Posts Tagged 'Barossa Valley'

BUYING WINE IN SINGAPORE IS EASIER THAN BUYING IN SOME STATES IN THE US. REALLY.

The results for the 25th Tasmanian Wine Show were announced recently and no surprise that there’s a few of the award winning wines in Tiger Wines line-up.

The 2002 Arras EJ Carr Late Disgorged won Top Gold and “Best Late Disgorged Mature Vintage Sparkling Wine”. I have 9 bottles in stock at $135.

The 2011 Dawson & James Chardonnay won Top Gold for “2012 and older Oaked Chardonnay” and “Best Chardonnay” of the Show and “Best Wine of the Show”. Well done Peter Dawson and Tim James. None in Singapore but I have plenty that can come up in March if you order. $77 a bottle.

The 2013 Home Hill “Kelly’s Reserve” Pinot Noir won “Best Pinot Noir”, “Best Red of the Show” and Top Gold in the “2013 Pinot Noir” category. There’s usually only about 100 cases of this wine made and as you can imagine, with a show record like that following on from similar results for the 2011 and 2012 Pinot, demand definitely exceeds supply. Very excited to be able to confirm that Tiger Wines does have an allocation, although exactly what that is, I’m yet to know for sure. Last year, I got just 2 cases. If you’re interested in this wine, let me know ASAP at tigerwines@singnet.com.sg and I will add you to the list for divvying up once my allocation is confirmed. No guarantees that there’ll be enough for everyone though. Pricing will be confirmed later but the 2012 sold at $77.

And to top it off, Home Hill won the “2015 Pinot Noir Producer of the year”.

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Sometimes you have to look outside your own backyard to see how well off you are. Like, how well off we are in Singapore when buying wine.

Arrgh! I can hear the yelling now. Well off! What with the tax and everything!

Granted, the tax is better for consumers in Hong Kong (there isn’t any) but the tax really only hurts on the cheap stuff anyway. Remember, Grange is cheaper in Singapore than in Australia. And as I’ve said before, know what you’re doing and you can regularly buy Australian wine in Singapore cheaper than in Australia. Case in point is a wine I offer through Tiger Wines. The 2010 Apsley Gorge Pinot Noir is A$60 at Apsley Gorge’s on-line cellar door. You can have it delivered to your door here for S$65. Not bad eh?

And even with the new liquor laws, you can buy wine pretty easily.

Consider the barriers to buying in some states in the US.

It is only last November in Tennessee that it became legal to buy wine in grocery stores and in some states in the US, you can’t buy direct from wineries that are out-of-state. In Indiana for example (according to Wine Spectator), “direct shipping is prohibited, with on-site exception. Wineries must not be represented by an Indiana distributor, and consumers must visit the winery in person to have wine shipped to their home, up to 24 cases per year. Retailer shipping prohibited.

In Kentucky, “…residents may have wine shipped to them from small wineries making 50,000 gallons of wine or less per year, [in Arizona, it’s 20,000 gallons per year, in New York and Ohio it’s 250,000 gallons per year], however common carriers (FedEX, UPS) will not deliver to Kentucky.” In other states (Delaware for example) “shipping by common carriers is prohibited”.

And to make matters even more complicated, there can be limits on how much you can ship to your home, for example:

Zero cases per year; Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah

1 case per calendar quarter; Arkansas

1 case per month; District of Columbia, Nebraska

2 cases per year; Minnesota, Wyoming

2 cases per month; Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia

3 cases per year; Tennessee

4 cases per year; Texas

5 gallons every two months; Connecticut

6 cases per year; Hawaii

12 cases per year; Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, Vermont, Wisconsin

18 cases per year; Maryland, Montana

24 cases per year; Idaho, Indiana

36 cases per year; New York

There’s also states where you must visit the out-of-state winery to ship or bring back home – Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Indiana, Rhode Island

Buying wine in Singapore’s looking a whole lot simpler.

