TN: Lovely Blind Birthday wines: 1929 d'Yquem, 1970 Graham's, 1964 Lafite etc

BIRTHDAY DINNER FOR ALEX, WILLIAM AND GINA 2014 - Cove99, Peck Seah Street, Singapore (19/12/2014)

Our group has had a good run in many respects this year - additions to our families, advancement in careers, new relationships etc - and it sure is good to be able to celebrate with good friends towards the end of the year. This was a great dinner, with a balanced and interesting selection of very good wines (served blind as always), and some great seafood from the new restaurant. It is unusual that the sweet flight captures the imagination like the one tonight did - but with a solid port and a good bottle of the legendary 1929 d’Yquem, this is about as good a pair of sweets as we have ever had. Happy Birthday to the 3 celebrants and many happy returns!


  • 2005 Louis Roederer Champagne Cristal Brut - France, Champagne
    Second time round, and my impressions are very consistent with the first bottle I tried some 24 months back. If anything, the potential of the champagne is even clearer now than it was back then; otherwise, it showed the same elegance and purity that I liked so much with the last bottle. The nose was perhaps just a bit more developed now, with a touch of yeast, some earthy, mushroomy hints and a little hit of saline mineral to go along with white fruited apple aromas, some of strawberries and cream and just a slight floral lilt. Quite a pretty nose that. The palate had a lovely feel to it, with a fine creamy mousse, and mouth filling flavours of red apple flavours and some green strawberries speared through lots of tingly, minerally energy. There was a great amount of extract and substance here, yet it was very fine indeed - super clean, super precise and very delicious. It ended with a long, gentle finish infused with a stony mineral and a tiny kiss of spice amidst a glow of citrus lemon notes. Still very young, but this is a very fine and elegant champagne, with a subtle depth and strength that should see it age well. I would like to try another bottle in 3-4 years, and I think it will benefit from an even longer gestation. (93 pts.)
  • 2006 jean-claude credoz Château-Chalon - France, Jura, Château-Chalon
    A fascinating wine. The nose was all salty and saline, with smells of seashells and flinty mineral and salted fig skin; Desmond noted smoked nori (seaweed), which I thought was spot on, and there was a little hint of penicillin, like something I get on certain Madeiras. The palate was amazingly lively, almost reverberating with freshness and energy, with beautiful zippy acidity dancing through bright flavours of lime zest and fig peel and lemons and limes, all lent a wonderful verve and life. It had a great salty midpalate as, full of saline, sea salty notes leading into a lovely, long finish with surprising round, fleshy flavours of juicy lemons and green apples seasoned with little spice and gentle chalky mineral notes. A very good wine indeed. Actually quite complete and displaying tons of character. I am not sure what the ageing curve on these things are, but it I suspect it will grow for a long time in the bottle. It was already a fun drink on the night though, and very food friendly. While it went a treat with the sashimi geoduck and lobster dishes we had, I suspect it would go even better with something slightly savoury, like a consommé or some old hard cheese. (93 pts.)
  • 1986 Bouchard Père et Fils Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Chalumeaux - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru
    Oh boy, was this ever good - it rounded up a trio of very nice whites quite beautifully. It had a wonderful, wonderful nose; mature and complex, with dancing notes of cloves and nutmeg and exotic spice drifting by savoury mushroomy and golden honey, creme caramel and vanilla, sweet lemon curd and candied kumquats - a beautiful old white Burg bouquet. Thankfully, the palate was every bit as complex and compelling as the nose, if not quite as deep and powerful as it promised - more 1er Cru than Grand Cru weight for sure. Yet it did not need the power or depth of a Grand Cru to thrill. It still had lovely intense flavours, with lemon curd and ripe red apples on the attack laced with toasted vanilla beans and orange blossoms on the midpalate, and all this topped up by a lovely mouthful fragrant spiciness leading into a long, compelling finish that glowed with honeyed sweetness. After some time in the glass, the wine opened up even more on that back-palate, lingering with little drifts of caramelised nuts, stony mineral and final twist of bittersweet lemon zest. A beautiful little wine, drinking at a delicious peak. (94 pts.)


