It’s NOT the tax, stupid!

I didn’t set out for this blog to contain mostly wines from Wine Exchange Asia. In fact, I looked at wines from Eve Spirits, eWineAsia, Le Vigne, (Le Vigne are always reliable and have some great deals) and The Local Nose as well but it seems that many of the raters are still catching up with the latest vintages. Anything 2011, I’m still struggling to find ratings for, and I use James Halliday, Jeremy Oliver, Campbell Mattinson & Gary Walsh, Huon Hooke and a smattering of internationals. Sometimes it’s just the way the cards fall.


In ascending order of BBI value:

2006 / Majella / Coonawarra / Sparkling Shiraz / S$49 at Wine Exchange Asia – I’m a big fan of Sparkling Shiraz as you know. This was our house bubbly for a while so comes strongly recommended. James Halliday gives it 90 pts, Huon Hooke 88 pts (just misses a sliver medal). It retails for about A$28 so the price here is OK and the wine will cellar for a while. If you’ve been put off Sparkling Shiraz by sweet lolly water, then try this. It has definite character.

2008 / Devil’s Lair / Margaret River / Cabernet Sauvignon / $62 at Wine Exchange Asia – Solid marks across the board on this one. Halliday 94 pts and 94 from Wine Front too. It’ll outlast me going to 2030 possibly. Alcohol is an acceptable 13.5%. RRP in Australia is A$50 – that’s the equivalent of S$64 at today’s exchange rate. It sells here at S$62 or the equivalent of about A$48. And we still have supposed experts saying that wine in Singapore is expensive.

2010 / Spy Valley / Marlborough / Pinot Noir / S$45 at Wine Exchange Asia – This gets pretty good ratings from Bob Campbell (90 pts), Winestate (4 stars), Wine Spectator (92 pts) and Michael Cooper (4 stars), so a safe bet quality-wise. Looks like it’ll drink for another 3 years too. RRP of NZ$32 so this is a “wicked” buy.

2010 / Dominique Portet / Yarra Valley / Sauvignon Blanc / S$37.50 at eWineAsia – The retailer says it’s Yarra Valley but I think it’s got a little bit of Pyrenees in it too. No matter, good to see a Yarra Valley wine on offer as there’s not exactly a great range from this region on sale in Singapore. 90 pts from Halliday, but drink this year. Definitely not a stayer. RRP of A$28 so pricing here is very good.

2011 / Majella / The Musician / Coonawarra / Cabernet Shiraz / S$30 at Wine Exchange Asia – Yep, this is the deal of the week, and I don’t have a rating on it! Huh? Well, I’m sticking my neck out on this because every vintage in recent times has scored well by Halliday. The last few vintages have scored 95 pts and it’s not dropped below 92 pts in the last 7 years, so I reckon it’s worth a punt. RRP of A$18 means that pure price wise it’s quite good, but throw in the quality and it wins today.


There’s some new (the stamp’s still wet in the passport) players coming into this market, who have concluded that consumers here are tired of paying outrageous prices for Australian wine. I’d say they’ve been looking in the wrong place. Maybe they should have ventured more than a few blocks from their hotel when doing their research.

That hoary chestnut that “it’s the tax” has been dragged out yet again to support the flawed observation that wine in Singapore is expensive compared say, with Australia. Well, let me tell you, GST in Australia is 10% – here it’s 7%. The wine tax on a bottle of Grange in Australia is about A$80 – here it’s about S$7.

It’s NOT the tax, stupid!

It only hurts on the cheap stuff.


“All the smart people in this industry are the ones who are exporting. In the future, and I’m certain that in the not-too-distant future, there’ll be a huge wine glut in this country [Australia] again, and in the next minute we’ll see Boeings full of ockers coming over to London to try and offload what they’ve got in their warehouses, with little regard for the poor bloody importer who wants continuity of supply, and this time the people in Britain certainly already know what they can expect. They’re not gonna touch these guys with a bargepole.” –  Tony Lord, then editor of Decanter magazine speaking to Winestate magazine, August 1982



1 Response to “It’s NOT the tax, stupid!”

  1. 1 Robert Rees April 25, 2012 at 5:11 am

    Dave no question that the 2011 Muso is a far lighter style from a ball breaker of a vintage. Personally I do not think it will find the same degree of excitement with the critics as the 2009 and 2010 but the brand is a powerhouse and at the recent Majella dinner many people prefered the 2011 to the 2009 and 2010 – so the jury is still out on this one. We sold more than 30 dozen of it on the night and next day which does speak to the impression it made.

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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