Posts Tagged 'Central Otago'

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

“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

 

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

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?

——————-

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

It’s a white day today

Reviewed offers by Cornerstone Wines, Crystal Wines, Epsilon Wines, Equatorial Wines, eWineasia, Le Vigne, The Cellar Door, The Local Nose, Underground Wines, Wine Connection, Wine Directions, Wine Exchange Asia, Wine Guru.

I used a rate of 1.3245 for the A$/S$ calculation in the BBI. Last post it was 1.3101. The Kiwi/S$ rate hasn’t changed much at .9893

All whites today, reds to follow….

2009 / Bilancia / Hawkes Bay / Pinot Gris – S$34.90 at The Local Nose & The Cellar Door. Bob Campbell said he particularly liked this wine and gave it “above average” score of 86 points. Its RRP is NZ$25 so a fair value on the BBI could have had it come in as high as S$44. At S$34.90  it’s terrific value.

2009 / Heart of Stone / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc – S$25 at Underground Wines. Just when you thought you’d tried all the Kiwi sauvignon blancs, up comes another one. Cloudy Bay won’t be too worried by this one. Michael Cooper gives it 3.5 stars (“very good”) but it’s the price that grabbed his attention saying that it is “fine value. I’m not going to argue with that. With a RRP of NZ$17, the price here is really quite outstanding at this end of the market.

2010 / Mt Difficulty / Target Gully / Central Otago / Riesling – S$41.50 at eWineAsia. Bob Campbell sort of damned this with faint praise.  He gave it 87 points which equates to “above average” but added “whilst very good, doesn’t live up to my memory of past classics”.  Retails for NZ$25 so the price here is fair to good.

2008 / Neudorf / Nelson / Chardonnay – S$42 at The Local Nose & Wine Guru. I’m a big fan of Neudorf and the Nelson area, often overlooked in the flood of stuff (not all good) that comes out of Marlborough. Michael Cooper agrees giving this wine an “excellent” rating (4.5) and Bob Campbell gives it 89. It retails for NZ$30 so it’s great value here. Give it a try for a change!

2007 / Villa Maria / Cellar Selection / Marlborough / Chardonnay – S$39.90 at The Cellar Door. Bob Campbell gave it 87 points and called it “stylish”. It retails around the NZ$24 mark so the price here is good, rather than great.

2010 / Woodlands / Margaret River / Chardonnay – S$42, S$37 by the half case at Wine Exchange Asia. We had to get an Aussie in the line up sooner or later. Wine Front says “very happy with it” and suggests drinking to 2013. With a RRP of A$23, the single bottle price is spot on the BBI, and the half case price is a great deal.

The wine and the place.  La Motte at Salt Rock, near Durban

“The results of a blind tasting cannot be predicted and will not even be reproduced the next day by the same panel tasting the same wines.” – Stephen Spurrier after Bottle Shock apparently.

A rollicking good read, and a rollicking strong Aussie dollar

Reviewed offers from Crystal Wines, eWineAsia, Le Vigne, Rubicon Reserve Wines, The Cellar Door, The Local Nose, Wine Connection, Wine Culture, Wine Directions, Wine Exchange Asia

A big plug for a book that I just read on the plane and train between Singapore and Durban. It’s a quick read for sure but thoroughly entertaining. It’s “The Billionaire’s Vinegar” by Benjamin Wallace (thank you Lisa & Jos for the gift) and the story is of fakes in the wine industry, especially rare old Bordeaux.  I’m coincidentally thumbing my way through old Wine Spectator magazines from the last decade and the whole story of “suspect” 1787 Chateau Lafite Thomas Jefferson is covered month after month as the various parties, from buyers to auction houses, counter accusation with accusation. One of the themes is that the US was ripe for counterfeits because they didn’t know much about old wine, they just bought them for status. Where does that leave today’s China buyer? Another novel in the offing, I suspect.

Just the one white today:

2010 / Mitolo / Jester / McLaren Vale / Vermentino – S$28.20 at Crystal Wines. I could only find one rating on this and it was Epicure at 4 stars. The RRP is shown as A$24 so the price in Singapore at S$28.20 looks an absolute bargain on a comparative basis. But there’s a catch. Epicure reckons this wine should have been drunk in 2010, so no surprise that’s it being marketed at an attractive price.  Given that it’s only just out of the first quarter in 2011, it’s probably still worth a punt.

