Archive for December, 2010

Merry Xmas from Down Under!

“Owyagoin Santa Claus, gee you’re a real good bloke, come in and crack a coldie, sit right down and have a smoke……” with apologies to John Vincent.

Very pleased to report that the Bastard Box vines are growing quicker than a Bondi tram, what with all the recent rains. Now all we need is some warm weather. 9 degrees centigrade on site yesterday, and it’s supposed to be summer. The four strands of electric fence are keeping out the wombats, kangaroos and deer, and the ultra-sound seems to be keeping out the possums. Fingers crossed.

This week, reviewed wines on offer at Cellar Door, Crystal Wines, Epsilon Wines, eWinesAsia, DFS Changi, Le Vigne, Rubicon Reserve Wines, The Local Nose, Top Wines, Underground Wines, Wine Exchange Asia

One theme that has emerged over the last year is that there are some sellers who are consistently good in their pricing, and there are those, well, let’s just say that there doesn’t appear to be any logic. Not to Bastard Box anyway. If you’re a regular subscriber, you’ll know by now who’s consistent and fair, who’s all over the place like a dog’s breakfast, and who’s just plain greedy.

Usual caveats apply – availability and pricing can change.

Let’s start with a bubbly:

NV / Ninth Island / Tasmania / Brut / S$36.50 at Le Vigne – OK, so it’s not champagne, but neither’s the price. Usually sells for about A$27 except around Xmas when just about anything with bubbles is discounted. James Halliday consistently gives it 90-92 points. At this price, it’s Good Value.

The battle of the Pinot Gris. Two 4 star wines:

2009 / Eradus / Marlborough / Pinot Gris / S$28.88 by the case at Rubicon Wines – Bob Campbell gives it 85 points, RRP NZ$19 so price here is Good Value.

2009 / Forrest / Marlborough / Pinot Gris / S$30.50 at Underground Wines – Another 85 pointer from Bob Campbell. RRP of NZ$25. Much of a muchness between the two Pinot Gris isn’t it? I’d probably opt for the Forrest as the single bottle price looks pretty good, but to be honest, I’m not that into Pinot Gris.

It wouldn’t be summer without Sauvignon Blanc. The Cloudy Bay is the pick of the bunch here:

Cloudy Bay / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / S$38.90 at Le Vigne – I’d usually deduct points for not advertising the vintage, but I can’t imagine the team at Le Vigne selling you anything that was “out of date” so to speak. And look at that price! The cheapest I’ve seen it anywhere in Singapore. Great Value. RRP NZ$34.

2007 / Dog Point / Section 94 / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / S$59 at Crystal – Solid ratings no doubt. Michael Cooper 4.5 stars, Bob Campbell 94 points, but with a RRP of NZ$33, it just doesn’t stack up on a BBI (especially when compared to Cloudy Bay) so it gets a “Reconsider” rating. Probably expect this to be closer to S$45 than S$59.

2010 / Palliser / Martinborough / Sauvignon Blanc / S$32.90 at The Cellar Door – 5 stars (95 points) from Gourmet Traveller Wine (GTW) with recommended drinking to 2013. RRP of NZ$19 so price here is a smidgeon outside the BBI. Not worth nitpicking on though so let’s call it “OK Value”.

Two Chardonnays, and the Kiwis win hands down on value:

2008 / Moss Wood / Margaret River / Chardonnay / S$88 at Crystal – 4.5 to 5 stars. Halliday gives it 5 stars (95 points), Wine Front 93, and Jeremy Oliver 91. Drinking range seems to be around 2013 – 2018. This not a cheap wine in Australia (A$55) but S$88 puts it way outside the BBI. Not for me at this price.

2007 / Palliser / Martinborough / Chardonnay / S$34.90 at The Cellar Door – 4.5 to 5 stars. Gourmet Traveller Wine gives it 95 points, Bob Campbell 93 and Decanter 16.2/20. Drinking to 2013. RRP of NZ$28 so price here is Great Value. Go for it.

