Archive Page 2

Minchinbury Sparkling Burgundy did the trick, apparently

Yes, Tiger Wines is a one man band! If you’ve wondered how those Tasmanian wines get to Singapore, here’s how the journey starts for some shipments. I can get 30 cases in there, put the car on the Spirit of Tasmania (no surprise, they have a good Tassie wine selection in their restaurant), grab a sleep across the Bass Strait, repack the wine for protection and then off to Melbourne airport and into the care of DHL.

2014-07-18 Miena2


You’ve probably never heard of Mount Cathedral Wines but they’ve managed to get caught in James Halliday’s radar. In the 2014 Australian Wine Companion, he listed them as one of the “Ten Dark Horses” and awarded the winery a 5 star rating. Every time I visit Australia, I invariably drive past the turn-off to the winery so it makes sense to call in, collect some wine, and bring it up here for others to enjoy. I’m starting with:

2012 Chardonnay (JH94) $46

2010 Merlot (JH94) $46

2012 Merlot (JH94) $46

2012 Cab Merlot (JH95) $46

2010 Reserve Cabernet (JH95) $63.

Give me yell on if you’d like to see what the fuss is about. And no, you won’t find it anywhere else outside Australia.


Congratulations to Rick Burge and his Burge Family Winemakers on getting 5 star status and 95 points for his 2012 Olive Hill Shiraz in the 2015 Australian Wine Companion.


Some ordinary deals here, nothing much to get too excited about, just a few.

2010 / Casa Freschi / La Signora / Adelaide Hills / White Blend / $59 at – This white blend is made up of either every grape you love, or every grape you hate. It’s a mixture of Riesling, Chardonnay, Gewurtztraminer, and Pinot Grigio. Who would have thought? Huon Hooke didn’t think much of it giving it only 81 points but he did talk about oxidation so maybe it was a spoiled bottle (but its shouldn’t be if under screwcap). Lisa Perotti-Brown of Wine Advocate was kinder at 90 but suggested drinking by 2014. So, not much time left then. With a RRP of A$29, the pricing here looks a little ambitious. BBI♥♥♥

2012 / Saint Clair / Pioneer Block 14 Doctors Creek / Marlborough / Pinot Noir / $45 or $42.20 by the six pack at Cornerstone Wines – I’ve never quite worked out why Saint Clair need to give their wines two identifying names. I would have thought that either Pioneer Block 14 or Doctors Creek would get the tractor to the right paddock but apparently not. I suppose there could be two Pioneer Block 14s or two Doctors Creeks but Marlborough’s not that big, surely. Bob Campbell puts it just into his “above average” range and with a RRP of NZ$34, the pricing is pretty good, but I’m still giving it…BBI♥♥♥

2002 / Lakes Folly / Hunter Valley / Cabernets / $79 at Wine Exchange Asia – The older they are, the harder they are to value. This came on the market at A$45 and took a bit of a roller-coaster ride on the secondary market in Australia. Halliday gave it 93, but he also said drink it by 2010. Hmmm. What’s going on here? Well, someone must know something that James didn’t when he reviewed it on release as the last auction price, this year, was A$58 and the trend is up. On that basis, I’m giving it…BBI♥♥♥♥

2012 / Two Hands / Gnarly Dudes / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / $51 at Straits Wine Company – Not the greatest Two Hands (Huon Hooke 91, Wine Advocate 89) but it’s a fair price and it’s only a young’un. BBI♥♥♥♥

2004 / by Farr / Geelong / Shiraz / $69 or $59 by the six pack at Wine Exchange Asia – The first of the wines today that’s managed 95 points, this time from James Halliday, with Campbell Mattinson at 91. Campbell says you should have been drinking this watching the 2012 Singapore F1 GP, whilst James thinks you could still (just) quaff it at this year’s race whilst barracking for Daniel Ricciardo. James didn’t say that about Ricciardo, I did. Tough call this one but I’ll give the benefit of the doubt. BBI♥♥♥♥

2012 / Hentley Farm / Caretaker / Shiraz / $45 each if you buy two at Straits Wine Company and only until 31st August. With RRP of A$20, it’s got fair pricing and fair ratings (Halliday 92, Wine Advocate 89) so it gets fair stars. BBI♥♥♥♥

2011 / Mills Reef / Elspeth Trust / Hawke’s Bay / Syrah / $59 at Wine Exchange Asia – Bob Campbell 93 which is in his “excellent, top quality” range and that’s what he says about this wine; “classy, elegant wine”. RRP of NZ$45 so good pricing here and deserves it stars. BBI♥♥♥♥

2006 / d’Arenberg / The Dead Arm / McLaren Vale / Shiraz / $69 at Wine Exchange Asia – How much Dead Arm ended up in investment portfolios in Singapore? A lot I’m guessing! I reviewed this vintage back in 2010 and it’s still around. The investor is the loser and if you like your McLaren Vale shiraz, you are the winner. The last Langton’s auction price on this downunder was A$55. Add the buyers premium and delivery and you’d be talking around A$70 to get your hands on this wine. S$65 is looking pretty good isn’t it? Life’s not that tough in the “far east” after all (just don’t tell anyone). Oh, I forgot to mention, Gary Walsh 95, Wine Advocate 95+, James Halliday 95 blah, blah blah…BBI♥♥♥♥


WINESPEAK 101 – How to waffle with the best of them.

