Posts Tagged 'Clare Valley'

“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

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

The embarrassment of screwcaps

I know, I know, you’d love to open that Henschke Hill of Grace now under screwcap, but what would your guests think? Oh, the ignominy, oh the embarrassment.

Never fear, the Trudeau screwcap remover is here!

One of the benefits of a 60th birthday is all the fun wine gifts you get, ranging from a stopper that uses, how shall we say, a certain part of a man’s anatomy to seal the bottle, through to the wonderfully silly screwcap remover. It even comes with instructions that tell you to “turn to open the bottle”. How did we ever cope with an instruction-less corkscrew?

The idea it seems, is to hide the fact that you are removing a screwcap by allowing you to display some purpose to the action, muffling the metallic snap as the seal breaks, and then by a devious mechanism that holds the screwcap out of sight in the tool, allowing you to discreetly pop the used screwcap into the nearest bin. Your guests will be none the wiser…..apparently. You can see why I had to have one.

Thank you Peter & Sandra. It’s been a big hit already.

In the same way that car magazines often get criticized for writing about Lamborghinis and Ferraris instead of bread & butter models like BMW, wine magazines get criticized for writing about wines that few can afford, instead of writing about wines like Yellow Tail or Wolf Blass Yellow Label. Well, time to get your pens ready. The wines reviewed here today are definitely not your everyday drinking models.

1997 / Best’s / Thomson Family / Great Western / Shiraz – S$188 or S$178.60 Member Price at Crystal Wines – I’m a great fan of Best’s but I would be wouldn’t I? Highly rated by those who matter, for example Jeremy Oliver gives it a “regular gold medal” 94 point rating, and Wine Front gives it “exceptional” at 97 points. A bit of difference on the cellaring with Oliver giving it 2009+ and Wine Front saying “out to 2027”. So, is it good value? Given the vintage, it’s fair to say that the BBI shouldn’t include an allowance for getting the WET back. On that basis, a direct comparison with recent sales of the wine in Australia shows it in the market at about A$120. If you bought a bottle yourself retail, you’d land it after duty and VAT at around S$165, so S$178 isn’t that far away. At this level of buying though, and with the scarcity of older vintages, it’s probably a bit academic. If you like it, you’ll probably buy it. So, the next question is – is this the best deal for it in Singapore? That I can’t answer, but if you do see it or similar vintages around for less, let me know so we can tell the world.

2006 / Jim Barry / The Armagh / Clare Valley / Shiraz – S$290 at Epsilon Wines – I have fond memories of an Armagh consumed at a restaurant in Arrowtown in Central Otago (Gantreys from memory) in 1993 for about $50. Those were the days. It’s a serious acquisition now. James Halliday gives it “outstanding” and Oliver gives it a “top silver medal”. It’s Jeremy Oliver again who suggests a shorter cellaring (2014+) against Halliday’s 2030, not something that Jeremy is know for. You’ll have to be the judge on the price. I reckon you can still get this retail and get the WET back in which case it should be closer to S$215 than S$290 but you might waste a lot of time tracking it down.  Another case of, if you like it, you’ll probably buy it.

2008 / Man O’War / Ironclad / Waiheke Island / Red Blend – S$66 at Rubicon Reserve Wines – This looks to be a pretty stunning wine, with Gourmet Traveller Wine giving it “outstanding” (95) and Bob Campbell giving it “excellent, top quality” (93). If you’re tired of those big Barossa reds (not me!), then give it a go. RRP is NZ$46 so the price of S$66 is about where the BBI would expect it to be.

I promise that the next blog will be more Morris Minor than Porsche.

“I’ve enjoyed wine without food many times, but I’ve never tasted a wine that was unaccompanied by words” – Lettie Teague ‘Speaking of Wine’ in the Asian Wall Street Journal 3rd July 2010

Where’s the shiraz in this lot? – and lessons on how to spit

[Reviewed offerings by Cold Storage, Crystal Wines, Epsilon Wines, eWine Asia, Le Vigne, Monopole, The Cellar Door, Top Wines, Underground Wines, and Wine Directions]

Specials are a bit slow this week. Here’s the best I could do:

2003 / Kreglinger / Vintage Brut / Tasmania / Bubbly / S$48 at Le Vigne – From the same stables as Ninth Island and Pipers Brook, this is a personal favourite. No, I don’t always buy wines on ratings, as this one only gets 88 points from Jeremy Oliver (although other vintages score much better). It’s refreshing and it’s priced right. With a RRP of A$50, this comes in with a BBI rating of  “Terrific Value”.

