Australia’s two buck chuck

Just back from Tassie and another very enjoyable trip. In addition to my established relationships, I also caught up with Rita Richter at Grey Sands, Rebecca Duffy at Holm Oak, Markus Maislinger at Goaty Hill and Jack Cotton at Kelvedon.  Expect some of their wines in Singapore before too long, in fact I’ve secured 10% of Kelvedon’s 2010 Chardonnay production (60 bottles!). Kelvedon must have one of the most beautiful settings in Australia for a winery.

The talk in Tassie is about the weather (dry winter in the north and east with a risk of frost in some areas), a strategic plan to emulate New Zealand that has everyone I spoke with worried, and even more worried murmurs about what Accolade and Treasury Estates are planning for their Tasmanian ranges.

I’ll possibly be down there again in November so if you’re interested in tagging along as a taste-tester, (I drive and I’m not good at spitting), let me know.  I also picked up a copy of Max Allen’s  “The History of Australian Wine”. It’s $50 bucks Aussie – let me know if you want me to pick you up a copy and bring it back to Singapore.

FYI, I noticed a 2004 Domaine A Cabernet Sauvignon listed in a rural restaurant at A$165. You can get that from Tiger Wines in Singapore at  S$64 (A$49) retail.


Reviewed wines on sale by Artisan Cellars, Le Vigne, Underground Wines, Wine Exchange Asia.

Pretty slim pickings today. I reviewed quite a number of wines but struggled to find ratings on them. I use 5 local raters (i.e. Australian or Kiwi) and 3 international but still no go.

So, for what it’s worth, in ascending order of value:

2009 / West Cape Howe / Zeepard / Great Southern / Shiraz / $22.90 from Le Vigne – This is quite a reasonable wine, at least Wine Advocate thinks so. Lisa Perotti-Brown gives it 88 points which in Wine Advocate speak translates to “very good” and all for less than $23. It’s just that for whatever reason, the wine has been priced way, way down by the winery to below A$9, and that knocks it around on a pure comparative basis. Personally I think the pricing in Australia is wrong, but it is what it is and that’s how I have to judge it.

NV / Vinaceous / Burlesque / Blanc de Blanc / Brut / Mount Barker / Sparkling / $33.90 at Le Vigne – 86 pts from Jeremy Oliver is not going to set the world on fire, and that’s what drags it down here as the pricing is very competitive, in fact the best here today. The RRP is A$28, so you se what I mean. James Halliday said “aperitif and hot days all the way…”

2009 / Aurum / Central Otago / Pinot Noir / $53.50 at Artisan Cellars – Bob Campbell liked that giving it “excellent, top quality” rating. With a RRP of NZ$32, the price is OK but it’s the rating that helps it. Good, not great, value.

2011 / Dog Point / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / $35 at Wine Exchange Asia – Is there anyone who doesn’t have some Dog Point Savvy in their cellar? Possibly not. This wine also gets a Bob Campbell “excellent” but with a retail price of NZ$25, it wins the comparative value stakes here today, and by quite a margin.


WINESPEAK 101: Today’s word – DISGUST

…a vibrant Chardonnay bursting with fruity aromas sure to please. The vivid refreshing taste of peach and tropical fruit makes it a perfect match for roasted white meats and seafood.”

This tantalizing description comes off the back label of 2012 Bowler’s Run Chardonnay from Australia that I saw on sale down there. It’s one of those “supermarket” labels. Why am I disgusted? Because this 750ml bottle of wine retails for less than a 375ml can of Coke. A$2.90 for the wine at Dan Murphys, around A$3.00 for Coke at a convenience store. Pro-rata, that would make the “wine” A$1.45 in a 375ml can.

There’s something horribly screwed up with the Australian approach to sensible alcohol consumption when it’s cheaper to buy a 13% alcohol beverage than it is a soft drink. Cheap and cheerful? I don’t think so.



I feel that the essence of good labeling is best summed up by the story of the woman who went to a famous Paris couturier and when shocked at the price of an elegant but very simple black dress was told by the designer ‘but Madam, one is paying for the restraint!’. Just give me complexity in my wine and I’ll always be grateful; save the florid descriptions and art-nouveau labels for those who regard fur covered toilet seats as the ultimate state of the art.” – Great Australian Label by John Hennessy, 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