A flood of pinots:

2009 / Bass Phillip / Crown Prince / Gippsland / Pinot Noir – S$89.25 at Crystal Wines. I don’t have a rating on this vintage so can’t offer any help there. What I do know is that this wine is currently on sale at Wine House in Australia at A$57 so the price here looks a sizeable premium. I’m guessing not all that much comes to Singapore, so if you want it, you’ll probably buy it at that price anyway.

2008 / Mt Difficulty / Long Gully / Central Otago / Pinot Noir – S$110 at eWineAsia. One thing about Bob Campbell – when he likes something, he says so. He gives this wine 95 points (“excellent, top quality”) and says that “this is a great pinot noir”.  Its RRP of NZ$90 puts it right at the top bracket for Kiwi pinots and its price here of S$110 is right where the BBI would expect it to be. I think I’ll be tempted to try it.

2008 / Nazaaray / Mornington Peninsula / Pinot Noir – S$50.25, S$43.93 by the case, at Rubicon Reserve Wines. I’ve never come across this name before but in any event, Wine Front gives it 90 points (“very happy with it”) and suggest drinking out to 2014. With a RRP of A$30, the price is about right for the case buy.

2008 / Tarrawarra Estate / Reserve / Yarra Valley / Pinot Noir – S$62 at The Local Nose and Wine Directions.  All round accolades for this one. James Halliday “outstanding”, Jeremy Oliver “top silver”, and The Big Red Wine Book “exceptional”. General consensus is to drink out to about 2018. With a RRP of A$50, the pricing here is good value.

2006 / Trentham Estate / Mornington Peninsula / Pinot Noir – S$35 at The Local Nose and Wine Directions. I recommended this wine back in May last year and you should have bought it then when it was offered at S$30. It’s now S$35 as the Aussie’s gone up but it’s still a terrific buy. Halliday 92, drink to 2013.

And a trio of shiraz (or should that be shirazes?):

2008 / Kilikanoon / Killerman’s Run / Clare Valley / Shiraz – S$31.45 at Crystal Wines. Another wine/vintage that I don’t have a rating for. So what can I tell you? Well, it’s on sale at Dan Murphys in Australia at A$16.99 which would equate to a BBI of about S$36.  That makes the price here great value, and if you know the wine, then the deal is good.

2003 / Shirvington / McLaren Vale / Shiraz – S$143 at Wine Culture. Have you ever seen a bottle of this? No, me either. All you need to know is that Robert Parker rated it 96 points. Now, it just happens to be on sale at Wine House downunder for A$95 but in limited quantities, and you’re sure as hell unlikely to get the WET back. I think this is another case of “if you know it and like it, you’ll buy it” because you won’t be seeing much of it around.

2004 / Torbreck / Run Rig / Barossa Valley / Shiraz – S$199 at Wine Exchange Asia. We’re in the big hitters today aren’t we? Wow. OK, the lowest rating I could find on this was Jeremy Oliver at 88 points, drink 2012. The highest rating I could find was Wine Advocate at 99+! Everyone else is in the 95+ bracket and a bit more generous in its ageing potential. Let’s call it 2018 to be fair. It WAS on sale in the US at US$225 a bottle. It’s NOW on sale at Wine House for A$240. I never thought I’d say it, but that makes S$199 smashing value.

The star deals for today are the Trentham Pinot Noir, and wait for it, the Torbreck Run Rig.

So, how much has the Aussie dollar changed the pricing in Singapore over the last 12 months? Perhaps not as much as you’d expect. In an A$50 bottle of wine, the BBI reckons the exchange rate has added about S$2 here.

“Like many males of my age, I live along that fine line between pretentious wine snob and wine enthusiast. I call myself an enthusiast. I absolutely drew the line at the sommelier slurping thing.” – Andrew Bruce, HK lawyer and wine enthusiaist writing in GrapeGrowers & Vignerons March 2011


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Wine quotations

"A good bottle of wine contains more philosophy than all the books in the world" - Louis Pasteur

“The unexacting palates of the masses…are content to ask no question [on origin] so long as a florin or half-a-crown will purchase a roomy flagon of strong , full-bodied, fruity wine” – CE Hawker writing in 1907