Archive for January, 2011

Are Kiwis smarter than Aussies? – Maybe Piggy Muldoon was right!

I spent a fair bit of time working and living in New Zealand in the 1980s. I met Piggy Muldoon once, and also David Lange before the days of security threats. I remember a cocktail party in Wellington where David Lange walked from the Beehive without security and wandered in unannounced like any other guest. But it was Piggy Muldoon’s quip about the brain drain that stands out. When quizzed at a door stop interview, Piggy Muldoon responded with “New Zealanders who emigrate to Australia raise the IQ of both countries”. You had to love Piggy.

Anyway, he may have been right, because the ones who stayed behind must be very smart indeed if the simple act of buying wine is any measure.

Lets’ look at buying wine in Australia. Once the Aussie drinker has moved on from moscato to something more sophisticated like sauvignon blanc, the choices are simple. Sauvignon Blanc = New Zealand = Cloudy Bay. End of story. Couldn’t be easier. OK, there’s Cloudy Bay Te Koko but only investment bankers would order that at a restaurant. No, for the main part it’s a simple discourse between the customer and the sommelier. “I’ll have the Cloudy Bay sauvignon blanc”. “Certainly, sir”

Not so in New Zealand apparently.

The discussion might start with “I’ll have the Saint Clair Family Estate, sauvignon blanc please”

“Certainly ma’am, would that be the Saint Clair Wairau Reserve, the Premium, the Vicar’s Choice, the Pioneer Block 1 Foundation, the Pioneer Block 2 Swamp Block, the Pioneer Block 3 43 Degrees, the Pioneer Block 4 Sawcut, the Pioneer Block 6 Oh Block, the Pioneer Block 7 Berry Block, the Pioneer Block 8 Friar’s, the Pioneer Block 11 Cell Block, the Pioneer Block 18 Snap Block, the Pioneer Block 19 Bird Block, the Pioneer Block 20 Cash Block or the Pioneer Block 21 Bell Block?”

“Er, sorry could you repeat please?”

“Perhaps ma’am would like a pinot instead. We can offer Saint Clair Premium, Omaka Reserve, Doctor’s Creek Reserve, Pioneer Block 5 Bull Block, Pioneer Block 12 Lone Gum, Pioneer Block 14 Doctor’s Creek not to be confused with Doctor’s Creek Reserve, Pioneer Block 15 Strip Block and Pioneer Block 16 Awatere”.

Forget the customer, think how smart the sommelier has to be! Some can probably even name the vines.

Anyway, I reckon Piggy’s point is well made. The real question is, are the up and coming Chinese wine buyers as smart as Kiwi wine buyers? I wonder what the mandarin is for Cloudy Bay?

And speaking of sauvignon blanc, in this line-up today, I won’t be:

NV / Lindauer / Brut / New Zealand / Sparkling / S$29.90 at The Cellar Door – Michael Cooper says it’s “Good, Bronze Medal”, Bob Campbell rates it “Above Average”. It’s not expensive at home at NZ$16 and not relatively expensive here either. At S$29.90, it’s pretty good value.

NV / Summerhouse / Blanc de blanc / Marlborough / Sparkling / S$47.50 at Underground Wines – This retails at twice the price of the Lindauer at NZ$32, but it doesn’t end up twice the price here. There’s that duty at work again. Michael Cooper 4 “Excellent, Silver Medal”, and Bob Campbell 86 “Above Average”. The pricing puts it into the “good value” category.

2009 / Domain Road / Central Otago / Riesling / S$46 at eWineAsia – Michael Cooper 3.5 “Very Good”, drinking out to 2015. Price is spot on with RRP of NZ$24.

2008 / Tarras / The Canyon / Central Otago / Pinot Noir / S$69.55 at Hermitage Wines – The ratings OK, Michael Cooper 4.5 “Excellent”, but with a RRP of NZ$42, it’s coming in a fraction too high to meet the BBI. Good wine, marginal value.

