TN: Judgment of Singapore: Part 2 - Riesling and Cabernet

JUDGMENT OF SINGAPORE: PART 2 - RIESLING AND CABERNET - Ubin Seafood, Sin Ming Indistrial Estate (7/6/2012)

Part 2 of our tongue-in-cheek, expanded version of the infamous Old-World vs New-World Judgment of Paris, focusing on dry Rieslings and Cabernet this time. Dry for the Rieslings because it was difficult to pit different sugar-levels against each other. For the Cabs, we allowed blends where Cabernet was the majority grape as well in the same spirit as the Judgment of Paris.

the method in the madness was the same as Part 1 (which was Chardonnay and Syrah instead). Each participant brought a blinded wine in set categories and vintages (e.g. New World Riesling 1995-2000, or Old World Cab 2005-present etc). The bottles were blinded and the exact maker and vintage of the wines were kept secret. All the wines from the same varietal were then mixed up and served blind by the tasting-master from a decanter (thanks Peter). The wines were ranked after all were tasted, with each person guessing either new world or old world and stating the order of preference. Once more, scores were collated and ranked using three methods - Borda, First Past the Post, and Condorcet.

Very surprisingly for the Riesling category, some of the new worlds did really well. So, while we did not have any representation from some of the top German Grosses Gewach or the best Austrian’s, this was really quite an eye-opened on the quality of less than heralded new world dry Rieslings. Again, for the Cabernets, no First Growth Bordeaux on one hand, and Harlan and Screaming Eagle on the other, but we did have a good smattering wines across the vintages. Again, the new world contingent showed really well. The Californians in particular, while clearly new world to the taste, had a tremedous charm and quality to the.

The notes and scores below represent my own views, but I have also tried to plug in the group’s overall ranking where possible.

