Archive for November, 2012

Coals to Newcastle? No, Aussie wine to Australia!

Did you see the special on Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc by Wine Exchange Asia? $39.50. You had to be quick.

Did you see that 3,000 bottles of premium Australian wines have been shipped back to Australia for auction there? Strange, but true. The wines that Singapore “investors” have been buying over the last 4-5 years have dropped so low in value here that it makes economic sense to ship them back from whence they came. No pity for the investor. No pity either for the brands that consistently pumped wine into this market without wondering where it was going, and now find that their brand is trashed at the current retail price. Blind Freddy could have seen that the wine was going to speculators, not drinkers.


Let’s have another look at a less well-known grape variety, this time FIANO. I’m digging into the “Wine Grapes” book to help me, and I find that Fiano comes from Campania in Southern Italy. Wine Grapes says that growers are using Fiano in Australia as it withstands heat well. There’s possibly more straight Fiano around in Australia than you might think. I’ve turned up the following examples:

100 Hunts Vineyard Mornington Peninsula Fiano

Bassham Wines Riverland Fiano

Beach Road Wines Langhorne Creek Fiano

Chalmers Euston Fiano

Coriole McLaren Vale Fiano

Foster e Rocco Heathcote Fiano

Fox Gordon Princess Adelaide Hills Fiano

Jacob’s Creek Limited Release SEA Fiano

Oak Valley Estate Sunraysia Fiano

Oakworks Riverland Fiano

Oliver’s Taranga Small Batch McLaren Vale Fiano

Riverland Alternative Riverland Fiano

Rosemount Nursery Project Langhorne Creek Fiano

Rutherglen Estates Rutherglen Fiano

Scott Adelaide Hills Fiano

Section 45 Adelaide Hills Fiano

Witches Falls Wild Ferment Gold Coast Fiano

So much Fiano! Yet, none has ever passed my lips…


Here’s a quiz for you. Quickly, name a wine region in South Australia! I bet most of you said Barossa Valley. There’s no doubting its reputation but what surprised me was that it’s only about 7% of South Australia’s grape wine crush and it’s the second largest in that regard. So what’s the biggest? Ah, that would be Riverland with nearly 60% of the total crush.  Which is strange, as I’ve never heard anyone say they’re drinking a Riverland wine…


Reviewed wine on sale by Artisan Cellars, Cornerstone Wines, Crystal Wines, Eve Spirits, eWineAsia, Le Vigne, Monopole, Straits Wine Company, Underground Wines, Wine Directions, Wine Exchange Asia,

As a consumer of Australian wine in Singapore, you’re in for a treat coming in to Xmas as overstocked retailers “make a positive adjustment to their inventories” to steal a term from HR-speak when the organization downsizes.  So, retailers will be downsizing (dumping?) their inventories ahead of a gloomy 2013, and you’ll be the beneficiary. Keep a few dollars in the wallet for bubbly specials, and more iconic Australians.

NV / Wolf Blass / Pink Moscato (sparkling) / $19.95 at shopnsave – Well, it is coming in to Xmas so time to stock up on some bubbly. Let me rephrase that. Time to stock up on some cheap bubbly for the visiting auntie/mother-in-law/mother. Don’t want to waste the good stuff now, do we? This one will tick all the right boxes for the blue-rinse set. It’s pink, it’s bubbly and it’s sweet. You can get it downunder for $7 in a six pack but the per bottle price is $9. Hmm, $9 bucks in Australia, only (?) $19 here, looks like a good deal, eh? Well, hang on a minute. You see, it’s only 6.5% alcohol, so the duty is only $3.41 instead of the usual $7-ish, so the pricing’s OK, but nothing startling. But look on the bright side – it gets only 82 points from Halliday and you can serve bottles of it to your rellies without having to get into a drunken argument with them over whether spending more on wine gets better quality. It’s a winner. BBI 

NV / Trentham / Murphy’s Lore / Victoria / Brut Reserve / $39 at Wine Directions –  This is a t least getting into 4 stars by Halliday at 86 pts and it’s lowish on alcohol at 12%. Sells at A$10 downunder so looks a little expensive when compared with the Wolf Blass at roughly the same retail price but 86 is better than 82, and 12% is better than 6.5% so a few more stars. BBI ♥♥

2006 / Paradigm Hill / L’Ami Sage / Mornington Peninsula / Pinot Noir / $75 at eWine Asia – This gets pretty solid gongs across the board. Halliday 90, Epicure 4.5 stars and Jancis Robinson 17.5, so no slouch of a wine. But it’s the pricing that beats it here. It’s RRP is shown as A$46 so S$75 looks ambitious. You probably won’t see it anywhere else, so you’ll make up your won mind. But…BBI♥♥♥

