Archive for January, 2013

Award for the best deal in 2012

Yes, yes, it’s been a long time between drinks, so to speak.

Let’s kick off 2013 by having a review of the 2012 Australia and New Zealand wine world in Singapore, and it’s good news, and bad news.

Firstly, if you think there’s been less current release Australian wine around, you’d be right. According to Wine Australia statistics, the volume of Australian wine sold into Singapore in 2012 was 5% down on 2011, and of more concern for growers, the net growth over the last 5 years has been a big fat zero. So that’s the bad news, what’s the good news?

Well as a consumer, and assuming you like your aged Australian reds, life was never better. You could pick up aged Grant Burge Meshach, Cullen Diana Madeline, Elderton Command, d’Arenberg Dead Arm etc. at outrageously cheap prices, all courtesy of distressed (and disgruntled) investors. So cheap in fact that it created an arbitrage opportunity to ship Australian wine back to where it came from. At my anecdotal estimate, at least 15,000 bottles of so-called iconic Australian wines headed south towards the end of last year.  Think that’s a lot of wine? Oh, no it’s not. I have a friend who some years ago bought 1,000 bottles of those “investment” wines and he doesn’t drink. 15,000 bottles might only be 15 investors and there’s a lot, lot more of them that are still out there.

And therein lies the bad news.

The glut of aged Australian reds has distorted the Singapore market away from both current releases from Australia and wineries that aren’t caught in the glut but are being damaged anyway. So, if those aged reds tick your box, I think you’ll continue to buy and drink well until the wines are either past it, or your bored with the same wine all the time.  There’s hope for Tassie wines yet!

Speaking of Tasmania, it been a horrid start to the 2013 vintage with devastating fires across the south and east and a smattering up north too. Yaxley Estate lost the majority of its vines and some of its vineyard property.  I communicated with my winery friends and whilst most have concerns over smoke taint, most are also confident that the grapes, being small and green, are unlikely to be affected. Fingers crossed.

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It wouldn’t be the passing of New Year without an award for the best and worst deals in 2012.  So to start a new tradition, I’ve introduced the Bastard Box FGD Award for the best deal (if you know the story behind FGR Riesling, you’ll understand) and The Castle Award (“tell ‘em their dreaming”) for the worst deal of 2012.

The Bastard Box FGD Award for 2012 goes to Wine Exchange Asia for the 2005 Warrenmang Luigi Tribute Red blend offered at $49 for six.

The Bastard Box Castle Award for 2012 goes for the ridiculous $152 being asked for 2009 Noon Reserve McLaren Vale Cabernet. No, I’m not naming names. Yes, the 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2007 all sell in Australia for over A$150. But not the 2009 which you can buy right now for A$67.50. Ah, the importance of vintage.

And just in case you’re asking, the judges decision is final…

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Looked at 7 wines today and found the selection pretty depressing with only 5 making the review.  I hope this is not a sign of things to come.

2005 / Elderton / Command / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / $193 at Beam Global Asia  – Is this the first candidate for the 2013 Bastard Box Castle Award? Seriously, this price looks optimistic when compared with RRP A$95 at launch, and which it still sells for down under. But against the price that the 2005 has been commanding (?) in the secondary market here, namely $70-$75, a price $120 north of that looks, well, like they’re dreaming. The wine gets great ratings from Wine Front (95) and Wine Advocate (97) though. BBI ♥♥♥

2010 / Elderton / Friends / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / $35 at Beam Global Asia – Huon Hooke gives it 86 points and calls it a “nice wine”, drinking out to 2016. RRP A$19.  BBI ♥♥♥

2010 / Matahiwi Estate / Wairarapa / Sauvignon Blanc / $29 at Wine Directions – There’s two 2010 Sauvignon Blancs reviewed today and that worries me. I can’t help thinking that they’ll both be getting close to their end, in fact Michael Cooper lists this wine (which he gives “excellent” to) as peaked. I’ll give the benefit of doubt in both cases but don’t let the wines hang around. RRP NZ$19. BBI ♥♥♥

2010 / West Cape Howe / Zeepard / Great Southern / Sauvignon Blanc / $22.90 at Le Vigne – Wine Advocate says “drink to 2013” so given that we’re in 2013 (but only just), don’t hang around with this one either. RRP A$19 BBI ♥♥♥

2007 / Shottesbrooke / McLaren Vale / Shiraz / $30 at Wine Directions – Not the highest rated wine today (that belongs to the Elderton Command) but a solid 91 points from Halliday and keen pricing means it gets the gong today. Drinking to 2015, RRP A$20 – BBI ♥♥♥♥

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THE WAY WE WERE – 1911

1911 Richardson's

It looks like a shilling got you a bottle of claret, which also happens to be the same price as a bottle of cordial. Nothing’s changed then.

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“Common sense and individual preference are the things worth respecting when advice on wine is offered. For the love of Bacchus, don’t let someone bore you with a lot of twaddle about a lovely, pleasurable subject! Have a corking good time with them instead.” – from Wine Talk by Mrs Rada Penfold Russell, Penfolds Advertising Director approx 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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