Archive for August, 2011

Let the good times roll………. and the problem with screwcaps?

Reviewed 19 wines on offer by Absolute Blizzard Resources, Artisan Cellars, Essential Fine Wines, Goddess Wines, Island Wines, Le Vigne, Rubicon Reserve Wines, The Local Nose, Underground Wines, Wine Directions, Wine Exchange Asia,

Yes, yes, I’ve been pretty slack over the last couple of weeks, but we’ll make up for it today. I’m absolutely gobsmacked by the value on offer here today. I don’t know how they do it. Don’t let anyone tell you that Australian wines are SO EXPENSIVE LAH in Singapore. You just have to know what you’re doing!

But before we get into the wines, I mention that I’ll be drinking my bottle of 2008 Best’s Bin 1 Great Western Shiraz tonight, a little earlier than planned. This morning, the bottle slipped out of its storage space (thankfully only inches above the floor) and landed fairly softly on its top. Phew!  Luckily the bottle didn’t break and spill its contents all over the landlord’s marble tiles.  Uh oh. What it did do was to dent the screwcap, breaking the seal, and allowing a small amount of wine to dribble out. I won’t be changing to cork on this single instance, but it does highlight that if one’s buying screwcapped wine, sight unseen, then it’d pay to check whether the caps are dented on taking delivery.

Global financial crisis getting you down? Sick of hearing about PIGS? Worried about your own AAA credit rating? Leave all your troubles behind for a couple of weeks by driving yourself around southern India in an Ambassador taxi. I can promise that you will be very focused! I’ve done this trip twice before and I’d do it again this year if it wasn’t for the unreasonableness of a close relative having his wedding in Australia smack bang in the middle of the dates. Get on to Steve McCullach at, tell him Bastard Box sent you, and hang on for the drive of your life.

You’ll see a review below of what’s on offer from Tiger Wines and you’ll see that it’s marked as “advertisement”. That’s because Tiger Wines is the retail liquor side of Bastard Box and from time to time, offers will be posted here.  The focus of Tiger Wines is on the best there is to come out of Tasmania (hence the name) and quite simply, if the quality is not there, then there’ll be no offers. Tasmanian wine is incredibly difficult to obtain here, although our good friends at Le Vigne do carry Kreglinger and Ninth Island. I just received an e-mail from one highly regarded Tasmanian winemaker that ALL of this year’s vintage has been pre-sold, so volumes will be extremely limited.

We’re kicking away with an offer on Seppelt Silverband Sparkling Shiraz which we imported to iron out the bugs in the system. I know, I know, it’s not Tasmanian but we figured that if everything went to hell in a hand basket on our first shipment, at least we wouldn’t be stuck with a rapidly maturing pinot gris.

So, on to today’s specials:

2009 / TerraVin / Te Ahu / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / S$39 at The Local Nose and Goddess Wines – Bob Campbell 88 points which makes it “above average” and with a retail price of NZ$37, they’re practically giving it away. This wine was offered in Singapore for S$52 less than 12 months ago.

2010 / Tinpot Hut / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / S$34 at The Local Nose and Essential Fine Wines – 86 points from Bob Campbell so still on the “above average’ category, he calls it a benchmark Marlborough sauvignon blanc whatever that means. Has a RRP of NZ$22. Price looks good.

2009 / Arlewood / Margaret River / Marsanne Roussanne / S$29 at Le Vigne – Gets a solid 89 rating from James Halliday who says “it will develop with time in the bottle”. Give it a try if you’re tired of the same old, same old sauvignon blanc/chardonnay routine. RRP of A$20 so terrific buying here.

2007 / Toolangi / Yarra Valley / Chardonnay / S$55 at Island Wines – I used to work with the owner of Toolangi  Vineyards but that’s another story. This wine gets 91 points from Jeremy Oliver and a whacking 95 from James Halliday. Toolangi has a well-deserved reputation and this wine’s no exception. RRP of A$50 and drinking out to 2015. Again, great value.

2010 / Crawford River / Young Vines / Henty / Riesling / S$38 at Island Wines – Ever been to Henty? No, I thought not. Most people in Victoria have never been to Henty either, even though it’s located in the South West part of that state. But there’s some pretty serious Rieslings that come from Henty, and this is one of them. Halliday gives it 93 points and says that it is great drinking, and out to 2015 to boot. It retails for A$25 so the deal here is great value.

2006 / Lindis River / Central Otago / Pinot Noir / S$80.25 at Artisan Cellars – Wow! An $80 pinot from New Zealand had better be good. It’s OK, with Bob Campbell giving it 90 points and it retails for NZ$35. It’s just that…..well, have a look elsewhere in this post and you’ll see that a 5 star Kiwi pinot that retails for NZ$70, sells here for S$75. It’s a tough world out there.

2008 / Martinborough Vineyards / Martinborough / Pinot Noir / S$75 ($70 for a half case) at Wine Exchange Asia – No qualms about this one. Bob Campbell gives it 95 points (“excellent’) and it retails for NZ$70. Selling here at S$75 puts it into the “great value” slot.

