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Mighty Whites and Reds; Heady Views and Fine Food

Looking towards central across the lake in Hong Kong Park

I have just arrived in Singapore, a place which looked bright enough during my taxi ride into town, but the firm splatter of raindrops against my hotel rooom window showed its real intentions re the weather.

Hong Kong was busy, starting with a fine dinner out at Crown Wine Cellars. I was blind tested on a couple of bottles and managed to get really rather close to the first of them:

1989 Chateau Canon
Delicious, fully mature nose. Sweet black fruit of cherry and plum, plus a hint of cold tea, dark chocolate and a hint of mint. Wisp of smoke and raspberry, the whole thing dense in a slightly creamy way. The palate is plush, initially satin-textured. Flavours are cold tea with notes of spice and that lovely plum fruit. Piquant minerals wrap around the finish, where I also found some slightly grainy tannins (which should have given the game away re vintage). Grip increases throughout and it ends freshly. Takes on an aroma of nori when open for a while.

I guessed 1990 Canon, so wasn't too put out.

Next wine, I was nowhere near as clever:

1989 Vega Sicilia Unico
Floral aromas to the really pretty high-toned nose. And there's some sweet fruit nuanced by liquorice: smoked blueberries and plums, as well as some dried fruit. This is a little jammy, although not in any bad sense. Both red and black and tangy with it. A rich, fresh and quite structured palate showing easy and consistent grip. Very long, with a saline minerality along its length. Very little tannin apparent. Dried, savoury leaves.

I will not relate my guesses on this one. We finished with a half bottle of 1997 Chateau de Malle, which was delightful.

I had never been to Otto e Mezzo, that restaurant in Alexandra House where cooks the erstwhile chef of the mighty Toscana in the old Ritz Carlton. We were three diners and I had been instructed to bring a white. I secured a bottle of 2006 Riesling Smaragd Durnsteiner Kellerberg from FX Pichler and it was superb: fresh, dense, citrus and very complex, developing beautifully with air.

Next, a couple of fine reds:

1991 Clos de la Roche, Armand Rousseau
Fully tertiary. Notes of mushroom skin and rich red cherry and plum fruit, plus spiced liquorice. Palate is fully resolved, showing gentle grip. There's a hint of mustiness under the flavours of sous bois. Altogether delicious!

Next...the "other" French wine region!:

1994 Chateau Mouton-Rothschild
A fresh nose, crisp and pure. Aromas both red and black and fresh, of currants, with a classic cedar undertow. Black cherry. In the mouth, very cool; just medium weight. A dry wine, deceptively long. Really fresh, cool, subtle and elegant.

And lastly (and very kindly supplied by mein host):

1990 Krug
Not many bubbles, those that are present rising slowly. A profound colour of pronounced gold. Nose is dense and very bready, with a saline minerality. A truly gripping nose, in fact, mature and broad. Sugared almonds and walnuts; white chocolate. Very nutty: almond paste. With breathing, aromas of ginger and fresh mushroom skins. The mousse has a piquancy, although it doesn't come across as terribly fizzy. A highly mineral wine, long and subtly fresh. It develops flavours of mocha and deposits chalky minerals on the tongue. Walnut cordial. The mousse is lost in the wine's mineral concentration. Touch of the finest cheese rind. Later on, it took on a wheaten note.

We were all distraught when the last sip had gone. Towering, immaculate, masculine and utterly lovely wine. I wish I could drink it often.

And then there was my tasting at the Yacht Club. The Gun Room is a fine place for such an event, hanging out, as it does, over the waters of the harbour. The wines were showing brilliantly. What were the stars? The pairing of two 2008 dry white Bordeaux wines was scintillating: Smith-Haut-Lafitte and Domaine de Chevalier, just so different from one another, the first smelling of cat's pee in a herb garden, mightily concentrated, direct, very long, the second a touch closed, but beautiful, rich and blanaced impeccably. I will watch both with interest over the years.

2007s: Domaine de Chevalier red and La Conseillante. These are almost ready and quite delicious. No wonder the prices have started bouncing.

2008s: Vieux-Chateau-Mazerat and Carmes Haut-Brion. The former loam-dense, subtle and quite modern, the latter crisp, curranty, delightfully fresh.

Too many wines to mention! The white Rhones found many friends: 2008s from Clos des Papes and Beaucastel.

The 2008 Grenache de Pierre from Domaine Giraud shows why this variety is well into a rennaissance: intense wine, complex, spicy and delicious.

And the Daily Drinker wines shifted, I think, tasters' views of Portuguese and Greek whites, Romanian red. A few scales fell, I hope, from a few eyes.

Lots more fine food and wine was enjoyed and many excellent people met with. Leaving HK is always something of a wrench. I am still under its spell.

Oh, and for those who have yet to go, I can recommend a trip to the Ozone bar in the new Ritz Carlton on the 118th floor of the ICC building, Kowloon side. The view is unlike anything I have ever experienced...although I mightily disapprove of being told that tables have a minimum spend. Bah!

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