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Denis, Double Truffle and a Cloud in My Wine

Busy times in Singapore. I do like this place, I must say. Once I remember to leave my jacket in the hotel room and to walk at the same pace as the residents, rather than that of someone late for work in the City of London, I suffer less in the heat. And I thought that the jetlag had departed, yet I found myself awake at 2.30 this morning, reading my book (Any Human Heart by William Boyd; much to be recommended).

I brought but one bottle with me in my suitcase to Singapore: 1863 Bual, Barbeito that has been sitting on our tasting counter in the office, unwanted by the person who requested it (may he live a full and happy life).

Said bottle and I made our way to a not insignificant pile of bricks on Dalvey Road on Saturday, there to meet with a client and his friend, the latter owner of the aforementioned NIPofB. We sat in the garden, emptying flutes of Georges Gardet champagne before they warmed excessively, me glowing gently in the damp closeness of the night.

We decamped to a restaurant called Absinthe and there had a meal that will shine bright in my memory for some time, both for the food and the wine we drank. We sat in the glass-walled private room that doubles as the wine cellar and were shortly joined by the chef, who suggested that we give him free rein i.e. the sort of wait-and-see meal that lends anticipation a particular piquancy.

After an extremely pleasant white Macon, a Grand Cru white burgundy was decanted: 1992 (I think) Batard from Niellon. Alas, it was a little past its best, really quite deeply orange in colour, yet drinkable with breathing, retaining fruit and charm.

Thereafter, the only red burgundy of the night was broached and what a wine! Waiters appeared with the first starter: a bud-bending amalgam of scallop carpaccio and white truffle slices. We poured out the wine: 1991 Clos St Denis from the Domaine Dujac. One gets to consume red burgundy of this calibre perhaps once a year (at least if, by "one", I mean "me"!). An endlessly fascinating liquid, this, giving adult notes of sous-bois, that savoury undergrowth aroma so welcome in mature Pinot Noir. Hedgerow fruits abounded, teamed up with a tickle of dried ginger and smoked cranberries. Mellowed by age, tannin has melted into the fruit. Perfect, top burgundy.

Kiwi langoustine, then a two-bite morsel of beautiful Kurobuta pork belly. Wines were opened. 1996 Chateau Gruaud-Larose: aromatically complex. Pot pourri and creamy, spicy fruit on the nose. Initially animal, almost offally, it fined up and become purer and increasingly classy with breathing to its zenith of cedar, currant-and-blueberry loveliness. Real mint here and the tannins surprisingly softened for the vintage.

The '82 of the same chateau followed and was, alas, out of condition. Open sesame! A bottle of 1990 Pichon-Baron appears. Emergent, fudgy richness with air; distinct menthol nuance. Fresher and more subtle than when last I had tasted it. Spoiled, sums up the way I was feeling. We dined on and kept sipping at things of exceptional loveliness. A good night all 'round.

Sunday night and an invitation to The Wine Company on Evans Road, just off Bukit Timah. A large colonial room a very pleasant place to spend a relaxed couple of tasty hours. The wine list here is largely South African and we drank some of that country's best red wines and all at prices that would shame restaurants in the financial district. The 2006 Buitenverwachting Christine was a little dried out and overly oaked but 2005 Vergelegen Cabernet Sauvignon was utterly lovely. What a trusted source this producer is both for reds and whites.

Lunch at St Pierre yesterday, a place I hadn't visited for many years. It was good to re acquaint myself, although I barely recognised the place as it has been thoughtfully refurbished since I was last here. Portions are small, well conceived and very delicious. We drank 2001 Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay from Ridge Vineyards, a wine I have always admired and this was no parody of white burgundy, rather a different, equally valid and fascinating alternative take on the Chardonnay grape. Cheese was chased down with glasses of 2004 Chateau Gloria: lovely, mid-weight claret and quite ready to go.

And last evening, Cantonese food: very welcome after the (admittedly extremely high quality) western food I have been eating. Imperial Cantonese restaurant is in a shopping mall and I regret that I have forgotten which one; regret, too, that I omitted to bring a bottle, as everyone else had. It was a merry evening, the wine interest kicking off with a bottle of 2001 Meursault Rouge Les Durots from Pierre Morey. I have something of a soft spot for the better red wines of those white Cote de Beaune appellations and this was my kind of burgundy: pale, subtle, crisp, with a complexity of red fruits. We drank it with a superb goose dish, with which it went predictable well.

I cannot remember the last time I drank "Y" (said "Ygrec"), the white wine of Chateau d'Yquem. We drank the 2004 with a delicious dish of egg white scented with truffle oil perched atop which was a steamed scallop. The wine had a distinct aroma and flavour of aniseed, or perhaps more accurately, liquorice. And perhaps it was on the young side, but it was extremely fine, citrus and cool, with excellent shape in the mouth.

Next up, a wine I have never seen or heard of before: the 2004 Baltailles of Philippe Jambon. The label told me it was a Beaujolais Villages, but surely this conformed to that most current of trends: natural wine. Distinctly cloudy in the glass, nose more akin to Pinot Noir than Gamay, the whole experience "natural" one felt. A ripe wine, very vibrant and floral; rich and crunchy: in a word, fascinating, in two words fascinating and very delicious.

And I must say a huge thank you to those who have introduced me to such fabulous experiences and offered me such kindness. I apologise if I have omitted certain wines or dishes. In the last few days my taste buds have been on a journey far more distant and exotic than that which I will have undergone at the end of my Far East journeying!
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