesting spicy aftertaste.
3. Clos de Tart 2001 Mommmessin
Herbaceous tones, rose hips, fresh red flowers, slightly medicinal, incense; young, bright dark fruit flavours, a touch of greenness; medium-plus acid and finish.
I have tasted the same RSV (out from the same case) twice before this dinner. The first time I had it, it was really beautiful; the second encounter was a real flop – I wouldn’t hesitate to toss it down the drain. Yesterday night – a flower day, the wine performed really well. Could my last bad experience with the wine had any correlation to the fact that it was a root day (not advisable to drink wines)? I’m not sure. But it was definitely a consistent observation I have on various wines thus far.
I must thank SW for bringing both of the Clos de Tart. If you noticed, one of the CdT labels actually had its alcohol content written in Malay (he got quite a number of them at Penang Airport ages ago). Interestingly, they were only RM90+/ bottle in those days – such a stark difference to their current market prices don’t you think? Unbelievable. Personally I prefer the 2000 as it’s a lot more approachable at this point in time, and a lot less masculine and green compared to the 2001 vintage. The first word that came to mind when I tasted the 2001 was “Beaune?”. I am glad I didn’t blurt that out as it would be a big slap on SW’s face. Hahaha. (If you’re reading this SW, I’m truly sorry!) Anyway, we had the lobster with angle hair pasta and caviar for this flight of reds and it remained the most popular and perhaps, the most likeable dish for the night.
Damn, I should have asked for a second helping of this instead of trying the mains. And for the record, the lobster was delish with the reds. A wine-food pairing faux pas? Far from it.
Both bottles are heavyweight wines (which are some of my favourite appellation), and sipping them on a weekday afternoon with a bunch of good friends was a real treat. The RSV gave off an enticing aroma which cut dangerously close to a young Clos de Beze and it took me awhile to register the subtle differences. What really surprised me was the flavour and texture profile – the tannins were very pronounced with a distinctive greenness lying underneath all that bright red cherry fruit. I think of all the RSVs I have tasted, this is by far the most tannic of the lot and I would have mistaken it for a Richebourg had it been a blind tasting. I suppose this has more to do with the winemaker/winemaking style than the typicity of the appellation? The Chambertin, on the other hand, exhibited a very old traditional Gevrey style as far as sensory perception is concerned. Lots of dried dark cherries, dried rose petals and even notes of violet were present in the glass with a muskiness that I usually associate with aged Gevrey-Chambertin. The tannin structure was educational, to say the least. The wine must have been a beast when it was in its youth as the years of potential tannin polymerization (in bottle) didn’t seem to tame the somewhat astringent texture of the wine. Not quite as elegant but tasty nonetheless.
When wines are so well-made, fresh, vibrant and balanced, no words could describe what they really taste like. For me, they are the epitome of what Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are capable of achieving and will, for a long time, be etched beautifully in my mind as I hop from vintage to vintage between the southern and northern hemisphere. Two Leroy on the table for lunch today – I was truly blessed.