These bottles are priceless presentations of the passing of years.
01 DANA ESTATES HELMS VINEYARD CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2015
Napa Valley is known for its all-star dream teams, with collaborations like Yao Ming and Tom Hinde (Yao Family Wines), or Kenzo Tsujimoto and Heidi Barrett (Kenzo Estate). Now add to that Hi Sang Lee and Philippe Melka, for Dana Estates. The former is a business baron from South Korea, who didn’t just import and popularise wines in Seoul, but also purchased a property in Rutherford in 2005 and named it Dana. His spare-no-means approach means three virtuoso vineyard bottlings – organically farmed Helms, Hershey and Lotus. Helms is instantly recognisable, with its signature dusty Rutherford tannins, and dense layers of core black fruit. This is a true gift for the cellar, with anticipated drinking in 2035.
$825 from Giron Wines.
02 ARTADI EL PISON 2015
The year 2015 reverberated with not just the grace and beauty of a stunning vintage, but also the departure of Bodegas Artadi from the appellation that it helped to transform. The quarrel in Rioja centres on the governing body, Consejo Regulador’s reluctance to allow the use of village names – even though boutique producers have demonstrated the potential of differentiating parcels, not just by ageing. The trailblazing single vineyard El Pison 2004, for instance, scooped 100 Parker points with its eloquent and suave tempranillo expression, and still consistently draws some of the highest prices in the region. No matter that your bottle won’t carry the Rioja denomination anymore – nay, it’s all the more significant, as this vintage marks the turning point in the fight for the future of quality rioja.
03 PHILIPPE GONET BELEMNITA GRAND CRU BLANC DE BLANCS 2005
If Salon and Krug are the favourites of your host, take note of a close neighbour to these two marques, the family-owned and sixth-generation Champagne Philippe Gonet. The Belemnita is named after the fossil chalk of Le Mesnil,
and thanks to its low dosage of less than 3g per litre, a crystalline core of citrus balances a pure palate of toasted almond and honeyed brioche. This is a champagne that calls for truffles, lobster and caviar.
When Bar-a-Vin founder Edward Chew went sourcing in Burgundy last year, he did not expect to come across WWII-era wines in sublime, drinkable condition. The wines had been made throughout the war and hidden, with the current owners unsure what to do with them. While the labels are new, the wine bottles are antiques. After tasting through three 1940s vintages and one from the 1970s, Chew picked the 1941 for its freshness and flavours that were revealed in layers, with very little browning in the still vivid gold liquid.
For cognoscenti of dessert wines, the world is their oyster, from noble Hungarian Tokaji to 19th-century Madeira. Yet there are unknown gems waiting to be unearthed, such as this eccentric and almost improbable 1959 bottling of Primitivo di Manduria. The collection originated from Antonio Ferrari, who painstakingly assembled the best wines from Puglia but passed before he could bottle them personally – his children have taken on the task instead, since 2004. This Art Deco bottling is made in a fortified, aged style similar to port and yet with the deeper chocolate, espresso and liquorice nuances of a ruby red Recioto. A true find for inquisitive palates.
06 EGON MULLER SCHARZHOFBERGER RIESLING SPATLESE 2016
The legendary riesling vineyards of Scharzho erger, now overseen by Egon IV, produces the Trockenbeerenauslese (TBA), which regularly fetches €4,000 (S$6,300) a precious bottle. Thankfully, it also produces a few quantities of Kabinett and Spatlese which are balanced between ripeness and complexity, able to accompany a main course
of poultry or a classic cheeseboard. The 2016 vintage was uneven but Scharzho erger delivered in spades – its noble old vines produced spine- tingling, luscious white peach and currant notes, superbly laced with well-integrated acidity, for a finish that just keeps going. This is another bottle that deserves 30 years, if not more, in the cellar.