  • 2004 Trimbach Riesling Cuvée Frédéric Emile - France, Alsace, Ribeauvillé, Alsace AOC
    This came across as a very friendly, easy Riesling. I thought it may have been going through a rather awkward stage though. It was good, but nowhere near as impressive as the last bottle I had, nor indeed as impressive as most other Cuvée Frédéric Emiles from other vintages. It had a typically subtle nose of a young CFE, with little bits of petroleum drizzled over lemon and lime aromas, some slatey minerality and a little drift of white flowers. The palate pretty much carried on the same tones, with very citrussy lemons and limes at the attack bottomed out by some green pears on the midpalate. There was a good rich depth to the wine wed to a nice mellow freshness, with gently mouthwatering acidity weaving in and out fruit, giving the wine a nice, clean feel. It finished with just another bit of stony minerality and some spice. A very nice, friendly wine, but nothing really special. There was also just some alcohol at finish disturbed its overall poise. This was the group’s overall #4 out of 6 Rieslings. It is still very young though, and should improve over the years. This has the bones to last a long time. (90 pts.)
  • 2005 Jasper Hill Riesling Georgia’s Paddock - Australia, Victoria, Central Victoria, Heathcote
    This was really enjoyable - half the table actually preferred it to the 2004 Trimbach Cuvee Frederic Emile that it followed. There was quite a bit of petroleum on the nose, along with some really attractive scents of honey and dried apricots, orange blossom and dried flowers and more citrussy limey, kumquaty notes shaded with hints of earth. A really nice, complex bouquet. The palate was rather less outwardly expressive than the nose. Its flavours were more mellow, gentler, with subtly mouthwatering acidity framing understated tones of green mangoes, grapefruit, and some lemon zest lined with a nice streak of minerality. It was deceptively light on the attack, partly perhaps because of its lovely balance, but it certainly had some depth as it unfolded across the midpalate and into a noticeably persistent finish seasoned with a touch of spice. A nice wine, quite about ready to drink I think, but still with some room to improve. Ranked group #5 out of 6 Rieslings. (91 pts.)
  • 1992 Joseph Phelps Johannisberg Riesling - USA, California, Napa Valley
    This was a tremendous surprise. It was a quite brilliant wine that had most of us convinced that it came from Alsace rather than Napa. There was a lovely nose, with little droplets of petroleum over some subtle stone fruit accents - think fleshy white peach and nectarine aromas - and then some subtle earthy nuances. A very complex, beguiling bouquet. The palate was really nice as well. Ripe, fleshy, weighty, yet wonderfully balanced, with delicious notes of custard apple, green pear and melon, along with drizzles of honey on the midpalate and a beautiful, chalky, spicy linger in the finish. It was long, juicy and superbly-integrated - a fitting end to a very complex, complete wine. This is at a perfect place for drinking now. It was rated #3 out of 6 Rieslings by the goup. (93 pts.)
  • 2003 Jacob’s Creek/Orlando Riesling Steingarten - Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Eden Valley
    I thought that this was very decent, but such was the high standard of the 6 dry Rieslings on the night that it was voted both my and the group’s least favourite. The nose was quite unusual, with nutty nuances and a noticeable amount of kerosene, strong whiffs of ripe lemon, some stony mineral accents and then strange little whiff of blueberry in there somewhere. The palate was enjoyable, if not quite the most serious or complex of wines, with those strange little notes of sweet blueberries and even dark cherries at the fore chased by bright citrussy lemon and grapefruit flavours. There was some really zippy acidity running through the whole package into a ripe finish that had a little of the tropical in it, with pineapple and jackfruit nuances here and there. It was just a bit unconvincing on the back-palate I thought, with the fruit and the acidity sticking out at rather awkward angles, but overall, quite a pleasant drink nonetheless. I am not sure this will improve all that much with time though. (89 pts.)
  • 2009 Dönnhoff Norheimer Dellchen Riesling Großes Gewächs - Germany, Nahe
    Way too young, this may even have been in a slightly sleepy state, but it was a real delight - group #2 out of 6 Rieslings. This had a beautiful nose, bursting with chamomile, honeysuckle and appley aromas laced with a little hint of chalk. Really lovely stuff. It was lovely in the mouth too, with a melting, creamy texture and soft, beautifully-integrated acidity that wrapped the palate in a velvety cloak of apple flesh, white flowers and bright grapefruit and lemon notes. So wonderfully balanced, this just slipped down the gullet so easily - I could drink a whole bottle of this by myself. The finish was lovely too, with a bright, energetic feel to its open-knit citrus flavours underlined with a bit more of the chalk that I picked up on the nose. Really lovely stuff. Drinking so well now, but it really does seem to have its best years ahead of it. (92 pts.)
  • 1998 Franz Künstler Hochheimer Kirchenstück Riesling Auslese trocken - Germany, Rheingau
    This was truly excellent, quite overwhelmingly voted the group’s favourite out of 6 nice dry Rieslings. It had a super nose, full of golden honeyed tones, from wafting scents of summer flowers to lush aromas of ripe yellow fruit - a lovely, hedonistic nose, all underlined by a little touch of mineral. The palate was absolutely lovely too. Like the nose it was very honeyed, with a rich, flavourful attack showing ripe yellow fruit and sweet fleshy peaches at the fore and into the midpalate. Yet for all those dulcet tones, it was actually completely dry, tailing away into a fresh, lively finish, where some solid acidity was beautifully integrated into lovely lemony flavours lined with another little touch of mineral. A really delicious wine at quite a beautiful place now. Yum. (93 pts.)