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Here’s today’s reviews:

Vintage unknown / B3 / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / $45 at Wine Connection – Not having a vintage meant I couldn’t find a specific rating for this offer but the label seems to hang around in the low 90 mark. Asking retail in Australia is A$25 so price here is fair without being generous. You can order this online and have it delivered to your door and I guess that’s when you find out what the year is. Probably bad luck if it’s 2011 from Barossa. I think you know my view on this, namely that I won’t buy if a retailer fails to quote the vintage. And if you’re already reading this blog, you probably won’t either. On pricing…I’m giving it BBI♥♥♥♥

2012/ Gibbston Valley Estate / Central Otago / Pinot Noir / $55 at Wine Exchange Asia – This sounds like a pretty good wine, with Raymond Chan putting it at 18.5/20 and with a RRP of NZ$45, the pricing here is reliable Wine Exchange Asia, meaning good wine, good value. BBI♥♥♥♥

2013 / Deakin Estate / Victoria / Shiraz / $24.90 at Wine Connection – Huh, what’s this? A Deakin Estate from “Victoria” (most likely irrigated Riverland) getting 4.5 stars? Well yes, because James Halliday gives it 91 points, and Campbell Mattinson gives it 90, and at $24.90, it actually does shape up as fair value. Never mind that the RRP is A$10 and it actually sells at A$7.99! If you must buy in this no-man’s land of pricing where the tax is still working against you, then go right ahead. Thanks, all the same but I won’t. BBI♥♥♥♥

2012 / Brand’s Laira / 1893 Foundation / Coonawarra / Shiraz / $30.50 from The Wine Palate – I saw this whilst walking past the shop in Katong V. Nice shop, helpful staff which can be something of a novelty in some wine shops here. Nice range including Torbreck and Yangarra Estate along with the usual Margaret River regulars. Huon Hooke gives it 92 and says it has “delicious flavour” Well, at $30.50, I don’t think you need ask for more than that. Looks like a no brainer to me. BBI♥♥♥♥

2007 / Two Hands / Ares / Barossa Valley – McLaren Vale / Shiraz / $110 by the bottle, $99 if you buy 6 at Wine Exchange Asia – About as far removed from the Deakin Estate as possible. Retailing at A$165 down-under. Wine Advocate gave it 91 (“outstanding”) but thought that at US$136, it was overpriced. Well, that’s been taken care of then! Nothing subtle about the wine, it’s a biggy, but there’s good value here. BBI♥♥♥♥♥

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WINESPEAK 101 – How to waffle with the best of them – Today’s word ASPARAGUS

“Palate held big flavours with upfront grassy asparagus characters that commanded attention. A wine for the admirers of the New Zealand style and there are many.

This was a review of a Nautilus Sauvignon Blanc and I think I can taste it now. There’s no mistaking asparagus. I wonder if it does next morning what real asparagus does?

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“The yeast species Brettanomyces bruxellensis, is better known in wine circles simply as brett…..It imparts an assortment of distinctive aromas and flavours, which can fluctuate significantly in intensity. At lower levels, some find it pleasantly spicy, with cedar and earth undertones. Higher concentrations smell of sweaty saddle leather, barnyard, burnt plastic or Band-Aids, often turning austere and metallic on the finish” – Daniel Sogg writing in Wine Spectator, March 2006

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

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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 tigerwines@singnet.com.sg if you’d like to see what the fuss is about. And no, you won’t find it anywhere else outside Australia.

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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.

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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 Booze.com – 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♥♥♥♥

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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 www.winewilleatitself.com, 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.

http://www.winefront.com.au/vale-jeremy-pringle/#.U_MsbCiRBaG

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“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

 

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 ♥♥♥♥♥

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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 www.winewilleatitself.com

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”

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Here’s Tiger Wine’s current promotion:

2006 DA Cabernet

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“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

 

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 tigerwines@singnet.com.sg

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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.

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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 ♥♥♥♥

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THE WAY WE WERE – 1990

Typical Australian irreverence from the 90s.

 

1990 Wilson's 2

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“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 tigerwines@singnet.com.sg if interested.

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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♥♥♥♥

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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 www.winewilleatitself.com 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.

