Posts Tagged 'blanc de blanc'

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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Are Kiwis smarter than Aussies? – Maybe Piggy Muldoon was right!

I spent a fair bit of time working and living in New Zealand in the 1980s. I met Piggy Muldoon once, and also David Lange before the days of security threats. I remember a cocktail party in Wellington where David Lange walked from the Beehive without security and wandered in unannounced like any other guest. But it was Piggy Muldoon’s quip about the brain drain that stands out. When quizzed at a door stop interview, Piggy Muldoon responded with “New Zealanders who emigrate to Australia raise the IQ of both countries”. You had to love Piggy.

Anyway, he may have been right, because the ones who stayed behind must be very smart indeed if the simple act of buying wine is any measure.

Lets’ look at buying wine in Australia. Once the Aussie drinker has moved on from moscato to something more sophisticated like sauvignon blanc, the choices are simple. Sauvignon Blanc = New Zealand = Cloudy Bay. End of story. Couldn’t be easier. OK, there’s Cloudy Bay Te Koko but only investment bankers would order that at a restaurant. No, for the main part it’s a simple discourse between the customer and the sommelier. “I’ll have the Cloudy Bay sauvignon blanc”. “Certainly, sir”

Not so in New Zealand apparently.

The discussion might start with “I’ll have the Saint Clair Family Estate, sauvignon blanc please”

“Certainly ma’am, would that be the Saint Clair Wairau Reserve, the Premium, the Vicar’s Choice, the Pioneer Block 1 Foundation, the Pioneer Block 2 Swamp Block, the Pioneer Block 3 43 Degrees, the Pioneer Block 4 Sawcut, the Pioneer Block 6 Oh Block, the Pioneer Block 7 Berry Block, the Pioneer Block 8 Friar’s, the Pioneer Block 11 Cell Block, the Pioneer Block 18 Snap Block, the Pioneer Block 19 Bird Block, the Pioneer Block 20 Cash Block or the Pioneer Block 21 Bell Block?”

“Er, sorry could you repeat please?”

“Perhaps ma’am would like a pinot instead. We can offer Saint Clair Premium, Omaka Reserve, Doctor’s Creek Reserve, Pioneer Block 5 Bull Block, Pioneer Block 12 Lone Gum, Pioneer Block 14 Doctor’s Creek not to be confused with Doctor’s Creek Reserve, Pioneer Block 15 Strip Block and Pioneer Block 16 Awatere”.

Forget the customer, think how smart the sommelier has to be! Some can probably even name the vines.

Anyway, I reckon Piggy’s point is well made. The real question is, are the up and coming Chinese wine buyers as smart as Kiwi wine buyers? I wonder what the mandarin is for Cloudy Bay?

And speaking of sauvignon blanc, in this line-up today, I won’t be:

NV / Lindauer / Brut / New Zealand / Sparkling / S$29.90 at The Cellar Door – Michael Cooper says it’s “Good, Bronze Medal”, Bob Campbell rates it “Above Average”. It’s not expensive at home at NZ$16 and not relatively expensive here either. At S$29.90, it’s pretty good value.

NV / Summerhouse / Blanc de blanc / Marlborough / Sparkling / S$47.50 at Underground Wines – This retails at twice the price of the Lindauer at NZ$32, but it doesn’t end up twice the price here. There’s that duty at work again. Michael Cooper 4 “Excellent, Silver Medal”, and Bob Campbell 86 “Above Average”. The pricing puts it into the “good value” category.

2009 / Domain Road / Central Otago / Riesling / S$46 at eWineAsia – Michael Cooper 3.5 “Very Good”, drinking out to 2015. Price is spot on with RRP of NZ$24.

2008 / Tarras / The Canyon / Central Otago / Pinot Noir / S$69.55 at Hermitage Wines – The ratings OK, Michael Cooper 4.5 “Excellent”, but with a RRP of NZ$42, it’s coming in a fraction too high to meet the BBI. Good wine, marginal value.

2007 / Trinity Hill / The Gimblett / Hawkes Bay / S$44.90 at The Local Nose and The Cellar Door – So what is The Gimblett? It’s 51% Merlot, 17% Cabernet, 12% Petit Verdot, 11% Cabernet Franc and 9% Malbec. A red then. Michael Cooper gives it 5 stars (Outstanding, Gold Medal) and reckons it’ll drink to 2015. The RRP is shown as NZ$30 so the price here of S$44.90 puts it into the “good value” category.

Here’s a comparative price test:

2006 / Felton Road / Central Otago / Chardonnay – I reviewed this a while back but decided not to post the review as at S$56 at The Cellar Door, I didn’t think it represented good value. Well, at S$74/S$70.30 Member at Crystal Wines, my opinion hasn’t changed. It’s still for sale at The Cellar Door for S$56, so if you disagree with my opinion on value, you can at least save yourself some hard earned.

And, I told you…..

Back in December, I recommended the 2007 / Kumeu River / Mates / Auckland / Chardonnay / S$49 at Wine Exchange Asia – By the time you read this, I’m guessing that Wine Exchange Asia will have closed its current offer (same price as December) but at the time I said it was terrific value. If you missed out, you’re going to kick yourself. I reckon this wine (Michael Cooper 5 “Outstanding”) could have come in S$15 dearer and still met the BBI. Too late, mate.

“What attractive wine categories can New Zealand be first in? The answer is not sauvignon blanc that tastes grassy. New Zealand might lead in making that wine, but it is not a financially attractive category. It has limited price elasticity, is not regarded as a premium variety that commands lofty prices, and New Zealand is ill-equipped to be the low-cost producer.” – Mike Spratt, co-founder of Destiny Bay, writing in New Zealand Winegrower.


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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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