Archive for February, 2014

Lemon curd and stale ginger

I’m always delighted when one of the small wineries I represent gets a great rating for one of their wines, and that was the case this week when I emailed Syd Bradford at Thick as Thieves with congratulations that his 2013 Thick as Thieves Show Pony Yarra Valley Sauvignon Blanc had just been given 96 points by James Halliday, with James calling it an outstanding wine. Syd didn’t know about it, so was over the moon on the news.

This is not your usual Sauvignon Blanc but one that has 14% of Semillon (and therefore can legally still be called Sauvignon Blanc in Australia), and where both varieties spent time separately in French oak.  That means it will cellar until 2016.

Not surprisingly, I cajoled a few cases out of Syd. It will be arriving in the last week of March and retailing for $51 inc. gst. Email me at if interested.


Here’s the reviews for today. Not the highest rated bunch of wines but they are all fairly priced.

2012 / Sandalford / Margaret River / Cabernet Merlot / $39.90 at Eve’s Spirits – Raters can get criticized for be too soft in their ratings, for rarely dropping below 90 points. Well, not this lot. Huon Hooke gives it 88 which equates in his terminology to a bronze medal. Campbell Mattinson gives it 85 which indicates a reasonable or quaffing wine depending on the price, and he comments specifically on this wine that “this is half decent. Not $20 decent but if you see it on discount it might be worth considering.” Drinking to 2017. With a RRP of A$20, the price here is fair, so….BBI♥♥♥

2011 / Doctor’s Flat / Central Otago / Pinot Noir / $65 or $58 by six at Wine Exchange Asia – This is a new name to me, not a lot of ratings that I could find for it. Bob Campbell gives it 90 (“very good but not great”) and Raymond Chan gives it 19.5. I don’t know much about Raymond but anyone who can add to the local discussion on Kiwi wines is welcome.  Retails for NZ$46 so the pricing here is perfectly pitched. I’m giving it BBI♥♥♥♥

2012 / Mitolo / Jester / McLaren Vale / Sangiovese Rose / $37.50 at Crystal – The regular raters have it sitting between 90-94 although Huon Hooke dissents at 86. Consensus is it should be drunk this year. Alcohol is 12.5%, RRP A$22. Good pricing. BBI♥♥♥♥

2012 / Mitolo / Jester / McLaren Vale / Vermentino / $37.50 at Crystal – I could only find two ratings on this, Campbell Mattinson at 91 and Huon Hooke at 86 so it’s a choice between “excellent” and an implied “not worth mentioning”. Don’t wait, drink this now. Pricing is very good, but Mattinson says “must be consumed with food or it’s not all that enjoyable.” You have been warned. BBI♥♥♥♥

2004 / Kalleske / Greenock / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / $55 or $49 by six at Wine Exchange Asia – 94 points from Campbell Mattinson is putting it into the top wines today, and on a pure price comparison basis with its initial release price, it is the best value here today. Drinking for a few more years yet, initial RRP of A$60 but look away now if you want to know what it’s doing at auction…(A$33 last seen at Langtons). Still worth every bit of BBI♥♥♥♥


WINESPEAK 101 – How to waffle with the best of them

OK, here’s your challenge for this year. Somehow, you need to work into your wine conversation a selection of the descriptive words used below by Jeremy Pringle on his website when talking about the 2012 Michael Hall Marananga Roussanne (watch this space, you’ll see this wine in Singapore soon):

Apples, lemon curd, cheese on sourdough toast and Twinings Gunpowder Green Tea….a little creamed honey and stale ginger

Fabulous. Love it or loathe it (I love it), writing about wines has come a long way since the 1970s when wine writing consisted of:

“A fine wine with a great colour, a developed rich fruity nose and plenty of flavour on the palate, with complexity and harmony,” or;

“A wine with considerable colour, vinosity, fruit and flavour, and finishing with firm acidity and fullness on the palate.

Give me green tea and stale ginger any day.


The action of swishing wine liberally around the mouth and then expectorating makes sure that the teeth get maximum exposure to wine acids, so the American Academy of General Dentistry recommends tasting wine through a straw – a dental health tip Georg Riedel is unlikely to support.” – Neil Pendock writing in Wine, April 2011

Where were you in 1987?

Will Lyons wrote in his article “Why Cork Is Still a Show-Stopper” in The Wall Street Journal recently (24 Jan)…that “In a temperature controlled cellar with little damp, a good cork will be able to protect wine for several decades. The problem arises on those rare occasions when it doesn’t.” He also wrote that screwcaps “…are really only used for wines with a short life-span”. Hmmm.

Personally, I’m not convinced that cork failure is yet a rare enough occasion.

I’d just put down Will Lyon’s article when the latest edition (Feb/Mar) of Gourmet Traveller Wine arrived with an article by James Halliday about Le Club Dinner 2013. What struck me, apart from the mouth-watering array of fine wines, was the number of cork failures. Out of a total of 23 wines, 4 were affected by cork.

And we’re not talking old wines here. According to James the 2010 Bouchard Pere et Fils Chevalier Montrachet, “normally a great wine, but [was] here likely to have been slightly scalped by the cork.” Ditto the 2010 Domaine Coche-Dury Mersault Les Rougeots which “all agreed the bottle was cork-affected (not TCA) which took the shine off it.”