Over the last 12 months or so, I have often referred to one of my favourite wine websites, in fact I referred to the blog and Jeremy Pringle in my most recent post. Sadly, Jeremy is no longer with us.

Please have a look at the link for a better farewell than I could ever give.


“The most memorable moments can be had right in your own home, with a chafing dish. Imagine just two of you, with HIM right there beside you, cooking in the light of the flames from under the dish and from the hearth, plus a delicious bottle of Minchinbury Sparkling Burgundy or Dalwood Hermitage Claret to keep that flame aglow in your heart.” – Wine Talk, Mrs Rada Penfold Russell, Penfolds Advertising Director approx 1978



“Thick with oak, thinned with bourbon…” Love it.

James Halliday’s latest Wine Companion magazine included a booklet entitled “Wow Factor Whites” and I’m pleased to say that two of Tiger Wines offerings appear therein. The first is the 2007 Colvin Wines Hunter Valley Semillon which gets 96 points. I’ve got a tiny amount coming up but I don’t know the pricing yet so keep an eye on the Tiger Wines website ( The other is the 2013 Kate Hill Tasmania Riesling which gets 94 points. It will sell here at $56.

I’ve got some more of the delicious 2011 Dawson & James Tasmania Pinot Noir @ $79 (Halliday 96) but it’s going quickly.


No 5 star deals today. In fact only one 4.5 star deal. Some deals look decidedly average with probably a record number in the sub 4 star bracket. Oh, well.

For some, but definitely not all the deals, the pricing is actually OK, but they’ve been let down by sitting in that no-man’s land of a sub-90 rating.

Here goes:

2013 / Matchbox Wine Company / Clare Valley / Malbec / $66.34 at Artisan Cellars – Frankly, I don’t understand the logic of the pricing. This is new wine to the market from a relatively unheard of producer. It’s rated 87 by Mike Bennie so it’s OK at the retail price of A$25, but at S$66? What was that phrase in the classic Australian film The Castle? “Tell him he’s dreaming”. I think the wine deserves better and should sit around the $47 mark. BBI♥♥

2013 / Tamar Ridge / Devil’s Corner / Tasmania / Pinot Noir / $49 at Crystal Wines – This sometimes sits under the Devil’s Corner moniker, sometimes under Tamar Ridge but either way, it’s from the large Brown Brothers holding in Tasmania. Huon Hooke gives it 89 and it retails at A$21 although you’ll see it lower at the discounters. The pricing is on the limit of just OK, so combined with the rating, the best I can come up with is…BBI♥♥♥

2011 / Elephant Hill / Central Otago / Pinot Noir / $55 at Wine Exchange Asia – It’s often useful to read the words that accompany a rating as they sometimes don’t seem to line up. Bob Campbell writes that this Pinot Noir is “deliciously drinkable” but only manages to give it 87 points. With a RRP of NZ$34, the pricing here is spot on. BBI♥♥♥

2006 / Lindis River / One by One / Central Otago / Pinot Noir / $80.25 at Artisan Cellars – First reviewed this wine (at this price and this same vintage) three years ago so I’m guessing it’s not walking out the door. Could it be the price? RRP was/is NZ$40 so it’s certainly no bargain. Rating is OK though at 18.5 from Raymond Chan which by my calculation works out at about 94 in the 100 point scale. Your call. My call is…BBI♥♥♥

2010 / Matahiwi Estate / Wairarapa / Pinot Noir / $36 if in a six pack at Wine Directions – So far, this is the best deal on a pure price basis but the rating of 85 by Bob Campbell pulls it back. But hey, $36 for Kiwi Pinot? What more do you want? BBI♥♥♥

2011 / Fairhall Downs / Marlborough / Pinot Gris / $38 by the six pack at Wine Directions – I could have just cut and pasted the commentary on the Matahiwi Estate. Same, same. BBI♥♥♥

2001 / Henschke / Mount Edelstone / Eden Valley / Shiraz / $130 single bottle, $120 in a six pack (if there’s any left) at Wine Exchange Asia – Ah, those were the days. I remember my first taste of the Mount Edelstone. It would have been around 1994 and it became the wine of choice at our Boat Club’s board meetings. $36 on the restaurant wine list. Keep in mind though that I was buying 1990 Hill of Grace for $48 at the supermarket at the time! I’ve still got some. Gee, it’s hard to work out value on some of these older wines, especially with the market so screwed up by all those investment wines that still keep flowing on to the Singapore market. I don’t believe that Henschke ever got mixed up in that, so there’s never been a ridiculously cheap Henschke here as far as I can tell. This wine retailed on release at around the A$60+ mark and last traded at Langton’s this year at A$86. Theoretically could be pitched lower than this, but where else are you going to find some in Singapore? Robert Parker gave it 95 and said drink to 2021. Campbell Mattinson gives it 92 and says drink it now, right now. You choose your raters. I’m giving it BBI♥♥♥♥

