Sunday, May 31, 2009

I'm Angus...Again.

Silly title for a post, I know; but I couldn't help it. After the Siran dinner this past Tuesday, I laid off the wine Wednesday to Friday to "de-tox" a bit, as it were. Saturday, 30 May 2009, after 18 holes, dinner back at I'm Angus with the Doc, Stockbroker, the Vigneron, Eric and our respective spouses.

Traffic was pretty bad on the SLEX (what else is new?), so my wife and I were around half an hour late. The others had already finished a bottle of a German trocken riesling to start by the time we arrived. Since we were 10 in all and I knew there would already be several reds, I brought along two bottles of...

2007 Domaine Tempier Bandol Rosé - to go with my Beef Tartare starter. I've gone through so many bottles of these I can't even remember how many. The last bottle I opened was on 3rd January 2009, so that was probably my last bottle until Jérome Philippon reminded me a little over a week ago that he had his last 6 bottles in stock set aside for me.

My old notes are still applicable: An exquisitely pure and clear light pinkish salmon in color, it is a hell of apretty wine, one could drink it in with one's eyes. In the nose - and I've never really bothered to pay much attention to any rosé's aroma before - was alluring- like a light, cooling summer cologne. In the mouth, it is light and delicately infused with a fine melange of fresh canteloupe, strawberry, bit of melon, orange rind and the faintest whisper of lavender. Perfectly balanced. Ethereal.

Astounding. My poor descriptions fail to do it justice. It is, without any shred of doubt, the best rosé I have ever had.

Last night, the wine seemed to have even more complexity by reason of pronounced notes of garrigue and a slight, appetizing bitterness towards the back. Still a most excellent rosé. Since the others already had a white before we arrived, I opened only one of these that night (good, more left for me).

As a pairing, I felt this was a very good match. The tartare's texture was, yet again, very creamy, the meat delicately savory and clean - the caper berries a perfect foil (I should've asked for more of them). It was not as spicy as I would like, so I asked for a little chili flakes which completed the dish for me. The wine refreshed the palate and its summery flavors brightened that of the tartare.

When the appetizers started winding down, Eric, seemingly the only gentleman amongst us, poured the first red for everyone.

2004 Domaine du Pegau Châteauneuf du Pape Cuvée Réservée - Eric's bottle from a superior, well-ripened (not roasted-ripe like 2003) Rhône vintage. I had a little bit with my tartare, but enjoyed most of my pour with my main course.

I found this wine, as a whole, very good indeed - the spicy, sweetish-ripe fruit, leather, garrigue, licorice, thyme, rosemary and wood notes admirably knit, with precise push and superior structure. Comes off well-defined, confident and clean - very good balance, in my opinion.

A couple of notches over medium-bodied, the mouthfeel is very poised, correct, clean and well-heeled. With my tartare, though it was an acceptable match, I felt it had just a little too much power for the delicately flavored, creamy raw beef.

Alone and with my steak, I liked it a lot more. Speaking of which, since my wife and I had an order each of the beef tartare and split a rather large salad, we likewise halved a rare 16 oz. US Certified Angus T-Bone Steak and French Fries between us.

1997 Sean Thackrey Orion Old Vines - The Doc's bottle. He made it a point to hunt some down ever since we tried it a year ago with steaks. That first bottle was a gift from Rod Schiffman of WCWN when he and his wife, Debby, spent a couple of weeks with us in Manila last May 2008. I cannot thank them enough for introducing us to this wine.

This was, without a doubt, my favorite wine of the night. Plump, nicely extracted, ripe with good concentration, velvety tannins and a most pleasingly rounded mouthfeel. What struck me most was its incredibly seductive middle - its deep dried cranberry, blackberry, wild dark cherry, marjoram, underbrush and slight leather and vanilla notes rolled around languidly mid-palate - so much so that I held each sip in my mouth longer than could possibly be considered polite.

Excellent with my steak. The last wine I had with so entertaining a middle was a 1996 Rauzan Ségla during dinner at Elbert's Steakhouse in December 2007.

1988 Poderi Aldo Conterno Barolo Bricco Bussia Vigna Colonnello - The Stockbroker's wine. I've had barely a handful of Poderi Aldo Conterno's wines, but I do know this maker is widely regarded by many professional reviewers as one of the best Barolo makers.

