Danny Tai, Founder Of Vinoble Retail Tasting Bar
Danny Tai is a philistine when it comes to wine; he knows exactly what he likes in his glass. "Definitely French," he avers. "Especially from Burgundy, Rhone, and the Jura. I prefer my wines feminine and elegant, so I can drink them all night long."
The WSET (Level 4/Diploma) scholar helped Marble 8, Private Room, and Kikubari put together prestigious wine lists before striking out solo to realise his dream; Vinoble Retail Tasting Bar serves as a safe space for likeminded wine lovers to see, swirl, sniff, sip, and savor their favourite beverage.
Tai has earned Malaysia Tatler's respect by trying to gain recognition for wine industry personnel. "We work long hours and allocate our spare time to wine studies with one purpose in mind – to deliver unforgettable wine experiences to the public. It is my wish for sommeliers and wine specialists to receive the respect they deserve."
The role of a sommelier requires no less hard work compared to chefs and bartenders.
DANNY TAI'S PICKS:
- Jean-Louis Chave, Ermitage ‘Cuvée Cathelin,' 2009 - Rhône Valley, France
The Chave family, which has been producing wines since 1481, sourced grapes from ‘les Bessards,' one of the best vineyards in Hermitage; some of the vines are 100 years old! Full of sheer concentration and complexity, the voluptuous wine represents hedonism and marks the pinnacle French Syrah's full potential.
- Château Lafite Rothschild, Pauillac, 2009 - Bordeaux, France
Lafite needs no introduction! The 2009 might be one of its best vintages in all history. 82% is made from Cabernet Sauvignon while the rest uses Merlot and Petit Verdot. Expect complex layers of blackcurrant, tobacco, violets, and earth from this full-bodied vintage with a silken texture.
- Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier, Musginy, Grand Cru, 2009 - Burgundy, France
One of my favourite Domaines in Burgundy, Mugnier is renowned for producing wine with harmony, finesse, and sophistication. Good ageability from this gorgeous bottle containing flavours reminiscent of ripe cherry, roses and black truffle.
- Etienne Guigal, Côte-Rôtie 'La Landonne', 1999 - Rhône Valley, France
Another powerful expression from the Guigal trio in Côte-Rôtie. This is another French Syrah worth seeking out outside of the Hermitage region. Each mouthful feels massive and comes with explosive aromatics. A dense and rich texture coupled with complex aromas of black cherry, smoked bacon, mushrooms, and spices.
- Giacomo Conterno, Barolo Riserva ‘Monfortino,' 1999 - Piedmont, Italy
A legendary estate for Barolo wine from Piedmont, Italy. It is only during exceptional years that ‘Monfortino’ is produced, and even then, only some 6000 bottles are produced. The wine spends 7 years minimum in oak casks before being released, hence the deep aromas, structure, power and elegance in each sip. If there was one wine that defines, "The older the better," this would be it.
- Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, La Tâche Grand Cru, 1999 - Burgundy, France
DRC, a prime example of 'aristocratic' wine Domaines, produces 8 Grand crus in Burgundy — the dream line-up for serious wine lovers. Why chose la Tâche and not the Romanée-Conti you may ask? To me, the subject matter is personal. The 100% Pinot Noir wine has haunting aromas of black cherries, spices, floral notes, and earthiness, as well as a sumptuous, mouth-coating texture.
- Paul Jaboulet Ainé, Hermitage 'La Chapelle,' 1989 - Rhöne Valley, France
Going back a long way back to 1834, the winery is among the earliest wine negociants in the world. La Chapelle was named for a small church on top of the hill, and has become the trademark or flagship wine of France. It feels massive in volume and brings black cherry, smoke, earth, spice and eucalyptus to mind. Full-bodied yet silken with a touch of luxury.
- Chateau Petrus, Pomerol, 1989 - Bordeaux, France
As one of the most prestigious vintages in Bordeaux (along with the 1982 and 1990), a bottle easily cost 5 figures. You will be surprised to learn that this wine is made from 100% Merlot, a grape often misassociated with cheap and bland wine. It has haunting aromas of black cherry, violets, minerals, earth, black truffles, menthol and leather. The medium-bodied wine with dense, sensual flavours comes close to perfection.
- Chateau Haut-Brion, Pessac-Leognan, 1989 - Bordeaux, France
My 'death row' wine hails from Haut-Brion, a quintessential estate in Bordeaux's estimable history. The first vine was planted in 1426, and a documentary even shows Haut-Brion being tasted in London in 1663, making it among the first wine to ever be exported. To taste Haut-Brion is an inimitable experience. The wine's aromas – black cherry, crème de cassis, mineral, menthol, leather, burnt wood — practically burst forth from the glass. Not overly full-bodied, although it does fill the mouth will a rich, velvety texture, while displaying nobility.
- Chateau Haut-Brion Blanc, Pessac-Leognan, 1989 - Bordeaux, France
Make no mistake right here: this is the white wine worth collecting. The 54% Semillon and 46% Sauvignon Blanc is aged in new French oak barrel, has gorgeous golden tones, and intense aromas of white flower, lemon cream, butterscotch, caramel and minerals. Despite being rich and weighty, it is fresh on the palate thanks to a healthy balance of acidity. As it is uncommon for both whites and reds to succeed in any given vintage, the pair of Haut-Brion white and red 1989 is deemed a worthy collection.