2007 / Trinity Hill / The Gimblett / Hawkes Bay / S$44.90 at The Local Nose and The Cellar Door – So what is The Gimblett? It’s 51% Merlot, 17% Cabernet, 12% Petit Verdot, 11% Cabernet Franc and 9% Malbec. A red then. Michael Cooper gives it 5 stars (Outstanding, Gold Medal) and reckons it’ll drink to 2015. The RRP is shown as NZ$30 so the price here of S$44.90 puts it into the “good value” category.

Here’s a comparative price test:

2006 / Felton Road / Central Otago / Chardonnay – I reviewed this a while back but decided not to post the review as at S$56 at The Cellar Door, I didn’t think it represented good value. Well, at S$74/S$70.30 Member at Crystal Wines, my opinion hasn’t changed. It’s still for sale at The Cellar Door for S$56, so if you disagree with my opinion on value, you can at least save yourself some hard earned.

And, I told you…..

Back in December, I recommended the 2007 / Kumeu River / Mates / Auckland / Chardonnay / S$49 at Wine Exchange Asia – By the time you read this, I’m guessing that Wine Exchange Asia will have closed its current offer (same price as December) but at the time I said it was terrific value. If you missed out, you’re going to kick yourself. I reckon this wine (Michael Cooper 5 “Outstanding”) could have come in S$15 dearer and still met the BBI. Too late, mate.

“What attractive wine categories can New Zealand be first in? The answer is not sauvignon blanc that tastes grassy. New Zealand might lead in making that wine, but it is not a financially attractive category. It has limited price elasticity, is not regarded as a premium variety that commands lofty prices, and New Zealand is ill-equipped to be the low-cost producer.” – Mike Spratt, co-founder of Destiny Bay, writing in New Zealand Winegrower.

Chinese New Year fast approaching – time for some reds

Reviewed wines on offer by The Local Nose, The Cellar Door, Crystal Wines, Hermitage Wine, Eve Spirits, Epsilon Wines, Wine Exchange Asia, Wine Culture, Wine Connection, and Wine Direction

‘In his book, The Perfect Glass of Wine, young Australian writer Ben Canaider writes “All the ephemera surrounding wine – the language, the pretentiousness, the books, the guides, the newspaper columns, the lifestyle liftouts, the celebrity winemakers (and their dogs), the seriousness, the cellars – it all exists to prop up the social rituals and structure (or is it the wreckage) that go with the phenomenon that wine has become today” – from an article by Andrew Corrigan MW in Winestate Jul/Aug 2010.

Yes, and isn’t all that language and pretentiousness grand! You’ve probably gathered that Bastard Box is definitely “old school” in this regard. So let’s get into some old school wines. Grenache, cabernet, shiraz and durif. No Pinot Grigio here.

2008 / Old Plains / Terreno / South Australia / Grenache / S$40 at The Local Nose and Wine Direction – I don’t mind the odd Grenache from time to time so this is definitely one to consider. Wine Front 92 points, drinking to 2016, RRP of A$25 vs S$40 making it good value. What’s not to like?  By the way, I read recently that Grenache is the world’s second largest grape planting. The first? Airen, from Spain. No, me either.

2008 / Xanadu / Margaret River / Cabernet Sauvignon / S$39.50 at The Local Nose and Delfi Singapore – It’s probably appropriate that a winery called Xanadu would live in interesting times, and this winery has done just that. This Cabernet gets solid ratings from Wine Front (92), and Wine Spectator (90), and with an RRP of A$35, it’s stonking good value.

2005 / Burge Family / Draycott / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / S$92, S$87.40 Member price at Crystal Wines – Strange happenings indeed with this wine. Let’s get the ratings out of the way. Oliver 89, Halliday 93. Solid then. Drinking is out to about 2014.  On release, everything tells me this wine was A$35, meaning a Singapore price of about S$51, but it’s currently still on sale (retail) at Wine Star in Australia at A$49.99. That translates into about S$64ish, so how, oh how, does one get to S$92? Happy to take comments.