This comes off as an old-school Barolo, cut from an entirely different cloth compared to the modernly lavish, ripe and richly fruited style of, say, Prunotto. Rather, it has a decidedly stern and challenging character, presenting a somewhat severe, dry, earthy profile of black olive, asphalt, tobacco, licorice, faint violets, leather, cedar and dried herbs. The fruit of this wine was rather spare on its firm medium frame.

Very complex, serious, very masculine, but, for some reason, just too challenging for me that night - especially after the most readily pleasing Orion. I must not have been anywhere near a contemplative mood. Undoubtedly a very complex and expertly crafted wine though.

1998 Château Siran - The Vigneron's bottle, of course. One that I only then realized that I had never tried before. I asked him why he had been "hiding" this vintage from us, and he replied that he was waiting for it to mature before presenting it. I mentally noted that this vintage fell under the watch of Siran's then consultant, Michel Rolland (i.e., 1997-2003; now Denis Dubourdieu consults for Siran).

Popped and poured, no decanting at all. At around 10-½ years from vintage, this wine presented an emerging bouquet of cedar and damson and cherry fruit over violet-infused dark berries.

In the mouth, it mirrors its aromas on a body halfway between medium and full, with an added dose of cassis flecked with vanilla/oak, underpinned by some leather and minerals. Shows a very pretty feminine side of finesse over-all.

Moderately lush - it shows alluring charm, but holds back a bit of mystery of how much more it has to give. Good structure, very nice red spice, raspberry, cedar and violet finish. Very enjoyable now and with very good future prospects as well. I would certainly like to track this over the next 5-7 years.

With a few more stories shared and plans made for an evaluative tasting of locally available albariños, we parted ways and brought an end to a most pleasant evening indeed.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Siran Vertical Dinner at I'm Angus.

This past Tuesday, 26 May 2009, I finally got myself to Werner Berger's new restaurant, I'm Angus, for a dinner featuring some of Château Siran's best vintages: 2005, 2000, 1989 and 1982, paired with some excellent dishes.

There were only 45 seats made available, all of which we're fully booked within 2 days from announcement, with a waiting list of around 30 to boot. I was fortunate to secure 2 seats for my wife and I early on. However, on the day itself, my wife was very busy and felt under the weather in the late afternoon. Luckily, good friend Robert Burroughes agreed to take her seat on short notice.

After welcome glasses of well-chilled champagne and proper introductions by Werner, Edouard, the 5th generation Miailhe of Château Siran, gave a brief background of Siran and its wines. Thereafter, we were eventually seated; I with Robert, Alan Hearn and always dapper Gerhard Kropp (who I know from golf, and actually witnessed his first hole-in-one not long ago). Dinner proper then began with an excellent dish of Seared Venison Carpaccio and Beef Tartare with Toasted Country Bread, paired with...

2004 Château Saint-Jacques - Siran's Bordeaux Supérieur, from vineyards on the right side of the 17th century family manor (if one is facing the latter). The soils of this plot are much more clay-rich than Siran's gravelly/pebbly Margaux appellation vineyards approximately 40 meters away, across the road.

This masculine, rather straightforward and approachable wine presented properly dry and well-defined aromas and flavors of plum, cassis, a bit of cherry, cedar with underlying tobacco and leather notes. Notably not as distinctly spicy as the grand vin as no petit verdot was blended in for this vintage.

Medium-bodied, good push on the palate, quite neat and clean - a more classically-cut wine compared to the very popular, sweetish/ripe-fruited 2003 version that was completely sold out in Manila sometime last year.

Though not an expert on tartare by any means, I found mine very creamy in texture and precisely seasoned. I told tartare-aficionado, Miguel, about this the next day, so I am sure his lycanthropic tastes will lead him to visit I'm Angus very soon.

Next was probably my favorite course of the evening, an earthily juicy and tender Quail with Roasted Ceps, Duck Ravioli in a Bordeaux Reduction, with which youngest of the grands vins started pouring...