2008 / Moombaki / Denmark / Cabernet Blend / $54 at Wine Directions – I’ve never heard of this wine so don’t feel embarrassed if you haven’t either. It’s from Denmark (that’s in the west, not the one near Santa), and it gets 93 pts from Halliday, with about 5-6 years left in it for drinking.  The RRP is shown as A$29 so it’s pushing the outer limits of value for a mainstream wine, but as it’s boutique, we’ll give it BBI♥♥♥♥

2010 / Coal Pit / Tiwha / Central Otago / Pinot Noir / $65 or $60 by the six pack at Wine Exchange Asia – Slips into the “very good, but not great” category by Bob Campbell, but Winestate disagrees giving it the “PINOT of the year” in their annual Wine of the Year awards. Shows a RRP of NZ$42 so the value is very fair. BBI♥♥♥♥

2003 / Kilikanoon / Baroota / Southern Flinders-Clare Valley / Shiraz / $30 at Wine Exchange Asia – The most I could muster was 89 pts from Halliday (no shame in that) but the thing that kicks it into the 4 star category is the pricing. RRP of A$29, and only S$30 here. I think it’s priced to go, as it’s possibly running out of verve. At $30, it’s well worth a try. BBI♥♥♥♥

2011 / Greywacke / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / $38.40 at Crystal Wines – Jancis Robinson likes it, giving it 17 pts. That’s enough to convince most people.  Watch the drinking window on some of the 2011 savvies though. With a RRP of NZ$27, the pricing’s fair so…BBI♥♥♥♥

2009 / Ferngrove Estate / Majestic / Great Southern / Cabernet Sauvignon / $42 at Straits Wine – A big leap in the quality/price comparison for thes enxt two wines. This one’s rated 95 pts by Halliday  and has plenty of life in it. Drink to 2030 according to James. Good value and a good wine. BBI♥♥♥♥♥

2005 / Torbreck / The Factor / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / $110 at Wine Exchange Asia – There’s usually a block buster and it usually comes from Wine Exchange Asia. Today is no exception. Robert Parker gives it 97 pts and calls it a “totally hedonistic turn-on”. Do I need to go further? Forget your aunties and uncles, this is a wine to give to your future father-in-law to show him that his beloved daughter is not marrying some unsophisticated nerd. Robert Parker sophistication for $110! Can’t get better than that. And with a cellaring possibility stretching out 25+ years, you’ll probably inherit it in its prime drinking window anyway. BBI♥♥♥♥♥



Turned up this gem in the Montreal Gazette of November 1974. Cringe factor 100!

















The words accompanying the add were “Discover Emu Crackling Perle Wine…that captures the taste of a truly fine, natural white wine. Emu Perle adds a sparkle to your enjoyment of cool, green salads and brightens the taste of chicken, fish, turkey or pork dishes. For a festive occasion or when ever you want the special pleasures of a delightful white wine with just a hint of a bubble, remember Emu Perle. Emu Perle – the name to remember for the taste you will never forget. From the sunny hillside vineyards of Australia.”

Sounds like straight from the 50s rather than the 70s. Or does it? “Goes well with meat and fish”. That has a familiar ring to it even in 2012.   I wonder if anyone has ever brought out a wine that “goes well with tofu”?



Here’s the promo for this week.

2006 Domaine A Stoney



























It seems an advertising agent in Canada is determined to compound the image problem of the Australian wine industry overseas. Recently  a function to promote San Bernadino wines was held at the office of the Australian Trade Commissioner in Toronto.  The guests were served by an individual in a ‘koala bear’ costume! Australian style snacks were presented including S.A. Garfish, Cocktail Carpet Bags, Australian Corned Beef Wellington and After Dinner Mints! What…no lamingtons and no vegemite sandwiches?” –  Up Front, Winestate magazine August 1982

Lindeman’s Hunter River Burgundy – more expensive than Grange

Off to an event at Michelangelo’s tonight that is eagerly awaited, the Jeremy Oliver Australian Wine Annual 2013 launch. You may not always agree with Jeremy’s ratings but you will know what he thinks. On a personal front, I’d just like to see mores Tasmanian wines included.

Just back from Delhi and I know that everyone’s talking up the Indian wine industry and quality. Well, if the wines we had last week were anything to go by, there’s a lot more talking up needed. A shiraz rose from a reputable maker was truly awful and the pricing scary. US$60 at hotels for what I would think is the equivalent quality of a $3 wine in Australia leaves plenty of room for improvement.