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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

A Christmas bargain

It’s a bit of a mixed bag today.  Nothing makes it into a BBI 5 star deal but there’s still some good buying to be had.

Vintage unknown / Fat Bird / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / $19.95 or $18.45 by the six at Cold Storage – There’s a saying you should always avoid wines with critters on the label. Is a fat bird a critter? I don’t know, but I do know that it sells in New Zealand for about NZ$9 so you know where it’s pitched. And to be fair, it’d probably sell here for about $9 too if it wasn’t for the roughly $7 of alcohol duty sitting in that $19.95 price. So the pricing’s quite OK if you don’t mind the tax taking a big slug of what you could be spending on quality. Best to let the tax work in your favour on wines that started out a bit more premium. BBI ♥♥

2006 / Two Hands / Bella’s Garden / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / $85 or $79 by six at Wine Exchange Asia – I’m guessing this has come out of someone’s investment holding which means it’s probably been stored well. It’s a good wine too with 92 from Wine Advocate , 94 from James Halliday and 17- from Jancis Robinson. Consensus seems to suggest it’s got somewhere between 3 to 8 years left in it. Big on alcohol at 15.2% but it is a child of the period. Very hard for me to pin down a fair price on this as it initially retailed at A$60 but has slipped away a bit in the auctions scene in Australia. This isn’t Australia, so I reckon the price (especially the 6 bottle price) is fair enough but I’m playing cautious today and giving it 4 stars. It looks pretty good against any current releases of quality Barossa shiraz though. BBI ♥♥♥♥

2011 / Forrest / The Doctors’ / Marlborough / Gruner Veltliner / $28 at Underground Wines – Mediocre ratings on this, Michael Cooper 4, Bob Campbell 85 and Campbell Mattinson 86 who says “shows promise, just doesn’t quite get the job done”. Where it wins is on price. RRP of NZ$25 means $28 here gets it…BBI ♥♥♥♥

2007 / Standish / The Relic / Barossa Valley / Shiraz Viognier / $69.99 at Cornerstone Wines – There are some wines that you just know there’s a story behind them. I don’t know what the story is, but this wine seems to have been abandoned by Australian raters since the 2002 vintage. Was it only sold in the US after 2002? Wine Advocate gives it 94+ which is a high ranking in their scale. It hasn’t appeared at Langtons for auction since 2011, so no help to me there. It’s a mystery. What I do know is that this wine has appeared in the Singapore market at prices much, much higher than what’s being asked here now, sometimes double this. Personally, I don’t think this would be my type of wine (I don’t like the big wines designed for the US market on the back of Parker ratings) but on a price/quality basis, it looks good – BBI ♥♥♥♥

Vintage unknown / Penfolds / Bin 2 / South Australia / Shiraz Mouvedre / $39.95 at Cold Storage – What? Cold Storage I hear you say! Yes, indeed. Assuming it’s the 2011 release, it’s a good wine from Penfolds getting 92 from Halliday and 91 from Huon Hooke. RRP in Australia is A$38 so the deal here is very, very good. Put it away for a couple of years and you’ll enjoy it more. This was a special deal but I’ve lost the date of the paper so it may have passed. If you did buy it, I think you got a bargain. If the deal’s still on, grab some. If it’s gone back to $54, then it’d drop back to 4 stars but it’s still actually a fair price. BBI ♥♥♥♥

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NEW RELEASES

There’s been ratings galore thrown around for a very exciting bunch of new releases over the last month. Here’s a sample of what Tiger Wines  ( http://www.tiger-wines.com or tigerwines@singnet.com.sg or +65 96610429) follows:

THE WINE FRONT: If you don’t subscribe to their blog, you’re missing out on some of the best and up-to-date discussion on wines covering not only Australia, but a great selection of Europeans as well. Almost daily updates on tastings from Gary Walsh, Campbell Mattinson, Mike Bennie and a host of other commentators. Great stuff. Go to their website at http://www.winefront.com.au and start enjoying now. I have no association with WineFront other than I’m an enthusiastic subscriber!

