Archive for February, 2013

It’s tough but someone has to do it – visiting Tasmania

A brief blog today from the technological third world. I can’t manage to hold an internet connection for more than about 5 minutes so no point in rambling on about specials. It must be something to do with the remote area that I’m in called Melbourne.

Heading down to Tasmania tonight on the ferry to talk with a bunch (?) of winemakers and growers including Rita Richter of Grey Sands, Loraine Kossman of Chartley Estate, the folks at Goaty Hill, Brian Franklin at Apsley Gorge, Claudio Radenti of Freycinet Vineyards, Alastair Christie of Cape Bernier and Kate Hill of Kate Hill. Expect to see some or more of their wines in Singapore in the coming months.

In the meantime, stay in touch with Robert Rees at Wine Exchange Asia, Patricia & Lewis at Le Vigne, Arjen Blom at Wine Directions and the team at The Local Nose and you won’t go far wrong.

Til next week, happy drinking!






Grant Burge Meshach at A$55!

Champagne can only come from Champagne right? Burgundy can only come from Burgundy right? Wrong.

An article in the March issue of Decanter talked about how the listing of the wine served at President Obama’s election-win banquet had to be changed from Korbel’s Russian River Champagne, California to Korbel’s Russian River California Champagne to placate the “Champagne Bureau”. How can the Americans call it Champagne?

Seems that under a US-EU ruling, wineries using the name prior to 2005 could keep using it but any newcomers after 2005 couldn’t. There were just two. Korbel’s Russian River California Champagne and Gallo Hearty Burgundy. Yes, you can still buy it.


Reviewed  17 wines offered by Cornerstone Wines, Eve Spirits, Le Vigne, Straits Wine Company, Underground Wines, Wine Directions, Wine Exchange Asia, Winelah! and comment on 9 of them.

Wine Exchange Asia walloped everybody, and I make no apologies for listing them here. They are one of the main players in dispersing the wine-ocean that is distressed investor stock in Singapore.  Other retailers/distributors might not like that situation, as these “dumped” stocks are screwing up the retail market but this blog is for the consumer, and I say again, consumers have never had it so good.

2010 / Mitcham Estate / McLaren Vale / Cabernet Sauvignon / $29.90 at Eve Spirits – Pricewise, this is actually OK but unfortunately the only rating I could find was 78 points from Huon Hooke. Tough to shine in those circumstances. BBI 1.5 stars – 

2007 / Bald Hills / Single Vineyard / Central Otago / Pinot Noir / $79.20 at Le Vigne – I like this wine a lot, in fact I had one during the week. It’s even richer in that Central Otago way than I had remembered. Michael Cooper puts it in the “excellent” category and it should run for a few more years yet. RRP of NZ$44 on release but very tough competition today so BBI 3.5 stars – ♥♥♥

2009 / Pikes / The Dogwalk / Clare Valley / Cabernet Merlot / $30 at Wine Directions – Jeremy Oliver didn’t like this at all giving it just 84 points so I’ve relied on Nick Stock’s rating of 91.  RRP of A$19 so the pricing’s good and overall BBI 4.5 stars – ♥♥♥♥

2011 / Pikes / Traditionale / Clare Valley / Riesling / $31 at Wine Directions – Always like to see a Riesling doing well and this one’s no slouch at 94 pts from Jeremy Oliver.  It’s got a long life ahead of it and with a RRP of A$23, the deal today gets it BBI 4.5 stars –  ♥♥♥♥

To borrow from the sporting channels, if you don’t want to see the result (or the name Wine Exchange Asia)…look away now.

2005 / Grant Burge / Abednego / Barossa Valley / Shiraz Grenache Mouvedre / $85 ea, $79 by 6 at Wine Exchange Asia – Jeremy Oliver likes this wine (92) but James Halliday loves this wine (97) calling it world class. No quibbles about the quality, so how’s the price? With RRP of A$65, it’s priced about right, especially in the six pack.  BBI 4.5 stars ♥♥♥♥

2001 / Grant Burge / Meshach / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / $75 ea, $70 by 6 at Wine Exchange Asia – The 2001 Meshach is winding down to the end of drinking window; that means this year if you follow Jeremy Oliver, 2016 if you follow James Halliday.  Oliver 88 pts, Halliday 95. On release, it was A$99, but the last sale at Langtons (Jan 2013) showed A$122. I’ll do the conversion for you – S$156. You can buy 2 bottles in Singapore for that and still have change to shout 4 serves of laksa.  BBI 5 stars ♥♥♥♥♥

2005 / Warrenmang / Black Puma / Pyrenees / Shiraz /  $55 ea $49 by 6 at Wine Exchange Asia – 94 pts from James Halliday and Campbell Mattinson and they both reckon it’ll last to 2020. The 15% alc. might help. It retailed at around A$80 on release but look like it’s drifted a fair bit lower since but even so, the pricing here is still pretty exceptional. BBI 5 stars. ♥♥♥♥♥