2005 Château Siran - I've had this many, many times, beginning with a barrel tasting at the château in July 2006, so I have been able to closely monitor how this deeply colored and flavored, muscular youth has progressed over past nearly 3 years.

From its initial, hugely rounded, muscled and burly character back in mid-2006, this still very palate-stainingly youthful wine has smoothed out and gained depth quite well. The confident dark fruit, cassis, iron, violets and leather are highlighted by the typically Siran spicy red berry notes that follow through the long, strong finish.

Tannins are big and are still in the process of smoothening out nicely. This is a legitimately full-bodied wine, showing the strength of the highly-acclaimed 2005 vintage, yet still very much in balance - the spiciness adding to the acids lift, to my mind.

Since this is still quite young, Edouard wisely made sure to have this double decanted for aeration. I would have expected nothing less.

Thereafter, we took a short break with a Lime-Elderberry Sherbet.

In all honesty, I took only a small taste of this sherbet as it was strongly flavored. These types of sherbets materially affect my ability to taste, so I usually avoid them altogether. After rinsing my mouth repeatedly with water, I took advantage of the break to garb a quick smoke and take some pictures of the many friends in attendance.

The International Wine & Food Society's Philippine Branch was certainly out in force that night...

...showing a lot of well-deserved love and support for Château Siran... well as taking the opportunity to try some of its fine, aged wines, and, of course, enjoy I'm Angus' many succulent, meaty delights .

Edouard, naturally, made sure to see that everyone was being well taken care of.

Next was a hearty course of Roasted Certified Angus Beef Tenderloin and Colorado Lamb Chop with Morel-Rosemary Jus, French Beans and Mousseline Potatoes. With this, we enjoyed...

2000 Château Siran - This is still my favorite recent vintage of Siran, and, by "recent" I mean in the past 10 vintage years. It is also the Doc's, so much so that we couldn't help but surreptitiously enjoy his smuggled bottle thereof in a previous Siran dinner.

Already drinking well, but with long life and great potential for even more improvement ahead of it, this suave, smooth/supple-muscled, agile light-heavyweight is just beginning to really strut its stuff. Naturally more open than the previous youngster, it already displays depth and complexity underneath the fruit. The distinctive spicy notes, some fennel, iron, leather, licorice are well in play, the wood quite already nicely integrated. I enjoyed this a lot, as I always have.

The older wines then began making their respective entrances.

1989 Château Siran - Served with the Cheese Selection of Brie de Mieux, Tomme de Savoie, Reblochon, Fourme d'Ambert, Tête de Moine and Fruit Chutney-Pear Bread. This, next to their 1953 vintage, is my favorite vintage of Siran. Notably, a bottle of this (in magnum) placed 2nd in our Grand Crew Blind Bordeaux V (February 2007)- after the Stockbroker's 1989 Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, trouncing my 1996 Mouton Rothschild and the Doc's 1995 Tertre Rôteboeuf.

My notes from that time, over two years ago, state: Full-bodied yet light on its feet, rich dark-red satin with a brownish trim, an aged left-bank, incredible perfume laced with violets, best balance, elegantly masculine. Best nose. Earthy dark red and black fruit compote with a slight touch of tobacco and leather.

Note that that was from a magnum (1.5 liter), as opposed to this past Tuesday (750ml); wines in magnums generally age more slowly/gracefully than those in regular/smaller formats. My previous notes still apply save that the wine of this past Tuesday was medium-bodied, quite silky-soft on the palate, more feminine and had a quietly contemplative/reflective character. This was clearly my favorite wine of the evening. Loved it.

With an indulgent yet refreshing dessert course of Sweet Passion Fruit Terrine...

1982 Château Siran - I've also had this a number of times, more times than the 1989 if I recall correctly - the first time in the earlier part of 2005 I believe. This had always struck me as one of the earthiest, most masculine vintages of Siran. Every time I've encountered it in the past, it had a darkly serious character, its deep, velvety fruit infused with notes of violets, leather, slight kirsch and licorice and ceps.

Now, at almost 27 years from vintage, from a 750ml bottle, it came off softer, more feminine, with a somewhat nostalgic old pressed violets note to its soft, ripe fruit - plum, cherry, raspberry, over prune and crème de cassis. It's hallmark spiciness had sweetened, seamlessly blended into the red fruit notes. There are just the merest hints of leather and mushroom lurking underneath.