2008 / Quarisa / Johnny Q / South East Australia / Shiraz / S$24.90 at Wine Connection – I don’t always run a mile whenever I see “South East Australia” (it’s big, very big) but generally it can denote the, ..er, lower end of the scale, so pricing is often the driver. And that’s pretty much the case here. The wine gets 3 stars from Winestate (they call that “good, bronze medal”) and the RRP is A$13, so you’d struggle to get this into the country at S$24.90 if you’re doing the usual mark up on the duty and freight. I’m sure it regularly sells at less than RRP in Australia (I’ve seen it down to A$10) but good on Wine Connection for giving it a go at a reasonable price. I’m not about to start on 3 star wines just yet though.

2006 / All Saints / Family Cellar / Rutherglen / Durif / S$65 at The Cellar Door – A swag of top ratings. Epicure 4.5, Gourmet Traveller Wine 5, Halliday 4.5 and Oliver 94. Drinking somewhere between 2016 and 2026. The RRP is A$50 so the price here is exactly where the BBI would expect it to be. I’ve listed the durif after the shiraz as I’ve always considered that durif is like shiraz for the gnarled. Sort of like roll-your-own vs filter tipped.

The best value on a BBI comparative basis is the Xanadu Cabernet by a fair margin.

“The bouquet mixed sweaty socks, acrid chemicals and cleaning fluid in equal measure”. Be afraid, be very afraid. See:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/food/article-1349979/Ill-bottle-castle-Shandong-2010-The-story-Chinas-wine-revolution.html#ixzz1BzS5r8BT

“I’m so  @#$%^&* sick of it. To arbitrarily say we want a wine at 14 per cent alcohol is ridiculous. I don’t find out what alcohols my wines are until we do the test for the bottle label. It can be three years after a wine is made before I find out the alcohol. I couldn’t care less.” – Dave Powell of Torbreck speaking his mind on making wine, a matter on which he does know a thing or two.

 

Just the Kiwis, nothing but the Kiwis

Reviewed offers by Crystal Wines, The Cellar Door, Hermitage Wine, eWineAsia, Wine Exchange Asia, Underground Wines and Wine Culture.

I had a look at 8 wines in this review and 3 of them didn’t make the cut because the pricing was marginal at best.

That leaves the following:

2009 / Bilancia / Hawkes Bay / Pinot Gris / S$34.90 from The Cellar Door – Bob Campbell gave this 86 points, which in Bob Campbell speak means it’s OK. In fact he wrote that he really liked it. Interesting isn’t it? I’d interpret 86 points from Jeremy Oliver as meaning the wine is a complete dud, 86 from James Halliday as being just OK, 86 from Bob Campbell as being not too bad really, and 86 from Winestate as being “very good, silver medal”……but that’s a discussion for another day. You’ll just have to figure it out for yourself. RRP is NZ$25 so pricing here is terrific value.

2006 / Mt Rosa / Central Otago / Riesling / S$31.50 from Underground Wines – Winestate 4 stars (85-89 points) and Bob Campbell 86 again. Thankfully I don’t have a rating from Oliver or Halliday to confuse the issue. Anyway, RRP of NZ$22 so again, terrific pricing.

2008 / Mount Edward / Central Otago / Riesling / S$42, S$38 by the half case from Wine Exchange Asia – OK, now we’re getting down a bit. Bob Campbell 80 points, but the comparative value is good by the bottle, great by the half case. RRP NZ$25.

2007 / Te Mania / Nelson / Sauvignon Blanc / S$39 at Wine Culture – It wouldn’t be a Kiwi review without at least one sauvignon blanc, and this is it. I have a soft spot for this region. It lives in the shadow of Marlborough a bit like Padthaway does to Coonawarra, but I’d say keep it on your radar. Bob Campbell gives it 84 points and with a RRP of NZ$19, the pricing here is spot on the BBI.

