Archive for July, 2012

Outback, not out of wine

OK, so I’ve been a bit quiet on the blogging front over the last couple of weeks, but I have an excuse. I’ve been in the Australian outback (the Kimberley to be precise) and despite having “the world’s best telecommunication system”, I couldn’t get telephone service for nearly a week at a stretch as we moved around. I’ll get around to what this has to do with wine in a minute, but first a brief overview of the trip.

The official start was from Kununurra in the north of Western Australia, but to get there we had to drive 3,000 kilometers from Adelaide, taking four days to do so. That’s like driving from Singapore to Hanoi before you even start. Once we left Kununurra, we didn’t see bitumen road again for 6 days and then it only lasted for two days before back onto the dirt.  We headed across the Gibb River Road, north up the Kalumburu Road to Mitchell Falls, back down the Gibb River Road to Derby, then Broome and a moment’s civilization. Then back east to Halls’ Creek, down the Tanami Track, the top of the Canning Stock Route, across the bottom of Lake Gregory (no roads there – next time you’re flying from Singapore to Melbourne or Sydney and look down on that red desert of seemingly endless nothingness, well, that’s where we were) before rejoining the Tanami and popping out above Alice Springs near Yuendumu. By the time everyone got home, it was about a 9,000 km round trip.

This is not an area for toy 4WD’s or shopping trolleys. You need serious reliability out there and so it’s Toyota Land Cruisers, Nissans Patrols (but not all Nissans Patrols!), Mitsubishis and Land Rovers. No X5, Q7, M Class, Jeep, Cayenne or other wannabees. I do laugh when I see tricked up RAV4’s in Singapore with all the gear – if only they knew what it’s really like.

Oh, it’s tough alright and we’re not novices. We’d previously done the Pitjantjatjara lands, the Gunbarrel Highway, the Canning Stock Route, the Birdsville Track, the Strzelecki Track and Cape Yorke by the Overland Telegraph Line. But then we met the Kalumburu Road.

People think the Gibb River Road is rough (“I did the Gibb River Road” stuck on their tailgate) but it’s a walk in the park compared with the Kalumburu Road and the final stretch into Mitchell Falls. This is the Stephen King road of all roads. It eats vehicles. It snacks on camper-trailers. Between Drysdale River Station and Mitchell Falls, we counted 4 camper-trailers abandoned on the side of the road with broken or bent axles and one a very professionally built model that had simply snapped its A-frame in two.  We didn’t escape unharmed either with a towball that worked free, a broken panhard rod on the Land Cruiser (welded back together in the bush using two batteries and a couple of welding rods – don’t you always carry some?), a collapsed spring on one of the camper-trailers, two flat tyres, and a split differential housing on the older Nissan Patrol.

I mentioned that not all Nissan Patrols were bullet-proof. There’s one model out there, the 3 litre Common Rail Diesel that’s known in the bush as the “hand grenade” ‘coz sooner or later it’s going to explode.  And the one in our group did just that. Stopped dead at Mt Barnett. Book the recovery truck, book the flights home!

Back to wine. Interesting alcohol laws in this part of the country. No alcohol is permitted on any aboriginal lands and fair enough, but even in the towns, the laws are quite strict. In Alice Springs, one can’t buy cask wine or fortified wine (not on my shopping list anyway) and everyone, no matter what age, must provide photo ID that is scanned and recorded for each sale. In Kununurra, the limit for alcohol is a slab of beer and two bottles of wine per person.

Needless to say, we carried wine wherever it was legal to do so and enjoyed many a glass (Riedel of course) around the campfire once running repairs were dealt with. And this is where the BB Buddy comes in.

The corrugations were so bad, the vibrations so consistent, and the whoop-de-doos so regular that tetrapaks of milk sat down on their haunches and leaked milk into the portable fridge. Aluminium beer cans rubbed through and spilled their contents into the milk. Coke cans, not to be outdone, sprung holes and added to the slurry and to top it off, a can of pasta paste blew its top making for a truly exotic but pungent concoction. But the BB Buddies took it all in their stride!

I won’t say that the Riedel glasses are unbreakable in a BB Buddy combo, but by jingo, it’ll take more than the Kalumburu Road to do it.

Get your BB Buddy set (2 glasses, 2 containers) for S$62 by sending an email to And we’ll post anywhere in the world.


Newsflash! James Halliday 2013 Wine Companion Ratings

The James Halliday Australian Wine Companion 2013 Edition was released today. New ratings for wines stocked or on order by Tiger Wines are:

Ashton Hills 2010 Armen & Benen Pinot Saignee Rose -96 pts – arriving October

Luke Lambert 2010 Reserve Yarra Valley Syrah – 96 pts – arriving next week

Pressing Matters 2010 R9 Tasmania Riesling – 96 pts – 20 btls in stock

Domaine A 2009 Lady A Sauvignon Blanc – 95 pts – on order

Domaine A 2006 Stoney Vineyard Tasmania Cabernet – 95 pts – arriving October

Stefano Lubiana 2010 Estate Tasmania Pinot Noir – 95 pts – 94 btls in stock

Kelvedon 2010 Tasmania Chardonnay – 94 pts – arriving October

Luke Lambert 2010 Yarra Valley Syrah – 94 pts – arriving next week

Pressing Matters 2010 Tasmania Pinot Noir – 94 pts – arriving next week

Thick as Thieves 2011 Show Pony YV Sauvignon Blanc -94 pts – 8 btls in stock

Cape Bernier 2010 Tasmania Chardonnay – 92 pts – arriving August

Chartley Estate 2011 Tasmania Riesling – 92 pts – 8 btls in stock

Spring Vale 2011 Melrose Tasmania Pinot Noir – 92 pts – arriving August

Spring Vale 2009 Tasmania Pinot Noir – 92 pts – 20 btls in stock

Cape Bernier 2009 Tasmania Pinot Noir – 91 pts – arriving August

Cape Bernier 2011 Tasmania Pinot Rose – 90 pts – arriving August

Chartley Estate 2011 Tasmania Pinot Gris – 89 pts – 8 btls in stock

Kate Hill 2011 Tasmania Riesling – 89 pts – 7 btls in stock


Email or call +65 96610429 for further details.

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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