Supermarket bargains – who’d have thought?

Reviewed offers by FairPrice Finest, Carrefour, Cold Storage and Bottles & Bottles

(Used 1.3344 and .9946 for the Aussie and Kiwi rates today)

I did a wander around some of the supermarkets and this is what I turned up. Some entirely predictable, but a pleasant surprise here too.

Lindemans / Bin 90 / Moscato – S$21 at Carrefour. I’m still reeling over Carrefours asking price of S$820 for 2005 Grange but let’s not allow that to cloud my judgement. The facts, nothing but the facts. I don’t have a vintage on this wine but I’m guessing it doesn’t matter. I don’t have a region either, but likewise I’m guessing that doesn’t matter. I’m also guessing that this is a wine designed for the export market because I couldn’t turn up a price or a reference anywhere in Australia. I can tell you that it’s for sale in the US at US$6.50 a bottle so that should tell you something. I can also tell you that Wine Spectator rated the 2009 vintage at 85 points (low 4 stars) which is somewhere between “good” and “very good”. I’m assuming it might be around A$5 if it was sold in Australia which makes it a fair price here, it’s just that I don’t like paying more in the mark-up on duty and tax than the wine itself. Some people love this wine, I don’t.

2010 / Cloudy Bay / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc – S$43 at Bottles & Bottles at Parkway Parade. Actually, it’s $86 for two, but you get the drift. No need to talk about Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc. Why so cheap, lah? Well, it’s 2010 Sauvignon Blanc. As a retailer, you wouldn’t want to be caught with a whole swag of rapidly ageing sav blanc so best to get it out the door. I wouldn’t be worried by this vintage yet (I bought some so can’t be too worried) but I wouldn’t stick it away and forget about it. Have a bottle tonight. And then every day with a “y” in it.

2008 / Rabbit Ranch / Central Otago / Pinot Noir – S$46.95 at Cold Storage. From what I can gather, Rabbit Ranch is a sub-label of Chard Farm.  I could only find one rating on this and it was pretty average, in fact that’s exactly what it was – Michael Cooper 2.5 stars “average”. It retails at NZ$22 which seems a bit ambitious, but accepting that for what it is, the BBI reckons it should come in around S$42. It doesn’t, which makes the Cold Storage price look a bit ambitious as well. Instead, I’d go for the Trentham Estate Pinot Noir at Wine Directions for S$35 (see April 12 blog) or the Ata Rangi Crimson Pinot Noir at Wine Exchange Asia for S$36. I’ve done just that and am enjoying both.

2007 / Alkoomi / Blackbutt / Frankland River / Cabernet Blend – S$72 at FairPrice Finest. For the anoraks amongst us, this wine is 48% cabernet sauvignon, 28% malbec, 16% cabernet franc and 8% merlot. Phew. It’s a pretty good wine by all accounts. Jeremy Oliver gives it 92 (“top silver”), James Halliday gives it 95 (“outstanding”) and The Big Red Wine Book 90 (“very happy with it”). Oliver and Halliday say drink between 2019 and 2027. The Big Red Wine Book says it’s all over by then. They say drink between 2010 and 2014 and more specifically “it won’t age”. Who says raters always agree! But it’s the value that surprised me. This wine retails for about A$63-$64, so the price at FairPrice is good value, and I haven’t been able to say that about a supermarket seller for some time.

2007 / Alkoomi / Jarrah / Frankland River / Shiraz – S$55 at FairPrice Finest. Well, Halliday and Oliver agree again. Halliday says 96 (“outstanding”) and Oliver says 94 (“gold medal”). They both agree it’s got long legs into the 2022 to 2027 range. With a RRP of A$44-A$45, this is a good buy. Again.

OK, so I’m impressed (and surprised) that FairPrice Finest is offering the Alkoomi at such a good price for a supermarket that has the overheads of bricks and mortar. But it’s not all beer and skittles. They’ve got a bit of work to do in other places. The store I visited was at Parkway Parade and the fine wines are stored in a separate glass room, but the door seems to be permanently open and I’m guessing the temperature was pushing 20c in there. The bottles are stored upright too (a peculiar trait in Singapore it seems). As for the wine area outside the fine wine room, well, it’s positively warm. Well lit, but warm.

I’m encouraged by the pricing, let’s see if they can fix the storage.

I think the bargain deal here today is the Cloudy Bay at Bottles & Bottles

“Two thousand or more years ago, the Romans had a proverb ‘In vino veritas’, so tersely true that most countries still retain it in the original Latin form. Those shrewd observers had noted that when the liquor goes in, the truth comes out.” – O. Mendelsohn, The Earnest Drinker’s Digest, 1945

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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