2008 / Drumsara / Central Otago / Pinot Noir / S$48 at Wine Exchange Asia – Can’t say as I’ve ever had a Drumsara, and to be honest. I’d hardly heard of it. Bob Campbell has, and he gives it 84 points with particular mention of its favourable cellaring potential (although no specific recommendation). With a RRP of NZ$38, the price here is great value, so I’d say give it a try.

The Mt Rosa is probably the pick of the bunch today, with the Bilancia close behind.

Just catching up on my summer reading and I see in the Winestate Annual Edition 2011 that Ian Lim, Business Manager and Chief Sommelier at Singapore Straits Wine Company won the Asia-Oceania section of the ASI (Association de la Sommellerie Internationale). For many, many years, we were Sunday night regulars at a local restaurant (now closed) and Ian had our palates worked out so well that the wine would be chosen and ready before we arrived, and rarely a disappointment. Good on yer’ mate! A well deserved win.

Have a look at the article below on PET vs Glass bottles. Who’s going to be the first to bring along a PET bottle to a tasting?

http://www.europeanplasticsnews.com/subscriber/featured2.html?cat=1&featuredid=1286353564

And finally..

“75 per cent of New Zealand’s wine export growth [over the last two years] has been in bulk wine. We have handed control or are in the process of handing control over to the buyers of that bulk wine and, in Australia and the UK, those buyers are largely supermarkets. We are in the process of turning supermarkets from our very important customers into our competitors” – Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers quoted in Winestate Jul/Aug 2010.

 

Warehouse Wine Fair – Tomorrow at Extra Space

I wouldn’t normally promote a wine sale on its own, but I know quite a number of my subscribers like to head down to Extra Space at 301 Boon Keng Road for Wine Directions regular sale. Is it a sale if it’s this regular? No matter, I’ve not been, but my friends tell me the cheese is good.

Here’s what I scoured on some of the wines:

2009 / Fairhall Downs / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / S$29 – Not the greatest savvy to come out of New Zealand. Bob Campbell 82 points, Michael Cooper 4 stars. But never mind the quality, look at the price. Retails for NZ$20 so price here is terrific comparative value. Another wine for the “rater-rejectors”.

2008 / Fermoy Estate / Margaret River / Chardonnay / S$29 – Now you’re talking. James Halliday 91 points, drink to 2018.  Value? Sure is. RRP A$29, here S$29. It’s hard to see it getting better than that.

2008 / Torzi Matthews / Vigna Cantina / Barossa Valley / Sangiovese / S$34 – Kick back and watch the The Godfather with this one. Halliday gives it 90 points, as does Wine Front, so 4.5 stars then. Drinking out to about 2015 so no rush to hire the DVD. And the 14% alcohol should get you in the mood for, well, whatever. The RRP is A$18 so at S$34 this slips into the good value category.

2006 / Shottesbrooke / Eliza / McLaren Vale / Shiraz / S$39 – Yeh, interesting this one. Let’s get the pricing out of the way first. RRP A$38, here S$39. You don’t need a doctorate in maths to work out that that is terrific value. Epicure 5 stars, Halliday 94 points. Great, so what’s the problem then? Well, Wine Front hated this wine. Really hated this wine. 82 points and “yuk” was the description, and not just on one bottle sample. So……you’ve got two raters giving it a great wrap, and one canning it. You’ll have to be the judge, but at least you know price-wise, if you like it, it’s a great deal.

The Fermoy Estate is the stand-out value buy here, but they’re all priced well.

“Restaurants around the world are jumping aboard the Apple cart as they pass customers an iPad in place of their usual wine list. From New York to Napa Valley to Naples, Florida iPads are revolutionizing the dining experience, and wine list software developer Incentient says it orders have tripled since an article in The New York Times last month” – Katie Walsh, writing in Australian Financial Review 17th October 2010.

 

Inflation, inflation, inflation – creeping wine prices but a great deal on Peccavi

Looked at wines from Crystal Wines, Epsilon Wines, eWineAsia, Hermitage Wine, Le Vigne, The Cellar Door, The Local Nose, Wine Connection & Wine Exchange Asia.