Just one Riesling, but a good one:

2007 / Granite Hills / Macedon Ranges / Riesling / S$33 at Epsilon Wines – 4.5 to 5 star. Whenever I write Granite Hills I always want to put “Knights” in front of it, as that is how I remember it. First visited the winery in about 1979 and discovered how many cases of Granite Hills you can stuff into a Lancia HPE hatchback  (lots) and Knights Granite Hills became the “house red” for quite a while.  This Riesling gets 96 points from Jeremy Oliver, 94 from Halliday and 92 from Gourmet Traveller Wine. A fairly diverse opinion on cellaring though with Oliver saying 2015+, GTW saying 2019+ and Halliday saying 2029.  Good Value at this price.

A couple of cabernets:

2005 / Cape Mentelle / Margaret River / Cabernet Sauvignon / S$80 at Crystal – 4 to 4.5 star wine. Halliday and GTW give it 94 points and 92 points respectively. Oliver gives it only 88. With a RRP of A$84, the price here comes in at Great Value. Go figure. Drinking out to 2017+.

2006 / Dominique Portet / Cuvee Andre / Heathcote & Yarra Valley / Cabernet Sauvignon / S$110 at eWinesAsia – I’ve only got one rating on this, and it’s by James Halliday – 96 points. He really liked this wine and suggested drinking out to 2020. With a RRP of A$120, price here is Great Value.

Duty free Pinot Noir:

2007 / De Bortoli / Reserve / Yarra Valley / Pinot Noir / S$77 at DFS Changi – 4 stars. An 89 pointer from Gourmet Traveller Wine who suggest drinking this year. With a RRP of A$57, (seen at A$47 at Dan Murphys this week) this wine could retail in Singapore around the S$65-S$66 mark. Duty free, one might expect it to be at least S$7 cheaper than that, or even S$14 cheaper if you assume the duty gets marked up 100% by retailers (which BBI does.) But, it’s not $7 or S$14 cheaper – it’s $7 more.  That scores it a BBI of “Reconsider”.

Last but not least, Shiraz:

2005 / Balthazar of the Barossa / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / S$51.50 at The Local Nose – 5 stars from Halliday (95 points), drinking out to 2020. RRP of A$45 so Great Value.

2005 / Fox Creek / Reserve / McLaren Vale / Shiraz / S$55 at Wine Exchange Asia – 4.5 stars. Oliver 90, Halliday 94. Drinking to about 2016-ish. RRP of A$70. Yup, A$70. Terrific Value.

2007 / Maxwell / Ellen Street / McLaren Vale / Shiraz / S$53 at Crystal – 4.5 stars. Halliday 93 points, drinking to 2020. RRP of A$32 so BBI of Marginal Value.

2002/ Grant Burge / Meshach / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / S$85 at Wine Exchange Asia – 5 stars . Oliver 95 points, Epicure ditto. Too hard to comparative price but with an RRP of A$90 on release, this looks like a good deal. Seen higher elsewhere.

2001/ Grant Burge / Meshach / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / S$80 at Wine Exchange Asia – ditto for the 2002, except Oliver wasn’t so keen giving it 88 points.  Regularly seen at S$90 plus, even S$95 plus in Singapore.

2003 / Standish / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / S$120 at Wine Exchange Asia – I’ve listed this wine before through a different seller, only there it was (and still is I believe) S$155. I don’t know much about the wine other than Robert Parker gave it 99 points.

Out of all the wines here, the Fox Creek Shiraz at Wine Exchange Asia is the clear BBI winner for comparative value.

Try before you buy in the UK. I reckon this service was offered in Queenstown, New Zealand in about 2002! See- http://www.harpers.co.uk/news/news-headlines/9526-new-wine-retailer-offers-try-before-buy-on-150-wines.html

“Before you can appreciate great Burgundy, you’ve got to cut your teeth on good Bordeaux” – Julio Iglesias speaking with Lucy Shaw in Decanter September 2010.

