Posts Tagged 'bastard box index'

Inflation, inflation, inflation – creeping wine prices but a great deal on Peccavi

Looked at wines from Crystal Wines, Epsilon Wines, eWineAsia, Hermitage Wine, Le Vigne, The Cellar Door, The Local Nose, Wine Connection & Wine Exchange Asia.

Early into the New Year and I’ve had some adjusting to do. No, not to the quality of wine I’m drinking, but to the Bastard Box Index (BBI). I’m always adjusting the inputs, but not the criteria, for “fair comparative value” especially as the exchange rates change, but there are other influences as well. Cost of freight pushes prices up, but the swag of specials coming from liquidated (!) wineries makes some of the RRP a bit meaningless.  I’ve noticed a bit of a general price creep in Australian and New Zealand wines on sale here in Singapore, so you might have to readjust your expectations. I did say about the middle of last year that some prices were too good to last. No matter. You got that bonus and pay rise, right?

The Kiwis:

2005 / Vinoptima / Ormond / Gisborne / Gewurtztraminer / S$80.25 from Hermitage Wine – Can you believe it? $80 bucks for a gewurtz? Well, believe it you should as this winery has a tremendous following. I don’t have a rating for 2005, but Michael Cooper raves over the 2004 and the 2006. The winemaker agrees that both those years are better than the 2005 but there’s no suggestion that the 2005 is anything but another excellent wine. Besides, I just wanted to write about an $80 gewurtztraminer for a change. The 2006 is “drink 2012”, so I’m going to guess the 2005 is “drink now”. With a RRP of NZ$55, the price here is creeping into marginal BBI territory.

2007 / Felton Road / Dry / Central Otago / Riesling / S$44.90 at The Cellar Door –   Surprisingly, I couldn’t find a rating for this amongst the gaggle of Kiwi raters, so I’ve relied on Gourmet Traveller Wine (which draws on Bob Campbell anyway) who gave it 90 points and suggested drinking to 2014. RRP is NZ$30 so the price at Cellar Door is good value indeed.

The Aussies:

2006 / Shadowfax / Victoria / Chardonnay / S$42.90 at The Cellar Door – This wine comes from all over the place, hence the Victoria domicile. Shadowfax also has specific regional wines (e.g Geelong) so don’t be confused. You probably won’t be, as the regional wines are more expensive than the Victoria one. This wine is rated 94 points by Halliday, drinking to 2012, and retails for A$28. That makes the price here good value.

2008 / Peccavi / Margaret River / Chardonnay / S$52 at The Local Nose (but also at Peccavi) – Jeremy Oliver gives it 92 points, and suggests drinking between 2013 to 2016. With a RRP of A$45, the offer here is great value.

2009 / Mollydooker / The Violinist / McLaren Vale / Verdelho / S$42 at Epsilon Wines – Mollydooker had a focus on the US market and that’s reflected in the fact that I’ve only found one rating, and that’s out of Wine Spectator. They gave it 87 points (4 star) and suggested drinking it by 2009. The pricing’s OK (it retailed for A$27, US$25) so you just have to worry about the age.

2006 / Paradigm Hill / L’ami sage / Mornington Peninsula / Pinot Noir / S$80, S$75.50 by the case at eWineAsia – 4.5 stars across the board. Epicure 4.5, Halliday 90, Wine Front 93. Mid-range of the “drink by” recommendations is 2015. So far, so good but this is where it starts to fall apart. With a RRP of A$45 (and still available at that e.g. at Wine House) the price here is about S$15- S$20 a bottle above where the BBI would put it.

2006 / Bindi / Pyrette / Heathcote / Shiraz / S$75, S$71.25 Member Price at Crystal Wines – No doubting the quality. Halliday 96 points. Drink between 2011 and 2021, but…….with an RRP of A$40, same as the Paradigm Hill, about S$15 to S$20 outside the BBI.

2008 / Henschke / Keyneton Euphonium / Barossa Valley / Shiraz Blend / S$60 at Wine Exchange Asia – Do you want to be confused? Firstly, one of the respected raters says that this wine used to be called Keyneton Estate but now it’s just known as Euphonium. Wrong – the 2008 is Keyneton Euphonium, that’s what’s on the label. Another rater says it’s 75% shiraz, 11% cabernet, and 8% cabernet franc. Wrong – it’s 75% shiraz, 11% cabernet, 8% merlot and 6% cabernet franc (check my maths though). That’s what’s on Henschke’s website. But even here it gets confusing. The label says Barossa Valley, but the write-up on Henschke’s website says “[from grapes] grown in the Barossa Valley (Eden Valley and Barossa Valley). Anyway, the wine gets 92 from Wine Front and 94 points from Tyson Stelzer with recommended drinking out to 2018. With a RRP of A$48, the price here is good value.

On a comparative value basis, the Peccavi Chardonnay is the stand out, followed by the Felton Road Riesling, and the Shadowfax Chardonnay. If I wasn’t so long wine. I’d put the Henschke in my cellar too. It’s a fair price and you won’t regret it.

Sorry to hear that one of my favourite wineries, Best’s at Great Western, went under water recently. I mean actually, not financially. The vineyard copped the floods from the recent rains in the NW of Victoria and I understand that most of the vines got more water than they’d had for the last decade. My thoughts go out to everyone involved in the clean up and the restoration/preservation of this year’s crop.

