The drought has broken – some top deals here

Reviewed 14 wines on offer by Eve Spirits, Le Vigne, Rubicon Reserve, The Cellar Door, Underground Wines, Wine Exchange Asia, 10 listed here.


Bear with us today – there’s quite a few deals to get through.

2008 / Bald Hills / Pigeon Rocks / Central Otago / Pinot Gris / S$32.50 at Le Vigne – Bob Campbell’s quite happy with this wine calling it “classy” and giving it 90 points.  Lisa Perotti-Brown (Wine Advocate) gives it 89 (“very good”) so no doubting the quality then. But what about the age? Drinking to 2013 apparently. This is the best value of the current releases here today. Sells for NZ$25. By the way, this wine was offered at $38 over a year ago, so Le Vigne are keen to shift this. You be the beneficiary.

2007 / Bald Hills / Last Light / Central Otago / Riesling / S$32.50 at Le Vigne – I couldn’t get a Kiwi’s rating on this so I’ve relied on the foreigners view. No bad thing really as sometimes the Kiwis get carried away on their Rieslings. This one stacks up according to Gourmet Traveller Wine who gave it 4.5 stars (“extremely good”) and Lisa Perotti-Brown from Wine Advocate gave it “very good”. Bob Campbell didn’t rate this particular vintage but did say “my favourite was the 2007, lovely tension and purity”. Not one for keeping though. Drink it now. Sold at NZ$23.

2010 / Shaw & Smith / Adelaide Hills / Sauvignon Blanc / S$42, S$39 by the half case at Wine Exchange Asia – Pretty much loved by all. Wine Advocate 90 points (“outstanding”), James Halliday 95 points (“outstanding”), Wine Front 92 points (“excellent”), and Wine Spectator 90 ponts (“outstanding”). Do I need to go on? You’d want to drink it in the next year or two. The pricing is pretty good, not up there with some of the other deals, but why would you discount this anyway?  You’re unlikely to see 2010 Cloudy Bay at this price and to be frank, it’s not getting the ratings that this Shaw & Smith is.

2011 / Spy Valley / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / S$30 at Wine Exchange Asia – I couldn’t find a down-under rating on this one, but did see that Lisa Perotti-Brown of Wine Advocate gave it 89 points (“very good”) suggesting drinking to 2014. Looks like a good price here.

2009 / Bald Hills / Single Vineyard / Central Otago / Pinot Noir / S$48 at Le Vigne – Two quite different ratings on this one. Bob Campbell gives it 84 points (average to good) but Wine Advocate (Lisa Perotti-Brown) gives it 91 points meaning “outstanding”. Drinking to 2016 and with a RRP of NZ$44 the value here is very, very good. I’m a big fan of Bald Hills so I’m going with Lisa on this one. Recommended.

2009 / Wild Earth / Central Otago / Pinot Noir / S$52, $49 by the half case at Wine Exchange Asia – Wine Advocate 90 points means it just slips into the “outstanding” category. Good enough for me. Pricing looks good.

2001 / Yarra Yering / Dry Red #1 / Yarra Valley / Bordeaux Blend / S$69 at Wine Exchange Asia – A classic Yarra Valley Cabernet blend that has a cult following. Jeremy Oliver has no qualms giving it 96 points.  Robert Parker gives it 88 which still equates to “very good”. Drinking to around 2020. I’ve seen this vintage on offer in Australia at around A$80+ so this is great buying again.

2006 / Newton Forrest / Cornerstone / Hawke’s Bay / Cabernet Blend / S$59 at Underground Wines – A full 5 stars from Michael Cooper who thought it “a stylish dark wine with dense flavours”. Bob Campbell put it into his “very good, but not great” category. RRP of NZ$50 so the pricing here is pretty good, but it’s up against stiff competition today.

2002 / Irvine / James Irvine / Grand / Eden Valley / Merlot / S$79 at Wine Exchange Asia – James Halliday tasted this in 2008 and gave it a full 95 points. A little surprisingly for me, he suggests drinking by 2014 but I’ll go with his recommendation on that. It retailed at around A$100 on release so the price here does represent a genuine attempt to move this wine. Great wine, great pricing.

2004 / The Colonial Estate / Émigré / Barossa Valley / Grenache Shiraz blend / S$99, S$90 by the half case at Wine Exchange Asia – The Colonial Estate brought out a lot of wines with an African explorer theme, such as Mungo Park and John Speke, and then there was the “E” theme. Émigré, Explorateur, Eclaireur, Exile etc. And now I can add “enigma”. Why? Well, it’s extraordinarily hard to quantify this wine from a value point of view. You see, when this wine was released in the US, it retailed for around US$110. That’s right US$110. You’d probably never heard of it back in 2004 as it wasn’t seen in Australia much, if at all. Then it all happened. The US importer collapsed leaving a lot of US focused wineries in dire trouble, and it’s my understanding that The Colonial Estate was one of those that got caught. So here’s the problem. You can now buy The Colonial Estate “E”s at a drastically reduced price on clearance (distressed clearance?) in Australia. How drastic? Well, the 2009 Émigré is selling for A$24.99. That’s a long way from US$110. But you won’t get the 2004 at A$24.99 so there’s the problem. Fair to say that this is a great wine caught in a marketing mess.

So how good is this wine? Robert Parker gave it 94+ points and said it’ll drink to 2021, and my guess is that a whole lot of people bought it at US$110 and were delighted by their purchase.  I can’t find a rating for the 2009 yet. So I’m going to say that the pricing here is a good deal for a great Parker wine. If you want to try the 2009 out of Oz at A$24.99, talk with me, but I’d say have a crack at this in the meantime.

It’s a real tough call today. There’s some great wines at great prices, but when push comes to shove, Bastard Box is opting firstly for the Irvine Merlot, and then the Yarra Yering Dry Red. If you’re not game to test some of the older stuff, then go for the Bald Hills Pinot Gris or the Bald Hills Pinot Noir.


WINESPEAK 101 – Waffle with the best of them. Today’s word – APRICOT

“Fresh, lively and distinctive for its apricot overtones, which lend a Riesling like cast to the classic Chardonnay character “

“Exhibits a plump mouthful of spicy apricot, pear and floral flavours, that draw together effortlessly on the harmonious finish ”

The first one is a Chardonnay , and the second one is Viognier.  So next time you attend one of those black glass “is it white or is it red” affairs, if you’re getting apricots, there’s a good chance it’s a white.



A flagon of Riesling…’d want a lot of friends, or did wine last longer once opened back then?


“A month ago I went to Melbourne and to Canberra, back through the highway, Mildura and then Adelaide. We had stopped to have a meal and we were not allowed to have wine because we stopped at a certain time……we had some in our car, but is it a civilized way to go to your car and drink wine? This is not a high standard of living. We live with a very low standard. My standard is slightly over the average Australian because the French standard of living is our goal” – Bernard Vigor, the face of Kaiser Stuhl and restauranteur complaining of Australia’s liquor laws, 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