No surprises, just solid value – by Farr, Charles Cimicky, Leeuwin Estate, Majella & Voyager Estate

[Reviewed offerings by Island Wines, Rubicon Wines, The Cellar Door, Wine Exchange Asia]

There’s a bit of a slanging match going on over the sale of New Zealand wines in Singapore at the moment, so I’m going to stay out of the way and focus on Aussie wines until things settle down.

A word on GST: If you’re buying wine in Singapore (other than for consumption at a restaurant), the price quoted must include GST. If like me, you find GST added to the retail price after you’ve made your order, cancel the order and dob the offender into the IRAS. It’s not like GST hasn’t been around long. It’s tough enough out there for the law-abiding sellers without having to compete with those who gain advantage by appearing to show low prices.

A word on vintages: Yep, it still happens, You order one vintage and you get delivered another. There’s no excuse for this. I’ll give the seller the benefit of the doubt (for a genuine mistake)– but only once. After that, the wine goes back and the seller’s off my list.

A solid bunch of wines recommended here. Nothing exceptional (although the Voyager Cabernet Merlot is the best comparative value wine here), just good, down to earth pricing. The cheapest are the Majella Musician Shiraz and the Charles Cimicky Trumps Shiraz, each at S$27 a bottle by the case. If you can’t spend S$27 on an Australian wine, I guess you should be looking elsewhere (or going teetotal). Also, if you like your wines with a little less alcohol, have a look at the by Farr from Geelong.

The whites:

2008 / by Farr / Geelong / Chardonnay / S$66, S$60 by the case at Island Wines – 5 star. Halliday 96 points, drinking to 2016 and 13% alc. RRP of A$63 so BBI says “Good Value”

2003 / Leeuwin Estate / Margaret River / Chardonnay / S$88 at Wine Exchange Asia – 3 star to 5 star depending on who you follow. Jeremy Oliver has it as 5 star (97 points), as does Gourmet Traveller Wine. Wine Spectator thinks 4.5 but if you follow Wine Estate (I don’t), they say 3 stars. Drink out to 2015. RRP is/was about A$85 so BBI reckons this is “Good Value”.

In 1995, James Halliday wrote of Voyager Estate:

“10,000 cases – Formerly Freycinet Estate, renamed after its purchase in May 1991 from Western Australian viticulturalist Peter Gherardi. Millions of dollars have been spent by new owner Michael Wright in extending the vineyards and erecting a state-of-the-art winery reminiscent of the more opulent showpieces of the Napa Valley.”– (James Halliday’s Pocket Companion to Australian and New Zealand Wines)

Fifteen years later, James Halliday wrote:

“35,000 cases – Voyager Estate has come a long way since it was acquired by Michael Wright (of the mining family) in 1991. It now has a substantial high-quality vineyard, which means it can select the best parcels of fruit for its own label, and supply surplus (but high-quality) wine to others. The Cape Dutch-style tasting room and vast rose garden are a major tourist attraction. Exports to the UK, the US, and other major markets.” – (James Halliday Australian Wine  Companion 2011)

2007 / Voyager Estate / Margaret River / Chardonnay / S$52, S$49 by the half case at Wine Exchange Asia – 5 stars. Halliday and Oliver agree on 96 points! Can’t get easier than that. Drinking 2012 – 2016. With a RRP of A$42, another “Good Value” rating.

2009 / Voyager Estate / Margaret River / Sauvignon Blanc Semillon / S$35, S$32 by the half case at Wine Exchange Asia – 4.5 stars. Halliday 93, Oliver 94, drinking to about 2014. RRP of A$24 so BBI says “Great Value”

The reds:

2008 / by Farr / Farrside / Geelong / Pinot Noir / S$70, S$63 by the case at Island Wines – 4.5 star. Halliday 94 points, drinking to 2016, 13.5% alc. RRP of A$65 so “Good Value” again.

2008 / by Farr / Sangreal / Geelong / Pinot Noir / S$70, S$63 by the case at Island Wines – 5 star. Halliday 96 points, drinking to 2018, 13% alc. RRP of A$67 so BBI says “Good Value”.