2005 / TerraVin / Hillside Reserve / Marlborough / Pinot Noir / S$55 at The Local Nose and Goddess Wines – Here’s another terrific buy. 92 points from Bob Campbell who says that it’s a “serious Marlborough pinot noir”. RRP of NZ$52 so the value just keeps getting better.

2001 & 2002/ Haan / Wilhelmus / Barossa Valley / Cabernet Blend / S$49 at Wine Exchange Asia – A great wine at a terrific price. Halliday 94 points for the 2001, 95 for the 2002, both still drinking out to 2015. Less than $50 bucks for a cellared quality cabernet – what’s stopping you?

2009 / Langmeil / Three Gardens / Barossa Valley / SMG / S$29.50 at Le Vigne – What are the three gardens? Shiraz, Mouvedre and Grenache, that’s what.  This gets 90 points from Halliday and has a long life ahead of it, drinking out to 2018. RRP of A$20. In case you hadn’t noticed A$20 equals S$25, probably closer to S$26 at the hole-in-the-wall money changer at Parkway Parade. So how can Le Vigne do this for S$29? Don’t ask, just buy.

2005 / Soul Growers / Barossa Valley / Shiraz Cabernet / S$39.50 at Le Vigne – Shall we do that calculation again? RRP of A$30. Buy it retail in Australia and it’s going to cost you S$37.75  Le Vigne sells it for S$39.50. Stop complaining lah! Oh, 87 points by Halliday, drink by the end of next year.

Recommended buying for today? The Martinborough Pinot Noir by the half-case easily wins, but just in case it’s all gone, my next best choice would be the Langmeil Three Gardens. And really, you’d be hard pressed to beat the value on the Toolangi if you’re after a chardonnay.

And finally, if anyone wants a FREE copy of the August issue of Winestate or Wine Spectator, drop me an email with your address (only Singapore please!) and I’ll send it to you. Only one copy of each, so first in, best dressed! Somehow, I ended up with two copies of each from my subscription.

Winespeak 101 – Learn to waffle like the best of them. Today’s word – TOASTY

“Incredibly rich and concentrated, with a powerful TOASTY, smoky, savoury bouquet and monumental flavour and structure.”


NV / Seppelt / Silverband / Grampians / Sparkling Shiraz / S$56 at Tiger Wines –  Whilst it’s strictly “non-vintage”, the wine is shown as “2007 Release – Average Age 6 years”. I’m a sucker for great Aussie sparkling shiraz and in my mind, Seppelt are one of the best (and the oldest) at tackling this style. If you’re from down-under, you probably know sparkling shiraz already and you’ll know that this is one of the better ones. But don’t take my word for it…..

“This is a new release from the grandly named ‘House of Seppelt’, and whilst NV, has a release date of 2007 printed on the bottle so you know what you are drinking. It has an average vintage age of six years meaning it is a blend of different parcels put together to make a house style – much like Champagne. Aromas of dark cherry, licorice, dark chocolate, leather, camphor chest and pepper. Just a touch of the smoky farmyard but a really nice balance of savoury and fruity. On the palate rich and full bodied with cassis, cherry, chocolate, spice and leather. Sweet and savoury with a lick of dry tannin and gentle foamy bubbles. Sweet cherry and spice finish. I don’t go a bunch on fizzy reds but this (almost) wines me over” – Gary Walsh at WineFront giving it 91 points.

James Halliday says “it is very well balanced, and in particular not too sweet” and also gives it 91 points.

And finally, WineStar….”a classic, non-vintage sparkling wine with excellent, savoury bottle age characters. Ideal with duck and game, Asian foods and dessert, ideal with canapés and cheese”.

RRP is A$35 although I’ve seen it anywhere between A$27 and A$39.  That makes the price here of A$56 right on the edge of BBI value but it’s about what you’d pay if you brought a dozen up in your own checked baggage. Or you could pay S$122 for E&E Black Pepper sparkling shiraz elsewhere in Singapore!

But wait, there’s more!

Buy a case and I’ll throw in the special shipping carton. Great for storing your wines if you’ve only got a passive cellar, but also great for transporting them. Do what I do – take the empty box with you when you travel and fill it up with your favourites to bring back to Singapore. I’ve been doing this for years now and I’ve never had a breakage. Just remember to declare when you arrive in Singapore.

But you’ll need to be quick. I’ve only got limited supplies and this wine has quickly become our daily quaffer, so it could very well end up in Bastard Box’s own cellar.

Send me an e-mail at or  to order.