All the ratings below are by Gary Walsh from The Wine Front:

2010 / Luke Lambert / Yarra Valley / Nebbiolo / A$55 / 95 points – It’s only just been released but I’ve got some (just got it today!). If you’re interested, email me and I’ll work out a price for you landed and cleared here.

2012 / Luke Lambert / Yarra Valley / Crudo Rose / A$28 / 95 points – Ditto, as per the Nebbiolo.

2012 / Mayer / Granite / Yarra Valley / Pinot Noir / A$55 / 94 points – Yep, got a tiny amount of this too. Email me for pricing and timing.

2012 / Holyman / Tasmania / Chardonnay / A$45 / 94 points – I don’t have it but I’m a bee’s whisker away from it. If you’re interested, you know what to do.

2012 / Holyman / Tasmania / Pinot Noir / A$50 / 96 points – If you want some, I I may have to dip into my personal purchase!

2012 / Chatto Wines / Isles Vineyard / Pinot Noir / A$45 / 95 points – I have it on personal account, yell out if you’d like me to get some for you.

The Dec/Jan issue of GOURMET  TRAVELLER WINE  had these reviews:

2012 / 3 Drops / Mount Barker / Pinot Noir / $28 / 94 points – Coming up in January and S$39. A bargain.

2001 / Arras / EJ Carr Late Disgorged / Sparkling / A$130 / 96 points – A very, very limited number for S$188.

2011 / Bellwether / Tasmania / Chardonnay / A$50 / 96 points – I’m chasing some as we speak. If you want to join me…you know what to do.

2012 / Freycinet Vineyards / Tasmania / Riesling / A$25 / 96 points – It’s waiting to come up and it’s S$44 (inc gst). Not a lot of it, so don’t muck around.

2011 / Goaty Hill / Tasmania / Pinot Noir / A$34 / 90 points – Here now at S$55.

2012 / Pooley / Coal River Valley / Pinot Noir / A$60 / 95 points – I don’t handle Pooley, but of you’re interested, I’ll see if I can get some for you

2002 / Radenti / Tasmania / Sparkling / A$55 / 97 points – A special release by Claudio Radenti of Freycinet Vineyards. Not available wholesale and only available via Freycinet’s website. If you want some up here, yell out (quickly), as I’m getting some.

2010 / Spring Vale / Tasmania / Pinot Noir / A$40 / 95 points – Will definitely be getting some, in the meantime I have just 4 bottles left of the 2009 (Halliday 92) at S$52.

NV / Stefano Lubiana / Brut Reserve / Sparkling / A$34 / 92 points – here now and S$43. Perfect for Christmas but be quick. We finish deliveries on the 8th.

2012 / Waterton / Tasmania / Riesling / A$29 / 93 points – I’ve got the 2009 (Halliday 96) in Singapore and it’s $58.

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1989 Xmas

 

Ah, how times have changed. The young’uns amongst us probably wouldn’t appreciate that when the fax machine first came out, most places locked it up at night behind a clear cover. Life before the urgency of an email, text or Twitter. And $199 was a fair bit in 1989.

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If we’re after a true varietal expression, Tasmania offers us better quality than any other Australian region.” – Glenn James, white winemaker for Foster’s Wine Estates quoted in Gourmet Traveller Wine, January 2008

Some giant deals, and some giant wines

Reviewed 21 wines on offer by Carrefour, Cornerstone Wines, Giant (yes, Giant!), Le Vigne, Underground Wines, Wine Exchange Asia, commenting on 12 here today.

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2010 / Dog Point / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / S$32 at Wine Exchange Asia – I reviewed this wine back on 14th June and said then that (at 87 points Bob Campbell), it was a good buy. Well, it was $36 then and it’s $32 now so that makes it an even better buy. Retails for NZ$25.

2009 / Murdoch James / Blue Rock / Martinborough / Pinot Noir / S$59 at Underground Wines – This has a good rating from Wine Advocate (90 points -“outstanding”), is drinking out to 2015, and the price here is exactly where the BBI would put it. So, fair value for a good wine. Retails for about NZ$40.