2008 / by Farr / Tout Pres / Geelong / Pinot Noir / S$95, S$85.80 by the case at Island Wines – 5 star. Halliday 96 points, drinking 2020 (for a pinot?) 13.5% alc. RRP of A$98 so more “Good Value”

2005 / Voyager Estate / Margaret River / Cabernet Merlot / S$54, S$52 by the half case at Wine Exchange Asia – 5 stars. James Halliday 96, drink 2015-2025, Jeremy Oliver 95, drink 2013-2017+. The only other thing you need to know is the value. RRP of A$60 so BBI says “Terrific Value”.

2008 / Majella / The Musician / Coonawarra / Cabernet Shiraz / S$30, S$27 by the case at Island Wines – A range of 3 star to 4.5 star. Halliday gives it 94 points, and Epicure gave it 4.5 stars. Wine Estate gave it 3 stars and 4 stars in the same issue (?). With a RRP of A$17, the price here earns a “Good Value” rating.

2008 / by Farr / Geelong / Shiraz / S$66, S$60 by the case at Island Wines – 5 star. Halliday 96 points, drinking to 2020, 13.5% alc. RRP A$63 so a solid “Good Value” rating.

2006/ Charles Cimicky / Trumps / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / S$30, S$27 by the case at Island Wines – 4.5 star. Halliday 94 points, drinking to 2016. RRP of A$20 so makes it “Great Value”

2008 / Voyager Estate / Margaret River / Shiraz / S$45, S$42 by the half case at Wine Exchange Asia – 4.5 stars. Halliday 94, Oliver 92. Drinking to 2016. RRP of A$32, “Good Value” again.

“When we die, all that is left of us is what is mineral and material – our skin, veins and tissues, all that decays. Wine gives us a sense of life, of what persists. That’s why people spend a lot of money on a great bottle” – Jacques Lardiere, winemaker at Louis Jadot, speaking with Stephen  Brook in Decanter, September 2010.

Where’s the shiraz in this lot? – and lessons on how to spit

[Reviewed offerings by Cold Storage, Crystal Wines, Epsilon Wines, eWine Asia, Le Vigne, Monopole, The Cellar Door, Top Wines, Underground Wines, and Wine Directions]

Specials are a bit slow this week. Here’s the best I could do:

2003 / Kreglinger / Vintage Brut / Tasmania / Bubbly / S$48 at Le Vigne – From the same stables as Ninth Island and Pipers Brook, this is a personal favourite. No, I don’t always buy wines on ratings, as this one only gets 88 points from Jeremy Oliver (although other vintages score much better). It’s refreshing and it’s priced right. With a RRP of A$50, this comes in with a BBI rating of  “Terrific Value”.

2009 / Moss Wood / Ribbon Vale / Margaret River / Semillon Sauvignon Blanc / S$44 at Crystal Wines – Don’t have much on this one. Halliday 95 points, drink to 2013, 14% alcohol. RRP is A$26 so this one gets a BBI rating of  “OK Value”.

2009 / Pierro / LTC / Margaret River / Semillon Sauvignon Blanc / S$53 at Crystal Wines – Oliver 90 points, Halliday 94 points, drinking to 2013-14. With a RRP of A$31, this gets a BBI rating of “Reconsider”. Interesting eh, given that both are from the same retailer.

2008 / Jim Barry / The Lodge Hill / Clare Valley / Riesling / S$42 at Monopole – Halliday gives it 93 points, but Decanter didn’t rate it highly, giving it only 15.5 points (out of 20). Drinking to 2018 according to Halliday. With a RRP of A$20, the BBI on this is “Marginal Value”, especially when compared with the Pikes at S$29 from Wine Directions in the last post.

