Ratings from 97 points down to 60 points

Reviewed wines on offer by Absolute Blizzard Resources, Artisan Cellars, Crystal Wines, Wine Exchange Asia.


There’s some top wines here today, really good stuff and a couple of favourites in the Ata Rangi and Domaine A.

2009 / Cullen / Kevin John / Margaret River / Chardonnay / S$130 or S$123.50 for members at Crystal Wines – 97 points from James Halliday tells you all you need to know. A stunner with “exceptional poise and purity” according to James. Drinking forever (well, 2024 is forever when you’re my age). Retails at A$105 so the price here is OK, just I’d like to see it closer to S$115 to reflect the WET rebate in a A$105 wine, but arguing over S$10 bucks seems so petty when you’re talking of a 97 point wine. If you do buy some, remember wine is for sharing and I’m available.

2009 / Ata Rangi / Martinborough / Pinot Noir / S$75 at Wine Exchange Asia – If you follow this blog, you’ll know I raved over the 2008 Ata Rangi, and said that it was a bargain at S$65 a year or so ago. Well, I’m going to say it again for the 2009 at S$75.  In my mind, the 2009 is better than the 2008. It might just be a timing thing (the 2008 is a little dumb right now, I had one last night) but I find the 2009 altogether smoother and more luscious. Don’t take my word for it – Bob Campbell gives the 2009 95 points (“excellent, top quality”) with drinking out to 2017+. Wine Advocate agrees giving it 92. Won’t last to 2017 in our place though. With the way the S$ is going, the price today might look an even better deal in a few months time. Retails for NZ$65.

2009 / Pyramid Valley / Angel Flower / Central Otago / Pinot Noir / S$117.70 at Artisan Cellars – One of the “three tenors” of Central Otago that knock out stunning Pinot Noir, the others being Felton Road and Craggy Range. This wine gets an “excellent” rating from Wine Advocate (91+) and is drinking to 2015. Retails at NZ$75 so as a straight value comparison with the Ata Rangi, it doesn’t stack up (BBI says closer to S$95 but certainly sub S$100). But, if you want to “tick the box” on another iconic brand, then I don’t think you’ll find it elsewhere in Singapore and that’s Artisan’s price. Take it or leave it.

2003 / Domaine A / Tasmania / Cabernet Sauvignon / S$65 at Absolute Blizz Resources – What can I say about Domaine A that isn’t good, after all Tiger Wines is now the Singapore retailer handling current releases! I’ve got some older vintages too, but not this one. Halliday gives it 95 points (“highly recommended, worthy of a cellar place”) and says drinking to 2023.  Current release is only 2005. Retailed at A$65.  As with most of Domaine A’s Cabernets you need to decant well in advance of drinking.

Putting aside my bias for the Domaine A, the best deal here is the Ata Rangi Pinot Noir.


WINESPEAK  101 – How to waffle with the best of them

Today, we don’t have a “word”, but rather a look at how raters express themselves when the wine is rubbish. These ratings come from a 1999 Wine Spectator and it’s interesting to note (on my personal anecdotal evidence) that raters don’t rate as harshly as they used to, or at least those harsh ratings don’t get published any more.  Back in the old days, swags of wine were rated at 85 points and below. Today, that’s less and less common. Better wine? Maybe.

Let’s do the countdown…..

77 points  – “Only a professional taster or a masochist would consider drinking this thick, black liquid.”

74 points“Dry and rather bitter, with an overt stale note that reminds me of spoiled butter.”

73 points“Tart, green, herbal; a tough red that dries on the finish.”

72 points“Like smelling a horse stable.  In the mouth, it’s rich, ripe and sweet. Very bizarre,” and “This diluted, acidic wine is more like water.”

71 points“An oniony aroma and flavour doesn’t add up to much.”

70 points“Tastes of cardboard. Sweet and appley, but not clean,” and “Stinky, earthy and tart. What happened?”

And finally…

60 points“Odd and unclean, with wet cardboard and tart pineapple flavors”; “Something wrong here. Tart paint varnish” and “Very earthy, even swampy, with herbal and stewed artichoke notes leading to a tart finish.”

I was once presented with a masked bubbly and asked to comment. On the aroma, the first thing that hit me was an overwhelming sense of being in a valley tainted with smoke from coal fires. On the palate, it reeked of napthalene or mothballs. It turned out to be an English bubbly, perhaps expressing its “terroir”!  I won’t judge all britagne by that bottle.


“Hitherto, our own capitalists have had no, or little, faith in the future of our wines. Let them see there is a future for them, and then doubtless they will, on both personal and public grounds, lend a helping hand to the undertaking.” – The South Australian Chronicle, 8th August 1874



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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