Posts Tagged 'Cabernet Sauvignon'

Are you a wine snob?

Wine wankers and wine snobs. There’s been a flourish of articles written about them recently. Well, I’m sick and tired of wine wankers and wine snobs.

Yep, absolutely fed up with the folks who write the articles, as in my humble opinion, they are the wine wankers and snobs.

Standard procedure – get a bunch of people together for a blind tasting, throw in a cheapie and throw in a Grange or something like that and hey presto! – the cheapie beats the Grange every time. The mocking conclusion is that spending money on Grange is pointless because a cheapie is just as good; that anyone who does spend the money is merely trying to impress; and that they wouldn’t know the difference between hermitage and shiraz if it wasn’t written on the back label.

Well let me tell you that the folks I drink with can pick a Grange in a blind line up within a nano-second of the those famous drops hitting their front palate. Why? Because they drink Grange all the time (not me, by the way) and they know exactly what it tastes like young, old and past it; good vintages and (yes, even for Grange) bad vintages. It’s as familiar to them as Yellow Tail is to my relatives. Put a current release Grange in front of some of my relatives and they’d spit it straight out. Too tannic, too hard, not quaffable. Not familiar.

And therein lies the key.

So, who cares if some people fit the mould of “more money than sense” as wine consumers. Don’t lump all of us enthusiasts into the category of wine snobs just because we enjoy immersing ourselves deeply into the language of wine and the associated camaraderie it brings. Waxing lyrically is half the fun. As that famous philosopher Kimmi Raikonnen said “leave me alone, I know what I’m doing”…

Here’s a challenge to the wine wanker/wine snob writers. Imagine you just won the $100 million lottery. Would you keep drinking exactly the same wines you’re drinking now, or would you start to experiment with some of world’s great wines, maybe ratchet up a bit in your spend. If the answer is not an emphatic “no change”, then ask yourself – who is the wine snob?

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TASMANIA WINS…AGAIN

A stunning result for Home Hill Wines of the Huon Valley in Tasmania to win the presitigious Jimmy Watson Trophy with their 2014 Kelly’s Reserve Pinot Noir. That’s the second time it’s gone to Tasmania (the first was Nick Glaetzer’s 2010 Mon Pere Shiraz) and the second for Pinot Noir. There’s a definitive trend emerging with the Jimmy Watson. Over the last few years, a cool-climate Shiraz (Glaetzer Dixon, Tasmania), and cool-climate Pinot (Yabby Lake, Mornington Peninsula) a Syrah instead of a Shiraz (SC Pannell, Adelaide Hills) and now another cool-climate Pinot (Home Hill, Tasmania). The classic areas and varieties may be feeling the heat!

Sales of the Home Hill Kelly’s Reserve Pinot Noir were quickly restricted at the winery to one bottle per person. Just nine people in Singapore were lucky enough to get a bottle through Tiger Wines.

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Speaking of Tasmania, I thought I’d have a look at some of the Tasmanian wines you can get other than through Tiger Wines. Here’s two – the good and the downright ugly!

2013 / Freycinet Vineyards / Tasmania / Pinot Noir / $118 at Century Cellars – Let’s talk about the wine first. A personal favourite. Halliday 97. One of Tasmania’s best. Now let’s talk about the price. The Century Cellars website promises wines “at the cheapest possible price”. Tiger Wines $79. Kapow! BBI 

2004 / Domaine A / Tasmania / Cabernet Sauvignon / $59 at Wine Exchange Asia – Not my favourite vintage but still worthy of 91 from Jeremy Oliver. The pricing? Well I don’t carry the 2004 any more, but I am the distributor for Domaine A in Singapore and I couldn’t have done it for $59. Exceptional bargain. BBI ♥♥♥♥♥

As usual in Singapore, it pays to do your homework.

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

“Supple, velvety and distinctive for the lavish violet and incense overtones to the core of fresh currant and berry fruit”. 

Is that snobbish enough? Violet is a great descriptor for some Cabernets, as it was in this case.

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Wine appeals to every sense. The hearing takes pleasure from the sound of a pulled cork, the gentle trill of the pouring wine. The sight is refined and uplifted by the rich colour. The touch answers to the stimulus of smooth glass and delights in the wrist action when gently swirling the wine in the glass. The nose takes subtle joy from the elusive bouquet and the complex aroma. And the mouth is flattered by the sheer delight of the bigness of the wine, the grape ‘body’ and the feeling of satisfaction due to the temperature of the wine, the fineness of its alcohol, the incomparable softness of its velvety texture.” – The Aesthetics of Wine, March 1946

Oops. That’s blown it.