  • 2004 Château Léoville Poyferré - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
    This was a very good start to the fight of reds. While still far too young to drink, it was certainly better than when I last tried it a few years ago, and is on track to develop into a really nice wine. It had a really alluring nose, with lovely, fruity gobs of blackberries and cassis and plums kissed by smoky tobacco and toasty earthy notes with a little drift of violet flowers at the sides. All those fruit aromas along with some sweet oak notes at the side led me think that this may have been a new world wine. The palate did little to dispell that impression on first blush. Hedonistically rich and ripe (especially for a 2004), it had a wonderfully pure expression of blueberries, cassis and black cherries at the forefront, lined with really fine, ever-so-slightly powdery tannins and some lovely fresh acidity. It was really the balance and purity to the wine and the finesse on its structure that pulled most our guesses back to Bordeaux in spite of all that pirmary fruit. Very delicious stuff, with a strong finish too, brightening up as it pulled away into a fresh display of dark cherries and cassis lined with a little hint of spice and twist orange peel. A very nice which should only improve in time. This should be lovely in a decade or so. The group’s #3 out of 10 Cabernet blends. (92 pts.)
  • 1975 Château Les Ormes de Pez - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe
    This was pleasant, if just a bit tired. It had a very classic left-bank nose, with lovely drifts of tobacco, tea leaves and earth, some cedar wood. capsicum and cassis. Nice stuff. The palate was just about starting to weaken. It was very matured, with a round, mellow feel, where the remnants of tough 1975 tannins had softened into a velvety robe draped across beautifully pure flavours of dark cherries and cassis on the attack. Unfortunately, it thinned out noticeably on the midpalate, becoming a bit one-dimensional before a slightly dry finish set in with some tea leaf and tobacco nuances set amongst some fresh, lively acidity and some firm tannins. Not all that complex, but still very pleasurable in spite of it being just that little bit over the hill. This ranked #5 out of 10 Cabernet blends. (90 pts.)
  • 1982 Château du Tertre - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
    This was another wine that was slightly off its peak, but it was very good nonetheless. We had another really nice nose here showing lots of sous bois character, with notes of wilted flowers and wet leaves, mossy earth and savoury meaty aromas, along with little drifts of tobacco, cigar and cassis fruit. Undoubtedly Bordeaux, as was the delicious palate. Here, there was still lots of juicy acidity swirling around wonderfully pure flavours of cassis and blueberries. It was perhaps just a bit hollow on midpalate, maybe not quite as strong as you would expect from a 1982 Margaux classed growth, but it was so silky and resolved and integrated that it remained such a delight to drink. I really enjoyed this. It may have been better a few years back, but it was certainly still very yummy on the night. Group #3 of 10. (92 pts.)
  • 1986 Beringer Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve - USA, California, Napa Valley
    I enjoyed this tremendously, as did most of the others around the table. It had such an attractive nose - full of sweet, ripe berries and black cherries and plum scents, along with nicely integrated notes of toasty earth and some smoked meat aromas in the background. There was no doubting that this was Californian on that nose alone, with all its lovely, sunny ripness. The palate was absolutely delcious too. Unashamedly new world again, it had wonderful sunshiney flavours of raisins and blackberries and cassis, matched stride for stride by plush tannins and fresh acidity - all really nicely balanced, which made it a joy to drink. Still strong on the attack and across the midpalate, the finish was very impressive as well, coating the backpalate with a rich layer of blackberries and pure cassis notes just touched at the edges with earth and tobacco. Hedonistic, delicious stuff. For someone whose bencmark for Cabernet is normally a mature left-bank Bordeaux, this really brought a smile to my face. It was the Group’s overall #2 out of 10, just edged out by a briliant 1977 Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet. At a beautiful place now, I do not see any reason to cellar these any longer. (93 pts.)
  • 2003 Voyager Estate Cabernet Sauvignon - Merlot - Australia, Western Australia, South West Australia, Margaret River
    A pretty nice wine - this has improved somewhat since the last time I had it four years back. In spite of being the only wine on the night that everyone guessed correctly as a new world Cab, it managed to sit somewhat comfortably in the middle of the pack when it came to group scoring. In fact, this could hardly be anything but an Aussie wine, with its sweet nose of blackberries and ripe cassis tossed together with a bit of earth and hints of bramble and eucalyptus. Nice enough, if not exactly compelling. The palate had quite a bit of depth to its ripe flavours of sweet cassis and dark cherries, along with a spike of fresh, bright acidity, with almost some orange sherbert-like tones to it. Acidifcation to balance off the heat of the year maybe. That streak of acidity followed the wine in a long, fresh finish, where kumquat peel flavours where met by a bit of smoke. Not my favourite style of wine this, but it was well-made and eminently drinkable. It should improve with time, but I am not sure by how much - I have a slight fear that the balance on this bottle might just become a bit unstuck as the primary fruit unravels. (90 pts.)
  • 1999 Fermoy Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve - Australia, Western Australia, South West Australia, Margaret River