What other industry would tolerate such a failure rate, especially since the problem with cork has been around for such a long, long time? Traditionalists will say “oh, but the problem with cork has been fixed now”. Really? It clearly wasn’t in 2010.

But in my mind, worst of all was that 2 out of 5 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Echezeaux were corked. James writes “…the cork gods were in a particularly foul mood, destroying the ’64 and ’66 courtesy of TCA. The ’64 in particular was slaughtered, the ’66 a shadow of what it should have been.” I’m guessing about $2000 a bottle for those to be poured down the drain because of the use of cork.


I didn’t know that!

Treasury Wine Estates bottles Accolade’s wines in Australia and Accolade bottles Treasury Wine Estates wines in the UK. More confusingly, Treasury Wine Estates will be “producing Accolade’s stock at its Asti winery from vintage 2014”.  See Wine Business Australia by Jeremy Oliver in the Feb/Mar edition of Gourmet Traveller Wine.


Can you pick this wine from 1987 vintage? I’m guessing that if you’re over 50, you’ll probably have drunk it.

“Pale yellow in hue, this wine had most interesting tropical fruit aromas on quite a prominent nose. The panel remarked on lantana, but there were also hints of passionfruit and lime. Palate flavours also reflected this mélange of fruits, but its slight sweetness was well-balanced by good acifity. A Germanic-style drinking well now. 3 stars” – Wine & Spirit April 1990

Scroll to the end of the blog for the answer…


A mixed bag this week. Must be the hangover from CNY.

2011 / Waterfalls Road / The Eddy / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / $23.50 at Underground Wines – I couldn’t find a rating on this one, only for the 2010 which Bob Campbell gave 83 points (“average to good”) so you might have to try a bottle for yourself to decide. 2011 Sauvignon Blancs from Marlborough can be a worry, so another reason to try it before committing to a full container load. Retailed at NZ$20 though so the price is really excellent if the wine’s OK. BBI ♥♥♥

? / Alkoomi / Frankland River / Cabernet / $25 at Fairprice – Possibly 2010 if the photo with it is the same vintage they’re selling. I’ll assume it is. Another one I couldn’t find a rating on it but I could find a retail price and that’s A$23.99 at Dan Murphy’s.  That means pricewise it’s a great deal here at $25. If you know and like the wine, go for it. If you don’t, maybe start with one bottle. BBI ♥♥♥

? / Brown Brothers / Victoria / Moscato / $19.95 at Fairprice – I’m not a Moscato person and my prejudices do show. You won’t find this in our place. But if Moscato ticks the box for you, then pricewise this is pretty good deal, as it sells at Dan Murphy’s in Australia at A$12.99. Best left to others. BBI ♥♥♥

2010 / Carrick / Cairnmuir Terraces EBM / Central Otago / Chardonnay / $49 or $45 x 6 at Wine Exchange Asia – EBM stands for Extended Barrel Maturation and Bob Campbell says it’s “a complex wine that merits a few years in bottle”, and gives it 87 meaning “above average”. When you look at the RRP of NZ$34, the price here is great value. BBI ♥♥♥

2012 / Sandalford / Estate Reserve / Margaret River / Chardonnay / $39.90 at Eve Spirits – This a young drinking wine according to Campbell Mattinson who reckons you should down it by 2017. He gives it 87, so that means “very happy with it”. RRP of A$34 so $39.90 is terrific pricing. BBI ♥♥♥♥

2004 / Majella / The Malleea / Coonawarra / Cabernet Blend / $80 or $75 x 6 at Wine Exchange Asia – There’s a lot of Majella floating around Singapore but I have to admit, I haven’t noticed the 2004 Malleea anywhere near as much as the straight Cab or other vintages. Anyway, no hesitation on this by the raters, Gary Walsh giving it 95, reckons it’ll last until 2024. It retailed at A$66 on release and it’s pulling A$69 at Langton’s, so there’s respect for this wine by the cognoscenti. I reckon the asking price here is spot on. BBI ♥♥♥♥

2010 / III Associates / The Descendant of Squid Ink / McLaren Vale / Shiraz / $42 at – OK, let’s get that big bugbear out of the way first. $42 is without GST so this’ll get no prizes from the IRAS. The real comparative price on this is $44.94, so that’s what I’ve based the comparison on (and it’s a self-collect price to reflect fair comparison with other on-line retailers that quote on that basis).  It’s an unoaked shiraz which is unusual. Campbell Mattinson and James Halliday both rallied 90 points for it and it should be drunk before 2016. RRP of A$34 so nearly $45 is pretty good pricing. BBI ♥♥♥



A bit presumtive to declare the Morgan the first and last sportscar! Anyway, if you’re from Adelaide, I reckon you’ll recognise this as having been taken at the city’s favourite, er… viewing spot, Windy Point.

1979 Krondorf


There is about wine this splendid identity. It is one thing and refuses to be another. Ever since it was whelped it has carried the one proud name in many languages; the Greek, which started it, the Latin of our medieval fathers which carried it on; it is universally the same thing. If you try to change wine it becomes not itself but another, a vicious thing. And heed my words, wine will never change. What it was in the beginning it will be at the end. The God of Wine, who gave us this great gift, was jealous of his gift, and only in a very narrow belt in the old world and in small parts of America, South Africa, and Australia in the new, did he allow the grape to flourish.” – The Aesthetics of Wine, March 1946


The wine? – Black Tower 1987

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 74 other followers

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