 

 

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“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 (www.tiger-wines.com). 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.

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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♥♥♥♥

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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 http://www.winewilleatitself.com

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.

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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 ♥♥♥♥♥

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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

 

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

Not a shiraz or sauvignon blanc in sight

Reviewed wines on offer by Absolute Blizzard, Equatorial Wines, Rubicon Reserve Wines, The Local Nose, Wine Exchange Asia.

Had a pinot noir tasting amongst friends on Saturday night, with the theme being one pinot from any country. It ended up being only a small group (do I need to get more friends?) and the surprising thing was that there wasn’t a single pinot from Australia, New Zealand or France represented. Maybe we’re getting tired of the predictability. The range included California (Sonoma Coast) and South Africa, but the surprise winner on the night was a pinot from Chile (Leyda). Definite similarities with Central Otago but not quite as “in your face” as the Kiwi south-islanders can be. I read recently that “this is South America’s decade” when it comes to wine so it will be fun to see how their wines catch on.

Also attended a blind Aussie/Kiwi pinot punch up last week with the Aussies truly trounced, although it’s fair to say that a quality Aussie pinot can hold its own. The middle of the road stuff is a different story.

So, on to today’s wines, starting not surprisingly with a couple of pinots:

2008 / Wild Earth / Central Otago / Pinot Noir / S$53, S$49 by the half case at Wine Exchange Asia – this is a good rather than great wine according to the raters. Wine Spectator gives it 87 points, Bob Campbell 84 points, Michael Cooper 4 stars, and The Age Good Wine Guide 91 points. Campbell said it needs time and that seems fairly safe as it’s drinking out to about 2015. It retails at NZ$40-42 so the price here, especially by the half case, is definitely great value. In fact, on a pure price comparison, it’s the best value of the wines reviewed today.

2009 / Te Kairanga / Martinborough / Pinot Noir / S$42 at Equatorial Wines – slightly higher rating than the Wild Earth by Bob Campbell (85 points) but with a significantly lower retail price of NZ$21, so much so that Campbell said it is great value in its home market. By the time it gets here though, the value is good rather than great because, even though it’s half the cost of the Wild Earth at home, it creeps up towards the Wild Earth by the time it gets here. So, a good wine, but the value got lost in transit.

2005 / Chapman Grove / Margaret River / Chardonnay / S$45, S$40.50 by the dozen at Rubicon Reserve Wines – this should still be drinking OK as James Halliday reckons drink by 2012. He gave it 90 points. It retailed at A$23 so the single bottle price here is OK, but the case price clearly good value.

2006 / Amadio / McLaren Vale / Cabernet Sauvignon / S$39 at Absolute Blizzard Resources – another Halliday 90 pointer drinking out to 2015. With a RRP of A$20, the asking price here is absolutely spot-on with the BBI calculation.

2006 / Zema Estate / Coonawarra / Cabernet Sauvignon/ S$42, S$38 by the half case at Wine Exchange Asia – a Coonawarra cabernet, how could you go wrong? Not with this wine that’s for sure. Halliday gives it a solid 94 points, drinking out to 2016. Like the Wild Earth, both the single bottle price and the half-case price come in under the BBI benchmark. RRP is A$25. The single bottle price is good value, the half-case price is great value. Stop complaining about the price of wine in Singapore and stock up with some of this stuff.

So where does that leave us? On a pure comparative price basis, the Wild Earth is the best buy, but when you factor in the quality as well (as measured by the rating), then the Zema Estate wins. Both from Wine Estate Asia. Are you surprised?

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I stumbled onto this ad in the latest Decanter magazine. It reminded me of the great fight that erupted between Australia and France over the use of words such as champagne, methode champenoise and French colombard. Having seen this example, I wonder if Australian wineries might not be able to call their wine “burgundie”, with a phrase on the label that said “this Burgundie is not affiliated with, approved by, endorsed by, or in any way connected to Burgundy in France”. But then again, why bother…..let’s just call it Australia pinot noir.

“It is often said that if a great (and expensive) European wine was sneaked into an Australian wine show, the judges would probably award it nothing!” – Andrew Corrigan writing on different judging styles in Winestate, October 2007

You’ll have to pick & choose amongst this lot. A trio of Heathcote wines though.

