Archive for March, 2013

The garage sale of Australian wine continues…

The Great Singapore Dump goes on. More wines hit the market this week from distressed investors and you’d be a mug not to take advantage of their misfortune. I won’t list them all but the 2004 Cape d’Estaing Reserve Shiraz at S$45 and the 2004 Cullen Diana Madeline Cab Merlot at S$90 were definitely worth a look. You need to be linked in to Wine Exchange Asia to see these deals. I don’t like the current situation (it screws up the market for people selling current releases of almost anything red and ocker) but the only way it’s going to change is for the glut to be soaked up, consumed, drunk, sniffed, swirled and swallowed, which is what should have happened in the first place. If you’re Australian, do your bit for your country.


I called in to see Claudio Radenti at Freycinet Vineyards on the east coast of Tasmania on my recent visit to the Apple Isle and what a joy it was. It was late in the day but there was still time to wander amongst the vines on their very steep site and to do something I’d never done before; taste a ripe Pinot Noir grape straight from the vine. A simple thing but enlightening.  Claudio also shared some base material of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay before it goes into the bottle for its secondary fermentation – again, another first for me. Freycinet Vineyards has a real homely, farmyard feel and yet it produces some of Australia’s best wines. It’s one of only two Tasmanian wines (the other is Domaine A Cabernet) listed on Langton’s Classification, with Freycinet Pinot Noir listed as “Distinguished”.  There’s some Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling on its way to Singapore so I’ll let you know when it arrives.


Reviewed 11 wines today, could only come up with rated comments on 6 of them. Wines were from Artisan Cellars, Cornerstone Wines, Culina, Eve Spirits, Le Vigne, Straits Wine, Wine Direction, Wine Exchange Asia, Wine Guru, Wines 2U.

One of the wines I looked at today was the 2009 Como Estate Margaret River Chardonnay selling at Culina for S$47. Well this one has me stumped. Not only can’t I find a rating, I can’t find the winery! No website, nothing comes up on Google. Very strange. Help me out if you can find something.

For the record, none of the wines reviewed in detail got to 5 stars.

2009 / Bell Hill / North Canterbury / Pinot Noir / S$219.35 at Artisan Cellars – I can only hope I get to try this wine one day as every recognized rater is raving over it. “Best pinot in New Zealand” is often heard with Bob Campbell giving it 96 pts, Nick Stock 97 and Tyson Stelzer 97. That’s hard to beat, so what’s it doing up here at the head of the bunch meaning it’s the least best value today? It’s the price of course. I cant get my head around S$220 when the research I do says retail was/is NZ$95 and even in Australia it only (!) cracked A$130. That’s still a long way from where it’s pitched here. ♥♥♥

2007 / Thorn-Clarke / Shotfire Quartage / Barossa Valley / Cabernet Blend / S$45 + gst (tch! tch! – shouldn’t be quoted that way) meaning S$48.15 at Cornerstone Wines – This wine didn’t shine with three of the raters, with James Halliday giving it 89 pts, Jeremy Oliver giving it 87, and Huon Hooke giving it 83 (ouch!). The day was saved by Wine Front giving it 91 so it slips in as a 4 star deal.  RRP of A$20. Keep that in mind when you look at the Pertaringa Understudy. Jeremy Oliver also thinks it should have been drunk by now but Halliday thinks you’ll get another year out of it. ♥♥♥♥

2010 / Neudorf / Nelson / Chardonnay / S$53 at Wine Guru – Not to be confused with the Neudorf Moutere Nelson Chardonnay; according to Bob Campbell the wine is great value at NZ$30, and Michael Cooper agrees giving it 4.5 stars. The price here at S$53 is spot on for fair value so… ♥♥♥♥

2009 / Seresin / Reserve / Marlborough / Chardonnay / S$59 at Wine Guru – A step up the ladder in quality with ratings in the mid 90s or equivalent from Michael Cooper, Bob Campbell and Nick Stock so an all round decent wine. Bob Campbell calls it “very sophisticated”. With RRP of NZ$39, the pricing is pretty good so it almost gets 4.5 stars but not quite. ♥♥♥♥