Reviewed wines offered by Cornerstone Wines, Crystal Wines, Eve Spirits, Le Vigne, Straits Wine Company, Underground Wines, Wine Directions, Wine Exchange Asia

All but one of the wines reviewed today (the Cape Barren) came in below BBI 1.0, meaning that pricewise, all but one are better than the fair price starting point.  Here’s how they ranked:

2010 / Lime Rock / Hawke’s Bay / Pinot Gris / $35 at Underground Wines – Quite an attractive S$ price on this wine (NZ$23 retail) but it gets clobbered by the rating when lined up against the other wines today. You would think Michael Cooper  “very good” would do it, but not today. BBI ♥♥

2010 / Cape Barren / Old Vine / McLaren Vale / Shiraz / $62.06 at Cornerstone – The wine’s listed at $58 but it’s quoted without GST so I’ve added that on. James Halliday puts it in his “highly recommended” category but with a retail price of A$40, its pricing is OK, not sensational. BBI ♥♥♥♥

2008 / Best’s / Great Western / Cabernet Sauvignon / $46.50 or $41.85 cash & carry at Le Vigne – Good scores from Gourmet Traveller Wine (“outstanding”) and James Halliday (“highly recommended”) and ready to drink now and for the next 6 years. RRP of A$25 so good all round value. BBI ♥♥♥♥

2009 / Cloudy Bay / Marlborough / Chardonnay / $51.90 at Eve Spirits – Bob Campbell gives it 94 pts and it retails for NZ$38. I read somewhere recently that the Chardonnay has overtaken the Sauvignon Blanc as Cloudy Bay’s best wine. Has the tide turned? Anyway, it’s a good deal here at this price. BBI ♥♥♥♥

2010 / Rockburn / Central Otago / Pinot Noir / $52, $49 x the six pack at Wine Exchange Asia – On any other day, this wine at this price would have knocked the competition for a six. But not today. It gets 5 stars from Winestate and retails for about NZ$ 40. Excellent value. BBI ♥♥♥♥♥

2010 / Bird in Hand / Adelaide Hills / Cabernet Sauvignon / $42 at Straits Wine Company – 95 pts from Halliday’s not a bad start. He reckons it’ll drink to 2030 if you can wait that long. Retails for A$35 so we’re getting in to serious value here. See if you can buy at one of the stores ‘cos if you only want one bottle and have to pay the online delivery fee, it won’t look anywhere near as attractive. BBI ♥♥♥♥♥+

And the wine that has smashed all previous BBI records…

2005 / Warrenmang / Luigi Tribute / Pyrenees, Victoria / Shiraz, Cabernet Franc, Merlot / $55, $49 by the six pack at Wine Exchange Asia – Well, they do say it’s a distressed investor sale. Very distressed I’d say. You see, this wine was A$96 when it was released in Australia. Ouch! Big, big ouch! Halliday 95 pts and still drinking to 2020. 15% alc. if you care. BBI ♥♥♥♥♥+


THE WAY WE WERE – 1976….more expensive than Grange


















1970 Grange was $11.85 at the same time the Lindeman’s 1964 Hunter River “Burgundy” Bin 2950 was for sale at $13.00. We’ve forgotten the high esteem in which the Hunter River reds were held. It was described as having “a magnificent ‘old Hunter’ nose…. a great example of a developed ‘sweaty saddle’ Hunter.” (Wine & Spirit Buying Guide -June 1976)


Here’s what Tiger Wines is promoting this week, the 2011 Mayer Close Planted Yarra Valley Pinot Noir. Timo Mayer doesn’t believe in back labels or ratings but I can tell you that the 2010 was rated 97 pts by Haliday. I had this last night and the colour is almost rose like, red cherries on the nose and soft palate, but it’s the aftertaste that is stunning. Not a “shiraz in drag” as some like to say about Australian pinot.

Selling for $71 net, not much of it around.












Abbreviated as PG or, tellingly, as PiG, it can be incarnated as gris or grigio, the former rich, spicy and ripely opulent; the latter crisp, light and dry. At its worst, it can be bland and boring. (The industry joke is that in a blind taste-off between pinot gris and Evian water, Evian won.). It’s also classed as a ‘canoe wine’ (the joke has to do with making love in a canoe- that is – close to water – but I’ll leave that one there)” – Huon Hooke writing in The Food Issue



Grange for less than $12!


The highest rated Australian wine in the latest issue of Wine Spectator is the 2009 Cluster M45 Heathcote Shiraz at 94 points. Heard of it? I thought not. It’s known downunder as La Pleiade, which is a joint effort between the Laughtons of Jasper Hill fame and Michel Chapoutier of M.Chapoutier of Hermitage fame.  Couldn’t find this wine for sale anywhere in Singapore. If you do, please let me know.


Wandering through an old wine magazine and I read that Jacobs Creek came to life in 1976 under the Orlando umbrella. There were three wines released by Orlando at the same time, all with specific vineyard names, and they were Jacobs Creek (a claret), Lyndale (a Riesling) and Moorooroo (a white burgundy). Not hard to see why the Jacobs Creek name survived and Moorooroo didn’t although I understand that the Moorooroo vineyard is now part of Schild Estate. Just can’t imagine the new world of wine drinkers getting their tongue around Moorooroo.