Early into the New Year and I’ve had some adjusting to do. No, not to the quality of wine I’m drinking, but to the Bastard Box Index (BBI). I’m always adjusting the inputs, but not the criteria, for “fair comparative value” especially as the exchange rates change, but there are other influences as well. Cost of freight pushes prices up, but the swag of specials coming from liquidated (!) wineries makes some of the RRP a bit meaningless.  I’ve noticed a bit of a general price creep in Australian and New Zealand wines on sale here in Singapore, so you might have to readjust your expectations. I did say about the middle of last year that some prices were too good to last. No matter. You got that bonus and pay rise, right?

The Kiwis:

2005 / Vinoptima / Ormond / Gisborne / Gewurtztraminer / S$80.25 from Hermitage Wine – Can you believe it? $80 bucks for a gewurtz? Well, believe it you should as this winery has a tremendous following. I don’t have a rating for 2005, but Michael Cooper raves over the 2004 and the 2006. The winemaker agrees that both those years are better than the 2005 but there’s no suggestion that the 2005 is anything but another excellent wine. Besides, I just wanted to write about an $80 gewurtztraminer for a change. The 2006 is “drink 2012”, so I’m going to guess the 2005 is “drink now”. With a RRP of NZ$55, the price here is creeping into marginal BBI territory.

2007 / Felton Road / Dry / Central Otago / Riesling / S$44.90 at The Cellar Door –   Surprisingly, I couldn’t find a rating for this amongst the gaggle of Kiwi raters, so I’ve relied on Gourmet Traveller Wine (which draws on Bob Campbell anyway) who gave it 90 points and suggested drinking to 2014. RRP is NZ$30 so the price at Cellar Door is good value indeed.

The Aussies:

2006 / Shadowfax / Victoria / Chardonnay / S$42.90 at The Cellar Door – This wine comes from all over the place, hence the Victoria domicile. Shadowfax also has specific regional wines (e.g Geelong) so don’t be confused. You probably won’t be, as the regional wines are more expensive than the Victoria one. This wine is rated 94 points by Halliday, drinking to 2012, and retails for A$28. That makes the price here good value.

2008 / Peccavi / Margaret River / Chardonnay / S$52 at The Local Nose (but also at Peccavi) – Jeremy Oliver gives it 92 points, and suggests drinking between 2013 to 2016. With a RRP of A$45, the offer here is great value.

2009 / Mollydooker / The Violinist / McLaren Vale / Verdelho / S$42 at Epsilon Wines – Mollydooker had a focus on the US market and that’s reflected in the fact that I’ve only found one rating, and that’s out of Wine Spectator. They gave it 87 points (4 star) and suggested drinking it by 2009. The pricing’s OK (it retailed for A$27, US$25) so you just have to worry about the age.

2006 / Paradigm Hill / L’ami sage / Mornington Peninsula / Pinot Noir / S$80, S$75.50 by the case at eWineAsia – 4.5 stars across the board. Epicure 4.5, Halliday 90, Wine Front 93. Mid-range of the “drink by” recommendations is 2015. So far, so good but this is where it starts to fall apart. With a RRP of A$45 (and still available at that e.g. at Wine House) the price here is about S$15- S$20 a bottle above where the BBI would put it.

2006 / Bindi / Pyrette / Heathcote / Shiraz / S$75, S$71.25 Member Price at Crystal Wines – No doubting the quality. Halliday 96 points. Drink between 2011 and 2021, but…….with an RRP of A$40, same as the Paradigm Hill, about S$15 to S$20 outside the BBI.

2008 / Henschke / Keyneton Euphonium / Barossa Valley / Shiraz Blend / S$60 at Wine Exchange Asia – Do you want to be confused? Firstly, one of the respected raters says that this wine used to be called Keyneton Estate but now it’s just known as Euphonium. Wrong – the 2008 is Keyneton Euphonium, that’s what’s on the label. Another rater says it’s 75% shiraz, 11% cabernet, and 8% cabernet franc. Wrong – it’s 75% shiraz, 11% cabernet, 8% merlot and 6% cabernet franc (check my maths though). That’s what’s on Henschke’s website. But even here it gets confusing. The label says Barossa Valley, but the write-up on Henschke’s website says “[from grapes] grown in the Barossa Valley (Eden Valley and Barossa Valley). Anyway, the wine gets 92 from Wine Front and 94 points from Tyson Stelzer with recommended drinking out to 2018. With a RRP of A$48, the price here is good value.