2012 / Wither Hills / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / $31.90 at Eve Spirits – This really wins on price because it’s another 85 point wine (Bob Campbell). RRP of NZ$25 makes the price excellent, so maybe this is something you stick in your fridge for those times when in-laws visit and any Kiwi Savvy will do. BBI♥♥♥♥

2010 / Thompson Estate / Margaret River / Cabernet Sauvignon / $61 at Fairprice – OK, I’ll admit it. I blew it. I should have told you about this a week or so ago when it was on special at Fairprice for $42. Now THAT was a deal. But that was then and this is now, so it’s gone back to $61 and the opportunity has been lost. At $61, it’s a fair price (groan) and it gets good ratings from most. James Halliday 95, ditto Huon Hooke, but Jeremy Oliver didn’t like it at all giving it 85. Again, you choose your raters. At least they are consistent in saying it’s still got many years ahead of it. BBI♥♥♥♥

2004 / Fox Creek / Reserve / McLaren Vale / Shiraz / $55 by the bottle, $50 by the six pack at Wine Exchange Asia – And so, as we often do, we come to one of the investment wines. This one retailed at around A$70 on release but was last seen at Langtons at A$51. Here’s a wine where raters don’t agree. Halliday says 93, drink to 2019; Jeremy Oliver says 95, drink to 2024; Campbell Mattinson says 88, drink two years ago. Again, your call, but I’ll give it…BBI♥♥♥♥


WINESPEAK 101 – How to waffle with the best of them.

Continuing with the theme that not all raters are sycophants, here’s more from one of my favourite raters, Jeremy Pringle of

Big boy juice. Even men will need shoulder pads. Diesel fumes, prunes, vanilla custard and pulverized cloves. Thick with oak, thinned with bourbon…”

A 15% shiraz of course, but surprisingly not from the Barossa but from Padthaway. Sign up to Jeremy’s free site, and add a bit of colour to your own winespeak.


The saliva production difference between the sexes is an important one, as having less saliva makes women more sensitive to sourness, bitterness and astringency, which makes a male assessment of a particularly astringent pinotage problematic for women and vice versa.” – Neil Pendock writing in Wine, April 2011

Yes, you can buy Australian wines cheaper in Singapore than in Australia

Some outstanding value out there today. Get into it!

2013 / Marisco Vineyards / The Ned / Marlborough / Pinot Gris / S$39.90 at Eve Spirits – I found a rating of 17/20 from Raymond Chan so scrubs up OK if not outstanding, With a RRP of NZ$20, the S$ price here is about right so a fair deal – BBI ♥♥♥

2012 / Ata Rangi / Summer / Martinborough / Rose / S$39.90 by the 12 bottle case at Eve Spirits – With a RRP of NZ$18, my BBI reckons this should be priced at S$39.90. Well, how about that. Best drink this now though, certainly before 2014 becomes 2015. With 18/20 from Raymond Chan, I’m giving it 4 stars – BBI ♥♥♥♥

2013 / Huia / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / S$42.90 at Eve Spirits – Another 18/20 by Raymond Chan, RRP of NZ$25 so pricing here very fair. – BBI ♥♥♥♥

1999 / Tahbilk / 1860 Vines / Nagambie Lakes / Shiraz / S$59 by the 12 bottle case at Crystal Wines – The highest rating I could find on this was 93 from Gary Walsh at The Wine Front. Jeremy Oliver & James Halliday are both at 91. They all agree that it should drink to 2019. When it was released, this wine retailed at A$110. So, what’s it worth now? A lot less apparently as the last sale at Langton’s Auctions was A$48. No point in using the initial RRP so I’ve used the auction price as a guide to value and my BBI still comes up showing it as a very good price indeed. I had this wine recently and I was very pleasantly surprised by its drinkability. I’ve often found the Tahbilks disappointing, but the 99 I had was definitely rewarding. At S$59, I reckon it’s worth a place in your wine fridge. – BBI ♥♥♥♥

2011 / Rockburn / Central Otago / Pinot Noir / S$55 at Wine Exchange Asia – What’s not to like about the better Central Otago pinots? This one gets 18.5/20 by Raymond Chan and has an RRP of NZ$40. That makes the value here pretty good and so I’m giving it 4.5 stars – BBI ♥♥♥♥