Now in a lighter, materially less severe medium frame, it was more advanced than I expected - that is until I remembered that even the 1855 first growth from 1982 that I've tried in the last 1-½ years have also appeared quite advanced - the most youthful 1982 I've had recently being the 1982 Gruaud Larose. Still and all, it was a good wine, one I would advise enjoying now and soonest, and a definite pleasure to be able to have again.

Proper thanks were, thereafter given to I'm Angus' staff, resounding applause well deserved.

It was certainly enjoyable, and even somewhat comforting, to have the subject Siran vintages anew. I must also say that I was quite impressed with the way I'm Angus performed with a full house wine dinner. I'll be back with some friends again this Saturday to see how the regular menu is on an ordinary day. I think the only thing we had Tuesday that is on the regular menu is the beef tartare. We shall see.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Stockbroker's '96 Horizontal Dinner (Northern Rhône Reds +++).

A couple of weeks ago, the Stockbroker planned yet another of his "all-the-wines-on-me" dinners. All the reds were to be enjoyed blind. Nobody in his right mind willingly gives up these invitations of his, as only great wines show up. Thus, last night, the 25th May 2009, 5 of us met at Sala Fine Dining: our generous host, the Doc, J-Lab, Miguel and myself. Eric R., unfortunately, couldn't make it as he finished very late at a meeting for the event. The evening's pairing menu was executed by old friend and top-notch chef, Carl Miguel.

Not one to fool around, once we were complete, for welcome bubbly and to go with the delectable amuse bouche of Quail Bacon Sage Tortelloni with Mushroom Fricasee and Truffle Oil, the Stockbroker had poured...

1996 Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame - Last I had this was almost a year ago, on 29th June 2008, at a 1996 all 1st Growth (1855 Classification) dinner, so it was great to see how it was coming along. My last notes were as follows:

Clean, pure white fruit attack turns floral, very toasty and mildly yeasty the moment it hits mid-palate, where it expands generously and gains substantial creaminess towards the back. Sucking in a bit of air once the bubbles allow emphasizes the toastiness. This bubbly certainly wasn't shy; it was eager to please, displayed proudly mid-mouth with a funneling exit of added citrus notes.

This time, the bouquet and flavors were much more layered and complex, displaying a most alluring mix of dried apricot, sultanas, brioche and coffee, mildly toasty, honeyed with a pronounced creamy-biscuity character. There was notably more heft, mid-palate roundness and length than before as well. Excellent bubbly, it made the last one I had seem comparatively linear and simple.

Next was an immediately and thoroughly pleasing Trio of Corn and Sweet Shrimp Bisque, Sweet Shrimp Beignette with Corn Purée and Sweet Shrimp and Corn Salad, we had...

2003 Domaine Leflaive Puligny Montrachet Premier Cru Les Folatières - Largest of the 1er cru vineyards of Puligny Montrachet; of the total 13.6 hectares under vine, Domaine Leflaive (not to be confused with negoçiant Olivier Leflaive) owns 1.26 hectares divided into 3 separate plots. Puligny Montrachet's wines are known to be richer, more minerally and refined than those of Chassagne Montrachet. The legendary grand cru vineyards of Montrachet straddle both these areas.

My wife and I spent half a day at Puligny Montrachet (a very short drive from the old city of Beaune) in July 2006, beginning with a most excellent lunch in the heart of the small, sleepy town at Le Montrachet, relaxing in the little park across the road, me enjoying a cigar, while watching some local youths playing petanque, and, eventually exploring the rest of the town and surrounding vineyards.

From the blistering 2003 vintage, the fruit of this wine presented decidedly baked apple, mild butterscotch, creamy, vanilla/oak, cinammon and clove notes. In the long finish, orange rind and almond-bitterness. Sweetish, fleshy, lushly generous and forward, tipping slightly to the flabby end of the spectrum - this holds nothing back. Not intellectual at all but exceedingly eager to please with its opulent charms - this easily qualifies as a "pok-pok" of a wine.

J-Lab and I particularly noted how its long, strong finish blended and ran hand-in-hand with the flavors of the sweet shrimp beignette's corn purée.