2008 / Saint Clair / Rapuara Reserve / Marlborough / Merlot / S$45.48, $34.78 by the case at Cornerstone Wines – With a price difference like that, Cornerstone certainly entice you to buy in bulk. This wine gets 85 points from Bob Campbell (“above average”) and 3.5 stars from Michael Cooper (“very good”). With a RRP of NZ$27, the single bottle price is OK but the case price is excellent value if you’re into Kiwi merlots. I’m not.

2005 / Elderton / Command / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / S$75, $70 by the half case at Wine Exchange Asia – I’m so long on Elderton Command that I won’t be buying any of this, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. In fact, if you like Barossa Shiraz, then this is one to get. There must be an ocean of Elderton Command around as you can still buy old vintages (e.g 2002 or older) at Dan Murphys in Australia. This vintage is still on sale downunder at around A$80, which means that if you shipped it in now, it would land at about S$92. So how come it’s only S$70? Well, there’s quite a bit of it in Singapore too, sitting in investment portfolios, and as the GFC bites, you can be the beneficiary of some, er, rebalancing of priorities. What would you like to know? Wine Front 95 points, Epicure 5 stars, Wine Advocate 97! That should be enough to convince you.  Look, in my opinion this is a great wine at a fantastic price that’s still got years ahead of it, and it ought to be in the cellar of any true-blue Aussie or wannabe Ocker. This is something no other country can do.  Oi! Oi! Oi!

TBA / Elderton / Barossa Valley / Cabernet or Shiraz / S$29.95 at Giant – My fingers trembles as I typed that. Fairly typically with the big supermarkets, they figure you don’t need to know the vintage, which is either a reflection of their opinion of the wine, or of you. Early vintages of the Shiraz (2005) are still selling at Dan’s downunder, and at about A$25. As a general rule, Elderton’s “plain” Shiraz and Cabernet get pretty good ratings. A quick check showed that most vintages fall into the 90+ range from James Halliday and Wine Front so these wines are no slouch. The price at Giant is very, very attractive for such a drinkable wine. I’ll be ducking down to Giant later today (it’s OK, I’ll wear my dark sunnies) to make sure that this is just plain Elderton and not their “E” brand, which is a different kettle of fish.

TBA / Hardys / VR / South Eastern Australia / Chardonnay or Cabernet or Merlot or Shiraz / S$17.90 at Giant – Once you get below the S$20 mark, with some rare exceptions, it’s hard to talk of good value as roughly $7 in the price is duty alone. You can’t expect much from what’s left in the price. From what I can see, the VR label is an export only one, so my data comes from Decanter where they give the Shiraz (of unknown vintage) a “recommended” score based on value over there. It sells in the UK for the equivalent of A$7.50, shipped and all. Get the picture. To be honest, this doesn’t look a bad deal when you consider the duty, but for a little over $10 bucks more, you’ll get the Elderton. No brainer.

NV / Hardys / Reserve / Party Pack (3 Litre) / Sauvignon Blanc or Shiraz / S$69.90 at Giant – I’ve never done a review of a box before! OK, so let’s not talk about the contents as if you’re buying this, you’re not doing it to impress your wine buddies, you’re doing it coz’ it’s bulk drinking for Xmas. Well, yes. And, no. You see, the $7 a bottle duty doesn’t magically disappear simple because you put 3 litres in a box. It’s still there only now it’s about $28 of that $70 price. So is the wine worth the difference of $42 that’s left in the price? Here’s a hint. The box sells in Australia for A$17. That right A$17. For A$63, you’ll get four boxes at Dan’s. That’s A$5.25 per litre. Makes it hard to get one’s mind around S$70 for one box doesn’t it?

NV / Jacob’s Creek / Sparkling Rose or Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir / S$49.20 for 2 at Giant – Ah, yes, this would have been called Champagne in days gone past. But, Champagne it’s not, it’s just an inoffensive bubbly that scores around the 85 point mark from the likes of James Halliday and Decanter.  RRP is A$14 but it sells closer to A$10, even A$9. Not a bad buy, just not my type of wine.

