Le Boite Batard?

Reviewed offers by Cornerstone Wines, Crystal Wines, Equatorial Wines, The Cellar Door, The Local Nose, Underground Wines, Wine Culture, Wine Exchange Asia,

What’s this? Bastard Box commenting on (go on, say it) – a French wine? Well, yes, but don’t get too excited as it’s an exception not the rule. I just happened to be reading the June issue of Wine & Spirits, having just read one of The Cellar Door’s e-mails and I spied the same wine. So, for what it’s worth, here goes the first journey into new terroir:

2007 / Dauvergne Ranvier / Gigondas Vin Rare / S$40.80 at The Cellar Door.  Now let me see, is that a white or a red? Ah, The Cellar Door were kind enough to put a picture of the bottle in their e-mail, and I can see it’s a red. Whew! Actually, I can now reveal that it’s 85% Grenache, 10% syrah (calling shiraz by the more expensive sounding ‘syrah’ is probably the only thing the French and the Kiwis have in common) with a smattering of Cinsault and Mouvedre. Anyway, Wine & Spirits gives it 91 points which by their rating system comes in at the lower end of “exceptional”. I have absolutely no idea what it should cost here, but it’s selling for US$33 so I reckon it’s worth a try.

Now, a story of two chardonnays:

2009 / Escarpment / Kupe / Martinborough / Chardonnay / S$52 at Wine Exchange Asia. I used to live in Wellington in 1988, and I’d pass through Martinborough on my way to somewhere else. These days, one would definitely stop over. This wine is described by Bob Campbell as “bone-dry and richly textured” so should suit all of you who hate the buttery chards. He gives it a very solid 94 points. The RRP looks about NZ$45 which at S$52 puts it into the BBI “great value” category.

2009 / Te Kairanga / Martinborough / Chardonnay / S$41 at Equatorial Wines. So, here’s a real stand-off fight. Two Martinborough chardonnays going head to head. This one sells for a lot less at home (around NZ$21) but Bob Campbell could only muster up 80 points for it.  That puts it into his “average” bracket. The pricing here is OK, it’s just that the Escarpment is priced so much more keenly, and is a better wine to boot. Technical KO.

Two more whites to consider:

2010 / Forrest / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / S$28.50 at Underground Wines. OK, so it’s not the best sauvignon blanc to come out of Marlborough, but it’s still pretty good. Bob Campbell gives it 85 points (“above average”) and says that it’s “very food-friendly” (?). But look at the price. It retails for the same as the Te Kairanga reviewed above, (NZ$21) but comes in S$12.50 cheaper. This is a super buy.

2009 / Tamar Ridge / Kayena / Tasmania / Riesling / S$46 at Crystal Wines and The Local Nose. I’m a fan of quite  a few Tassie wines, and this one’s right up there. James Halliday gives it 93 points and suggests drinking out to 2020. Hear, hear for aged rieslings. I can’t get so excited by the price though. With a RRP of A$23, the price here of S$46 is OK, but nothing more than OK.

…and a trio of reds to ponder:

2001 / Paringa Estate / Mornington Peninsula / Pinot Noir / S$90 at Wine Culture.  I’m completely stumped by this. Firstly, by my reckoning, this wine is way past its drinking age and I’m not alone in thinking that. Jeremy Oliver says this should have been drunk between 2003 and 2006. Secondly, I can’t understand the pricing. It retailed on release at around A$55 so I can’t rationalize a price of S$90 now. But, it wouldn’t be the first time that someone knows something that I don’t.

2007 / Mitchell / Peppertree / Clare Valley / Shiraz / S$39.90 at The Cellar Door. The raters agree, the raters agree! Oliver and Halliday at 91 points each, and generally the same ageing, namely around the 2016, 2017 mark. RRP of A$26 so the S$ price is good, edging great, value.

2004 / Torbreck / Run Rig / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / S$360 at Cornerstone Wines. To get a selling price on this downunder, you need to go to the specialty shops that sell older vintages. I’m seeing it at the moment at around A$240, which makes the price on offer by Cornerstone Wines seem quite acceptable to me. It’s just that I reviewed it on 12th April 2011, and you could have picked it up from Wine Exchange Asia for S$199. I did say at the time that it was a stunning buy. The quick and the dead, again.

My vote for today? The Forrest sauvignon blanc and the Escarpment chardonnay.

The wine and the place. Jacobsdal pinotage near Ugie, South Africa:

“Spit is an important factor in tasting wine for a variety of reasons: it contains both sodium and potassium chloride that has a buffering effect on flavour and it neutralizes excessively acidic wine through dilution and alkaline buffering.” – Neil Pendock writing in Wine, April 2011


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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