Reviewed 10 wines today and found a rating on all of them. The wines are from Artisan Cellars, Cornerstone Wines, Crystal Wines, Eve Sprits, Le Vigne, Straits Wine Company, Wine Directions, Wine Exchange Asia. 

A much better selection than last week and some fair dinkum values here.

I got lazy – I found ratings for all the Australian wines at James Halliday Wine Companion so I didn’t look any further.

2011 / Oyster Bay / Marlborough / Pinot Noir / $49.90 at Eve Spirits – There’s something odd happening here.  I’ve seen this wine at over $60 in one of those new glassed-in supermarket cellars so the price here of $49.90 looks attractive by comparison. It’s just that I reckon it has a retail price of NZ$25 and I know for sure that it sells in Dan Murphy’s in Australia at A$18. Strewth! BBI ♥

2007 / Warramate / Black Label / Yarra Valley / Shiraz / $56 at Straits Wine Company – Uh oh. Here we go again. Halliday 89 pts and drinking to 2014. But $56? RRP down under of A$20 which means it should come in around S$38-$40 but it doesn’t. I checked some of the boutique retailers in Australia and the 2004 vintage is selling sub A$20. So, what’s going on here?  At best BBI ♥♥

2009 / Rippon / Mature Vine / Central Otago / Pinot Noir / $73 or $65 for 3 at Artisan Cellars – At least some sanity is returning. Bob Campbell puts it in his “above average” category and with a RRP of NZ$55, this is much more acceptable.  BBI ♥♥♥♥

2010 / Cape Barren / Native Goose / McLaren Vale / Grenache Shiraz Mouvedre / $47.10 at Cornerstone Wines – Moving up in the quality now with Halliday 94 pts and drinking to 2020.  For the anoraks amongst us, this wine is 58% Grenache, 38% Shiraz and 4% Mouvedre. Retails for about A$23 so pricing here is quite good and BBI ♥♥♥♥

2011 / Flametree / Embers / Margaret River / Semillon Sauvignon Blanc / $39 at Crystal Wines  – Drinking 2013 so don’t muck about. Halliday 92, RRP A$18 so BBI ♥♥♥♥

2011 / Wignalls / Unwooded / Albany / Chardonnay / $34 at Wine Directions – Good value. Halliday 90 pts, but don’t sit on it, drink it now.  RRP of A$17 so BBI  ♥♥♥♥

2008 / Arlewood / Margaret River / Chardonnay / $42.30 at Le Vigne, usual cash & carry. Into the serious value now. Halliday gives it 93 pts (highly recommended) and says it’ll drink until 2016. RRP of A$30 so BBI ♥♥♥♥♥

2010 / Framingham / Select / Marlborough / Riesling / $39 at Wine Exchange Asia – Bob Campbell gives it 94 pts and he doesn’t hand that out often. Puts it into his “excellent” category. According to Bob it’s a “moderately sweet” wine.  Retails at NZ$37 so pricing here is really keen and deserves every one of its stars. BBI ♥♥♥♥♥

There’s not much separating these next two. Terrific value:

2010 / Xanadu / Reserve / Margaret River / Chardonnay / $90 at Wine Exchange Asia – Doesn’t get much better than this! 97 pts from Halliday says it all. Retails in Australia for A$85, that’s right A$85. It’ll go all the way to the chequered flag, oops sorry, got carried away there for a minute. It’ll go all the way to 2020. I’m giving it BBI ♥♥♥♥♥+

2008 / West Cape Howe / Book Ends / Great Southern / Cabernet Sauvignon / $37.80 at Le Vigne – No slouch at Halliday 95 pts, and it too will go all the way to 2020. RRP of A$24 so neck and neck with the Xanadu at BBI ♥♥♥♥♥+


THE WAY WE WERE – 1976 – Crikey!


















1972 Penfolds St Henri Claret, 1970 Penfolds Grange and 1973 Penfolds Bin 389 Cab Shiraz, for less than 25 bucks for the lot! My web-based inflation adjuster says that $25 in 1976 is equivalent to about $100 now. Ah, if only you’d known back then.  The 1970 Grange is A$500+ today.


At English Universities, recounts Mr Dickson, students came up with all sorts of vile means of toasting their lovers, ranging from drinking ink to ‘the wretched business of grabbing a woman’s shoe, using it to ladle wine from a common bowl, and toasting the shoe’s owner.’ Perhaps it was because of events such as these that Charles the Great, Maximillian and Charles V enacted laws against the vice. One of the main objectives of the first known temperance society – founded in 1517 – was the abolition of toasting.” – On Toasting and Toasts, David Dunstan, Wine & Spirit Buying Guide, February 1981


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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