Archive for September, 2013

Yellow Tail – it has its followers…

Short and sharp in the reviews today. Looked at 10 wines but 5 had been reviewed already this year, and one other was a Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough that couldn’t be found in any records anywhere. On special at one of the big supermarkets – maybe that tells you something.

So here goes with the remaining four, but no 5 star buys today…

2012 / Yellow Tail / Riverland / Shiraz / $20.50 at FairPrice Xtra – I’ll show my prejudices right up front. I’m not a fan of Yellow Tail. Nor am I a fan of buying the cheap end of Australian wines in Singapore where the roughly $7 a bottle tax works against you every time.  Lift your eyes up from the $20 range into the $30+ range and you’ll start to get a much better deal. James Halliday doesn’t think much of it either giving it only 84 points. Sells in Australia for A$8.55. If you must…BBI ♥♥

2012 / Taylors / Clare Valley / Merlot / $29.90 at FairPrice Xtra – Pay the extra $9.40 I say! At least this gets 89 points from Halliday, and given it retails downunder for about $15, your visiting relatives won’t think your quite the cheapskate. Actually, if it was my relatives visiting, A$15 would be about the top of their price point. It’s one of the reasons we live in Singapore where people do spend on good wine. BBI ♥♥♥♥

2006 / Kilikanoon / Covenant / Clare Valley / Shiraz / $55 or $49 by the half case at Wine Exchange Asia – This wine’s been around in Singapore a while, part of the “investment” wines brought up by cash rich/time poor/ knowledge poor investors. But that means it been stored OK though, so a safe bet condition-wise I’m assuming. I reviewed it in December 2010 and again in April 2011. The price has gone up about 5 bucks, but name me something where the price hasn’t gone up. Jeremy Oliver gives it 93 points and says drink between 2011 and 2014 so a perfect window. Last price (2013) at Langtons was A$29 so price here is spot on. BBI ♥♥♥♥

2011 / Akarua / Central Otago / Pinot Noir / $50 at Underground Wines – This a newie to me so I had to turn to Bob Campbell to get a rating. He gives it 91 points. Wine Front in Australia weren’t quite so kind giving it only 88 points noting that it sells in Australia for A$45. The RRP in New Zealand is NZ$44 so the asking price here is looking pretty good. BBI ♥♥♥♥


WINESPEAK 101 – How to waffle with the best of them – Today’s words “Black Cherry”

 “Rich, ripe, round and deep, delivering a complex mouthful of black cherry, plum, fig and licorice flavors”

Yep, I can taste it now. A no brainer  – shiraz, and probably Barossa.



OK, so this is not from Tasmania but it is cool-climate. A couple of lovely wines from Darren Burke (winemaker at Leura Park) under his own family label Bromley Wines.

Bromley PNs


Historically [Australia’s merlot] clones have come from California, not France. That’s maybe not such a good thing. The Californians have been susceptible to disease and viruses. They tend to mutate at the drop of a hat. They are often inconsistent in yield, sometimes producing big grapes that stay green and can, on occasion, make wines look watery. Prue Henschke, one of Australia’s leading viticulturists, has all the big-name merlot clones at her family’s Lenswood vineyard in the Adelaide Hills: DV314, DV37, 6R, 8R, Q4514. With so many numbers they must be good. ‘No’, Henschke says. ‘We get all their (vaguely indicating the direction of California) shit.” – Jeni Port writing in The Age 3rd May 2011


Fact: You can buy quality Australian wine in Singapore cheaper than in Australia

Firstly, congratulations to Steve and Monique Lubiana at Stefano Lubiana Wines on being the first producer in Tasmania to receive certified biodynamic status. Hard work rewarded.

On a personal front, there’s nothing like a trip to India to lose weight. To be fair, the bug that’s kept me out of action could probably have been picked up anywhere. I once drank from a stream way, way above Yosemite Falls in what appeared to be crystal clear water. “Beaver fever” the doc called it some weeks later…


Here’s today’s reviews. Happy drinking.

