Had dinner July 17th with the Doc, Stockbroker and our wives at RED, the continental dining outlet of the Shangri-La hotel in Makati. My wife and I proceeded there straight from work.
With a plate of assorted appetizers - seared scallop, seared foie gras, etc.:
1991 M. Chapoutier de l'Oree Ermitage - From the Doc. Bright, barely medium yellow gold, demure honeysuckle, mineral, vaguely honeyed pear, almond cream, faint lemon and orange rind bouquet. In the mouth, clean and pure, light on its feet, medium-bodied, acidity brightening discreetly honeyed white/yellow fruit/lanolin and minerals. Mouthfeel was slightly oily, but not anything like an Ex Voto Blanc.
Nice, clean finish - it acidity and minerality brightened the richness of the foie gras and, at the same time, its fruit added a nice sweetish touch to the foie. I particularly liked how the wine's and foie's finish danced around together. The wine also wasn't too heavy for the scallops.
With grilled rack of lamb, French beans, roasted pumpkin and fries:
1991 Penfolds Grange - From the Stockbroker. Viscuous deep, dark, virtually opaque dark red with a dark violet blush flowing languidly in the glass. Very ripe, smoky-cedar infused dominant black fruits with a dose of raspberry liqueur and a faint touch of pepper in the bouquet and bouche (fruit with a touch of sweetness mid-mouth and in the finish). Big, full curves with a lowish acid mellowness; rich flavors well knit, nice chewy texture. Long, definitive finish.
Without doubt, this was the best Australian wine I have ever had. I expected a monstrous, alcoholic shiraz that would kick my lamb in the face, but that was definitely not the case - it was firm yet gentle with the lamb. My wife never really liked any Aussie shiraz she has tried and was very much surprised how very good this one was. This wine, I will always remember.
1996 Gruaud Larose - From me. I just haphazardly picked this wine up from my wine fridge on the way to work. I was expecting it to be an "ordinary wine" dinner and just wanted to try this one out to see how it was doing. Thus, after the others unveiled their wines, I was a bit embarrassed with mine. In any event...Unmistakeably Bordeaux bouquet of slight cedar over graphite/black fruit/cassis/licorice and a mere whiff of dried herbs somewhere near the top of the fruit. The aromas were harmoniously mirrored in the mouth with a bit of over-all earthiness. Good backbone, medium bodied aspiring to fullness but not quite getting there (specially beside the Grange). Good at its price, if I may say so myself, if not particularly distinctive or memorable.
From the start, the Doc, thankfully, said he liked it, which somewhat assuaged my guilt. He repeated it in the middle of the meal and the Stockbroker chimed in as well (I know the latter also has a stash of this stuff), which was quite a relief.
With an excellent, freshly baked plum cake from Mrs. Doc:
1997 M. Chapoutier Hermitage Vin de Paille - From the Doc. An attractive orange-gold color, very viscuous, with a definitive candied character to its ripe apricot, touches of peach and ripe lemon, with an orange marmalade base. My wife detected an underlying crème brûlée-like creaminess. The Doc asked me how I found the acidity and if I found it cloying. I did not, though a touch more would have given it even more liveliness (again, debating degrees of excellence). Lovely wine and quite a treat.