2009 / Moss Wood / Ribbon Vale / Margaret River / Semillon Sauvignon Blanc / S$44 at Crystal Wines – Don’t have much on this one. Halliday 95 points, drink to 2013, 14% alcohol. RRP is A$26 so this one gets a BBI rating of  “OK Value”.

2009 / Pierro / LTC / Margaret River / Semillon Sauvignon Blanc / S$53 at Crystal Wines – Oliver 90 points, Halliday 94 points, drinking to 2013-14. With a RRP of A$31, this gets a BBI rating of “Reconsider”. Interesting eh, given that both are from the same retailer.

2008 / Jim Barry / The Lodge Hill / Clare Valley / Riesling / S$42 at Monopole – Halliday gives it 93 points, but Decanter didn’t rate it highly, giving it only 15.5 points (out of 20). Drinking to 2018 according to Halliday. With a RRP of A$20, the BBI on this is “Marginal Value”, especially when compared with the Pikes at S$29 from Wine Directions in the last post.

2007 / All Saints / Rutherglen / Durif / S$35.90 at The Cellar Door – It seems you’re either into Durif, or you’re not. I don’t mind the occasional one, especially with some age on it. This is too much of a generalization, but I think of it as a sort of black, inky shiraz. Oliver rates this one at 91 points (4.5 stars) and suggests drinking between 2015-2019+. With a RRP of A$24, the BBI on this is “Good Value”

2008 / Water Wheel / Memsie Homestead / Bendigo / Red (Shiraz, Malbec, Cabernet) / S$29 at Crystal Wines – I’ll be right up front and say I don’t like this wine. I’ve got some in my cellar, and it’s always overlooked when hunting around for something nice. Maybe I’ll drag it out when my relatives next visit. I’m not alone. Wine Estate give it only 4 stars and Wine Front 4 too (87 points), but Halliday is stumping up with 90 points. Halliday suggests drinking out to 2017. With a RRP of A$14, the BBI gives it a rating of “Good Value”, but it won’t be enough to convince me to stock up. Just a personal choice.

Where’s the shiraz? (sounds like an Elton John song….) Not here, I’m afraid.

2008 / Wolf Blass / Presidents Selection / South Australia / Shiraz / S$44.95 at Cold Storage – You might recall that this is the wine we got a roadside stall in rural Vietnam for about S$35. It’s a four star wine for sure (Wine Front 88 points) and I have it on good authority that Presidents Selection, which is not sold as such in Australia, is closer to Yellow Label than other Wolf Blass brandings.  So……if it is close to Yellow Label, then the RRP would be about A$16, giving the price here a BBI rating of “Reconsider”.

We often hear people say when shocked by the price of wine in Singapore, “oh, it’s the tax you see” and I have to bite my tongue every time I hear it. Yes, yes, it can be the tax, but only at the lower end of cheaper wines. The tax can even work in your favour if you’re prepared to lash out and spend above $30 bucks, and if you really want to splash out, have a look at how the tax creates a very favourable arbitrage on Grange and the like. Hundreds of dollars worth, so please, no more, “it’s the tax”. Unless……. you really are buying at the wrong end.

Let’s have a look at two examples. Not stunning wines. The Grant Burge is 4 star for sure; the Angove’s, I’m prepared to bet it’s no more than 4 star either.

2009 / Angove’s / Butterfly Ridge / Colombard Chardonnay / S$30 at Top Wines – I say S$30 because it’s listed at Top Wines at S$28 before GST (something they’ll presumably fix, and quickly – you never know who might be looking at this website) so I’ve added the 7% for correctness.  Well, this wine retails (at most) in Australia at A$7. That’s right, A$7. If you take out the margin, the GST and the WET in Australia, I’m guessing the wholesale price is around A$2.20. Now, if we convert to S$, add the freight, add the alcohol tax, add the Singapore GST and mark it back up by 100% (that’s fair), we’ll get to S$25, give or take a few cents. That’s how you get an A$2.20 wine to S$25 – it’s all mark up on the tax and on-costs and very little to do with the wine. For the record, the BBI rating on this particular deal would be “Marginal Value”.

2007 / Grant Burge / Summers / Adelaide Hills / Chardonnay / S$30 at Epsilon Wines – 4 stars from Decanter and Halliday, and the same price as the Angoves. Only this one starts with a RRP of A$24, not A$7. On a comparative value basis (i.e. the BBI), this wine would get a rating of “Terrific Value”. So, the real issue is, do you believe that retail prices reflect the quality of the wine? That’s up to you – I’ll just tell you the story.

But wait, there’s more! If you want to learn how to spit “with elegance”, have a look at:

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xcvujq_comment-cracher-le-vin-avec-eleganc_webcam

And finally, is there no respect? The 2008 Schild Estate Barossa Shiraz, having just been listed as the number 7 top wine in the world by Wine Spectator, has been discounted down from A$20 to A$14.99 (at winestar.com.au)!