    An okay wine, but not great. I thought the nose was pretty attractive. It had a nice earthy, minerally lilt to it along with with some ripe aromas of dark fruit and a touch of licorice, only a bit of glycerol at the edges showed it up as a new world Cab. The palate was rather a different story though. It was very sweet, with lots of berries and cherries and a touch of sour plums at the fore lined hints of sweet spice. It was all fruit on the midpalate as well, with only little sprinkles of earth to relief its sweetness. It was only some bright, sprightly acidity that kept it balanced. Past that, it had very round, plush tannins, with a lingering finish showing some preserved plum powder notes. Interesting enough flavours profile, but this really was very simple in its fruit forward nature and just a bit too sweet and disjointed for my taste. So all in all, okay, but not great. This was he lowest ranked out of 10 Cabernet blends with the exception of the flawed Sassicaia. (87 pts.)
  • 1992 Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia Vino da Tavola - Italy, Tuscany, Vino da Tavola
    This was a real pity. When blinded, there was obviously some underlying quality to the wine, but it was so scalped and denuded by TCA that this ended up being the least favourite red wine of the night. Really sad, when one considers that there was just very slight TCA hints of wet carboard on the nose, which was otherwise blessed with sweet aromas of cassis and berries, a nice bit of spice, earth and menthol, some savoury meat, and a pretty lift of violet scents. Attractive really if not for that distracting taint floating around. same thing on the palate too. It was very juicy, very pure, with lovely flavours of blackberries, rich cassis notes and dark cherries on the attack touched with some mint and menthol. There was such a nice clarity and freshness to this, with lovely balance and very tannins. Pity it just could not shake of that hint of TCA, with the wine thinning off rather awkwardly on the midpalate, and shrivelling into a slightly dried-up feel at the finish, where the wet cardboard accents started showing amidst a thin layer of sour plum notes. Sigh. Of all bottles that got corked, it had to be this - our only non-Bordeaux old-world example. A real pity. NR (flawed)
  • 1992 Beringer Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve - USA, California, Napa Valley
    I did not think this was quite as good as the 1986 Beringer Private Reserve that showed up earlier in the tasting, but it was a very yummy wine in its own right. It had a very full-on nose, with a whoosh of sweet dark fruited aromas, a dose of spice and minty, mentholly notes with a toss of dried earth and some glycerol floating around in there. I thought it was just that little bit muddled on the bouquet. The palate was thankfully rather better. Rich, ripe and extracted, yet not overblown or candied in the least bit, this was full of sweet cassis and berry fruit flavours at the fore, all with a nice natural fruit sweetness to them. Very yummy stuff. Yet for all that richness, this acually had some finesse to it, with a nicely shaped structure and some fresh acidity driving the wine into a plummy finish seasoned with a touch of earth and some savoury smoked meat inflections. Nothing really complex or serious, indeed this was rather a simpler wine than the 1986, but it was nevertheless very enjoyable. This was the group’s #6 out of 10 Cabernet blends. Still young on the showing of this bottle, it should conitnue to improve over the next few years. (92 pts.)
  • 1977 Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford - USA, California, Napa Valley, Rutherford
    A beauty of a wine. Almost all of us (save for HM) guessed this was a warm vintage Bordeaux or an Italian example, and a really good one at that - it was quite overwhelmingly voted the favourite Cabernet wine of the night. It had a pretty nice nose, with funky, earthy almost branyard and animale notes floating alongside some smoky spice accents, bits of dried herbs that brought to mind rosemary and thyme, and then ripe, sunshiney aromas of cassis and black cherry, almost rasiny smelling at the edges. It was nice, big, warm bouquet that really should have tilted us towards California! Much the same on the palate as well. Here, the wine showed some nice earthy tones that were very Bordelais, but beneath that, there were delicious velvety layers of ripe cassis and blackberries, a touch of raisins and fresh prunes - all beautifully sun-kissed favours, with little hints of herb and dried earth and dried flowers floating around it all like a halo around the pure, juicy fruit. It was so well balanced and wonderfully integrated too, with the entire mouthful lined with soft, plush tannins and lovely fresh acidity pulling away into a long, yummy finish where some dried fruits and more sweet herbs emerged. Absollutely delicious stuff at quite the perfect place for drinking now. A beautiful wine. (94 pts.)
  • 1999 Château Gracia - France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
    Decent. This was a pretty well-constructed wine, not bad quality wise, but I just did not enjoy it all that much somehow. Amongst the old world wines, this was the only bottle that the vast majority of the group guessed as a new world. There was nothing on the nose that pointed away from Bordeaux actually. It had a nice savoury tone, with earthy and meaty scents floating alongside some cassis and plums, a bit of cloves and just a hint of menthol or eucalyptus. decent enough. Unfortunately, the palate was really strangely sweet, almost a bit medicinal, with thick cherry and berry notes at the fore. Thankfully, these were balanced out by fresh acid and given some structure by plush structure made out of some powdery tannins. I thought it was just a bit mushy and indistinct past the midpalate, petering out in a rather weak, earthy finish, but otherwise the balance and feel of the wine was pretty decent. I just did not like the overtly sweet flavour profile. Okay, but not great. This was the group’s #8 out of 10 Cabernet blends. (89 pts.)