2002 / Grant Burge / Meshach / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / $80 ea, $75 by 6 at Wine Exchange Asia – Well, what to say. It probably makes no difference for me to say that I’m not a big fan of Meshach. My opinion doesn’t matter. What matters is that Jeremy Oliver gives it 95 and James Halliday gives it 96. It’ll go for another 10 years according to both. It retailed at launch at A$100 but if you saunter down now to Dan Murphy’s in Australia you’ll see it there for A$150. So we’re talking a huge, huge discount for Singapore buyers. BBI 5 stars ♥♥♥♥♥

2006 / Grant Burge / Meshach / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / $90 ea, $85 x 6 at Wine Exchange Asia – I’m not sure where the initial retail price on this wine was but around the A$140 mark (S$179). You’ll buy it here in Singapore for half-price. Which price is correct only time will tell. What is not in dispute is the rating. 96 by Halliday, 95 by Campbell Mattinson. BBI 5 stars ♥♥♥♥♥



Asstd Flavours











It grows like a triffid and a lot of people think its wine smells and tastes like weeds too. Other perjoratives include ‘cat’s pee on a gooseberry bush’ and ‘sweaty gymnasium’.  – Huon Hooke writing on Sauvignon Blanc (actually New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc) in The Food Issue.


Sacrebleu! Here comes a flying sheep…

It was great to see Peter Dawson of Dawson & James in town to help promote his wines and Tasmania in general. A trade & media tasting across a range of Tasmanian wines at Taberna Wine Academy left the industry experts asking “where have these wines been hiding?”.  Apart from being winemaker at Hardys and Constellation over several decades, Peter is now chairman of the Australian Wine Research Institute and was able to share with us some of the successes of the AWRI, especially in the development of new hybrid yeasts that are gaining worldwide use.  Peter believes that there is no better place in Australia to grow Pinot Noir than Tasmania.


With apologies to The Rocky Horror Show, “let’s do the price-check again….”

Just looking at the latest 2013 auction price in Australia for 2001 Grant Burge Meshach Shiraz and Langton’s are showing A$90. That’s about S$116.

Price last seen by me? S$60 and they’ll throw in a set of steak knives (only joking).

I have no sympathy for investors who don’t do their homework. One “investment” company in Singapore is still showing Clarendon Astralis 2005 at $540. Anyone in the know is buying it in the $200s. There’s one born very day.

The savvy Singapore wine consumer has never had it so good.


Reviewed wines from Crystal Wines, Eve Spirits, Le Vigne, Monopole, Peccavi Wines, Underground Wines, Wine Directions, Wine Exchange Asia

Started off looking at 24 wines for today’s post, which came down to 21 when I took out those that had already been reviewed recently, and that eventually whittled down to 8 because so many didn’t have current release ratings  (often the 2012 vintage). Seems the raters have some work to do to catch up.

So, here they are in ascending order of value/quality:

2011 / Spy Valley / Marlborough / Pinot Noir / $40 at Wine Exchange Asia – There might be some better ratings to emerge (or even out there) but the best I could find was 82 pts from Bob Campbell (“average to good”) and 89 pts from Lisa Perotti-Brown at Wine Advocate (“very good”). With a retail price of NZ$29 – $32, the pricing here is pretty good, but overall it gets 3.5 BBI stars. ♥♥♥

2008 / Main Divide / Tehau Reserve / Waipara / Pinot Noir / $62 at Monopole – The best rating on this is by Nick Stock (Age/SMH Good Wine Guide) who gives it 92 pts which equates to “serious quality” in his book. Just gets into the “outstanding” category with Wine Advocate too at 90 pts.  So, the wines good, but the pricing lets it down. Retails at about NZ$33 so should be somewhere close to the Spy Valley Pinot above if it’s to compete on price. If not S$40, then maybe a tad over S$50, but it’s not, so it just, only just, creeps into 4 BBI stars. ♥♥♥♥

2009 / Osawa Wines / The Flying Mouton / Hawke’s Bay / Pinot Noir / S$49, $36 by the half case at Wine Exchange Asia – For those who are old enough to remember, there wasn’t a lot of French wine sold in Australia and New Zealand in the latter half of the 80s. The wine drinkers of both countries joined forces to boycott French wines (in fact anything French) in protest at the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland by what we would now call terrorists. It took a long time for the wounds to heal. Seemingly oblivious to this piece of history, I understand from recent news reports that Osawa is being told to cease and desist in calling its wine “the Flying Mouton” (mouton being ‘sheep’ in French and an entirely appropriate critter for a Kiwi wine) because consumers might confuse the wine as having come from Chateau Mouton Rothschild.  I’m wondering who might be confused by this. Certainly not the Kiwis – I’ve known many in my time and they’re a pretty smart mob. Many of them migrate to Australia so my case rests. So maybe it’s the consumer in France who might be confused, seeing “mouton” and thinking “ah, this is a French wine”. This is curious as there is a French wine called Arrogant Frog. Let’s not dwindle on the word “arrogant”, but my Wikipedia research suggests that the word “frog” is not French. Heaven forbid that consumers in France think that Arrogant Frog, being written in English, is from Australia or New Zealand. I’ve had some. My case rests.

