Archive for September, 2012

“Flannel mouths” – an expression from 1963

Had a Southern Fleurieu (south of Adelaide) shiraz recently. It was inexpensive, but I was not overly impressed; thought it tasted like oak was in the wine, rather than the wine was in oak. I looked on the back label for a clue (always a source of entertainment) and found that “the soft and elegant palate lingers, offering berry fruit and spice with a hint of chocolate from French oak.” Ah, it doesn’t say it was matured in French oak barrels, just that it tastes of French oak. I’ll remain suspicious – maybe I should stop reading the industry magazines that carry adverts for oak chips, oak essence, oak staves, oak powder etc. etc.

Just as disturbing was the note that the wine had been imported by Oddbins in London.

Hmmm. I bought this in Singapore quite a while ago. I’m much more careful about who I buy from these days and I avoid stock that may have travelled half way round the world before ending up in Singapore.


No specific reviews today as I’m currently at our property in NE Victoria (home of Bastard Box vines) and being in the country that has one of the world’s best telecommunications systems means I have to venture out onto our deck to obtain a decent broadband signal. Running through the various raters’ websites takes a little longer than in Singapore but the rewards are that I often get to see kangaroos, crimson rosellas and the occasional wombat whilst I’m waiting. That’s all well and good, but yesterday it snowed here, and it’s looking like it might do the same today. Standing in the snow to find ratings was too much to ask, especially when there was a log fire blazing inside and the Sydney Swans were inching in front of Hawthorn.

So no ratings, but an observation on a retailer who finally seems to have got their act together. I’m talking about The Straits Wine Company. They’ve updated their website into something that actually works. I have no association with them at all, so my comments come as a customer, and to be honest, I’ve not been much of a customer in the past. But I recently had reason to seek out a particular wine and the process of buying it online was painless and efficient and best of all, free delivery. I think they’re finally on a winner.


THE WAY THINGS WERE:  – 1961 – How to read a wine label



It’s poetic verbiage, the elaborate hocus pocus of certain self appointed knights of the wine table. Listen to these flannel mouths as they tell how one wine was ‘hospitable’ whilst another was ‘modest’. They are not content to enjoy a wine for its sheer liquid goodness. They must ascribe all types of human qualities to it.

The vignerons who work, and how hard they DO work too, in the larger wine estates are artists with a magnificent background and experience, and are entitled to their technical jargon. Keep this professional talk inside their realms, not to be used with a lordly air at dining tables!” – From Wine Talk, published around 1963 and written by Mrs. Rada Penfold Russell, Penfolds Advertising Director at the time.

Emigre – was $110, now $13

Reviewed wines offered by Beam Global, Cornerstone, Eve Spirits, Le Vigne, Rev Winehouse, Straits Wine Singapore, The Local Nose, Wine Directions, Wine Exchange Asia, Wine Guru.


When I first started this blog several years ago, I was astounded by the value of wines in Singapore. Some truly exceptional deals and some truly awful ones.

My anecdotal evidence suggests that things have changed. I’m not seeing many truly awful deals (maybe I’m not looking in the right place) but the truly exceptional deals have gone too.  Sure, they’ll be there often enough, but more and more I see the pricing lining up with the BBI (Bastard Box Index) at its “fair price” level. I’m not unhappy with that. Retailers have to survive if we’re going to get a good range of wines.

Here’s the deals today, in usual ascending order of value.

2004 / The Colonial Estate / Émigré / Barossa Valley / Shiraz Grenache Mouvedre / $85.60 at Cornerstone – I’ve written about this wine previously when it was offered by Wine Exchange Asia at around a similar level. It’s rated 94+ points by Robert Parker and should drink to 2020. It originally sold for around US$110. I say originally because this wine was caught in the Grateful Palate collapse (Google it) and last I saw, the 2005 Émigré sold at Langton’s in 2011 for A$13. Yep, you read it correctly. So, against its RRP it’s not bad value, but against its market price, well…

2005 / Soul Growers / Barossa Valley / Shiraz Cabernet / $43.50 from Le Vigne – On a straight price comparison, this is one of the better priced wines here today. It sits where it is in this line-up because it gets “recommended, above average” from Halliday, which is nothing to sneeze at, but others mostly do better than that today. RRP around A$30. Drink it now.

2007 / Ara / Resolute / Marlborough / Pinot Noir / $61 from Straits Wine Singapore – To be honest, I’d never heard of Ara until I went looking at this wine. It gets pretty solid reviews with 92 pts from Wine Front and 90 from Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perotti-Brown. I’m guessing a bit on the pricing as I couldn’t find a reliable Resolute price but it looks like fair value. Drink to 2015.

2008 / Man O’War / Ironclad / Waiheke Island / Merlot / $69.90 at Wine Guru and The Local Nose – This wine’s been around before under another retailer (cheaper too, but it was some time ago). Its best rating is 95 points from Gourmet Traveller Wine but others like Nick Stock and Bob Campbell also put it in the 90s. I can speak with some authority (or embarrassment) on this wine as I tried it just last week, courtesy of a good friend. It was presented blind and my conclusion was that it was a very old Shiraz. Doh! RRP is NZ$46 so it’s a fair value wine with a good rating.

2008 / Vynfields / Martinborough / Pinot Noir / $58 at Rev Winehouse and The Local Nose – Another name I’d not heard of. Michael Cooper waxed lyrical about this wine and gave it 5 stars, suggesting it’ll drink for another 10 years. With a RRP of NZ$36, again its only fair value but the rating carries it. There’s a Reserve Pinot Noir from this winery too but Bob Campbell could only muster 78 points for it.

2010 / Moss Wood / Margaret River / Chardonnay / $65 at Wine Exchange Asia – One of only two wines today that cracked a better than “fair value” BBI (the other is the Soul Growers). Almost universal respect with ratings of 95 from Halliday, 94 from Wine Advocate and 92 from Huon Hooke. The one dissenting voice was Wine Front (89) who called it a “little clumsy.” It’s got legs to 2018 and with a RRP of A$65, blitzes the value comparison today.


WINESPEAK 101 – How to waffle with the best of them. Today’s word “BEESWAX”

This young Semillon buzzes with beeswax, orange, lemon, grapefruit and litchi.”

Buzzes with beeswax. Hmmm. You can tell this was an American rating because we would have said lychee.  It was in fact the 2010 Brokenwood Semillon. I can say that I actually have tasted real beeswax. No, not from licking someone’s boots, but from learning to play the didgeridoo way back in 1970 at Mica Beach near Darwin. The blowing end of the didgeridoo was smeared with beeswax – not like the tourist versions available in souvenir stores today. Yes, I did learn how to circular breathe and can still do it today.



Tiger Wines has brought up a small selection of wines from Alastair Christie’s Cape Bernier Vineyard near Bream Creek on the East Coast of Tasmania. It’s a stunning spot overlooking Marion Bay but a real challenge as well. Named as Tasmanian Vineyard of the Year in 2010, this is truly cool climate territory.

The first wine we are presenting is the 2011 Cape Bernier Pinot Rose at $46 (inc gst). A terrifc wine for those early nights sitting on the patio or picnics in the Botanic Gardens. Not cloying like some rose can be. It passed the “wife test” so I won’t be disappointed if most of this ends up in our cellar. Halliday 90 pts, Silver Medal Royal Hobart Wine Show 2011. RRP A$29.

Order from


“There is a strong and convincing argument that rose shouldn’t be judged in wine shows: it is, after all, the epitome of ‘just shut up and drink it’ wines, one of the reason it seldom does well in wine shows.” – Max Allen writing in Gourmet Traveller Wine,  July 2007


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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