Posts Tagged 'Chardonnay'

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

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Minchinbury Sparkling Burgundy did the trick, apparently

Yes, Tiger Wines is a one man band! If you’ve wondered how those Tasmanian wines get to Singapore, here’s how the journey starts for some shipments. I can get 30 cases in there, put the car on the Spirit of Tasmania (no surprise, they have a good Tassie wine selection in their restaurant), grab a sleep across the Bass Strait, repack the wine for protection and then off to Melbourne airport and into the care of DHL.

2014-07-18 Miena2

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You’ve probably never heard of Mount Cathedral Wines but they’ve managed to get caught in James Halliday’s radar. In the 2014 Australian Wine Companion, he listed them as one of the “Ten Dark Horses” and awarded the winery a 5 star rating. Every time I visit Australia, I invariably drive past the turn-off to the winery so it makes sense to call in, collect some wine, and bring it up here for others to enjoy. I’m starting with:

2012 Chardonnay (JH94) $46

2010 Merlot (JH94) $46

2012 Merlot (JH94) $46

2012 Cab Merlot (JH95) $46

2010 Reserve Cabernet (JH95) $63.

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

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Congratulations to Rick Burge and his Burge Family Winemakers on getting 5 star status and 95 points for his 2012 Olive Hill Shiraz in the 2015 Australian Wine Companion.

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Some ordinary deals here, nothing much to get too excited about, just a few.

2010 / Casa Freschi / La Signora / Adelaide Hills / White Blend / $59 at Booze.com – This white blend is made up of either every grape you love, or every grape you hate. It’s a mixture of Riesling, Chardonnay, Gewurtztraminer, and Pinot Grigio. Who would have thought? Huon Hooke didn’t think much of it giving it only 81 points but he did talk about oxidation so maybe it was a spoiled bottle (but its shouldn’t be if under screwcap). Lisa Perotti-Brown of Wine Advocate was kinder at 90 but suggested drinking by 2014. So, not much time left then. With a RRP of A$29, the pricing here looks a little ambitious. BBI♥♥♥

2012 / Saint Clair / Pioneer Block 14 Doctors Creek / Marlborough / Pinot Noir / $45 or $42.20 by the six pack at Cornerstone Wines – I’ve never quite worked out why Saint Clair need to give their wines two identifying names. I would have thought that either Pioneer Block 14 or Doctors Creek would get the tractor to the right paddock but apparently not. I suppose there could be two Pioneer Block 14s or two Doctors Creeks but Marlborough’s not that big, surely. Bob Campbell puts it just into his “above average” range and with a RRP of NZ$34, the pricing is pretty good, but I’m still giving it…BBI♥♥♥

2002 / Lakes Folly / Hunter Valley / Cabernets / $79 at Wine Exchange Asia – The older they are, the harder they are to value. This came on the market at A$45 and took a bit of a roller-coaster ride on the secondary market in Australia. Halliday gave it 93, but he also said drink it by 2010. Hmmm. What’s going on here? Well, someone must know something that James didn’t when he reviewed it on release as the last auction price, this year, was A$58 and the trend is up. On that basis, I’m giving it…BBI♥♥♥♥

2012 / Two Hands / Gnarly Dudes / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / $51 at Straits Wine Company – Not the greatest Two Hands (Huon Hooke 91, Wine Advocate 89) but it’s a fair price and it’s only a young’un. BBI♥♥♥♥

2004 / by Farr / Geelong / Shiraz / $69 or $59 by the six pack at Wine Exchange Asia – The first of the wines today that’s managed 95 points, this time from James Halliday, with Campbell Mattinson at 91. Campbell says you should have been drinking this watching the 2012 Singapore F1 GP, whilst James thinks you could still (just) quaff it at this year’s race whilst barracking for Daniel Ricciardo. James didn’t say that about Ricciardo, I did. Tough call this one but I’ll give the benefit of the doubt. BBI♥♥♥♥

2012 / Hentley Farm / Caretaker / Shiraz / $45 each if you buy two at Straits Wine Company and only until 31st August. With RRP of A$20, it’s got fair pricing and fair ratings (Halliday 92, Wine Advocate 89) so it gets fair stars. BBI♥♥♥♥

2011 / Mills Reef / Elspeth Trust / Hawke’s Bay / Syrah / $59 at Wine Exchange Asia – Bob Campbell 93 which is in his “excellent, top quality” range and that’s what he says about this wine; “classy, elegant wine”. RRP of NZ$45 so good pricing here and deserves it stars. BBI♥♥♥♥

2006 / d’Arenberg / The Dead Arm / McLaren Vale / Shiraz / $69 at Wine Exchange Asia – How much Dead Arm ended up in investment portfolios in Singapore? A lot I’m guessing! I reviewed this vintage back in 2010 and it’s still around. The investor is the loser and if you like your McLaren Vale shiraz, you are the winner. The last Langton’s auction price on this downunder was A$55. Add the buyers premium and delivery and you’d be talking around A$70 to get your hands on this wine. S$65 is looking pretty good isn’t it? Life’s not that tough in the “far east” after all (just don’t tell anyone). Oh, I forgot to mention, Gary Walsh 95, Wine Advocate 95+, James Halliday 95 blah, blah blah…BBI♥♥♥♥

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WINESPEAK 101 – How to waffle with the best of them.