2013 / Cloudy Bay / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / S$48.90 by the 12 bottle case at Eve Spirits – I’m not even going to comment on the ratings as you’ve probably already made your mind up that you love Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc, or you’re so over it that no rating will entice you back. It’s all a matter of price really. This is about the middle of where Cloudy Bay ends up when on special so a fair deal. Maybe not the sharpest you’ll have seen, but a long, long way better than many I’ve seen. Think about this price the next time you’re asked to fork out S$150 at that lush hotel. Oh, you’d want to drink this now too. – BBI ♥♥♥♥

2012 / Chandon / Yarra Valley / Pinot Noir / S$44.90 at Eve Spirits – Chandon used to be marketed here as Green Point (which is the location of the vineyard in the Yarra Valley), but I think they may have dropped that now in favour of just Chandon. Jeremy Oliver wasn’t overly impressed (87) but James Halliday and Gary Walsh have it in the low 90s. RRP of around A$33 so fair pricing again. BBI ♥♥♥♥

2001 / Tahbilk / Reserve / Nagambie Lakes / Shiraz / S$37.50 by the 12 bottle case at Crystal Wines – Here’s another wine that’s dropped a bucket load in value from its initial release price. On release, it was A$70, now at auction it’s A$31. It’s not a bad wine (Jeremy Oliver 92), in fact that makes it a very good wine, so I guess consumers just didn’t think the value was there initially. I’ve seen this in the past in Singapore at S$50 too. It will last another 15 years or so if you can resist. After this vintage, the wines were rebranded as “Eric Stevens Purbrick” rather than “Reserve”. Worth considering, especially when you know what you can get for $37.50 at a supermarket. BBI ♥♥♥♥

2006 / Elderton / Command / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / S$80 by the bottle, S$69 by the half case (6 bottles) at Wine Exchange Asia – A personal favourite, despite me slowly moving away from big Barossa shiraz to cool climate syrah. Like an old pair of slippers (the western type!). Comfortable, familiar, warm and slightly old fashioned. It gets 94 across the board from Walsh, Oliver and Halliday, and they all agree it should drink to at least 2020. RRP of A$95 so what’s not to like about S$80, or even better still S$69. On any other day, this would have won best value hands down. But today, against very strong competition…BBI ♥♥♥♥

2002 / Tahbilk / Eric Stevens Purbrick / Nagambie Lakes / Shiraz / S$50 by the 12 bottle case at Crystal Wines – Again, the raters are in agreement. Campbell Mattinson 94+, Jeremy Oliver 95, James Halliday 96. Do I need to go on? Drink to 2020. Retailed on release at A$70. Now? A$36 at auction. I say, “so what!”. Surely there’s space in your fridge. BBI ♥♥♥♥

2010 / Sandalford / Estate Reserve / Margaret River / Cabernet Sauvignon / $45.90 at Eve Spirits – OK, so Campbell Mattinson and Jeremy Oliver can’t get overly excited by this (87, 89) but Halliday can and gives it 95. This wine is currently for sale at the winery at A$45. That’s right A$45. I often say to people in Singapore that if you do your homework (or let Bastard Box do the homework for you) you can sometimes buy Australian wines here cheaper than you can in Australia. I usually get that slightly askew look that says “he’s been here too long, the man’s gone troppo.” Well, here’s the proof. You can buy at the cellar door for A$45 or you can buy it in Singapore for about the equivalent of A$39. I rest my case…BBI ♥♥♥♥

2009 / Desert Heart / Central Otago / Riesling / S$32 at Wine Exchange Asia – This one had me confused. Bob Campbell wrote glowingly about this wine but gave it only 85/100. So I looked elsewhere and found Raymond Chan giving it 19/20. RRP of NZ$24, Terrific comparative value. I’m giving it…BBI ♥♥♥♥♥

2002 / Tahbilk / Eric Stevens Purbrick / Nagambie Lakes / Cabernet Sauvignon / S$50 by the 12 bottle case at Crystal Wines – Wow. Campbell Mattinson 95. Jeremy Oliver 95. James Halliday 96. It will still be drinking when I’m dribbling into my mushy senior’s dinner. Initially retailed at A$70 and has held up better than the other Tahbilks here today. A$50 at auction. Buy another fridge if necessary. BBI ♥♥♥♥♥

2010 / Thorn-Clarke / William Randell / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / S$59.99 by the bottle or S$49.99 by the 12 bottle case at Cornerstone Wines – Wow again. Gary Walsh 94, Jeremy Oliver 93, and James Halliday 97. Choose your drinking window. Jeremy Oliver usually stretches the longest but this time he’s at 2030 and Halliday is at an incredible 2050. It won’t be my dinner that’s mushy by then. And here’s the rub. Yes, yes, you’ll say I’m rabbitting on, but you see, this wine is still for sale at the winery for A$60. That’s S$70. Yours for S$20 bucks less. Enough said? BBI ♥♥♥♥♥


WINESPEAK 101 – or how to waffle with the best of them

This occasional section usually focuses on just a single word in the world of wine-speak, but today it’s a bunch of words. And for those of you who think raters only write good things about wine, prepare to be educated. This is by Jeremy Pringle, who writes what I think is one of the best free blogs on wine around. Check him out at