“I drink it when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and I drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it, unless thirsty.” – Lily Bollinger in 1961, on drinking champagne.

Not much under S$50 here. Sorry! And some arbitrage on Grange.

Just to set the record straight, for this post I reviewed a smattering of wines from Crystal Wines, Epsilon Wines, The Cellar Door, Underground Wines, Wine Direction, and Wine Exchange Asia. If they’re not mentioned here, it means either the wine I selected didn’t make the BBI cut (i.e. not rated well, or not particularly good value) or I couldn’t find a rating on it. Usually the latter. Bastard Box is 100% independent from any distributor or retailer – I buy from most of them (or have), I’ll drink with any of them, but I’ll still judge their prices on comparative value using the same criteria for all.

(By the way, with Xmas coming on there’ll be a fair few offerings of mixed dozens. I’m not a great fan of mixed dozens when they’re already packaged up for you. I’ve always had a sneaking suspicion that the good wines get paid for by the bad ones, and that the mixed dozen is just meant to hide the real pricing from you. Nothing I’ve seen changes my mind on that, but I’m willing to be convinced. It just means you’re unlikely to see a review of a mixed dozen here any time soon.)

Let’s start with the Kiwis:

2007 / Kumeu River / Mates / Auckland / Chardonnay / S$49 from Wine Exchange Asia – Michael Cooper loves this wine and gives it 5 stars. Drinking from now until 2014. Price-wise, I don’t know how WEA do it. This wine retails for NZ$52 – here it is in Singapore at S$49. Don’t “go figure”, do “go get it”!

2007 / Kumeu River / Hunting Hill / Auckland / Chardonnay / S$49 from Wine Exchange Asia – Ditto for everything I said about Mates. Michael Cooper 5 stars, drinking to 2014 and RRP of NZ$45. A comparative bargain.

Now to the Aussies:

2005 / Voyager Estate / Margaret River / Cabernet Merlot / S$52 at Crystal Wines – Oliver 95, Halliday 96 and Decanter 4.5 stars. Unusually, Oliver wants to drink this one earlier by around 2017, but Halliday thinks it will go to 2025. RRP was A$60 so the price here of S$52 is damned good.

2002 / Moss Wood / Margaret River / Cabernet Sauvignon / S$95, or S$85 by the half case at Wine Exchange Asia – Oliver 95 points, Halliday 91 (he didn’t think it was developing enough under screwcap). Oliver says drinking to 2014 to 2022, Halliday out to 2015.  The RRP was A$95 so the price here of S$95 is spot on.

2007 / John Duval / Plexus / Barossa Valley / Grenache Shiraz Mouvedre / S$57, or S$52 by the half case at Wine Exchange Asia – I always look forward to the Singapore F1 GP because our Australian guests usually have a bottle or two of John Duval in their bags. I’m a big GSM fan anyway and this definitely hits the spot. Oliver 93, Wine Front 92, Halliday 93 (but Decanter only 4 stars). 14.5% alc. Consensus on drinking to 2015+. RRP of A$39 so marginally outside the BBI unless you get it at S$52, when it slides into the BBI. Best to get a half case then (or a whole one!).

2007 / John Duval / Entity / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / S$62, or S$57 by the half case at Wine Exchange Asia – Oliver 94, Wine Front 93, Halliday 94 (but Decanter only 4 stars…) Drinking to 2016. With a RRP of A$48, the BBI would put it at about S$59-60 and that’s right where it is. 14.5% alc.

2006 / Kilikanoon / The Covenant / Clare Valley / Shiraz / S$50 at Wine Exchange Asia – 4.5 stars across the board, from Decanter, Oliver (93), and Halliday (92). Drinking range from 2011 to 2020. RRP of A$40 so S$50 is right where the BBI would expect it to be. 15% alc.

2006 / Kilikanoon / Oracle / Clare Valley / Shiraz / S$65 at Wine Exchange Asia – Another solid 4.5 star wine. Decanter (4.5), Oliver (94), Halliday (92). Consensus on drinking is to 2015. With a RRP of A$79, the price here is outstanding. 15% alc.

How about some Grange for the Xmas stocking?

Too expensive? Depends where you buy it, I suppose.

2001 / Penfolds / Grange / South Australia / Shiraz – S$550 at Epsilon Wines or S$399 at Wine Exchange Asia – Oliver 95, Parker 98. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more. Drinking out to 2031 or 2035 depending on who you believe (or whether you care!)

2002 / Penfolds / Grange / South Australia / Shiraz / S$429 at Wine Exchange Asia – Even better, Oliver 97, Parker 98. Oliver says 2032+, Parker says 2050. See if you (and the wine) can last that long.

