Wednesday 30 April 2014

A Tasting of BBR Wines

Venerable British wine merchant Berry Bros. & Rudd celebrated the opening of their new office at Amoy Street on the 16th of April with a tasting for trade and private customers. Simon Berry, Chairman and clerk of the Queen’s Royal Cellars, was himself present, although noticeably reticent when asked what Her Majesty prefers to drink. The new premises includes a tasting room on the fourth floor, which will allow BBR to move ahead with their expansion plans in Singapore. Mark Holguin, Managing Director (Asia), shared that BBR plans to start offering WSET accredited courses in Singapore up to the Diploma level, and hold regular wine masterclasses similar to what they already do in the UK. For those who feel that their wine habit cannot be satisfied by merely drinking the stuff, BBR also acts as the Asia marketing representative for VINIV, the Bordeaux-based company that enables clients to make their own wine.

The tasting featured a selection of wines mainly from Bordeaux and Burgundy, with a few odds and ends from other notable wine regions such as Marlborough and Rioja. BBR also presented several eponymous wines under the Berry’s Own Selection brand, which I found to be very attractively priced. Hugo Thompson, Fine Wine Advisor for BBR stated that these wines provided clients an introduction to a region and were the best value in class. The key word here is value – by cutting out advertising and middlemen costs, BBR can offer wines with an excellent price to quality ratio, but they are not necessarily at budget prices.

Tasting notes:

Berrys' United Kingdom Cuvée, Grand Cru, Mailly – A non-vintage champagne made of 75% Chardonnay and 25% Pinot Noir from the Grand Cru village of Mailly. Toasty and lemony with a fine bead and laserlike acidity. Complex and weighty. At SGD71, it represents very good value.

Champagne R&L Legras, Blanc de Blancs NV – Based in the Côte des Blancs, R&L champagnes can be found on the wine list of several Michelin-starred restaurants. This wine has an attractive nose of grassy meadows, with barley sugar and lemon sherbet on the palate. Energetic with a lovely mineral tension.

Churton Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2011 – Organic certified and biodynamic. The wines are given at least nine months aging on lees, plus a further six months bottle age. A medium intensity nose offering sweet pea and passionfruit. Light bodied with mouthwatering acidity. Not unsubtle, this showed more fruit and lime than aggressive green notes.

Berrys' Meursault, Guyot-Javillier 2010 – Made by Patrick Javillier, whose vinified his first wine in 1974. A delicious powerhouse here, rich melted butter exemplifying typical Mersault concentration and heft, against a floral background.

Château de Puligny-Montrachet “Clos du Château” Bourgogne Blanc 2011 – Lime and green plums with a hint of straw and a stony finish. A “teenager wine” – lean, young and a bit abrasive.

Benjamin Leroux Puligny-Montrachet 2010 – The young and incredibly talented Benjamin Leroux has been touted as the natural heir to the late Henri Jayer. This wine is from his own négociant business established in 2007. The wine lives up to his reputation, displaying an elegant, floral nose and a seductive palate packed with cashew and orchard fruit, tightly wrapped in silky oak nuances. Fresh and zesty. A real stunner.

Château du Moulin-à-Vent Moulin-à-Vent 2010 – No, it’s not a typo, the name of the producer is Château du Moulin à Vent, producing wine from the Moulin-à-Vent appellation in Beaujolais. The winery was bought over by the Parinet family in 2009. This is an easy-drinking wine with soft tannins and a vibrant red fruit profile. A solid if unexciting example.

Domaine des Croix Corton “La Vigne au Saint” 2009 – Medium ruby with pronounced dark roast aromas. Soft and rounded on the palate, with quite a bit of baby fat.

Churton Marlborough “The Abyss” Pinot Noir 2010 – Taken from the “Grand Cru” site of Churton. Impressively floral with intense notes of rose petal and violets. Concentrated and dense on the palate, with medium tannins and high acidity. A serious expression of Pinot Noir.

Berrys’ Good Ordinary Claret – Once again a solid example, offering comforting toast, vanilla and blackcurrant fruit. I’d like to pit this wine blind against a selection of classed Bordeaux and see where it ends up.

Berrys’ Extra Ordinary Claret – Made from vineyards in the Graves region of Bordeaux owned by Château Villa Bel-Air, itself a property of the Cazes family. Offers more interest on the nose than the Good Ordinary Claret, with savoury spice and light vanilla notes. The palate was a letdown though, rather light-bodied with bell pepper and metallic notes.

Château Petit-Figeac 2009 – An early-maturing version of the grand vin Château Figeac, this wine also contains a high proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon rather than Merlot which is usually the case in St-Emilion. This is shown in the flavour profile, which has masses of dark fruit and impressive structure. Drinking nicely now but has the stuffing to go the distance.

Château La Conseillante 2005 – La Conseillante keeps company with illustrious neighbours such as Cheval Blanc and Petrus. The strength of the vintage is evident in the fully ripe aromas, the concentrated fruit and fine tannins. Steven Chan, BBR Fine Wine Advisor, compares the muscularity of this wine to a young Arnold Schwarzenegger. Save this for truly special occasions.

Château Sociando-Mallet 1996 – An overperforming Cru Bourgeois property. Deep brick colour and a smudgy rim. Chocolate on the nose, with the fruit just starting to show some age. Savoury on the palate, layered complexity and fantastic length. At the peak of its drinking window, showing what great pleasure mature Bordeaux can deliver.

La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva “890” 1998 – The Tempranillo grape variety continues to intrigue with its ability to produce long-lived wines. At 16 years of age the wine displays an intense bouquet of red cherries and vanilla ice cream, with a sweet note reminiscent of Horlicks. Fully mature, with resolved tannins, freshness and an easy balance. Outstanding.

BBR's Singapore stock list can be viewed here.