Anyone know of a good Vietnamese wine? Anyone know of any Vietnamese wine?

Reviewed wines on offer by Artisan Cellars, Cornerstone Wines, Eve Spirits, Le Vigne, Underground Wines


This will be the last blog for a couple of weeks. We’re off to Hanoi to pick up our ex-military jeep and then drive ourselves down the Ho Chi Minh Trail to Hoi An.  Add it to the list of other drives we’ve done – an Ambassador taxi in Southern India and a bakkie in Lesotho, all arranged by the ever-so-patient Steve McCullach of  – and you can gather we’re hooked on this type of adventure. Steve has a knack of achieving the impossible, and in this case, it will be the Vietnamese driving license we will be issued with.  So no blog (and worse, probably no wine!) for the next two weeks.


Warning: what you are about to read contains disturbing content.

Just perusing the Wine Australia “The Australian Wine Export Market Snapshot” for the year ended February 2012. Here’s the good news. Exports to China grew by 40% to A$207 million. Are we done with the good news?

Make of the rest of the news what you will:

Bulk wine exports exceed bottled wine exports. That’s right, bulk. Bulk was 50%, bottle 49%. And I don’t think bulk means cask. Think tanker.

62% was red, 38% white. 37% was shiraz-ish, and 21% was chardonnay-ish.

83% of bottles exported listed region as “South Eastern Australia or South Australia”.  “What about the regions?” I hear you say. Yes, well Barossa Valley was listed on 2.3% of bottles, McLaren Vale 2.1% and Victoria 1.3%. Seems regional expression or “terroir” has a way to go then. If we assume the bulk wine is not regional specific, then yep, of the A$1.9 billion total wine exports, over A$1.5 billion came from an area similar in size to Western Europe. Imagine buying a wine that just said “Europe”. You’d think – “they’re hiding  something”.

If you’re afraid of figures, look away now!

90% of wine exported (expressed f.o.b, meaning wholesale price before freight and insurance) was under A$5 a litre. Er, that’s A$3.75 a bottle. That’d be about a $10 bottle retail in Australia.  There’s a lot of people drinking what I’m not drinking. In fact, the people drinking what I’m drinking (and I assume dear friends, what you’re drinking) are just 2% of drinkers outside the big island. Only 2% of exports were over A$10 f.o.b a litre. Very happy to be in the top 2%!


Wine reviews, as usual, in ascending order of comparative value (the Bastard Box Index of price, quality and relativity to the domestic RRP)

2008 / Bell Hill / Waipara / Pinot Noir / S$224.70 at Artisan Cellars – I first thought this was a misprint but I’ve been back to check. This is one pricing I can’t figure, so if anyone can help me understand why this wine should be S$225, please let me know. Yes, it gets 91+ pts from Lisa Perotti-Brown at Wine Advocate, but that doesn’t make it that unusual for a Kiwi Pinot. And according to all my data, its RRP is/was NZ$95 so that would suggest a S$ price of around S$110. Can someone explain the extra S$115?

2010 / Squawking Magpie / The Chatterer / Hawkes Bay / Chardonnay / S$31.50 by the case at Underground Wines – 88 pts from Bob Campbell is OK, but nothing startling. Retails for NZ$20 so price here is acceptable but the quality/price trade-off slips it into this spot.

2009 / West Cape Howe / Mt Barker / Rose / S$25.40 at Le Vigne – I’m a big fan of Rose but have to admit I don’t know this one. Most Roses struggle to get above 90 pts (Ashton Hills is one exception) and this one struggles too, getting 89 pts from James Halliday and 4 stars from Epicure.  With a RRP of A$18, the pricing is very keen, I’d only be worried about the vintage.  I like my Rose “fresh” so I’d try a bottle of this first, and if it still ticks your boxes, you know you’ve got a good deal.

2008 / Sandalford / Prendiville Reserve / Margaret River / Cabernet Sauvignon / S$99.90 at Eve Spirits – A big jump in quality and (Bell Hill Pinot aside) a big jump in price. But “you gets what you pays for” and here you’re getting a wine that gets 96 pts from Halliday, 94 from Huon Hooke, and 95+ from Gary Walsh at Wine Front. One for your old age or your kids 21st as it’ll drink to at least 2020 and maybe to 2030. RRP of A$90 makes it a great deal here.

2009 / Aurum / Madeleine / Central Otago / Pinot Noir S$80.25 at Artisan Cellars – And the winner is…..from Artisan Cellars who carry the Bell Hill. Go figure! Michael Cooper 5 stars with recommended drinking to 2026. With a RRP of NZ$85, what’s not to like.


WINESPEAK 101 – Today’s word – RASPBERRY

“This wine doesn’t shout; it purrs. Nor does it sit still. It rolls around over raspberry bliss, under a supple caress of tannins, through an earthly chocolate and mushroom savor.”

Makes you want to drink it, doesn’t it? It is 2006 Grange, as described in Wine & Spirits in October 2011



Very excited to announce the arrival of a range of Stefano Lubiana wines at Tiger Wines. We’ve got the Brut Reserve Sparkling, the 2010 Riesling, 2008 Estate Chardonnay, 2009 and 2010 Estate Pinot Noir. Have a look at for the pricing.

“The Estate range of Stefano Lubiana wines, grown on the vineyards’s gravelly slope, is faultless……..” Max Allen – The future makers, Australian wines for the 21st century.


Red is the breakfast of champions.” – Anders Ousback writing in Wine & Spirit Buying Guide, January 1979



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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