Reviewed wines on offer by Crystal Wines, Epsilon Wines, eWineAsia, Parklands Wine, Peccavi, Profiters International, The Cellar Door, The Local Nose, Underground Wines, Wine Connection & Wine Exchange Asia

There must have been something in the Xmas pud. There’s no other way I can explain the irrational pricing that has emerged. There’s some good deals here today, but there’s some pretty ordinary ones as well, and a couple that are well, best forgotten.

First off the rank, the Kiwis:

I had a look at the NV Overstone Brut Sparkling from Wine Connection but couldn’t find a rating anywhere, so we’ll leave that for another time.

2010 / Summerhouse / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / S$30.50 from Underground Wines – Only 3.5 stars for this wine (Bob Campbell 84 points) but the price is right as it retails for NZ$22. Good value if you don’t care about ratings.

2007 / Pegasus Bay / Waipara / Sauvignon Blanc Semillon / S$39.90 from The Cellar Door – Is that a misprint? Surely it should be just Sauvignon Blanc? Well, no. According to Bob Campbell, Pegasus Bay makes New Zealand’s only Sauvignon Blanc Semillon. He likes it enough to give it 93 points (4.5 stars). It retails at about NZ$28 so the price here is exactly where BBI would expect it to be. Spot on value, for something a little different.

2007 / Cloudy Bay / Marlborough / Chardonnay / S$55.25, S$52 by the case from Crystal Wines – This is on special at Crystal, down from their Usual Price of S$65, which is odd given it’s listed on their normal retail price list at S$63. Let’s not quibble over a couple of bucks in the advertising blurb and focus on the wine. Michael Cooper gives it 4.5 stars and suggests drinking out to 2014. Bob Campbell loves it, and gives it 95 points (5 stars). Reckons it one of the best wines to come out of Cloudy Bay. It retails for about NZ$40 so the single bottle price of S$55.25 is fine, but the case price of S$52.00 really is good value.

2008 / Pencarrow / Martinborough / Chardonnay / S$29.90 from The Cellar Door – If you’re looking for a rating, you might also try looking under Palliser, as this wine is a junior label from there. A bit junior in the actual rating as well, with Bob Campbell only scrounging up 83 points for this wine. With a RRP of around NZ$17, the pricing here is a bit marginal from a BBI benchmark.

Now to the Aussies, head down with the Ashes gone and a one run loss to you know who in the one-dayer. Not to mention the floods……

2007 / Torzi Matthews / Eden Valley / Riesling / S$33 from Epsilon Wines –  A solid 4.5 star wine. Epicure 4.5, Jeremy Oliver 90 points, James Halliday 94 points. Opinions vary but should keep out to 2015 at least, possibly 2020. RRP is around A$25 so pricing here is keen, great value in fact. You might see it a bit cheaper elsewhere from time to time but here, today, this is a great deal.

2005 / Dominique Portet / Heathcote / Shiraz / S$56.50 at eWineAsia – Dominique Portet has the cellar door in the Yarra Valley but they also offer a couple of Heathcote wines. The 2005 Shiraz is rated 94 by Halliday, with recommended drinking out to 2020. RRP of A$45 so price here is good value.

2005 / Fox Creek / Reserve / McLaren Vale / Shiraz / S$107 (UP S$120) at Profiters International – Wow! If you go to my blog of December 21st, you’ll see that Wine Exchange Asia had this wine on offer at S$55. I said then it was a great deal. Profiters International must know something about this wine that Robert Rees and I don’t.

2008 / St Hallett / Faith / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / S$47.10 at The Local Nose – A solid but not outstanding wine. Oliver 86 points, Wine Front 91, and Halliday 90. Drinking to 2013 or 2019 depending on whether you follow Oliver or Halliday. Sub A$20 down under, RRP of A$19 in fact. That makes the price here a fair way outside an acceptable BBI, a fair way. Not for me.

2005 / Trentham Estate / Heathcote / Shiraz / S$36 at Epsilon Wines – Halliday gives it 94, Wine Estate only 4 stars, but it’s a stayer (drink to 2025) and the pricing’s right. With a RRP of about A$28, price here is great value.

2008 / Battle of Bosworth / McLaren Vale / Shiraz Viognier / S$42 (S$39.90 Member) at Crystal Wines – Wine Front give it 92 points, and reckon it will drink out to 2015. RRP of A$25 so price here is OK.

2005 / Dominique Portet / Heathcote / Cabernet Sauvignon / S$55 at eWineAsia –  Er, is that three Heathcote wines in one blog? Halliday wasn’t quite so wrapped in this one, giving 89 points, drink to 2015.  With a RRP of A$42, this is right where I would expect it to be. Spot on.