“……every wine we drink is a blend…… .with a ‘thick, colourless, opalescent fluid that is constantly present in the mouth of humans and other vertebrates’ aka spit, saliva, gob, sputum, dibble, drool, phlegm. Men drink a couple of litres of the stuff a day while women……get by on half that amount. Which could explain why the weaker sex [sic] tastes better than men – sisters drink their wines less dilute.” – Neil Pendock writing in Wine, April 2011

Be careful what they ask for! – Wine & China

10 wines reviewed on offer by Absolute Blizzard Resources, Artisan Cellars, Crystal Wines, eWineasia, The Cellar Door, Underground Wines, Wine Connection, Wine Culture, Wine Exchange Asia,

Now here’s a tale that will have you shaking your head. Two wineries produce wine with almost exactly the same labels. Ah, you’re thinking – one in Australia and the other in China. Not quite. Both the wineries are in Australia. Read on…..


Over the last few weeks I was starting to wonder if some of the smaller players in the wine biz here might have got knocked out of the field, so quiet were the specials coming through. Thankfully, the specials are coming fast and furious again, although still quieter than the “45%  off” for National Day last year.

Here’s some weekend buying tips:

NV / Dominique Portet / LD / Yarra Valley / Brut Rose sparkling / S$43.50 at eWineasia – With a RRP of A$25, the pricing here is spot-on. Epicure (from The Age in Melbourne) give it 4 stars, meaning “a very good wine of style and personality”. No, really. Not a bad way to get some bubbles up your nose.

2010 / Cape Mentelle / Margaret River/ Semillon Sauvignon Blanc / S$43, S$40.85 for members at Crystal Wines – If you don’t want the bubbles of the Dominique Portet, then this is a better buy. Sells at the same price down-under (A$25), sells at almost the same price in Singapore but this one comes with a 4.5 star Epicure rating or “first class, a wine of distinction” as they say.

2006 / Lindis River / One by One / Central Otago / Pinot Noir / S$80.25 at Artisan Cellars – I think Artisan Cellars have got their work cut out on this one. Step into the S$80 ring for a Kiwi pinot and you’re up against the likes of Felton Road and Ata Rangi. Step into the ring with only a 3.5 star rating from Michael Cooper and the odds are definitely against you. With a RRP of NZ$40, the BBI puts the expected price at around S$60. Handicapped from the start.

2005 / Mount Mary / Quintet / Yarra Valley / Cabernet Blend / S$135 at Absolute Blizzard Resources –  An icon wine. 5 stars from just about everybody. Still drinking out to 2025 apparently, in fact it’s still a bit young. A quick look at the on-liners in Australia suggest that it’s still available for A$155. Price here looks very good.

2005 / Paringa Estate / Peninsula / Mornington Peninsula / Shiraz / S$55 at Wine Culture – A 4.5 star wine according to James Halliday, drinking out to 2013.  The first two wines reviewed here today had a RRP of A$25. So does this one. They’re selling for S$43. This one’s not.

2007 / Tulbagh Mountain Vineyards / Swartland / Syrah / S$30 at Wine Exchange Asia – You’ve possibly never heard of Tulbagh Mountain Vineyards from South Africa, but in this case, I can say that I have. In fact, we’ve been drinking their TMV White (essentially a chenin blanc blend) and once you get over the initial shock that it is so, so different to anything else, it’s actually a wine that has you coming back again and again. I have no personal experience of the syrah but Platters gives it 4.5 stars which equates to “outstanding” in their books.

So, my tip for this weekend would be to stock up on the Cape Mentelle Semillon Sauvignon Blanc as your white, and the Tulbagh Mountain Vineyards Syrah as your red. Now that won’t break the bank, will it?


The way things were, 1978…..

“Australian people seem to be ready to pay a lot of money for their drinks but very little for their food. So, the restauranteur will give the food away and make a profit on the wine. And when the chappie has drunk a little bit, now they go further. They fill the glass, fill the glass, fill the glass, if you are not careful you are obliged to leave the place with your full glass of wine, which is crime, not for the money value but the real value of wine.” – Bernard Vigor, restauranteur, commenting on the wine scene in December 1978

The quick and the dead

One thing that Robert Rees at Wine Exchange Asia does well is to create a sense of urgency to buy. And he’s done it again with a special on Clonakilla that takes some beating. The offer, which has been sitting out there all weekend (apologies) expires at 5.00pm today.

2007 / Clonakilla / Hilltops / Shiraz / S$42 at Wine Exchange Asia – apart from being a personal favourite of mine, it hits the sweet spot with James Halliday too who gives it 95 points. It should be drinking from next year out to 2022. So, is it a good deal? Well, the RRP is A$30 so if you bought it retail and stuck two bottles in your checked baggage on your way back from down-under, you’d land it for S$39.78 at today’s exchange rate. Or you can forget the hassle and buy as much as you like for S$42.

And something to lighten up your week ahead – Yoga for wine lovers:

Aesthetic is a difficult word. But no other word can describe what is meant by this word. Aesthetic means ‘belonging to the appreciation of the beautiful.’ Aesthetic is pronounced ‘es-thet-ik’. One who is a professed appreciator of the beautiful is called an aesthete (es-the-eet). The aesthetics of wine is concerned with the beauty of wine… offers to those capable of appreciating its beauty a vast field of aesthetic pleasures.” – The Aesthetics of Wine, March 1946

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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