Australia, the Lucky Country?

Did you know that because you live in Singapore, you’re not allowed to buy some Australian wines?

Nothing to do with anything Singapore has done of course. No, some wineries in Australia won’t sell wine to me (i.e. Tiger Wines) because they know it will end up here. Their answer (and I’m talking of a big player here, a real big player and a wine at the premium end of the range) has been “the wine is very limited, we don’t have stock for Singapore and its already allocated to our preferred buyers and restaurants”. Fair enough you might think, it’s only that, well, I wandered down to Dan Murphys in Melbourne and bought a couple of cases at a 60% discount (that’s right, 60%) off the winery’s own current cellar door price. Gee, I’m glad it’s so precious that there’s none left for Singapore drinkers…

On a brighter note, have a look at the link below to see what can be achieved when people (in this case Peter Althaus and Domaine A) do get off their butt and make things happen

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Reviewed wines offered by Artisan Cellars, Cornerstone Wines, Eve Spirits, Le Vigne, Wine Exchange Asia, The Local Nose, Wine Guru

Well, the Aussie has finally dropped below 1.3 (1.2895 for the purpose of this review) but it’s probably too little, too late. My anecdotal evidence on the specials around suggests that mainstream Australian wines have been displaced by the Europeans and that the shift by consumers may well be permanent.

On that sobering note for Australian producers, let’s look at what’s out there (in ascending order of comparative value):

2011 / Odd Socks / South Australia / Semillon Chardonnay Chenin Blanc / $36 at Wine Guru – This is a label of Berton  Vineyards in the Riverland. I don’t have a rating but frankly, that’s not the issue. The issue is the price. This wine is on sale in Australia at A$5 bucks a bottle. Why it ends up at $36 in Singapore is beyond me.

2006 / Langmeil / Earthworks / Barossa Valley / Cabernet Sauvignon / $32.30, $29.35 cash & carry at Le Vigne – This wine falls into the Halliday “recommended, above average” category and with a RRP of A$15, the value is quite good. Drinking to 2013 and alc. 14.5%

2007 / Soul Growers / Barossa Valley / Shiraz Grenache Mouvedre / $51.20, $46.55 cash & carry at Le Vigne – 90 points from Halliday puts it into the “highly recommended” range. With RRP of A$25, pricing is fair. Watch the alcohol though! A solid 15.5%. This is a personal favourite.

2008 / Arlewood / Margaret River / Chardonnay / $52.90, $48.10 cash & carry at Le Vigne – This is also in the “highly recommended” range by Halliday (93 pts) and is good value with a RRP of A$30 . 14% alc. Drinking to 2016.

2009 / Aurum / Central Otago / Pinot Noir / $48 at Artisan Cellars – This wine appeared in the last blog where it was listed at $53.50. It’s even better now at $48 but you must mention “web price” when ordering.

2005 / Kreglinger / Vintage Brut / Tasmania / Sparkling / $58.50, $53.20 cash & carry at Le Vigne – 93 pts by  Nick Stock, 93 pts by WineFront and 94 pts by Halliday. A terrific wine, and at $53 bucks, why are you buying NV Champagne? It’ll drink to 2016 too.  Another personal favourite.

2007 / Two Hands / Zippy’s Block / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / $59, $55 by the half case at Wine Exchange Asia – Halliday gives it 92 pts and there’s no doubt that on release it was RRP A$100. What it is now is a bit of a guess but it’s looking a pretty good deal to me.

2004 / Troll Creek / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / $50, $45 by the half case at Wine Exchange Asia – I couldn’t find an Australian retail price on this, only a US retail price which was US85. The rating comes out of the US too, from Wine Advocate’s Jay Miller who gave it 95 pts. So, on that basis it wins here today. Halliday probably wouldn’t agree though. Whilst he’s not rated this particular vintage, his ratings for Troll Creek Shiraz tend to be in the low to mid eighties. That’s what differences of opinion are about!

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TIGER WINES update:

Arriving this week are 2006 Tyrrell’s Single Vineyard HVD Hunter Valley Semillon (sorry, all sold prior to arrival), another batch of the very hard to get 2009 Waterton Tasmania Riesling, and a bunch of wines from Cape Bernier’s vineyards on the east coast of Tasmania., the 2011 Pinot Rose, 2009 Pinot Noir and 2010 Chardonnay. Watch www.tiger-wines.com for final pricing.

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Technically speaking, I think Australian champagnes are as good as anywhere in the world. The quality of the champagne, that depends on the varieties that you use. In Australia at the moment we don’t have the champagne vine varieties in any quantity and this is our only drawback. We will improve further with the introduction of varieties like chardonnay. Even pinot noir should be looked at further, although the climate may be against it here. We use varieties that are available to us. I suppose the main varieties we are using here are the Clare riesling, semillon traminer, white hermitage, pedro and even sultanas.” – Norm Walker writing in Winestate magazine in December 1978

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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

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