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 www.classiccarjourneys.co.uk, 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 tigerwines@singnet.com.sg or boxalld@singnet.com.sg  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


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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