On a comparative value basis, the Peccavi Chardonnay is the stand out, followed by the Felton Road Riesling, and the Shadowfax Chardonnay. If I wasn’t so long wine. I’d put the Henschke in my cellar too. It’s a fair price and you won’t regret it.

Sorry to hear that one of my favourite wineries, Best’s at Great Western, went under water recently. I mean actually, not financially. The vineyard copped the floods from the recent rains in the NW of Victoria and I understand that most of the vines got more water than they’d had for the last decade. My thoughts go out to everyone involved in the clean up and the restoration/preservation of this year’s crop.

This story is a little old now (October last year) but the kudos isn’t. Have a look at Australia’s first “perfect wine” judged at the 2010 Rutherglen Wine Show.

http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/article/2010/10/06/241321_horticulture.html

“I believe that wines of texture and elegance and length are the way forward for Australian wine. If we don’t make wines of structure, and longevity, and complexity, and increasingly wines with a sense of place, then the areas of the world market that we need to penetrate will always be shut off to us.” – Phil Sexton of Giant Steps quoted in Gourmet Traveller Wine in July 2007

You’ll have to pick & choose amongst this lot. A trio of Heathcote wines though.

Reviewed wines on offer by Crystal Wines, Epsilon Wines, eWineAsia, Parklands Wine, Peccavi, Profiters International, The Cellar Door, The Local Nose, Underground Wines, Wine Connection & Wine Exchange Asia

There must have been something in the Xmas pud. There’s no other way I can explain the irrational pricing that has emerged. There’s some good deals here today, but there’s some pretty ordinary ones as well, and a couple that are well, best forgotten.

First off the rank, the Kiwis:

I had a look at the NV Overstone Brut Sparkling from Wine Connection but couldn’t find a rating anywhere, so we’ll leave that for another time.

2010 / Summerhouse / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / S$30.50 from Underground Wines – Only 3.5 stars for this wine (Bob Campbell 84 points) but the price is right as it retails for NZ$22. Good value if you don’t care about ratings.

2007 / Pegasus Bay / Waipara / Sauvignon Blanc Semillon / S$39.90 from The Cellar Door – Is that a misprint? Surely it should be just Sauvignon Blanc? Well, no. According to Bob Campbell, Pegasus Bay makes New Zealand’s only Sauvignon Blanc Semillon. He likes it enough to give it 93 points (4.5 stars). It retails at about NZ$28 so the price here is exactly where BBI would expect it to be. Spot on value, for something a little different.

2007 / Cloudy Bay / Marlborough / Chardonnay / S$55.25, S$52 by the case from Crystal Wines – This is on special at Crystal, down from their Usual Price of S$65, which is odd given it’s listed on their normal retail price list at S$63. Let’s not quibble over a couple of bucks in the advertising blurb and focus on the wine. Michael Cooper gives it 4.5 stars and suggests drinking out to 2014. Bob Campbell loves it, and gives it 95 points (5 stars). Reckons it one of the best wines to come out of Cloudy Bay. It retails for about NZ$40 so the single bottle price of S$55.25 is fine, but the case price of S$52.00 really is good value.

2008 / Pencarrow / Martinborough / Chardonnay / S$29.90 from The Cellar Door – If you’re looking for a rating, you might also try looking under Palliser, as this wine is a junior label from there. A bit junior in the actual rating as well, with Bob Campbell only scrounging up 83 points for this wine. With a RRP of around NZ$17, the pricing here is a bit marginal from a BBI benchmark.

