The embarrassment of screwcaps

I know, I know, you’d love to open that Henschke Hill of Grace now under screwcap, but what would your guests think? Oh, the ignominy, oh the embarrassment.

Never fear, the Trudeau screwcap remover is here!

One of the benefits of a 60th birthday is all the fun wine gifts you get, ranging from a stopper that uses, how shall we say, a certain part of a man’s anatomy to seal the bottle, through to the wonderfully silly screwcap remover. It even comes with instructions that tell you to “turn to open the bottle”. How did we ever cope with an instruction-less corkscrew?

The idea it seems, is to hide the fact that you are removing a screwcap by allowing you to display some purpose to the action, muffling the metallic snap as the seal breaks, and then by a devious mechanism that holds the screwcap out of sight in the tool, allowing you to discreetly pop the used screwcap into the nearest bin. Your guests will be none the wiser…..apparently. You can see why I had to have one.

Thank you Peter & Sandra. It’s been a big hit already.

In the same way that car magazines often get criticized for writing about Lamborghinis and Ferraris instead of bread & butter models like BMW, wine magazines get criticized for writing about wines that few can afford, instead of writing about wines like Yellow Tail or Wolf Blass Yellow Label. Well, time to get your pens ready. The wines reviewed here today are definitely not your everyday drinking models.

1997 / Best’s / Thomson Family / Great Western / Shiraz – S$188 or S$178.60 Member Price at Crystal Wines – I’m a great fan of Best’s but I would be wouldn’t I? Highly rated by those who matter, for example Jeremy Oliver gives it a “regular gold medal” 94 point rating, and Wine Front gives it “exceptional” at 97 points. A bit of difference on the cellaring with Oliver giving it 2009+ and Wine Front saying “out to 2027”. So, is it good value? Given the vintage, it’s fair to say that the BBI shouldn’t include an allowance for getting the WET back. On that basis, a direct comparison with recent sales of the wine in Australia shows it in the market at about A$120. If you bought a bottle yourself retail, you’d land it after duty and VAT at around S$165, so S$178 isn’t that far away. At this level of buying though, and with the scarcity of older vintages, it’s probably a bit academic. If you like it, you’ll probably buy it. So, the next question is – is this the best deal for it in Singapore? That I can’t answer, but if you do see it or similar vintages around for less, let me know so we can tell the world.

2006 / Jim Barry / The Armagh / Clare Valley / Shiraz – S$290 at Epsilon Wines – I have fond memories of an Armagh consumed at a restaurant in Arrowtown in Central Otago (Gantreys from memory) in 1993 for about $50. Those were the days. It’s a serious acquisition now. James Halliday gives it “outstanding” and Oliver gives it a “top silver medal”. It’s Jeremy Oliver again who suggests a shorter cellaring (2014+) against Halliday’s 2030, not something that Jeremy is know for. You’ll have to be the judge on the price. I reckon you can still get this retail and get the WET back in which case it should be closer to S$215 than S$290 but you might waste a lot of time tracking it down.  Another case of, if you like it, you’ll probably buy it.

2008 / Man O’War / Ironclad / Waiheke Island / Red Blend – S$66 at Rubicon Reserve Wines – This looks to be a pretty stunning wine, with Gourmet Traveller Wine giving it “outstanding” (95) and Bob Campbell giving it “excellent, top quality” (93). If you’re tired of those big Barossa reds (not me!), then give it a go. RRP is NZ$46 so the price of S$66 is about where the BBI would expect it to be.

I promise that the next blog will be more Morris Minor than Porsche.

“I’ve enjoyed wine without food many times, but I’ve never tasted a wine that was unaccompanied by words” – Lettie Teague ‘Speaking of Wine’ in the Asian Wall Street Journal 3rd July 2010

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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

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