  • 1990 Domaine Weinbach Riesling Cuvée Theo Sélection de Grains Nobles - France, Alsace, Alsace AOC
    An amazing wine. Off-theme in a night that was supposed to be about dry-Rieslings, but this more or less blew every other bottle on the table, red or white, out of the water. Wow, what a nose it had! Honey, treacle, dried apricots and nectarines and figs, golden dates, ripe red apples, honeyscukle flowers, a little bit of stony mineral - uber-complex, absolutely enchanting stuff. If anything, it was even more of a show-stopper on the palate. Nowhere near as overtly rich as the nose would suggest, this had a flawless balance to it, showing an incredibly integrated mouthful of honeyed goodness with fantastically complex flavours unfolding across the palate - apples and figs and apricots and peaches - all woven together with a supple acidity that led the wine to just melt across the mouth. Ridiculously good. all its sweet, fleshy fruit, it was always controlled and poised, all the way into a beautifully long, almost never-ending finish that unwrapped in a wonderful show of deeply buried minerality and little pinpricks of spice. It had profound depth, yet was almost weightless - this left me speechless. Still a bit tight right at the end maybe, but incredible stuff nonetheless. This was one of the best sweet wines I have had in a long time. It was still so youthful even at 22 years of age, and as good as it was on the night, it should continue improving over the next decade or more as well. Wow. (96 pts.)

Posted from CellarTracker

The BV Rutherford, not the GdL??? Wow, what’d that cost in 1979, $7?


Thanks for the notes. I want to drink like you when I grow up.

Hi guys, thanks for the responses…

The BV really was a stunner. I love these blind tastings because all the wines start off on a blank slate.

Great notes Paul. We bought up a cellar that had 89 through 94 BV Georges De La Tour and though stellar, we thought we may have opened them too soon. Your notes indicate we may have.