The evening's 4 reds were then served blind with the two main courses (only half blind for the Stockbroker since he, obviously, knew what the wines were, but didn't know the sequence of service). After just an initial sniff and sip, the Doc immediately nailed and pronounced the theme to be red Rhône.

Sous-Vide Squab with Seared Foie Gras, Horseradish Potato Purée and Port Wine Jus

Roast Lamb Shortloin with Confit Shortrib, Baked Provençal Vegetables and Thyme Jus

Wine # 1 - Everything about this wine was elegant, polished and balanced. From its gentle, cologne-like bouquet of sweet cedar, dried plums, sweetish Asian tea, dark raspberries, discreet truffle and violets, to the mirrored palate joined by merest whispers of dried lavender and thyme, with undertones of cassis, roast meat and leather. Very pure, focused, quietly self-assured and complex. Sheerly silken, lightfooted, a well-defined medium-body on the palate. Absolutely excellent, and very easily my favorite wine of the night. I had no problem at all ranking this 1st Place.

It was later revealed as a 1996 JL Chave Hermitage, a wine I enjoyed last over lunch at Old Manila on 16th May 2008, again courtesy of the Stockbroker. My previous notes unequivocally state that this wine was "the best syrah-based wine in my life". It, obviously, still is.

Wine # 2 - Initially, the aromas were very reticent, yielding vaguely saline notes over lightly herbaceous dark fruit. After around 20-25 minutes, it gave up a vaguely smoky/earthy bouquet of garrigue, blackcurrant, touch of pepper, cedar, tobacco and violets. In the mouth, it was masculine with added touches of ceps and leather. Good focus and concentration, notably firm, solid structure, but not at all big or heavy.

J-Lab and I had an incredibly hard time deciding between this and Wine # 4, as they were so closely matched. Eventually, I ranked this wine 2nd Place. It turned out to be a 1996 Chapoutier Ermitage Le Pavillon.

Wine # 3 - From the very first sniff, all of us could tell that this was a New World "ringer". I don't really know anything about Australian wines (having ever had only 2 or 3 top Aussie syrahs), but this smacked of Australia to me. Wide open, modern, sweetish baked, super-ripe dark fruit, black pepper, toffee, tartish cherry, bit of violets, oak, cinammon and baking spices. The biggest, heftiest wine of the lot - definitely full-bodied, mouth-fillingly round, lush and warmly opulent. A good wine, but it came off as a bit clumsy compared to the rest. It wasn't difficult to rank this 4th Place. It was revealed to be a 1996 Penfolds Grange.

I must say, though, that I really liked this wine with the lamb course. A very indulgent, powerhouse, but precise pairing - one, I am sure, was Carl's idea - a rich, earthy lamb dish with top-of-the-line Aussie shiraz. Lovely.

Wine # 4 - Initially, this, like Wine # 2, was reticent; giving off saline notes with lightly peppered dark fruit and a hint of cedar. More earthy in the mouth, it was quite similar to Wine # 2, but just slightly less yielding. I ranked this 3rd Place, and it turned out to be a 1996 Guigal Côte Rôtie La Mouline.

Interestingly, from the outset, J-Lab said his glass of this had a sweetly fruited bouquet. None of us others got that initially, but, at around 45 minutes to an hour later (after the meal proper, and with the cheese course) the Stockbroker and I noted that this wine had opened up incredibly, displaying a complex perfume of sweet violets, dark fruit, raspberry touch of kirsch, cedar and licorice. In the mouth, its fruit was very ripe and sweetish, rich and nicely latered.

Had we voted at this point, I would easily have ranked this 2nd place. The Stockbroker agreed.

The Collective Results, as determined by J-Lab (4 pts for 1st place, 3 pts for 2nd place, etc.):

1st Place - 1996 Chapoutier Ermitage La Pavillon (Wine # 2) with 18 points (3 votes for #1 by the Stockbroker, Doc and Miguel; and, 2 votes for #2 by J-Lab and myself).

2nd Place - 1996 JL Chave Hermitage (Wine # 1) with 15 points (1 vote for #1 by me; 3 votes for #2 by the Stockbroker, Doc and Miguel; and, 1 vote for #3 by J-Lab).