2007 / All Saints / Rutherglen / Durif / S$35.90 at The Cellar Door – It seems you’re either into Durif, or you’re not. I don’t mind the occasional one, especially with some age on it. This is too much of a generalization, but I think of it as a sort of black, inky shiraz. Oliver rates this one at 91 points (4.5 stars) and suggests drinking between 2015-2019+. With a RRP of A$24, the BBI on this is “Good Value”

2008 / Water Wheel / Memsie Homestead / Bendigo / Red (Shiraz, Malbec, Cabernet) / S$29 at Crystal Wines – I’ll be right up front and say I don’t like this wine. I’ve got some in my cellar, and it’s always overlooked when hunting around for something nice. Maybe I’ll drag it out when my relatives next visit. I’m not alone. Wine Estate give it only 4 stars and Wine Front 4 too (87 points), but Halliday is stumping up with 90 points. Halliday suggests drinking out to 2017. With a RRP of A$14, the BBI gives it a rating of “Good Value”, but it won’t be enough to convince me to stock up. Just a personal choice.

Where’s the shiraz? (sounds like an Elton John song….) Not here, I’m afraid.

2008 / Wolf Blass / Presidents Selection / South Australia / Shiraz / S$44.95 at Cold Storage – You might recall that this is the wine we got a roadside stall in rural Vietnam for about S$35. It’s a four star wine for sure (Wine Front 88 points) and I have it on good authority that Presidents Selection, which is not sold as such in Australia, is closer to Yellow Label than other Wolf Blass brandings.  So……if it is close to Yellow Label, then the RRP would be about A$16, giving the price here a BBI rating of “Reconsider”.

We often hear people say when shocked by the price of wine in Singapore, “oh, it’s the tax you see” and I have to bite my tongue every time I hear it. Yes, yes, it can be the tax, but only at the lower end of cheaper wines. The tax can even work in your favour if you’re prepared to lash out and spend above $30 bucks, and if you really want to splash out, have a look at how the tax creates a very favourable arbitrage on Grange and the like. Hundreds of dollars worth, so please, no more, “it’s the tax”. Unless……. you really are buying at the wrong end.

Let’s have a look at two examples. Not stunning wines. The Grant Burge is 4 star for sure; the Angove’s, I’m prepared to bet it’s no more than 4 star either.

2009 / Angove’s / Butterfly Ridge / Colombard Chardonnay / S$30 at Top Wines – I say S$30 because it’s listed at Top Wines at S$28 before GST (something they’ll presumably fix, and quickly – you never know who might be looking at this website) so I’ve added the 7% for correctness.  Well, this wine retails (at most) in Australia at A$7. That’s right, A$7. If you take out the margin, the GST and the WET in Australia, I’m guessing the wholesale price is around A$2.20. Now, if we convert to S$, add the freight, add the alcohol tax, add the Singapore GST and mark it back up by 100% (that’s fair), we’ll get to S$25, give or take a few cents. That’s how you get an A$2.20 wine to S$25 – it’s all mark up on the tax and on-costs and very little to do with the wine. For the record, the BBI rating on this particular deal would be “Marginal Value”.

2007 / Grant Burge / Summers / Adelaide Hills / Chardonnay / S$30 at Epsilon Wines – 4 stars from Decanter and Halliday, and the same price as the Angoves. Only this one starts with a RRP of A$24, not A$7. On a comparative value basis (i.e. the BBI), this wine would get a rating of “Terrific Value”. So, the real issue is, do you believe that retail prices reflect the quality of the wine? That’s up to you – I’ll just tell you the story.

But wait, there’s more! If you want to learn how to spit “with elegance”, have a look at:

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xcvujq_comment-cracher-le-vin-avec-eleganc_webcam

And finally, is there no respect? The 2008 Schild Estate Barossa Shiraz, having just been listed as the number 7 top wine in the world by Wine Spectator, has been discounted down from A$20 to A$14.99 (at winestar.com.au)!

“I drink it when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and I drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it, unless thirsty.” – Lily Bollinger in 1961, on drinking champagne.

Hold that recommendation! The old GST bug-bear…..

On Friday, I recommended the Peter Rumball sparkling shiraz as a great buy from Top Wines, and it is, but last night I received my invoice and much to my disappointment, GST had been added. The price wasn’t quoted with GST in the price list or order form (certainly not in an IRAS acceptable format), so whilst this is being sorted out with Top Wines, I’m putting my recommendation on hold.