But back to the wine. Actually, I couldn’t find a rating on it. 4 BBI stars for being cheeky. ♥♥♥♥

2009 / Peccavi / Margaret River / Chardonnay / $54 at Peccavi Wines – Jeremy Oliver and Lisa Perotti-Brown both reckon this a 91pt wine. Bonzer stuff then. It’s got legs to 2016 at least and the alcohol (14%) to carry it through. With a RRP of A$45, the price here is very attractive so 4.5 BBI stars. ♥♥♥♥

2010 / Best’s / Bin No. 1 / Great Western / Shiraz / $39.50 at Le Vigne – Yeh, a very reliable wine. The 2011 won the Jimmy Watson Trophy but is hard to find, even down under. This gets 94 pts from James Halliday and 93 from Wine Front. Raters do disagree on its ageing potential with Jeremy Oliver at one end of the spectrum (2018) and Halliday at the other (2030). Best buy a couple of cases, drink some each year and see who was right. A personal favourite. Retails for A$25 so very well priced. 4.5 BBI stars ♥♥♥♥

2010 / Best’s / Great Western / Cabernet Sauvignon / $39.50 at Le Vigne – Ratings  all in the 90s with Tyson Stelzers the highest at 93. Drink from 2018 (Oliver again) to 2025 (Halliday again). Nice alcohol at 13%.  A$25, BBI 4.5 stars ♥♥♥♥

2010 / Greywacke / Wild / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / $45 at Crystal Wines – Ratings in the 90s with the highest being both Lisa Perotti-Brown from Wine Advocate at 92+ and Wine Spectator at 92. But….the raters disagree again. Wine Advocate says “built to last” and drinking to 2017, Wine Spectator reckons you should have drunk it last year. You’ll have to manage your own risk on that one. Retailed at NZ$38 so very keen pricing. BBI 4.5 stars. ♥♥♥♥

NV / Cloudy Bay / Pelorus / Marlborough / Sparkling / $49 at Wine Exchange Asia – This wine would have taken the gong if I just looked at Michael Cooper’s 5 star rating, as the pricing is extraordinarily attractive. But there’s a rating sitting out there from Wine Advocate (Lisa Perotti-Brown) which at 88 pts puts it into the “very good” category. Good wine, great pricing and BBI 5 stars. ♥♥♥♥♥

2009 / Brygon Reserve / Birds of a Feather / Hummingbird / Margaret River / Shiraz / $46, $40 by the half case at Wine Exchange Asia –  Halliday gives it 95 pts but wonders whether he should have given it 96. Really, there’s not much difference is there? You don’t take any more notice of a 96 pt wine than a 95 pt wine do you? Oh, maybe just a little.  Anyway, it won Gold at the Sydney Wine Show in 2011, it’s a comfortable 13.5% and it’s ony $40 if you buy six. A well deserved BBI 5 stars. ♥♥♥♥♥



Ah, you’re quick! You’ve noticed this is not a photo of a wine label or advertisement.  But what is it, or more importantly, who is it? I’ll give you a clue. It’s in Singapore (possibly at the Singapore Cricket Club).


A bottle of 2009 Urlar Noble Riesling 375ml goes to the first Singaporean resident who can tell me the name of the lady in the photo.


We have 4 new arrivals and very exciting they are too.

Image 3

We’ve previously introduced the Dawson & James Pinot Noir 2010 to Singapore (already on re-order) and now it’s the 2010 Chardonnay.

Dawson & James Chardonnay 2010  @ $59

Freycinet Vineyards with winemaker Claudio Radenti have a great reputation for producing wines of exceptional quality. Tiger Wines is delighted to bringing their wines to Singapore. The first two are:

Freycinet Vineyards Chardonnay 2011 @ S$52

Freycinet Vineyards Pinot Noir 2011 @ S$76

Kelvedon Estate has been providing Chardonnay grapes for one of Australia’s ultra-premium wines for many years, and has now released a limited quantity of Chardonnay under their own label.  How limited? Well we’ve got 60 bottles and that’s 10% of their production!

2012-11-07 Draft header 2

Kelvedon Estate Limited Release Chardonnay 2010 @ $68


Brand Tasmania has been putting together some Youtube clips to introduce Tasmanian produce. Watch the interview with Peter Althaus of Domaine A  at


Stephen {Henschke] says he was once accused of trying to make a Saint Emilion wine with his Abbotts Prayer. He’s still trying to work out if it was meant as an insult.” – Jeni Port writing in The Age 3rd May 2011


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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