Angels and flying saucers at Parker in Asia 2010


Wine is a serious business. So serious that in 1954, the village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape passed a municipal decree forbidding flying saucers (or, in their phrasing, “Flying Cigars”) for fear of affecting their vineyards. All flying saucers that violated the decree were to be impounded immediately.

Now you know why I find it hard to be serious about wine.


Bonny Doon’s Le Cigare Volant – The truth may be out there but the good stuff is in here.

I was fortunate to have been invited to the Parker in Asia 2010 event organized by Hermitage Wines. I signed up very early to get an early bird discount and obtained seats to two wine masterclasses, so yay!

Upon entering the main floor, the first thing you will notice is the separation between the Old World and New World into two very distinct sections. It’s easy to identify the New World section: no one’s there. Which I think is an unfortunate discrimination because there are a lot of very good wines from the New World.

Of particular note are the Pinot Noir of Felton Road which I think is one of the finest Pinot Noir in the New World. Likewise, the classic Oregonian Pinot Noir from Domaine Serene. And the Mount Horrocks’s Cordon Cut Riesling was simply delicious.


But inevitably, the floor was dominated by Old World French, and by wine enthusiasts who took every opportunity to display their impressive knowledge of wine minutiae which brings to mind this amusing anecdote of what happened at a wine tasting a week (or two) earlier related to me by a dear friend:

“We were at the XXX Wine Tasting Session at the WGS (World Gourmet Summit). We were seated in rows and to our backs were a group of wine enthusiasts who were talking loudly about wine’s background, the making and so on. When the wine was served, our row and theirs shared the same bottle. One sniff and immediately, I knew the wine was corked and it was confirmed by my husband. We turned round to tell the bunch of wine enthusiasts not to drink the wine as it was corked but we were rebuffed with declarations of ‘There’s nothing wrong with it’ and ‘This wine is perfect!’; they continued drinking, enjoying it tremendously.

“The tasting organizer came over when I signaled, tasted the wine and immediately apologized for the tainted wine. We got a new bottle of untainted wine. I tell you Ivan, sometimes too much book knowledge and not enough practical experience is troublesome.”


But what really made my day were the wine-tasting classes. I managed to secure a seat for the Ch. Angelus tasting. Next to Latour, Angelus is my favorite, although I am starting to swing towards Margaux.

Anyway, I made my way early to the seminar room because I heard that at an earlier tasting, an uncontrolled rush by the uninvited into the seminar room resulting in many of the invited guests being denied entry.


Wine masterclass – where the refreshment is always top-notch.

The Ch. Angelus tasting was led by M. Hubert de Boüard de Laforest, the owner of the vineyard who describes himself as a “mere farmer” and “family man”. Indeed, when going through the slide presentation, he zipped through everything but lingered over the slide showing his granddaughter.

His portfolio of wines is impressive. Suffice to say that if you can’t afford a case of Petrus, you might want to consider a case of La Fleur de Boüard because the vines are just next row to Petrus. Very good value if you do a comparison (and ignore branding).

I won’t bore you with details that you can find on the Internet (or go ask a wine geek). But M. Boüard’s did share a few points on his wine-making process which gave me a deeper understanding of the difference between Old World and New World wines. This “farmer” has an area set aside for wine-making experiments.


I felt enlightened when he articulated his opinion of a great wine. It’s all about harmony. When drinking a great wine, everything from the tannins to the acidity should be in balance, it should flow smoothly down your throat while leaving an ethereal trail of warmth and flavor from mouth to stomach giving a harmonious feeling that simply lingers on and on. A very long finish as they say in winespeake. Furthermore, the Cabernet Franc so characteristic of St. Emilion wines lends a slightly perfumed bouquet and flavor which I like very much.

This was demonstrated with a tasting of the 2000 Ch. Angelus. As a contrast, we tasted the 2005 and 2007 vintages earlier. While beautiful and tasty, both vintages displayed none of the elegance and harmony of the 2000, probably because of their comparative youthfulness, awaiting the passage of time to smooth out the edges.


As perfect a wine can be.

The wine masterclass was throughly enjoyable because it wasn’t too technical or geeky and there was a homey feel to the whole affair, especially when I was seated with friends. I particularly enjoyed the anecdote about cracking a bottle of ’58 Ch. Beychevelle with his father before flying to Singapore because, who knows what will happen.

While I didn’t get to see Robert Parker at the event (I was too tired to attend the 2nd day), I must that the Parker in Asia 2010 organized by Hermitage Wines was a great place to catch up with friends, wine merchants and to recalibrate my wine palate. I look forward to the next year with great anticipation.


M. Hubert de Boüard de Laforest, gentleman farmer and owner of Ch. Angelus


Artist’s depiction of a flying cigar over a vineyard.


Always remember to take a photo of the back label; it’s as important if not more.









One of the best


My first encounter with a Jeroboam of Sauternes.

Posted on 7th Jul 2010 in Drink, Wine Tasting Notes


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