Watch this space.

If you’ve any doubt about how prices should be quoted, have a look at:

http://www.iras.gov.sg/irasHome/page04.aspx?id=824

Now we’re starting to motor – some real deals here, a cracker sparkling shiraz, and a Top Ten in the World for less than $40 bucks!

[Reviewed wines from Wine Exchange Asia, Crystal Wines, The Cellar Door, Epsilon Wines, The Local Nose, Le Vigne , Wine Culture, Top Wines, eWinesAsia,  Wine Directions, and Cold Storage.]

It wouldn’t be an Australian Xmas without sparkling shiraz. My all time favourite is still the 1985 Seppelt Show Reserve (I still have some for this year) but it’s getting a bit long in the tooth.  Trying to buy decent sparkling shiraz in Singapore (as distinct from red lolly-water) can be a challenge. Not impossible, just a little hard at times.

Well, your troubles are over! Bastard Box has sniffed out a terrific deal, just in time for Xmas. Have a look at this:

NV / Peter Rumball / SB18 / Coonawarra / Sparkling Shiraz / S$30 at Top Wines – Peter Rumball only makes sparkling reds, and for sheer consistency, they can’t be beat. If you’re from down-under, you probably know them already. Rarely rated, often enjoyed. No argument from me, I’ve ordered mine already. (Peter V, if only we’d known! – sorry mate) RRP of A$20 so the pricing’s right, but who cares! I can taste mine already.

Now to the rest:

2003 / Caledonia Australis / Gippsland / Chardonnay / S$49.50, or S$37 by the case at eWinesAsia. I only have one rating on this, and that’s Halliday at 94 points. I favourably reviewed it in an earlier blog when it was on sale at S$40.25. With a RRP of A$25, the single bottle price is a bit steep, but the case price is pretty good. Drinking to next year, 13.5% alc.

2008/ Cape Mentelle /Margaret River / Chardonnay / S$48 at Crystal Wines – Plaudits across the board – Halliday 96, Epicure 4.5, Gourmet Traveller Wine 96, Decanter 17. Drinking to about 2016, 2017. RRP of A$42 so S$48 is a good buy. 13% alc.

2009 / Pikes / Traditionale / Clare Valley / Riesling / S$29 at Wine Directions – Now here’s a real deal. Oliver 92, Halliday 94, and with a RRP of A$23, this is a great price. And you know how much I love Clare Valley Rieslings. S$29 for Pete’s sake! What are you waiting for? Drinking from about 2012- 2022, 12% alc.

2001 / Lake’s Folly / Hunter Valley / Cabernet / S$98

2002 / Lake’s Folly / Hunter Valley / Cabernet / S$94

2004 / Lake’s Folly / Hunter Valley / Cabernet / S$95

Each of these is available at Wine Culture – The 2001 is rated 96 by Jeremy Oliver and 94 by Wine Front and even though it’s the oldest, it’s the one that still has some legs. To 2014 according to Wine Front, to 2021 according to Oliver. The 2002 is rated 95 by Oliver, 93 by Halliday but definitely drink now. The 2004 is rated 92 by Oliver, 90 by Halliday, and also drink now, right now. No point in looking at the RRP which was around A$45-50 at the time of release. On-line in Australia, the 2001 is A$105, the 2002 A$85, and the 2004 A$70.  That makes the pricing here pretty attractive, but the 2001 is the pick of the bunch in price, rating and longevity.

1998 / Tahbilk / Reserve / Nagambie Lakes / Shiraz / S$73 at Epsilon Wines – Jeremy Oliver gives it the highest rating at 95 points, Wine Front at 94, Halliday at 90. Drinking out to 2020 if averaging the raters. Hard to price this one retail as it listed at A$70 but it’s been around a while. There’s at least one on-line price of A$54, so assuming there’s no WET to get back (it’s old stock) the pricing looks OK. It’d cost you about S$83 to buy it retail on-line in Australia and ship it up.