Over the last 12 months or so, I have often referred to one of my favourite wine websites www.winewilleatitself.com, in fact I referred to the blog and Jeremy Pringle in my most recent post. Sadly, Jeremy is no longer with us.

Please have a look at the link for a better farewell than I could ever give.

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

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“The most memorable moments can be had right in your own home, with a chafing dish. Imagine just two of you, with HIM right there beside you, cooking in the light of the flames from under the dish and from the hearth, plus a delicious bottle of Minchinbury Sparkling Burgundy or Dalwood Hermitage Claret to keep that flame aglow in your heart.” – Wine Talk, Mrs Rada Penfold Russell, Penfolds Advertising Director approx 1978

 

A Christmas bargain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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NEW RELEASES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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1989 Xmas

 

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

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

Some giant deals, and some giant wines

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And finally….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 bouquet of sandalwood, tobacco, vanilla……..or Avon?

Reviewed wines on offer by Crystal Wines, Epsilon Wines, Eve Spirits, Hermitage Wines, Singapore Straits Wine Company, The Cellar Door, Wine Connection, Wine Culture, Wine Exchange Asia, & Wine Universe.

There’s smells, and there’s smells. The one’s I want to talk about today are the one’s that linger, the one’s that stick to you long after the event. Cigar smoke from that crowded bar still in your clothes next morning. The pungent aroma of wet seals after a visit to Cape Palliser where you just had to move close enough for that photo. The lingering aroma of drying prawns after a visit to Kukup, the reminder coming for the next two days every time you open your car door.

And then, there’s perfume.

Why, oh why, do some people wear the strongest possible perfume to wine tastings? You’re in the middle of nosing a wonderful wine in a proper glass (in my case, it was a 1999 Ata Rangi Pinot Noir) when, bang! your olfactory senses are assaulted, interrupted, confused and destroyed for the rest of the evening by an overwhelming  bouquet of fake roses and frangipani. I’ve had this happen more than once at properly defined wine tastings. Makes you wonder what the wearer is there for. And yes, it stuck with us in the taxi like Kukup prawns.

To the offers….all Australian today:

2008 / Fonty’s Pool / Single Vineyard / Pemberton / Chardonnay / S$33 at Wine Connection – Just goes to show, you can’t always judge a book by its cover. I’ve wandered in to Wine Connection from time to time and not been tempted, but this offer looks great value indeed. The pricing is very attractive (RRP A$22 vs S$33) but it’s the rating that stands out at this price level. James Halliday 96 points which puts it in the “outstanding” category. I’ve ordered some to try.

2008 / Sticks / Yarra Valley / Sauvignon Blanc / S$39 at Wine Culture – This wine has the same rating as the Sidewood (see below) but with another year of age, even more reason to drink now. Not next month, but now.  With an RRP of A$19, the pricing is spot on, but today it’s been trounced by the Sidewood which starts at a similar RRP but ends up S$15 a bottle cheaper.

2009 / Sidewood Estate / Adelaide Hills / Sauvignon Blanc / S$48 for 2 at Singapore Straits Wine Company – You’d want to drink this one straight away, no point in sitting on it at all. Halliday says “highly recommended” (90), and Wine Front says “very happy with it” (88). You should be very happy with the price too as it retails for around A$18. Outstanding comparative value. It’s their January “2 for 1” deal so you might have to twist their arm to still get it at this price.

2005 / Bannockburn / Serre / Geelong / Pinot Noir / S$125.19 at Hermitage Wine – Bit hard to put a BBI value on this one as it’s been around a while but recent pricing in Australia (around A$110) suggests the price here is OK. Both James Halliday and Gourmet Traveller Wine put it in the “outstanding category”.

2008 / Nepenthe / Tryst / Various / Cabernet Blend / S$29.90 at Eve Spirits – Halliday “recommended, above average” (88), drinking to 2013, and with a RRP of A$15, pricing is great value.

2008 / Kaesler / Stonehorse / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / S$88 for 2 at Singapore Straits Wine Company – This was in their January “2 for 1” offer so check to see if it’s still around.  Halliday “recommended” (89) and Wine Front “very happy with it” (90). RRP is A$15 to A$20ish, so deal here is OK. 15% alc but.

So, if you’re out shopping today, I’d look for the Sidewood Sauvignon Blanc at Singapore Straits Wine Company and the Fonty’s Pool Chardonnay at Wine Connection.

Enjoy that bottle of wine last night did you? Well, you were in good company. According to annual wine production statistics, around 80 million bottles of wine are drunk EVERY DAY around the world.  Glad to see you did your bit.

By the way, the stats for Singapore are 23 million litres of wine a year (Winestate Jul/Aug 2010). That’s 63,000 litres a day. Someone’s doing a lot more than me! Oh, yeh, that’s probably half a million dollars a day in duty too.

 


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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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