This story is a little old now (October last year) but the kudos isn’t. Have a look at Australia’s first “perfect wine” judged at the 2010 Rutherglen Wine Show.

http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/article/2010/10/06/241321_horticulture.html

“I believe that wines of texture and elegance and length are the way forward for Australian wine. If we don’t make wines of structure, and longevity, and complexity, and increasingly wines with a sense of place, then the areas of the world market that we need to penetrate will always be shut off to us.” – Phil Sexton of Giant Steps quoted in Gourmet Traveller Wine in July 2007

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Glaetzer, Glaymond, Golding and Heartland

Moving through Denise’s GSS specials and had a look at Glaetzer, Glaymond, Golding, and Heartland. I don’t have enough data on Golding to comment, but on the others, I’ve listed them with “best value” first until the prices break through my BBI (Bastard Box Index).

2007 / Heartland / Langhorne Creek / Viognier Pinot Gris / S$31.00 – Epicure give it 5 stars, and at RRP A$16, the price here is right on where I would expect it to be landed and taxed in Singapore.

2007 / Heartland / Langhorne Creek / Dolcetto Lagrein / S$35.10 – In case you’re wondering, it’s a red. Winestate gave it 4 stars. Jeremy Oliver didn’t like it much at all giving it only 83 points but WineFront had it just sneaking into 4.5 stars. They all agree its drinking to about 2012. With a RRP of A$20, the pricing is spot on again.

2006 / Glaymond / El Abuelo / Grenache / S$44.94 – James Halliday rates this wine 92 points, drinking to 2016. The pricing just fits within my BBI.

Maybe it’s because of the less usual varieties that the wines above are best value, because from here on in, the BBI gets blown out of the water. There’s no doubting that the Amon Ra and Bishop from Glaetzer, and the Distinction shiraz from Glaymond are excellent wines. I guess when a wine is rated 97 points by Robert Parker (the 2005 Glaymond Distinction Shiraz) you shouldn’t expect a bargain, and no surprise, you’re not going to get one.

Affordable Torbreck & Arlewood, and goodbye to Vineyards Direct

2003 / Torbreck / The Struie / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / S$69 at Wine Exchange Asia – Halliday rates this wine at 95 points drinking to 2018 and Oliver rates at 90, drinking 2008-2011+. Retailed in Australia at A$55 so at S$69 a reasonable deal for an older vintage, and one you don’t have to sit on to enjoy (but you can if you want to). If my own cellar wasn’t so full, I’d get some.

2005 / Arlewood / Margaret River / Shiraz / S$33.80 at Le Vigne – We’ve tried this wine ourselves, and whilst it’s not in the Barossa mould, it’s a good affordable shiraz. Halliday rates this wine at 91 points (4.5 star) and recommends drinking between now and 2018. RRP is A$22 so with Le Vigne’s usual 10% discount (no Nets or cards) the price comes down to less than $31 so that fits inside my BastardBox Index of comparative value.

If you didn’t know already, Vineyards Direct is ceasing its operation in Singapore as of today I understand. If you did know, then you’ve probably scoured their list and made your purchases already. There may be some unsold stock so keep your eyes peeled to see if any of it pops up in the market at special prices.

An unashamed recommendation

Have you ever bought wine at a service station? No, neither have I. And I personally don’t buy wine from a place that sells toasters, bicycles and dishwashing liquid all under the same roof. I know many of you do, but I prefer a place that focuses on wine.

The question I get asked by newcomers to Singapore, or newcomers to Australian and New Zealand wine is “OK, I know where NOT to buy wine, but can you recommend where I CAN buy wine confidently?”

The key word here is “confidently”. I buy wine all over the place based on price but when I get stuck or frustrated by the pricing or service, I have two sources that I regularly fall back too. Unashamedly, I mention Le Vigne and Wine Exchange Asia.

If you’re relatively new to Australian and New Zealand wine, and want to wander the shelves, touch the bottles, and maybe just buy the odd bottle or two initially, then Patricia and Lewis at Le Vigne in Holland Grove Road would be my tip. They know their stuff and they’ll take their time to understand what it is you like. I’ve been buying from them for years.

More recently, I’ve been following and buying, from Robert Rees at Wine Exchange Asia. It’s on-line shopping so you need to have some idea of what you’re after (although Robert’s on hand to provide advice) but the pricing is consistently good and stock seems to turnover quickly which is no bad thing in this climate. There’s also a good smattering of older and better quality wines.

Neither of these places are easy to get to but both will deliver. Le Vigne is in a suburban strip, and Wine Exchange’s pick-ups are in Kallang. If you still prefer the convenience of paying at a checkout, just do your homework first.

On that note, my recommendation for this weekend is:

2004 / Kay Bros Amery / Hillside / McLaren Vale / Shiraz – Halliday rates this wine at 94 points (4.5 star), drinking 2010-2018, suggesting RRP A$40. He says (and I quote from the Australian Wine Companion 2009) “Bright red and dark fruits on the bouquet, with a little savoury edge of dried leather and spice; the finish is long, pure and even. Screwcap. 14.5alc.” The Bastard Box Index suggests that this wine should sell around the S$51 mark so I’m happy to see that Wine Exchange Asia has it listed for S$54 by the bottle or S$49 by the case. I just hope they’ve still got stock!

The final word on duty free shopping

You’ve heard of the Big Mac indicator. Well, this is the Bastard Box indicator.

Jacob’s Creek Johann South Australia Shiraz Cabernet

This wine is for sale at winestar.com.au for A$55. I reckon there’s a smidge over A$10 of GST and WET (wine excise tax) in that price. Bear that in mind as we do the comparison:

Winestar.com.au (including Australian duty and tax, but not delivery) – A$55

Melbourne Airport duty free – A$65

Changi Airport duty free (S$140) – A$115

Say no more.

And I won’t.


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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

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