3rd Place - 1996 Guigal Côte Rôtie La Mouline (Wine # 4) with 9 points (1 vote for #1 by J-Lab; 1 vote for #3 by me; and, 3 votes for #4 by the Stockbroker, Doc and Miguel).

4th Place - 1996 Penfolds Grange (Wine # 3) with 8 points (3 votes for #3 by the Stockbroker, Doc and Miguel; and, 2 votes for #4 by J-Lab and myself).

Notably, the Stockbroker, Doc and Miguel voted exactly alike.

As if all that vinous excellence were not enough, with the rest of the Cheese Platter the Stockbroker finished with a flourish of...

2001 Château Rieussec - A half bottle (375ml), more than enough for us all after such wonderful over-indulgence. Briefly, Rieussec is widely regarded as the crown prince to Yquem's Sauternes crown (some will disagree pointing out de Fargues and Climens, etc., but, though I do agree to an extent, they can just go write their own notes/blog); while 2001 is generally viewed as a superb Sauternes/Barsac vintage.

The aromas and flavors were very opulent and most generous. Buckets of botrytis, honeysuckle, honey, super-ripe apricot, peach, orange marmalade, candied orange rind, crème brûlée and vanilla. Lowish acid. Still very young, primary and a bit straightforward, but eminently pleasing nonetheless.

I last had this at the aforementioned 1996 1st Growth Dinner, and it hasn't seemed to budge since then. In the natural scheme of things, however, that is to be expected. Fine Sauternes from a good vintage, to my mind, needs around 15 years and more to really start strutting its stuff. In the meantime, however, they can provide a lot of up-front enjoyment.

Can't thank the Stockbroker enough for such a generous evening of superb wines, and, of course, Carl as well for such excellent dishes. That night will be, by all accounts, an incredibly tough act to follow.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sala Lunch: Tuesday, 19 May '09.

This past Tuesday lunch at Sala Fine Dining was supposed to be just the Doc, Stockbroker and myself - reminiscent of the wine lunches we used to have very often (around once a week) where we would open special bottles for one another. I think those lunches among just the three of us tapered off since the Doc just got busier and busier.

Nowadays it's not even 50-50 that he'll show up for lunches, and, even if he does, he, more often than not, gets called back to the hospital. That happened again this past Tuesday, Doc notifying us via text shortly before noon that he'll just try to catch up, if ever. Having our wines ready, however, the Stockbroker and I pushed through anyway.

I simply couldn't help but yet again order the Twice Baked Prawn and Feta Soufflé with Dill as my first course. The Stockbroker probably had the same thing in mind, since, for our white, we had...

2005 François Cotat Sancerre Les Monts Damnés - The Stockbroker's bottle - yet another Sancerre after the the superb 2001 Vatan Sancerre Clos La Néore he shared over lunch a few days before at the same restaurant.

Right after the 2001 Vatan, it was impossible for me not to compare the two. This Cotat was an obviously riper, lusher, more open and indulgent style of Sancerre than the Vatan: softer and more white flowers, forward fruit (quite vibrant), broader mid-palate, displaying more forward grassy gooseberry lead and topnotes over white grapefruit, minor ripe white peach, with a touch of lemon cream added in. The minerality (cold limestone, little flint, not steely), purity and acid balance were good, but nowhere near that of the Vatan. As far as definition and focus go, the Vatan was far ahead.

Its seemingly over-done softness/ripeness (for a Sancerre) could, perhaps be attributed to the vintage. Well, either that or Cotat makes it a point to pick their fruit comparatively very late. Maybe both. In any event, though, in my opinion, it couldn't hold a candle to the Vatan, this Cotat was very easy to drink and enjoy. I noted that the label stated "Vigneron à Chavignol" - and imagine that its forward ripe fruitiness and lusher personality would make it a pronounced foil for the area's specialty Crottin de Chavignol.

With my main course of Grilled Australian Bobby Veal Tenderloin with Green Pea Risotto and Braised Veal Cheek with Smashed Root Vegetables and, continuing with a small cheese plate...