2010 / Gibbston Highgate Estate / SoulTaker / Central Otago / Pinot Noir / $56 at Rev Winehouse – This gets 4 stars from Michael Cooper putting it into his  silver medal category and he calls it “very elegant, savoury and harmonious”. RRP around NZ$30 with drinking to 2018. Struggles to compete today so…BBI ♥♥♥

2009 / Misha’s Vineyard / High Note / Central Otago / Pinot Noir / $66 at Crystal Wines – I first blogged this back in April 2012 and nothing’s changed. Same rating and offered at the same price back then. Michael Cooper gives it the same as the SoulTaker (4 stars, silver medal) and says it’s “very elegant and supple” still drinking to 2017. This is fairly priced too against a RRP of NZ$45. Feels to me a better deal than 3 stars but my data doesn’t lie.

BBI ♥♥♥

2003 / Caledonia Australis / Gippsland / Chardonnay / $35.40 at eWineAsia – Well, hasn’t this wine been on a pricing journey. I reviewed the wine in September 2010 when, according to my records, it was offered at $40.25, then I reviewed it again in December 2010 when it was offered at $49.50. Now it’s offered at $35.40 on sale against a RRP of $59. Seems there’s more variability here than an Australia political party’s budget figures coming in to next week’s election.  No matter, let’s review as it is today. Looks like it retailed at A$19 on release but I see that the last Langton’s sale was A$15, so I’ll use that as the benchmark. On that basis, the pricing’s OK at $35.40 (a bit ambitious at $59?) but I’m struggling a bit after that. Huon Hooke gave it 95 points back in 2007 and said it could last a bit longer, but 2013? I think that’s the big question mark.  If you are interested, I’d suggest try a bottle before committing to any volume. If you reckon it’s fine, then you’re on to a winner. BBI ♥♥♥♥

2003 / Caledonia Australis / Reserve / Gippsland / Chardonnay / $48 at eWineAsia – Wine Advocate gives it 92 points putting it into their  “outstanding category” and James Halliday gives it 95 with the only caveat being he reckons “drink to 2012”. Wine Advocate say 2015 so you’ll have to decide for yourself. It was released at A$50 but is down to A$25 at auction so whilst the RRP might be $77, the asking price of $48 is closer to the mark. Good enough for…BBI ♥♥♥♥

2008 / d’Arenberg / The Dead Arm / McLaren Vale / Shiraz / $70 at Wine Exchange Asia – If you’re reading this late on Sunday night, you’ll have to be quick or you’ll miss the boat on this one. The offer closes at 8:00am Monday 2nd September 2013. So what does the deal look like? Halliday 96, RRP A$65, drinking to 2025, what’s not to like. Whenever I say to new arrivals that they can buy quality Australian wine in Singapore cheaper, or almost as cheap as in Australia, they look a bit sideways at me and you can see them thinking  “you’ve been in the tropics a bit too long mate”. Well, Dan Murphys has the 2009 at A$58 which comes to about $66 – call me crazy, but I reckon this is a good deal. BBI ♥♥♥♥

2008 / d’Arenberg / The Coppermine Road / McLaren Vale / Cabernet Sauvignon / $52 at Wine Exchange Asia – Same caveat, get in by tomorrow morning.  Similar story really, Halliday 95, drinking to 2020 and RRP of A$65. Dan Murphys doesn’t have the 2008 on sale but earlier vintages are all $60+ and the 2009 is for sale at d’Arenberg’s cellar door for A$60, so my schoolboy maths tells me that A$60 is more than $52. I rest my case doubting Thomases.  BBI ♥♥♥♥♥



1983 McWilliam's

Let’s look back 30 years to 1983 when wine could still be called Claret in Australia, when you could get away with “the only difference between McWilliam’s Claret and a comparable French (sic) Bordeaux is the price.” But then we did foist “Downunder” on to the French that year too.



If you like your Tassie Pinots, or if you’d like to try some to find out, we can still make up a pack of our East Coast Pinot Pack. Here’s the promotion that went out recently.

East Coast Pinot Pack 1


In Scotland, toasting, nay drinking bouts, commonly went on for ten hours. Heaven knows how they managed the strength to struggle out to the Colonies and establish all those stockbroking firms, let alone Presbyterianism.”  –  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