Turning Chinese – hat’s off to Jeremy Oliver

Reviewed wines on offer by Artisan Cellars, Crystal Wines, Equatorial Wines, Eve Spirits, Underground Wines, Wine Directions, Wine Exchange Asia, Wine Guru

Some of the offers weren’t reviewed as they had been offered before – same, same, not different.


Folks in this part of the world had been wondering if Jeremy Oliver had slipped behind when competing with the rush of updated web-based subscription services on wine, but seems he’s had his head down working on very real improvements. First, there was the release of his updated online service but the big news is the release of the Wine Annual in Mandarin. One small step for Jeremy, one giant step for Australian wine.

The immediate reaction by drinkers in Singapore – buy your Grange now!

What’s next? A version in Tamil? I don’t hear of any plans for a version in French though.


An interesting read on parallel importing, something we can expect to see more of.



On the Tasmanian front, look out for new arrivals at Tiger Wines from Kate Hill (see www.katehillwines.com.au). Very excited to bring Singapore yet another “first ever export” from a superb winemaker. Kate’s Rieslings consistently win gold or top gold at respected wine shows. Expected arrival the week after Easter. Watch this space.


Some weeks, the specials get me dribbling, they’re so good. This week’s not one of them. With one exception, it’s a pretty ordinary lot today.

One of the wines I looked at was the Callendale Estate Limestone Coast Shiraz on sale at Equatorial Wines for S$29.50. I couldn’t find a website, couldn’t find a rating but I did see that one retailer had it listed at A$20 whilst another had the 2007 vintage listed at “buy 6 bottles, get 6 bottles free, pay only $5.98 a bottle”. At that point, I moved on.

As usual, in ascending order of value.

2009 / Lime Rock / Hawke’s Bay / Sauvignon Blanc / S$30 by the case at Underground Wines – On strict comparative buying, this deal isn’t too bad, after all the wine has a RRP of NZ$24. But with a rating from Bob Campbell of 84 pts (“average to good”), it can’t compare with a wine that’s 95 pts at less than twice the price.  So, marked down to this spot, it is.

2008 / Water Wheel / Memsie Homestead / Bendigo / Shiraz, Malbec, Cabernet / S$42 at Crystal Wines – This wine is probably best thought of as a quaffer. It sits in the 85-90pt range with a group of raters, it’s getting towards the end of its drinking window (2013) and it retailed down under for A$14.  But with that RRP of A$14, the price here looks a bit ambitious, especially when one considers that Crystal were selling this wine in this vintage for S$29 in December 2010. It’s out-rated here today.

2008 / Nepenthe / Tryst / Adelaide Hills / Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo / S$31.90 at Eve Spirits – The flyer that accompanied this offer said “drink now through 2010”. Well, it’s a good ways past 2010 now but in fact this wine should drink to 2013 according to James Halliday.  He could only rustle up 88pts for it though. Retailed for A$15, so a better comparative deal than the Water Wheel but I still can’t get too excited.

2007 / Pyramid Valley / Riverbrook / Brancott Valley / Riesling / S$50.29 at Artisan Cellars – The retail price (NZ$27) is only NZ$3 more than the Lime Rock but the price here is S$20 more. How come it’s better value? Well, I’m not saying it’s great value but with a Wine Advocate rating of 91pts (“outstanding”), it creeps up the value line. I’ll take 91pts over 84 every time.

And finally, the only wine that gets me in any way excited:

2009 / Misha’s Vineyard / High Note / Central Otago / Pinot Noir / S$66 from Crystal Wines and The Local Nose – Michael Cooper 5 stars, Bob Campbell 93 pts and Wine Advocate 90pts. Now you’re talking. Drinking to around 2016 and with a RRP of NZ$45, it’s about where the BBI (Bastard Box Index*) would expect it to be. The best buy here by a country mile.

(* see About Bastard Box for the BBI calculation basis)


WINESPEAK 101 – How to waffle with the best of them. Today’s word  – YEAST/YEASTY

Nice champagne yeast characters on the toasty nose, some toasty complexity on the palate with excellent structure and good depth of yeasty flavours with balancing acidity” – Champagne of course.

A very high end Australian sparkling wine was once described to me, with a less than subtle grimace, as smelling of Vegemite. Well of course it would! Vegemite is a yeast extract and Australian’s are bred on it. And it goes on toast too. Toasty and yeasty – so what’s the problem?


How close we came……

In 1801, a shrewd Frenchman, M. Peron, a member of an expedition sent on a voyage of discovery by Napoleon, saw the great possibilities of the grape in New South Wales. But the French were not allowed to develop the plan.”  – 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