A mixed bag. Sign of the times?

Reviewed wines on offer by Absolute Blizzard Resources, Crystal Wines, Delfi Singapore, Rev Winehouse, Rubicon Reserve Wines, The Cellar Door, The Local Nose, Underground Wines, Wine Connection, Wine Exchange Asia

What a difficult start to the week! I reviewed 14 wines for this post, and am only managing to comment on four. Many of the wines were just too far outside the BBI for value, way outside in some cases. Others, mainly the new releases, haven’t been reviewed yet. Hopefully, that’ll change as James Halliday’s 2012 Wine Companion is released in Australia in a week’s time.

So, what have we got then?

2010 / Soho / Black Label / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / S$29.50 at Underground Wines. I have it that Bob Campbell gives it 83 points (“average to good”) so we’re not exactly firing on all cylinders yet. The value is pretty good though as it retails for NZ$17 so it’s coming in a good $10 bucks lower than where it might. Treat it as a cheap Kiwi sav blanc and you’ll be OK with it.

2003 / Chalkers Crossing / Hilltops / Semillon / S$30 at Rev Winehouse and The Local Nose. Always difficult to assess the older releases and I reckon this came out in about 2005/2006. That’s when Halliday gave it 92 points anyway. It’s the best comparative value here today (RRP A$17), but I have a little concern on its age. Halliday also said drink by 2010, and well, its not 2010 any more. I like my old Semillons, so for $30 bucks, I’d probably take a risk on it.

2009 / Darling Cellars / Six Tonner / Darling / Merlot / S$30 at Wine Connection. Here’s one from left field. Ever heard of the region Darling (no, that’s not a skit from Blackadder)? It’s in South Africa – learn something new everyday. This wine is rated 3 stars by Platters who call it a “reliable quaffer”. It sells locally for abour ZAR59 which means about S$10.50 so we’re not talking high end here. But again, for $30 bucks, worth having a bit of variety.

2005 / Magpie Estate / The Malcolm / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / S$145 at Wine Exchange Asia. About as far removed from the other wines as possible. Halliday said “it’s not for the faint hearted” and gave it 94 points. Not for the octogenarians amongst either, as its recommended drinking is out to 2030. With a RRP of A$150 on release, the price here looks pretty fair to me.

If you’re prepared to take a punt on the age, the Chalkers Crossing looks the best deal today.


Is this the wine invention of the decade? Maybe not, but two articles that I’ve read lately got me thinking.

The first article talked about the pros and cons of screwcaps and corks, with one interesting observation that wine under cork can include a taste of cork without it being “corked”. In fact the article suggested that we’ve got used to the taste of cork in our wine which is why wine under screwcap can sometimes taste so sterile. Makes sense doesn’t it? After all, we put wine in oak to give it flavour so why shouldn’t we expect cork to do a little of the same thing.

The second article talked about the horrendous cost of new oak barrels, and a move by some winemakers to use oak staves instead. The theory is that you get the benefit of the barrel without the cost.

So, that got Bastard Box thinking. Why not put a piece of oak in the bottom of a screwcap. Voila! The problem of the expensive oak barrels goes away and the wine will develop in the bottle (we let champagne develop in the bottle). I’m sure that with enough research, winemakers could establish just how much oak should be left in the bottle before it did its job, i.e. it didn’t go on “oaking” forever.

OK, so I won’t hold my breath on this invention, but if it does ever take off, you heard it here first!


The way we were: 1978 Hardys Moana White Burgundy – never mind the quality, look at the price! On sale in 1978 for A$2.59.


The more things change…..

“More than 30,000 tonnes of wine grapes were left to rot on their vines in Australia this year, said the Australian Wine Board in a recent report. Admittedly, we have a surplus of red grapes throughout the nation, but this is ridiculous! While not wanting Australians to forget other wines or spirits, we can’t understand the decline in the percentage of people partaking of reds.” – Cuttings in Winestate magazine, December 1978



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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