Anyhow, here’s the review:

Ah, average wine…kind of full-bodied yet lacking in substance. Utility not luxury. Black fruits and gum leaf. Uncouth tannin. Fades quickly – on the palate and from memory – 84 points”

If you’d like to know the wine, visit Jeremy’s website and search “alkoomi”


Here’s Tiger Wine’s current promotion:

2006 DA Cabernet


“To regular wine drinkers, wine is not just a beverage like tea or coffee. It is a magic that makes plump oysters more tangy, the onion soup more friendly, the duck richer, the veal cutlet more urbane, and the melon more exotic. The average young man attempting to explore this great avenue of pleasure is often frightened away because of the aura surrounding the wine judges art. A man may hesitate to judge, discuss or even drink for fear of committing some ghastly social error. The same man might try a tropical fruit, and unhesitatingly assert ‘I say it’s Mango, but what the hell”. When he buys a bottle, however, of fine vintage wine in a restaurant, he often becomes paralyzed with fright.” – Wine Talk, Mrs Rada Penfold Russell, Penfolds Advertising Director approx 1978


Penfolds Grange at $200 off!

The June issue of Decanter carries a regional profile on Tasmania so naturally piqued my interest. The article is by Huon Hooke, and he lists his top ten from Tassie. Five of them come from what I would call mainstream producers (nothing wrong with that) such as Clover Hill, Jansz, Heemskerk, Bay of Fires etc, but four are from “my” wineries. They are:

Dawson & James Chardonnay 201118.5 (95) – I’ve got the 2010 in Singapore and am just about to kick over to the 2011. S$64.

Domaine A Lady A Fume Blanc 201018.25 (94) – I’ve got 28 bottles in Melbourne waiting to come up. S$80.

Home Hill Kelly’s Reserve Pinot Noir 2012 19 (96) – You had to be quick on this one. I managed to get 3 cases out of 100 made, and customers were almost waiting at the airport to collect their allocation. It’s all gone, there ain’t no more (although the gold medal winning 2011 is still coming…). Was S$77.

Freycinet Vineyards Pinot Noir 201218.5 (95) – I keep bringing this in and it keeps selling out. Just 8 bottles left in Melbourne with another 24 on their way from the winery. Don’t miss out! S$79.

Usual story, email me at if you’re interested in trying some of Tassie’s best.


Incredibly busy at the moment so sticking with the retailers who make it easy.

2012 / Vinaceous / Divine Light / Margaret River / Sauvignon Blanc / $28.80 cash & carry at Le Vigne – Huon Hooke says “it’s soft and very drinkable” and puts it in his bronze medal range. RRP of A$21 making it attractive here at a shade under $29. Drink now though, don’t hang about. BBI♥♥♥♥

2009 / Penfolds / Grange / South Australia / Shiraz / $699 at Wine Exchange Asia – Does a rating really matter for this icon? For what it’s worth, Campbell Mattinson says 95 and drinking 2019 to 2034 so one of the earlier, more approachable Granges. RRP of A$785 which translates to S$900 on straight exchange rate. So how come it’s so cheap here? Well, there’s probably about A$180 of taxes (WET about A$110, GST about A$70) in that Australian price which comes off on export. Us lucky punters in Singapore only add back 7% GST and about $10 alcohol tax. So, if you’re buying in this league, the Singapore alcohol tax is looking pretty damn cheap, right? Yes sir! You’re going to see this wine listed in Singapore a lot, lot higher than the $699 shown here (possibly closer to $900+) but you might also see it a bit cheaper. Trouble is, do you want to hang on for that chance and miss out altogether? It’s a good deal and you’ll be the envy of your mates downunder. BBI♥♥♥♥

2013 / Spy Valley / Envoy / Marlborough / Gewurtztraminer / $45 at Wine Exchange Asia – I couldn’t find my own rating source so I’ve relied on Wine Exchange Asia’s note that it’s 18.5 from Raymond Chan. That certainly looks consistent. RRP of NZ$30 making the pricing here quite good. I’m giving it 4.5 stars – BBI♥♥♥♥

2013 / Spy Valley / Estate / Marlborough / Gewurtztraminer / $38 at Wine Exchange Asia – Little brother to the Envoy? I don’t know but it does sell a bit cheaper at NZ$23 so maybe that’s a clue. Line ball on value/quality by my calcs. Gourmet Traveller Wine 92, so another 4.5 stars – BBI♥♥♥♥

2012 / Dog Point / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / $38 at Wine Exchange Asia – I had the 2011 last night expecting it to be heading over the hill, but far from it – it’s got a second wind and is still drinking fine. This 2012 vintage gets 93 from Bob Campbell so not shabby. RRP of NZ$25, a great all-rounder. BBI♥♥♥♥



[Dinner begins] with rich soup, and a glass of sherry; then one or two side dishes with champagne; then some beef, mutton, or fowls and bacon, with more champagne, or beer; then rice and curry and ham; afterwards game; then pudding, pastry, jelly, custard, or blancmange, and more champagne; then cheese and salad, and bread and butter, and a glass of port wine; then in many cases, oranges, figs, raisins, and walnuts with two or three glasses of claret or some other wine….[Breakfast is] a mutton chop, fresh eggs, curry and bread-and butter, with coffee or tea, or claret and water.”

