The taste of wet gravel

Reviewed offers by Artisan Cellars, Crystal Wines, Eve Spirits, The Cellar Door, The Local Nose, Underground Wines, Wine Directions


What a boring bunch of wines on offer! I reviewed over 12 wines but most were simply repeats of offers made late last year or earlier this year. Is this a sign that the Aussie/Sing exchange rate (1.3507 – yikes!) is starting to bite and few new stocks are coming in? I have noticed that some retailers who used to carry a wide range of Australian and New Zealand wines now carry a much smaller selection – they’ve switched to Argentina and Chile and even, dare I say it, France.

So, I ended up with just three Chardonnays to review, and this at a time when you tell me you’ve moved on from Chardonnay. Sorry.

Same as last week, listed in ascending order of comparative value:

2010 / Flametree / Margaret River / Chardonnay / $60 or $57 for members at Crystal Wines. – This is a fine wine indeed if you follow James Halliday or Wine Front. Halliday gives it 96 pts, and Wine Front 93, so right up there with Australia’s best. Long legs too, drinking out to somewhere between 2018 and 2023. But it’s the price again. With a RRP of A$30, the BBI reckons this should pitch here at about S$49 to be comparative with other fine makers who retail at the same price downunder. Bugger.

2009 / Pyramid Valley / Fields of Fire / North Canterbury / Chardonnay / S$101.65 at Artisan Cellars – This wine gets solid reviews (93 pts from Bob Campbell and 91+ from Wine Advocate) and should be good for about another 4 years or so. I’ve seen two RRP on this which really confuses things. One at NZ$65 and one at NZ$97. Pyramid Valley’s own website lists the 2008 at NZ$65 so I’ve gone with that. That puts the price here at the upper end of BBI’s tolerance but still OK. Just. I understand it’s pretty hard to get so no point in discounting I suppose.

2007 / Cloudy Bay / Marlborough / Chardonnay / S$53.90 at EveSpirits – Cloudy Bay’s Chardonnay gets left in the shadow of the Sauvignon Blanc, but according to Bob Campbell at least, it’s a mighty fine drop.   He gives it 95 pts (he doesn’t give out 95s freely) and Gourmet Traveller Wine (for which Bob writes) gives it 97 pts. The Americans are more cautious giving it 88 pts (Wine Spectator) and 85 pts (wine Advocate) who went so far to say that it is “rather anonymous”. To balance things up though, Decanter gave it the equivalent of 5 stars with 18.5 pts. So, you’ll either impress or underwhelm your guests depending on where you serve it. Price-wise, this is a good deal, and the best here today. RRP of NZ$39.


WINESPEAK 101 – How to waffle with the best of them. Today’s word (or words) – WET GRAVEL

I suspect the only time I have even come close to actually tasting wet gravel is as a nipper in a nappy crawling around the backyard.  Makes you wonder what these reviewers do of a weekend. Here’s a description of a shiraz:

“Dark and spicy with a strong licorice note weaving through the persistent  dark berry and wet gravel flavours.” 

Anyone care to offer what wet gravel actually tastes like?



Still around today and still making fine wines…..


“I’ve sometimes wanted to throw people off the [winery] – especially people who chew gum while tasting wine – but I’ve never done it.” – Tony Lee writing in The Age, 20th September 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