1990 Marquis d'Angerville Volnay Champans 1er Cru - My bottle; pristine, I virtually begged Bernie to sell me some bottles of this. I've had this wine twice before from Bernie Sim - and I loved it from the start - even more than the Volnay Clos des Ducs and Taillepieds (both 1er crus as well) from the same maker and vintage. Volnay is a red wine producing village in the Côte de Beaune, beside Pommard, the former enjoying favor of Louis XI and le Roi Soleil, Louis XIV. Where Pommard is known to produce relatively hefty, masculine, somewhat rustic reds, Volnay is famous for producing generally refined and graceful reds - often spoken of as the counterpart of the Côte de Nuits' Chambolle-Musigny.

D'Angerville was a pioneer in Volnay for many reasons (they were the first in the area to estate bottle their wines) and, then as now, regarded as one of very best producers of the area. Of the 11.19 hectare 1er cru climat Les Champans, d'Angerville owns 3.8 hectares. Champans wine are known to be comparatively (with regard to other 1er cru Volnay vineyards) richer, fuller, more structured and, in youth, more tannic.

I left the bottle opened for approximately 30 minutes before pouring in glass - no decanting for aeration (due to its near 19 years of age) or sediment (since I stood it up for 15+ hours beforehand and transported it with utmost care). At first whiff, I knew the bottle to be a good one - as were the others I had, in the past, enjoyed courtesy of Bernie (my bottles came from the same batch).

Its bouquet was deeply complex with mixed scents of damp earth, dark red meat, whispers of compost, ripe, dark red fruit, raisined cranberry, dried dates, old/pressed violets and undertones of vanilla cream. On the palate, it was slightly over medium-bodied, discreetly hefty mid-mouth, suavely rounded, lushly fruited, with soft, velvet tannins. Well structured yet, but warmly mellowed with age.

All its flavors were finely laced with the oh-so-difficult to describe meaty/compost-touched Burgundy decay. Exquisitely and seamlessly layered; its depth and complexity lending it a contemplative character. I haven't been this captivated by a wine in a long time.

The sadly nostalgic decay took me back 35 years, when my brother and I would bicycle around Marikina on hot and humid afternoons towards the tail end of summer breaks - the heat of the overly-long summer sun exhuming scents of remnants of summer rain trapped in the still damp earth, underneath long, razor sharp grasses and thorny makahiya.

Incredible wine. The usually energetic Stockbroker was unusually quiet when he was drinking this. I believe he liked it as much as I. Wrapped up in my own memories, I failed to ask him then what thoughts the wine evoked from him.

By around 2:40pm, the Doc called. He was just finishing up. Sensing he needed a drink, and we had virtually finished the bottle by then, the Stockbroker told him to meet us at PWX for a bit more. We three were to to meet that day after all, albeit later than planned and under different circumstances.

The Stockbroker was right that Doc needed a drink, as the moment the latter arrived, while we had just begun exchanging pleasantries, he, wearing a light jacket over his scrubs, began opening a bottle of...

1999 Château Canon-la- Gaffelière - Doc's bottle. I've had a few of these in the past, probably a year and a half ago, so welcomed the opportunity to re-taste it. I had visited this estate, arranged by the Vigneron, and, together with my wife and friends, were toured around the vineyards, winery, cellars and poured for by no less than the brilliant and passionate Comte Stephan von Neipperg.

This bottle was much better than those I previously tried. A bit of a modern slanted St-Emilion, it showed no material weakness for a wine from what is perceived as a middling vintage. Medium-bodied, secondary notes of faint anise, asphalt, orange rind, cedar and oak laced dark the adequately ripe red plum, cherry, raspberry and, underneath, touches of mocha and tobacco leaf.

Conversation led to an up-coming blind wine dinner to be hosted by the Stockbroker. I was trying to extract hints of what the reds would be - even just a general idea. All he would yield was "northern hemisphere", gee thanks. Things then started getting a little rowdy as the Doc started teasing the Stockbroker (shrewd buyer that he is) that he paid too much for (a) certain bottle(s) of wine. That drew a semi-violent reaction and a lot of laughs (ok, so maybe one has to be at least half wine geek to find that funny).

Be it as it may, we three hadn't laughed together like that for quite some time, so it was certainly good to once again.