Now to the Aussies, head down with the Ashes gone and a one run loss to you know who in the one-dayer. Not to mention the floods……

2007 / Torzi Matthews / Eden Valley / Riesling / S$33 from Epsilon Wines –  A solid 4.5 star wine. Epicure 4.5, Jeremy Oliver 90 points, James Halliday 94 points. Opinions vary but should keep out to 2015 at least, possibly 2020. RRP is around A$25 so pricing here is keen, great value in fact. You might see it a bit cheaper elsewhere from time to time but here, today, this is a great deal.

2005 / Dominique Portet / Heathcote / Shiraz / S$56.50 at eWineAsia – Dominique Portet has the cellar door in the Yarra Valley but they also offer a couple of Heathcote wines. The 2005 Shiraz is rated 94 by Halliday, with recommended drinking out to 2020. RRP of A$45 so price here is good value.

2005 / Fox Creek / Reserve / McLaren Vale / Shiraz / S$107 (UP S$120) at Profiters International – Wow! If you go to my blog of December 21st, you’ll see that Wine Exchange Asia had this wine on offer at S$55. I said then it was a great deal. Profiters International must know something about this wine that Robert Rees and I don’t.

2008 / St Hallett / Faith / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / S$47.10 at The Local Nose – A solid but not outstanding wine. Oliver 86 points, Wine Front 91, and Halliday 90. Drinking to 2013 or 2019 depending on whether you follow Oliver or Halliday. Sub A$20 down under, RRP of A$19 in fact. That makes the price here a fair way outside an acceptable BBI, a fair way. Not for me.

2005 / Trentham Estate / Heathcote / Shiraz / S$36 at Epsilon Wines – Halliday gives it 94, Wine Estate only 4 stars, but it’s a stayer (drink to 2025) and the pricing’s right. With a RRP of about A$28, price here is great value.

2008 / Battle of Bosworth / McLaren Vale / Shiraz Viognier / S$42 (S$39.90 Member) at Crystal Wines – Wine Front give it 92 points, and reckon it will drink out to 2015. RRP of A$25 so price here is OK.

2005 / Dominique Portet / Heathcote / Cabernet Sauvignon / S$55 at eWineAsia –  Er, is that three Heathcote wines in one blog? Halliday wasn’t quite so wrapped in this one, giving 89 points, drink to 2015.  With a RRP of A$42, this is right where I would expect it to be. Spot on.

2005 / Rockford / Rifle Range / Barossa Valley / Cabernet Sauvignon / S$61 at Parklands Wine (recommended by The Local Nose) – Not much difference of opinion between Oliver and Halliday on this one (Oliver 86, Halliday 90) but Oliver reckons drink it now, Halliday says 2014. It’s academic for me as I won’t be tempted. With a RRP of A$35, this misses an acceptable BBI by a long shot. I’ll pass.

2002 / Majella / The Malleea / Coonawarra / Cabernet Shiraz / S$75, S$70 by the half case, at Wine Exchange Asia – well, this time you really are going to have to ignore the ratings, or choose who you favour. Jeremy Oliver says 88 points, drink last year. Halliday says 94 points, drink to 2022. You make the call. Had a RRP of A$66 but that’s a while ago. I’ve seen prices for this anywhere from A$48 to A$75 down under.

“Unreliable thermostats and air-conditioners are the main cause of damage to wine cellars and rate well ahead of the wrath of a maligned partner or the light hands of an uncontrolled teenage party boy.” – Andrew Caillard MW writing in Gourmet Traveller Wine July 2007

 

 

Year of the Rabbit – uh, oh!

It may be coming up to the Year of the Rabbit but that’s no need to treat consumers as rabbits. I do hope that some of the pricing seen in the last week or so is not representative of the year to come. I know the A$ is high, but hasn’t anyone heard there’s a wine glut on? Ditto for New Zealand where things are possibly even more dire than in Australia. Will Lyons wrote in the Asian Wall Street Journal this week:

“…2011 will continue to see an oversupply of grapes, particularly in countries that have experienced a sustained wine boom. I fear some of those growers who planted vineyards in New Zealand to cash in on the phenomenon of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc will realize the economics don’t add up.”