From “Shanghai Hygiene; Or, Hints for the Preservation of Health in China” by James Henderson, 1863, as quoted in The Opium War by Julia Lovell., 2011.

Nothing over $45!…but is it any good?

I’ve recently returned from another trip down-under, this time to the Yarra Valley where I caught up with Luke Lambert (of Luke Lambert), Timo Mayer (of Mayer) and Syd Bradford (of Thick as Thieves). It was late March and all the grapes were in, with yields down but quality high being the general consensus. I also had a chance to try some of Timo Mayer’s newly bottled Pinot Noir being the 2013 Bloody Hill, 2013 Close Planted and 2013 The Doktor. You’re in for a treat when these hit Singapore (watch this space) – each one has a different treatment with no whole bunch, part whole bunch and full on whole bunch treatment. Sensational.

If you missed some of Syd Bradford’s 2013 Thick as Thieves The Show Pony Sauvignon Blanc (Halliday 96), I’ve still got some in Melbourne and it can come up in mid-May. Just give me a hoy at /

Luke Lambert mentioned that he’s no longer making the Reserve Syrah but according to Jeremy Pringle (, after you’ve tried the 2012 Syrah, you won’t be complaining. I’ve still got a little over a case of the 2010 Reserve in Melbourne so it can come up in May too if you’re interested.

It was then time to put the old Rangie on to the Spirit of Tasmania and head south, real south. But first port of call was to see Robert and Rita Richter at Grey Sands, just on the western edge of the Tamar Valley. Unlike the Yarra Valley, picking in the northern part of Tasmania was still a month away according to Robert. According to Jeremy Oliver, Grey Sands make the best Pinot Gris in Australia so I brought a bottle back for myself. Not a big hit with the wife (she doesn’t like Pinot Gris, period) but I’m with Jeremy Oliver on this one. Rich, rounded, with no need for an apology for plonking it on a table amongst friends. Not cheap, but nothing hand made is.

And then it was about as far south as it’s probably possible to make wine in Tasmania, nearly an hour below Hobart in the Huon Valley. I’m sure you’ve heard of the Tasmanian brand 42 Degrees South; well, this is 43 degrees south! Kate Hill (of Kate Hill Wines) has set up a “new” winery there and is moving into the next stage of the development of her product and her brand. I say “new” because it’s actually in an old apple packing shed, and what a setting it makes. Those old orchardists knew a thing or too about keeping things cool without the need for expensive air-conditioning, and now Kate is the beneficiary of that. Expect a cellar-door in due course.

A visit to the well-known Panorama Vineyards (well worth ducking in for a chat) and a relatively early Sunday morning at Home Hill. I’ve seen a few vineyards in my time but I’ve never seen anything quite as focused as the vineyard at Home Hill. Owner Terry Bennett seeks perfection in the vines and the grapes and a wander through the vineyard with Terry revealed both his enthusiasm for Pinot Noir, and the phenomenal effort that goes into producing exceptional quality fruit. It’s paying dividends in a big way with the 2011 and 2012 Kelly’s Reserve Pinot Noir winning awards left right and centre, the 2012 taking Top Gold at the 2014 Tasmania Wine Show and recently getting 96 points from Huon Hooke. There’s only 100 cases made and I hope to be able to confirm that I’ve got a couple of cases soon. Oh, they probably won’t be picking until end of April, maybe even first week of May!

Finally it was lunch with Greg and Michelle Melick at their Pressing Matters vineyard in Coal River Valley. I’m a big fan of Pressing Matters Pinot Noir and Riesling, and you might still find their Pinot Noir listed at Tetsuya’s Waku Ghin restaurant in Singapore.

It’s a tough life but someone has to do it.


OK, so whilst I’ve been typing this, the latest issue of Gourmet Traveller Wine (Apr/May) lobbed on my desk. Wow, does Tassie get a mention or what?

Here’s a snapshot of Tasmanian wines in the New Releases:

2012 Home Hill Kelly’s Reserve Pinot Noir – 96 – yep, should be a tiny amount on its way to Tiger Wines soon.

2012 Freycinet Vineyards Pinot Noir95 – I’ve got 20 bottles in Melbourne. Want some?

2012 Waterton Shiraz95 – Yep, some of that on it’s way to Tiger Wines.

2012 Heemskerk Chardonnay97 – I’m told Accolade won’t bring Heemskerk to Singapore. Lobby your local MP! If you’re interested, I can price some up for you.