TBA / Wolf Blass / Red Label / Moscato or Moscato Pink / S$18.90 at Giant – Run away! Run away! That’s usually my reaction when I see any wine with “pink” in its name (or Hello Kitty for that matter), and in this case maybe that’s justified. No point in talking of quality, although I do see that Epicure regularly say 3.5 stars which is OK. Sells at Dan’s in Australia at sub-$9. There’s that duty again.

TBA / Wolf Blass / Yellow Label / Various varieties / S$25.90 at Carrefour – I can pretty much repeat what I said about the Red Label, although this does sell for A$5 more at Dan’s.  But by the time you get to S$26 for the Shiraz, why wouldn’t you get the Elderton at $30?

TBA / Wolf Blass / Eaglehawk / Various / S$15.75 at Giant – I’m guessing this is where many young Singaporeans get introduced to Australian wine. I think my only advice would be drink half as much at twice the price. One bottle of Elderton or two bottles of Eaglehawk? Easy for me to say that’s a no-brainer, I’m not 21 any more. Sells at Dan Murphy’s at A$6.65. You listening kids?

And finally….

NV / Ninth Island / Tasmania / Sparkling / S$34.50 at Le Vigne – Le Vigne had this listed at S$40.55 back in November so this is a real discount. The wine regularly scores 90-92 points from Halliday, so another example of “pay a little more, get a lot more”. A great deal.

Bastard Box was born near the Barossa so the decision here today is easy. It’s the Elderton Command by a country mile.  But its little brother is also a great deal and will even tempt Bastard Box to the 5th floor of Parkway Parade (something not easy to do) to quickly secure the Elderton Shiraz. And for the fizz, go for the great deal on the Ninth Island.

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Moving quickly from the world of $10 bubblies to the higher realms of true Champagne, Bastard Box tracks sub US$150 wines that score 95 points or better, and there’s two Champagnes just in time for Xmas. I’m not saying these are available, or at this price in Singapore though. That’s for you to do your own homework on, but if you do find some, let me know.

Theses ratings and comments come from Wine & Spirits, one of my favourite and affordable (S$9.95 downstairs at Siglap Shopping Centre) wine magazines.

2002 Bollinger Brut La Grande Annee Champagne, US$150 – 98 points

“There is Champagne, and then there is 2002 Bollinger. This wine makes me dizzy, stammering in cross-eyed bliss. Taking a step back, the sustained chord of flavour comes into focus, revealing a limestone honey; scents of acacia, marzipan, apricot and golden citrus. Jamal Rayyis, one of our tasters with the broadest flavor library in his head, described the scent as loomi (dried lime) and dried apricots, as if walking into a Middle Eastern market. Flavor details aside, the wine’s richness softens the structural grandeur of the vintage, which is buoyed in a mineral bath of power.” –

2002 Dom Perignon Brut Champagne, US$150 – 96 points

“Think of standing above a well at the edge of an apple orchard, the cool feel of the earth deepening the bosky scent of the ripening fruit. This wine may take you there, then leave you to contemplate its complexity; full-on limestone-derived power, juicy nectarine and apricot scents, candied lemon and lasting spice, all of it rounded into a supple shape and a subtle mist of a finish.”

Wow, does it come any better than those two pieces of wine writing? I love it!

The other Champagnes that met the 95+ at US$150 or less were:

1999 Bruno Paillard Brut Assemblage, US$100 – 96 points

2004 Louis Roederer Brut Blanc de Bancs, US$75 – 95 points

2004 Louis Roederer Brut Vintage, US$70 – 95 points

As I said, if you see any of these in Singapore at a reasonable price, please let Bastard Box (and our readers) know (after filling your own interests first of course)!

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“Champagne is a pleasant start to the day, but the real problem is, what wine does one serve with breakfast?” – Anders Ousback writing in Wine & Spirit Buying Guide, January 1979


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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