2005 / Rockford / Rifle Range / Barossa Valley / Cabernet Sauvignon / S$61 at Parklands Wine (recommended by The Local Nose) – Not much difference of opinion between Oliver and Halliday on this one (Oliver 86, Halliday 90) but Oliver reckons drink it now, Halliday says 2014. It’s academic for me as I won’t be tempted. With a RRP of A$35, this misses an acceptable BBI by a long shot. I’ll pass.

2002 / Majella / The Malleea / Coonawarra / Cabernet Shiraz / S$75, S$70 by the half case, at Wine Exchange Asia – well, this time you really are going to have to ignore the ratings, or choose who you favour. Jeremy Oliver says 88 points, drink last year. Halliday says 94 points, drink to 2022. You make the call. Had a RRP of A$66 but that’s a while ago. I’ve seen prices for this anywhere from A$48 to A$75 down under.

“Unreliable thermostats and air-conditioners are the main cause of damage to wine cellars and rate well ahead of the wrath of a maligned partner or the light hands of an uncontrolled teenage party boy.” – Andrew Caillard MW writing in Gourmet Traveller Wine July 2007

 

 

Merry Xmas from Down Under!

“Owyagoin Santa Claus, gee you’re a real good bloke, come in and crack a coldie, sit right down and have a smoke……” with apologies to John Vincent.

Very pleased to report that the Bastard Box vines are growing quicker than a Bondi tram, what with all the recent rains. Now all we need is some warm weather. 9 degrees centigrade on site yesterday, and it’s supposed to be summer. The four strands of electric fence are keeping out the wombats, kangaroos and deer, and the ultra-sound seems to be keeping out the possums. Fingers crossed.

This week, reviewed wines on offer at Cellar Door, Crystal Wines, Epsilon Wines, eWinesAsia, DFS Changi, Le Vigne, Rubicon Reserve Wines, The Local Nose, Top Wines, Underground Wines, Wine Exchange Asia

One theme that has emerged over the last year is that there are some sellers who are consistently good in their pricing, and there are those, well, let’s just say that there doesn’t appear to be any logic. Not to Bastard Box anyway. If you’re a regular subscriber, you’ll know by now who’s consistent and fair, who’s all over the place like a dog’s breakfast, and who’s just plain greedy.

Usual caveats apply – availability and pricing can change.

Let’s start with a bubbly:

NV / Ninth Island / Tasmania / Brut / S$36.50 at Le Vigne – OK, so it’s not champagne, but neither’s the price. Usually sells for about A$27 except around Xmas when just about anything with bubbles is discounted. James Halliday consistently gives it 90-92 points. At this price, it’s Good Value.

The battle of the Pinot Gris. Two 4 star wines:

2009 / Eradus / Marlborough / Pinot Gris / S$28.88 by the case at Rubicon Wines – Bob Campbell gives it 85 points, RRP NZ$19 so price here is Good Value.

2009 / Forrest / Marlborough / Pinot Gris / S$30.50 at Underground Wines – Another 85 pointer from Bob Campbell. RRP of NZ$25. Much of a muchness between the two Pinot Gris isn’t it? I’d probably opt for the Forrest as the single bottle price looks pretty good, but to be honest, I’m not that into Pinot Gris.

It wouldn’t be summer without Sauvignon Blanc. The Cloudy Bay is the pick of the bunch here:

Cloudy Bay / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / S$38.90 at Le Vigne – I’d usually deduct points for not advertising the vintage, but I can’t imagine the team at Le Vigne selling you anything that was “out of date” so to speak. And look at that price! The cheapest I’ve seen it anywhere in Singapore. Great Value. RRP NZ$34.

2007 / Dog Point / Section 94 / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / S$59 at Crystal – Solid ratings no doubt. Michael Cooper 4.5 stars, Bob Campbell 94 points, but with a RRP of NZ$33, it just doesn’t stack up on a BBI (especially when compared to Cloudy Bay) so it gets a “Reconsider” rating. Probably expect this to be closer to S$45 than S$59.

2010 / Palliser / Martinborough / Sauvignon Blanc / S$32.90 at The Cellar Door – 5 stars (95 points) from Gourmet Traveller Wine (GTW) with recommended drinking to 2013. RRP of NZ$19 so price here is a smidgeon outside the BBI. Not worth nitpicking on though so let’s call it “OK Value”.