2003 / Penfolds / Grange / South Australia / Shiraz / S$379 at Wine Exchange Asia – There’s still time to urge that this should be in your stocking. I won’t bore with heaps of ratings, just one. Oliver 96 points, drinking 2023 to 2033. This vintage initially listed at A$550 but is now on-line at A$465. If you’re into Grange, the price here will make your mates down-under want to re-locate.

2007 / Flametree / Frankland River / Shiraz / S$48 at The Local Nose – Interesting this one. The 2008 is an absolute stunner, but the 2007, apparently not. Wine Front gave it 86 points (4 star), WineEstate gave it 3 stars (ouch!) but Halliday  gave it 90 points, bringing it into the 4.5 star range. The alcohol is high-ish at 15.5% but my real problem with this wine is the price. With a RRP of A$25, the price here of S$48 puts it a fair way outside the BBI. I’d say wait for the 2008, and wait for the price to come down.

2008 / Battle of Bosworth / McLaren Vale / Shiraz / S$39 at Crystal Wines – Who says raters don’t disagree? They sure do here. Jeremy Oliver gives this wine an unflattering 82 points (3.5 stars), James Halliday gives it 92 points (4.5 stars). If you believe Halliday, then this is a good buy. With a RRP of A$25, the price here of S$39 is absolutely spot on with the BBI. Drinking to about 2014, 14.5% alc.

2008 / Schild / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / S$40 or S$37 by the half case at Wine Exchange Asia – Same old, same old, you say. Wine Front 90 points, drinking to 2014, 14.5% alc. With a RRP of A$20, the single bottle price is OK, but the half case price is spot on with the BBI. Same old, same old, eh? Have a look at http://www.foodmag.com.au/news/south-australian-wine-listed-as-top-ten-in-the-wor

and see if you think it’s still ordinary!

2008 / Torzi Matthews / Frost Dodger / Eden Valley / Shiraz / S$45 at Wine Directions – A hard act to follow the Schild isn’t it? Sort of like Rubens Barrichello to Michael Schumacher. You might be good, but someone else keeps stealing your thunder. Well, this wine can stand on its own – 94 from Halliday, and 92 from Wine Front, drinking to roughly 2016, 14.5%alc. RRP of A$30 so S$45 is spot on the BBI.

“Australia has long been known as the world’s most important source of this wine [Riesling] after Germany, but great Australian Riesling no longer has to come from either Clare Valley or Eden Valley. Riesling lovers can choose from particularly fine wines made in places such as Tasmania, Great Southern and Henty.” – Jancis Robinson writing in Gourmet Traveller Wine,  January 2008

Not much under S$50 here. Sorry! And some arbitrage on Grange.

Just to set the record straight, for this post I reviewed a smattering of wines from Crystal Wines, Epsilon Wines, The Cellar Door, Underground Wines, Wine Direction, and Wine Exchange Asia. If they’re not mentioned here, it means either the wine I selected didn’t make the BBI cut (i.e. not rated well, or not particularly good value) or I couldn’t find a rating on it. Usually the latter. Bastard Box is 100% independent from any distributor or retailer – I buy from most of them (or have), I’ll drink with any of them, but I’ll still judge their prices on comparative value using the same criteria for all.

(By the way, with Xmas coming on there’ll be a fair few offerings of mixed dozens. I’m not a great fan of mixed dozens when they’re already packaged up for you. I’ve always had a sneaking suspicion that the good wines get paid for by the bad ones, and that the mixed dozen is just meant to hide the real pricing from you. Nothing I’ve seen changes my mind on that, but I’m willing to be convinced. It just means you’re unlikely to see a review of a mixed dozen here any time soon.)

Let’s start with the Kiwis:

2007 / Kumeu River / Mates / Auckland / Chardonnay / S$49 from Wine Exchange Asia – Michael Cooper loves this wine and gives it 5 stars. Drinking from now until 2014. Price-wise, I don’t know how WEA do it. This wine retails for NZ$52 – here it is in Singapore at S$49. Don’t “go figure”, do “go get it”!