2012 Pressing Matters R9 Riesling96 – I’ve got 12 bottles of the 2013.

2012 Freycinet Vineyards Chardonnay95 – a few bottles in Singapore, 2 cases in Melbourne.

2013 Waterton Riesling95 – Should be in stock soon.

In addition, the 2012 Burge Family Winemakers The Homestead Cabernet gets 92 points (6 bottles in Melbourne); the 2013 Burge Family Winemakers Olive Hill Semillon gets 90 points (12 bottles in Melbourne); and the 2010 Luke Lambert Yarra Valley Nebbiolo gets 90 points (12 bottles in Melbourne).

Possibly easier for you to find these wines in Singapore than in Australia!


Nothing over $45! …but is it any good?

? / Penfolds / Koonunga Hill / South Australia / Shiraz / $26 at Cellarbrations – Not a great start. Look, $26 is getting to be entry point what with the new tax and all, and this is definitely entry point. It sells at Dan Murphy’s in Australia at A$9.40, and believe it or not that makes the price here of $26 not too bad. It could be quite a good buy – but it isn’t if you believe raters like Campbell Mattinson who can only drag out 84 points for it. He says it’s a “quaffing bistro red” but other commentators on his website wonder why Penfolds makes it at all. The Cab Shiraz is OK apparently, but the straight Shiraz, well, that’s another story. If it ticks your box. I’m giving it BBI ♥♥

2011 / Coriole / Estate Grown / McLaren Vale / Shiraz / $44.94 at winesonline. If you go to the website, it’ll show you the price at $42, only it isn’t. I do sometimes hope that someone from the IRAS reads this blog and picks up on those who continue to quote prices without GST. I don’t buy from places that can’t get the GST right, but that’s up to you. How’s the wine? 92 from James Halliday is acceptable, and the pricing (after GST) is about right with a retail of A$30. BBI ♥♥♥♥

2011 / Torzi Mathews / Schist Rock / Eden Valley / Shiraz / $35 at Wine Directions – We’re getting into better value territory here, and with a rating of 91 from Mike Bennie, it seems a safe bet. In fact he said it’s “unnervingly good at the price”, which in Australia is A$18. Good buying. BBI ♥♥♥♥

2012 / Majella / The Musician / Coonawarra / Cabernet Shiraz / $35 at Wine Exchange Asia – This is A$18 in Australia too, and comes in at $35 too! How about that. Slightly higher rating than the Torzi Mathews with 92 from Campbell Mattinson and Tyson Stelzer. Much of a muchness. BBI♥♥♥♥

NV / Shottesbrooke / 1337 Blanc de Blanc / McLaren Vale / Sparkling  at Wine Directions – I don’t want to be stating the obvious to the oenophiles amongst us but for others, blanc de blanc means 100% Chardonnay. Yeh, interesting this one. It rates OK at 90 by Gary Walsh; nothing startling but OK. It’s the comparative price that kicks it into the 4.5 star bracket. Retails at A$23, so $35 is looking pretty good. But, and it’s a big but, if you take the ratings from Huon Hooke (84) and James Halliday (86), this would drop like the price of a Singapore condo into 2 star territory. You choose your rater. Huon Hooke and it’s ♥♥ stars; benefit of the doubt with Gary Walsh and it’s…BBI ♥♥♥♥

2013 / Greystone / Waipara Valley / Sauvignon Blanc / $40 at Wine Exchange Asia – Good to see a Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc coming up trumps. We can say that outside of Australia. About as popular with winemakers in Australia as foxes and rabbits are to farmers. Feral introduced pests, just like Kiwi Sav Blanc. We’re a long way away from all of that so we can enjoy it without guilt. Raymond Chan gives it 19/20, it retails for NZ$22, price is fair, rating is good. If you’re from Melbourne, you’d know “Don – ishz good”. BBI ♥♥♥♥



I’ve been driving past the Punt Road winery in the Yarra Valley for over 20 years and have always wondered why it’s called Punt Road, when there’s no Punt Road in the Yarra Valley. The only Punt Road I knew was the one that skirts the eastern side of the MCG before crossing over the Yarra River and heading up to the oh-so-expensive suburb of South Yarra. The road’s choked with trucks and cars and lined by some establishments of dubious repute.

But it turns out that the Punt Roads are one and the same. If you have a look at Punt Road’s website ( you’ll find their story. Seems there was punt on Punt Road (doh!) but the surprising thing is that there used to be vineyards where those mega-mansions of South Yarra now stand. Hard to believe. Have a look at the photos below which come from Punt Road’s website.




BTW, if anyone has information on the following vineyards, I’d be delighted to receive:

Dawson’s vineyard at Whittlesea; Pilloud’s vineyard at Geelong; Young’s vineyard at Kanmantoo; Gillard’s vineyard at Clarendon; Peter Pola vineyards at Great Western.