Two Chardonnays, and the Kiwis win hands down on value:

2008 / Moss Wood / Margaret River / Chardonnay / S$88 at Crystal – 4.5 to 5 stars. Halliday gives it 5 stars (95 points), Wine Front 93, and Jeremy Oliver 91. Drinking range seems to be around 2013 – 2018. This not a cheap wine in Australia (A$55) but S$88 puts it way outside the BBI. Not for me at this price.

2007 / Palliser / Martinborough / Chardonnay / S$34.90 at The Cellar Door – 4.5 to 5 stars. Gourmet Traveller Wine gives it 95 points, Bob Campbell 93 and Decanter 16.2/20. Drinking to 2013. RRP of NZ$28 so price here is Great Value. Go for it.

Just one Riesling, but a good one:

2007 / Granite Hills / Macedon Ranges / Riesling / S$33 at Epsilon Wines – 4.5 to 5 star. Whenever I write Granite Hills I always want to put “Knights” in front of it, as that is how I remember it. First visited the winery in about 1979 and discovered how many cases of Granite Hills you can stuff into a Lancia HPE hatchback  (lots) and Knights Granite Hills became the “house red” for quite a while.  This Riesling gets 96 points from Jeremy Oliver, 94 from Halliday and 92 from Gourmet Traveller Wine. A fairly diverse opinion on cellaring though with Oliver saying 2015+, GTW saying 2019+ and Halliday saying 2029.  Good Value at this price.

A couple of cabernets:

2005 / Cape Mentelle / Margaret River / Cabernet Sauvignon / S$80 at Crystal – 4 to 4.5 star wine. Halliday and GTW give it 94 points and 92 points respectively. Oliver gives it only 88. With a RRP of A$84, the price here comes in at Great Value. Go figure. Drinking out to 2017+.

2006 / Dominique Portet / Cuvee Andre / Heathcote & Yarra Valley / Cabernet Sauvignon / S$110 at eWinesAsia – I’ve only got one rating on this, and it’s by James Halliday – 96 points. He really liked this wine and suggested drinking out to 2020. With a RRP of A$120, price here is Great Value.

Duty free Pinot Noir:

2007 / De Bortoli / Reserve / Yarra Valley / Pinot Noir / S$77 at DFS Changi – 4 stars. An 89 pointer from Gourmet Traveller Wine who suggest drinking this year. With a RRP of A$57, (seen at A$47 at Dan Murphys this week) this wine could retail in Singapore around the S$65-S$66 mark. Duty free, one might expect it to be at least S$7 cheaper than that, or even S$14 cheaper if you assume the duty gets marked up 100% by retailers (which BBI does.) But, it’s not $7 or S$14 cheaper – it’s $7 more.  That scores it a BBI of “Reconsider”.

Last but not least, Shiraz:

2005 / Balthazar of the Barossa / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / S$51.50 at The Local Nose – 5 stars from Halliday (95 points), drinking out to 2020. RRP of A$45 so Great Value.

2005 / Fox Creek / Reserve / McLaren Vale / Shiraz / S$55 at Wine Exchange Asia – 4.5 stars. Oliver 90, Halliday 94. Drinking to about 2016-ish. RRP of A$70. Yup, A$70. Terrific Value.

2007 / Maxwell / Ellen Street / McLaren Vale / Shiraz / S$53 at Crystal – 4.5 stars. Halliday 93 points, drinking to 2020. RRP of A$32 so BBI of Marginal Value.

2002/ Grant Burge / Meshach / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / S$85 at Wine Exchange Asia – 5 stars . Oliver 95 points, Epicure ditto. Too hard to comparative price but with an RRP of A$90 on release, this looks like a good deal. Seen higher elsewhere.

2001/ Grant Burge / Meshach / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / S$80 at Wine Exchange Asia – ditto for the 2002, except Oliver wasn’t so keen giving it 88 points.  Regularly seen at S$90 plus, even S$95 plus in Singapore.

2003 / Standish / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / S$120 at Wine Exchange Asia – I’ve listed this wine before through a different seller, only there it was (and still is I believe) S$155. I don’t know much about the wine other than Robert Parker gave it 99 points.

Out of all the wines here, the Fox Creek Shiraz at Wine Exchange Asia is the clear BBI winner for comparative value.

Try before you buy in the UK. I reckon this service was offered in Queenstown, New Zealand in about 2002! See- http://www.harpers.co.uk/news/news-headlines/9526-new-wine-retailer-offers-try-before-buy-on-150-wines.html

“Before you can appreciate great Burgundy, you’ve got to cut your teeth on good Bordeaux” – Julio Iglesias speaking with Lucy Shaw in Decanter September 2010.


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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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