2007 / Kumeu River / Hunting Hill / Auckland / Chardonnay / S$49 from Wine Exchange Asia – Ditto for everything I said about Mates. Michael Cooper 5 stars, drinking to 2014 and RRP of NZ$45. A comparative bargain.

Now to the Aussies:

2005 / Voyager Estate / Margaret River / Cabernet Merlot / S$52 at Crystal Wines – Oliver 95, Halliday 96 and Decanter 4.5 stars. Unusually, Oliver wants to drink this one earlier by around 2017, but Halliday thinks it will go to 2025. RRP was A$60 so the price here of S$52 is damned good.

2002 / Moss Wood / Margaret River / Cabernet Sauvignon / S$95, or S$85 by the half case at Wine Exchange Asia – Oliver 95 points, Halliday 91 (he didn’t think it was developing enough under screwcap). Oliver says drinking to 2014 to 2022, Halliday out to 2015.  The RRP was A$95 so the price here of S$95 is spot on.

2007 / John Duval / Plexus / Barossa Valley / Grenache Shiraz Mouvedre / S$57, or S$52 by the half case at Wine Exchange Asia – I always look forward to the Singapore F1 GP because our Australian guests usually have a bottle or two of John Duval in their bags. I’m a big GSM fan anyway and this definitely hits the spot. Oliver 93, Wine Front 92, Halliday 93 (but Decanter only 4 stars). 14.5% alc. Consensus on drinking to 2015+. RRP of A$39 so marginally outside the BBI unless you get it at S$52, when it slides into the BBI. Best to get a half case then (or a whole one!).

2007 / John Duval / Entity / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / S$62, or S$57 by the half case at Wine Exchange Asia – Oliver 94, Wine Front 93, Halliday 94 (but Decanter only 4 stars…) Drinking to 2016. With a RRP of A$48, the BBI would put it at about S$59-60 and that’s right where it is. 14.5% alc.

2006 / Kilikanoon / The Covenant / Clare Valley / Shiraz / S$50 at Wine Exchange Asia – 4.5 stars across the board, from Decanter, Oliver (93), and Halliday (92). Drinking range from 2011 to 2020. RRP of A$40 so S$50 is right where the BBI would expect it to be. 15% alc.

2006 / Kilikanoon / Oracle / Clare Valley / Shiraz / S$65 at Wine Exchange Asia – Another solid 4.5 star wine. Decanter (4.5), Oliver (94), Halliday (92). Consensus on drinking is to 2015. With a RRP of A$79, the price here is outstanding. 15% alc.

How about some Grange for the Xmas stocking?

Too expensive? Depends where you buy it, I suppose.

2001 / Penfolds / Grange / South Australia / Shiraz – S$550 at Epsilon Wines or S$399 at Wine Exchange Asia – Oliver 95, Parker 98. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more. Drinking out to 2031 or 2035 depending on who you believe (or whether you care!)

2002 / Penfolds / Grange / South Australia / Shiraz / S$429 at Wine Exchange Asia – Even better, Oliver 97, Parker 98. Oliver says 2032+, Parker says 2050. See if you (and the wine) can last that long.

So, what’s the best comparative value in that lot?

In the whites, the Kumeu River Mates is a terrific buy. In the reds (putting aside the Grange which trades in a stratosphere of its own), the Kilikanoon Oracle, followed closely by the Voyager Estate.

“A quarter acre of grape vines isn’t a working vineyard. At best, it’s a hobby; at worst, it’s an affectation……..Like a child, a vineyard needs love and maintenance and constant vigilance. As with children, a very small one isn’t necessarily easier to manage.” – Tony Lee writing in The Age, 24th August 2010. Could have been talking about Bastard Box!


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Wine quotations

"A good bottle of wine contains more philosophy than all the books in the world" - Louis Pasteur

“The unexacting palates of the masses…are content to ask no question [on origin] so long as a florin or half-a-crown will purchase a roomy flagon of strong , full-bodied, fruity wine” – CE Hawker writing in 1907