  • 1970 Château du Tertre - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
    The first of William’s birth year wines. This was a fully mature Bordeaux at its charming best. The nose showed cedar wood and wet leaves and a little funky sous bois alongside gentle aromas of cassis and plums, with some typically Margaux accents of floral black tea running on behind. Very classic. There was a soft elegance to the palate. The fine tannins still provided a little grip to the fruit, but had otherwise a softened into a soft, silken texture that, wed to nicely fresh acidity, gave a lovely elegance to the wine’s rather simple flavours of black cherries and cassis. The finish, with its little bite of cherry peel and hint of mineral, was rather mid-lengthed, somewhat drying out towards the end, but all said, there was still a lot of charm to the wine. A pleasure. (91 pts.)
  • 1964 Château Lafite Rothschild - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
    This really belied its bad reputation, being from a rain-soaked vintage and all - I thought it was quite beautiful on the night. The bottle looked in pretty good shape. Popped and poured, the wine still retained a dark brownish colour with a bricking rim in the glass. It had an intriguing nose, with sweet maraschino cherries and some brown sugar notes garlanded with rose petals, orchids, maybe a touch of jasmine - a really floral, perfumed bouquet, with just the tiniest hint of funky earth and a little lift of cinamon spice running behind. A great nose. The palate still had a beautiful, feminine Lafite feel to it. Again though, there were those unusual red fruited notes, with fresh cherries and raspberries, and then more rose petals, all laced with silky tannins and fresh acidity. The midpalate had a distinct coconut water and pandan leaf tawng to it, flavours which were especially clear just before the fresh, gentle finish set in with the littlest pinpricks of mineral and spice amidst the panda leaf and red fruit accents. Clearly past its prime, bit I found this very enjoyable, if just a little puzzling with its unusual flavour profile. It started sliding after an hour or so, but remained a really enjoyable wine all the way up to that point. (93 pts.)
  • 2000 Domaine Robert Groffier Bonnes Mares - France, Burgundy, Côte de Nuits, Bonnes Mares Grand Cru
    Excellent, but rather too young. Having had this a few months back, I really should have been able to guess it blind, especially since most of us placed it either as a Morey or a Chambolle. In my defence though, this bottle seemed rather less developed and complex than the last one we had. The nose was typically expressive in Groffier’s fashion, with ripe dark cherry aromas that had a little cola twist to them then violet and chrysanthemum flowers alongside slightly roasted notes of earth and wood spice - cinnamon and cloves I thought, maybe a touch of oaky vanillin - and just a little hint of slightly furry funk. A nose with rich, thick aromas, amplified with a touch of glycerol in there somewhere. Attractive though. The palate was rich and layered. Again, there was tons of wood spice - more cinnamon and cloves and dashes of white pepper this time - all swirling around a deep core of red cherries and berries. There was a lovely strength to the wine wed to a really nice sense of purity, with well-integrated acidity giving it such a nice clarity and balance. The finish still had a grippy layer of fine, firm tannins as it pulled away in long tail of fruit peel and orange-flavoured gummies kissed by a hint of warm spice and just that bit off toasted coconutty oak. I thought this had tremendous raw material for a 2000. In the context of the many mature wines we were drinking though, it is clear that this still needs time in the bottle. I would give it some 3-4 years more - a contrast with the last bottle, which I thought was approaching peak drinking. (93 pts.)


  • 1970 Graham Porto Vintage - Portugal, Douro, Porto
    Very youthful and yummy. I double decanted this a day before, and then poured it back out into a decanter three hours before serving. It needed the air time too. There was a whiff of alcohol on both nose and palate on the first day, but this dissipated by the time we drank it proper. I was stunned by how youthful the wine was. The nose was fresh and lively, almost like a fortified Vosne Romanee, with red fruited aromas of raspberries and cherries flecked with Pinot shades of earth and bramble and lifted wood spice. Only a sweeter quince paste note in there marked it as something more Port-like. The palate shared that same vibrant freshness, with a lovely spine of fresh acidity running through pure notes of sweet cherries and raspberries infused with more of that gentle brambly spice and mineral and a twist of black tea and peppermint. The wine had the characteristic Graham’s richness to it, but it was also markedly elegant, with gentle tannins and finely filigreed acidity lending a lightness and clarity to the sweet fruit. A nice long finish rounded it off, with a little hint of raisins amidst a lovely mouthful of spice and bittersweet bramble. Over time, more traditional old Port notes of Middle-Eastern dates and figs, and a whiff smoky cuban cigar started drifting out, all adding up into an intoxicating melange, yet one that somehow always retained its purity and grace. Very nice indeed, yet given its vibrancy and youthfulness, I would not bet against this being even better in 10, even 20 years’ time. (94 pts.)
  • 1929 Château d’Yquem - France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes
    The pièce de résistance - the legendary 1929 d’Yquem. It was a worryingly deep, dark brown, almost black in the bottle - motor-oil if you will - but thankfully, this was completely alive and tasted far better than it looked. I just loved the nose on this. Deep and subtle, this was a darker, maltier nose than on younger d’Yquem. Gone are the dried apricots and mangoes of youth, in their place were ripe prunes and plums and Christmas fruitcake, with layers of treacle and malt honey, gula melaka and toasty coconut candy, and just that little spine of mineral set beneath it all. A lovely and complex and mellow bouquet, yet one that was very fresh smelling indeed. I was a bit hesitant on the palate, hoping that it would somehow match up to the nose. One sip though and wow. It was still richly textured, quietly powerful and still very much alive, with wonderful acidity that made the wine almost tingle with a deep set energy. It reminded us somewhat of great old Tokaji in that respect. In the mouth, glowingly sweet, matured flavours of malt and treacle and brown sugar, fruit cake and dried cherries and cherry skin were matched with fresher notes of caramelised apples and kumquats, all seasoned with dashes of Christmas spice and a light touch of smoky mineral. There was lots going on here, and all very effortlessly so as well. The finish feinted at fading away quite quickly at first, but grew in length with time and air, with warm spice nestling amidst more of those citrus fruit peel notes. Really yummy stuff. When it was first opened, a little heat at the edges and just that hint of a bald patch past the midpalate seemed to be the only weaker notes that hinted the age, but even those faded with time. This may note have been the mind-blowing blockbuster that one would expect from a wine of legend, but then again, few of such wines live up to their reputation, especially at 85 years of age. It was nevertheless a brilliant wine, seemingly ageless, and wearing its strength with an effortless elegance that marks only the very best d’Yquems. Thank you Ming for sharing this special treat. (95 pts.)

Posted from CellarTracker

What a great set of wines…I’m a big fan of the 1970 Grahams (birth year wine). If you have a pic of the 29 d’Yquem would love to see it.

Here you go! I hope it works - first time attaching a pic from my phone.

As always, a job well done my friend.
I’ve missed you both here and in the other place.

Wow…that color is something like 10w-30!