The earliest plantings of vines in New Zealand were probably in 1817 by Rev. Samuel Marsden, a missionary and important figure in the early development of agriculture. James Busby, the pioneer of Australian viticulture, carried vines with him too when he arrived as resident British Agent in New Zealand, and vines were also planted by early French immigrants who settled at Akaroa and Hawke’s Bay.” – The Wine Styles of New Zealand, Wine & Spirit Buying Guide, October 1979


Ah, the tax…

The news is a little old but I see that the 2012 Mayer Yarra Valley Syrah was listed in the Australian Financial Review’s Top 20 Wines, calling it ‘the coolest, most perfumed and elegant shiraz in my Top 20”. Yes, of course I have some! And it’s in stock so there’s no price increase from the tax changes. $63 to you by contacting me at


And now, the tax. Yes well I’m guessing you all know by now that the alcohol tax went up from $70 a litre of alcohol to $88 a litre.  The tax is applied before GST, so after the GST on the tax kicks in, it changes the cost on a 14% alc. bottle from $7.86 to $9.89, or roughly $2 a bottle. No retailer in his right mind sells at cost so that $2 is going to get marked up too. Expect price rises closer to $3 a bottle or more.


It’s a bit of a minefield making comparisons across deals at the moment as many deals only apply until stock runs out and they may have run out by now. Until things settle down, this is the best I can do…

? / Penfolds / Koonunga Hill / South Eastern Australia / Shiraz / $29.90 at Cellarbrations – No vintage quoted in the advert, and no vintage quoted in the shopping cart equals no respect from me. Let’s assume it’s the 2012 in which case Campbell Mattinson gives it 84 points calling it “a quaffing bistro red”.  In today’s market, the pricing’s not too bad but it’s that rating that lets it down. Remember, the alcohol tax doesn’t affect anything that was in stock before the announcement so I reckon you’ll do better than this for a little while yet. A$13-ish downunder. BBI ♥♥

? / Cloudy Bay / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / $49 at Cellarbrations – Ya’ feelin’ lucky? It really is an unnecessary lucky dip when you don’t know the vintage. Would you be happy with 2011 Cloudy Bay? What about 2012? Jancis Robinson reckons they both should have been drunk by now. Quality-wise you don’t have to worry too much about variation across Cloudy Bay vintages but that’s not the issue. The pricing’s quite reasonable given the NZ$30 RRP. BBI ♥♥♥♥

2007 / Mollydooker / Carnival of Love / McLaren Vale / Shiraz / $120 at Wine Exchange Asia – If you love this style of big shiraz (16% alcohol) then you’re on a winner. You’re in good company with Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate who give it 96 points. I don’t love this big style so I’m in company with Huon Hooke who gives it 86. One man’s meat…etc. So, what of the $120 asking price? It looks a tad high compared to its original release price of US$80 but the real test is what is it selling for now. Last Langton’s auction price (2013) was A$104 so looks about right to me. BBI ♥♥♥♥

2013 / Sacred Hill / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / $30.50 cash & carry at Le Vigne – Lovely to see the vintage quoted, especially on Sauvignon Blanc which is so susceptible to quick ageing.  With a RRP of NZ$23, this is great buying. Raymond Chan gives it 17.5/20 so I’m giving it BBI ♥♥♥♥

2005 / Troll Creek / Barossa Valley / Shiraz /  $39 at Wine Exchange Asia – You might have to get used to seeing a lot more wines at $39, so in context, I reckon this looks like a great deal, price-wise. A bit of an opinion divider, as Halliday gives it 88 (“too acidic”) and Wine Advocate, whilst not rating the 2005, give the 2004 and 2006 comfortably into the 90s. It initially retailed for US$70 but it’s not got a great following so the last Langton’s price for a 2006 was A$40. I reckon it’s worth a punt. BBI ♥♥♥♥



Typical Australian irreverence from the 90s.


1990 Wilson's 2


“There’s an advertising agency in Toronto who I bet are laughing at the rip-off they got over Kelvin the Koala. Gee, they must be in bloody hysterics! ‘Half a million in your pocket? Great, we can do you a beaut one! ‘And of course, what everybody forgot was by putting this French-speaking koala on the market was that they immediately alienated all the English-speaking Canadians who thought that they had a strong bond with Australia through the old Commonwealth. And I mean that’s just a fundamental marketing mistake. If they cant’s see such elementary mistakes, who knows what happens when they get down to the fine print with dealing with these Americans who are so bloody sharp that they’ll eat you before breakfast. In fact, that’s probably when they got this bastard, before breakfast, and tied him up then. You know, while he was still half asleep. They’ve all had a jog and a shower and a Jacuzzi and a screw and they’re into the office at 7:30 in the morning, bouncing and raring to go. You know me, and any pom I know, we stagger in and say ‘I need a glass of bloody champagne.’ And you know, these Americans: ‘While you’re signing the documents we’ll open the Deutz, Sir.” – Tony Lord, then editor of Decanter speaking with Winestate, August 1982

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

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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