What with the glut, and the collapse of a major US distributor last year, there’s a lot of wine washing around in the hands of liquidators, and harsh as it might seem for the growers, that can mean tremendous deals for buyers. Last week in Australia I bought several cases of 2006 The Colonial Estate Eclaireur Old Vine Grenache forA$8.99 a bottle. That’s a 92 point Wine Spectator wine that listed at US$28 before the collapse of the distributor.  At A$8.99, I’ll take a punt on it (and did) (See http://www.getwinesdirect.com)

Instead, in Singapore, some distributors/retailers still seem to think that “ignorance is bliss” and as buyers we are all ignorant. It’s going to come as a shock when they realise (or care) that buyers can have Halliday’s ratings and pricing on their i-Phone for next to nothing, and thats there’s a growing number of websites dedicated to hunting down the best deals.

Bastard Box will continue to hunt out the good (mainly), the bad and the ugly (occasionally) in Singapore.

Let’s kick away with some Kiwis:

2008 / Ata Rangi / Crimson / Martinborough / Pinot Noir / S$48 at Crystal Wines (S$45.60 member price) – 4 Stars – You’ll know I’m a big fan of the flagship 2008 Pinot Noir but it sells for about S$72, so this “lesser” label comes in quite a bit below that. Michael Cooper gives it 4 stars and Bob Campbell gives it 87 points, but both comment that it’s still a good wine and a good price, where it sells in New Zealand at NZ$32. The BBI reckons it could list here at around S$43-44 so the price at Crystal is OK, but only just. You’ll be better off hopping down to The Cellar Door in VivoCity where you’ll get the same wine for S$36.90. Think about it.

2006 / Pegasus Bay / Waipara / Chardonnay / S$49 at The Cellar Door – 4.5 Stars – Bob Campbell gives it 91 points. It retails for NZ$35 so the price here is pretty close to where the BBI would expect it to be. Drinking out to 2016.

2010 / Soho / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / S$29.50 at Underground Wines – 3.5 Stars  from Bob Campbell (83 points) so don’t expect too much. It’s only NZ$17 at home.  The price here is OK, but for an extra S$10 you could have got Cloudy Bay just before Xmas.

And now to the Aussies:

Let’s talk about wine because talking about cricket is just too painful. All out for 98! Wow, what a Boxing Day.

2007 & 2008 / Angove / Long Row / Riverland / Chardonnay / S$31.03 at Top Wines (that’s after adding GST which isn’t included in the quoted price)  – 3 to 4 Stars – Wine Estate gives it 3 stars, Halliday gives it 87 points. Not top line then, but neither is the price, at least in Australia. There it retails (a loose term at this end of the market) for A$9.75. At that price, you can forgive a lot of sins, and frankly it’s what you’d expect to pay for a Riverland chardonnay. But the “normal” price in Singapore is S$36 (oh, plus GST making it normally S$38.52) and that’s a whole different equation. Even at S$31.03, this falls too far outside the BBI to gather any recommendation, rating aside. Pass.

2009 / Dominique Portet / Fontaine / Yarra Valley & Pyrenees / Rose / S$34 at eWinesAsia – 4 to 4.5 Stars – Had one of these earlier in the year and found it quite agreeable. Halliday gives it 92 points but Wine Front only 87. Drink it this year though. Great for a pre-dinner drink outside.  With a RRP of A$20, this is good value.

2002 / Lengs & Cooter / Reserve / McLaren Vale / Shiraz / S$99 from Profiters International – 4.5 Stars – I don’t get it. This wine on release was A$45, and even now my research shows you’ll pay about that to get it now. So why the “Usual Price” of S$120 discounted down to S$99? For the record, Halliday rates it 94 points, drinking to 2013. I must be missing something.

“We will always have the time to make love and drink Champagne, and we will do it even more. Champagne’s only competitor is Viagra.” – Pierre-Emmanuel Tattinger, CEO of Taittinger


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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