2010 / Man O’War / Valhalla / Waiheke Island / Chardonnay / S$58 at Wine Guru –  Like the Seresin, in the mid-90s from the same three raters but also with Jancis Robinson giving it 17 pts. Similar price to the Seresin in New Zealand and here so same BBI rating of 4 stars. ♥♥♥♥

2008 / Pertaringa / Understudy / McLaren Vale / Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot / S$26 at Straits Wine Company – Let’s not kid ourselves that this is a stunning wine. At 87 pts Halliday, it’s entirely acceptable but hardly going to set the world on fire. The price is a different matter. With a RRP of A$20, the comparative value is excellent so grab a few for those nights at the BYO when you’ve been told by the in-laws to catch up with visiting relatives or friends of relatives. A safe bet without breaking the bank. ♥♥♥♥

2009 / Sandalford / Reserve / Margaret River / Cabernet Sauvignon / S$45.90 by the case at Eve Spirits – A good wine rather than a great wine with 92 from Halliday and 89 from Oliver, but with a RRP of A$45, it romps in in terms of comparative value. ♥♥♥♥


WINESPEAK 101 – How to waffle with the best of them – Todays’ word BLACKBERRY

“This broad red is inviting and deftly balanced despite its size, with blackberry, cherry tar, licorice and spice flavours.”

“Smooth and vibrant, offering a lovely lilting mouthful of blackberry and floral flavours, persisting easily into the finish.”

“Supple, refined and focused, this is generous with its ripe currant, blackberry jam and fresh cherry flavors.”

This really is winespeak 101. If you haven’t used blackberry in your wine vocabulary then you’re seriously a long way from your MW. It is of course mainly used for shiraz with the last quote up there being for Penfolds Grange, but I don’t know the vintage. There are times when you remove a cork from a bottle of shiraz, and even before you’ve poured the wine, that unmistakable aroma of blackberry wafts into the room. You know you’re on to a good thing.



I’ve been trying wines from Grey Sands for a little while now, especially the Pinot Noir and Merlot. I’m told the Merlot is a particular favourite of Tetsuya which explains why it has been listed at the restaurant in Sydney. I’ve brought up a selection of their Pinots and the first one to be released into Singapore is (and yes, it’s still a current release) the 2007 Grey Sands Glengarry Pinot Noir. Glengarry is the name of the town, if in fact it qualifies as a town, not far from Exeter on the west side of the Tamar River in the north of Tasmania. The wine gets a solid 92 pts from Jeremy Oliver and retails for A$40. I’m selling it here for S$63 inc gst; as usual free delivery for regulars and no minimum purchase. ( email to order)  I caught up with Bob Richter at the vineyard just as he was putting out the bird netting, birds being a major problem for many of Tasmania’s vineyards. Bob and Rita are very welcoming people, but there’s no formal cellar door, so if you are thinking of a visit (and why not), let them know beforehand or let me know and I’ll introduce you. (

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OK, it’s not quite April, but I couldn’t resist this gem.

April is the month for breeding lilacs out of the deadland. I have chosen a blockbuster from the southern Rhone as my wine of the month, something to send winter snarling back to its caves. It has no breeding but endless presumption. It is powerful and ostentatiously expensive – a youngish Lloyd’s underwriter, showing a little plump in a grey pinstripe suit which fits too well, reeking of hair preparations from Messrs Truefit and Hill, and exuding confidence in his own masculinity and savoir faire. Here there are no subtleties, no complications, no reticences, just an overpowering statement of wealth and enjoyment. A chimpanzee could tell it is a good wine. Put it in an aluminium bowl besides three other wines and Joey Wilson himself would go there first, drawn by the rich and fragrant smell.” – Wine by Crispin de St Crispian in Tatler, April 1982


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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