So, what’s the best comparative value in that lot?

In the whites, the Kumeu River Mates is a terrific buy. In the reds (putting aside the Grange which trades in a stratosphere of its own), the Kilikanoon Oracle, followed closely by the Voyager Estate.

“A quarter acre of grape vines isn’t a working vineyard. At best, it’s a hobby; at worst, it’s an affectation……..Like a child, a vineyard needs love and maintenance and constant vigilance. As with children, a very small one isn’t necessarily easier to manage.” – Tony Lee writing in The Age, 24th August 2010. Could have been talking about Bastard Box!

Fair crack of the whip!

Got a flyer this week from a retailer who gets mentioned favourably in this blog fairly often, but this time, well…..

The promotion is a boxed set of six Kilikanoon wines, all reds from 2006 with an asking price of S$930. I’m not going to suggest that I could replicate the complete boxed set, but I could go close, finding four of the six wines on sale in Singapore right now.  Problem is, and it’s a very big one, is that on just three of the wines in the box, I can buy elsewhere and save over S$260 on just those three wines alone!!!!

Here’s the comparison, after allowing the discount from S$1055 a box down to S$930.

2006 / Kilikanoon / Attunga / Clare Valley / Shiraz / In the box, S$335 – on offer now at Wine Exchange Asia for S$185!

2006 / Kilikanoon / R Reserve / Clare Valley / Shiraz / In the box, S$143 –  on offer now at Wine Exchange Asia for S$95!

2006 / Kilikanoon / Oracle / Clare Valley / Shiraz / In the box, S$130 – on offer now at Wine Exchange Asia for S$65!

Something’s not right is it?

On a brighter note, Anna Pooley from Tasmania has just been named Young Winemaker of the Year. Have a look at:  http://www.themercury.com.au/article/2010/11/17/186611_food-wine.html

And, an imperial of 1947 Cheval Blanc has just been sold for US$304,375. See http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6AF4UA20101116

Now to the wine reviews:

2009 / Eradus / Awatere Valley / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / S$32 from Wine Exchange Asia and also from Rubicon Reserve Wines – Tried this for the first time this week and wow, it is different from your usual Marlborough sav blanc. Not quite as spritzig as say Cloudy Bay but full of very interesting fruity flavours. Michael Cooper liked it enough to give it Best White Wine Buy of the Year on his Buyer’s Guide to New Zealand Wines 2010. Bob Campbell didn’t like it giving it only 83 points. It retails for NZ$19, so the pricing here is fair rather than outstanding but I think it’s worth a try just for the change from the run of the mill.

2009 / The Doctors / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / S$26 at Underground Wines – This wine only gets 3.5 stars from Michael Cooper so it wouldn’t normally appear here, but it’s only 9.5% alcohol, so I reckon it could be perfect to serve to the in-laws staying with you over Xmas.  The pricing is quite keen too as its RRP is NZ$22.

2010 / Kilikanoon / Morts Block / Clare Valley / Riesling / S$33 from Wine Exchange Asia – A Halliday 95 pointer with a RRP of A$35. A no brainer – get some.

2009 / Frankland Estate / Isolation Ridge / Frankland River / Riesling / S$40 from Crystal Wines – To be frank, I’ve struggled to find value in some of Crystal’s recent Aussie offerings but this one hits the mark. 95 points from both James Halliday and Jeremy Oliver and both agree it will last out to 2020 or a smidge beyond. With a RRP of A$30, the pricing is spot on here.

2008 / Ata Rangi / Craighall / Martinborough / Chardonnay / S$52 from Cellar Door – Bob Campbell gives it 93 points, and Michael Cooper gave the 2007 5 stars. Worth a punt. RRP is NZ$38 so the price here is right.

2006 / Leeuwin Estate / Art Series / Margaret River / Chardonnay / S$105 from Crystal Wines – This wine collects ratings like people collect credit card receipts. Lot’s of them. Halliday 95 points, Wine Spectator 94 points, Gourmet Traveller Wine 96 points, Jeremy Oliver 93 points. All agree it should last out to 2017 to 2020. With a RRP of around A$95, the price here is right on the edge of the BBI for value (in fact if you’re prepared to hunt around, I think you’ll find this about S$6 cheaper elsewhere)

2006 / Kilikanoon / The Duke / Clare Valley / Grenache / S$55 from Wine Exchange Asia – Decanter gives it a Silver rating (4.5 stars) as does James Halliday with 93 points. Drinking to 2016. With a RRP of A$69, the price here is a stunner. 15% alc.

2007 / Cape Mentelle / Margaret River / Shiraz / S$48 from Crystal Wines – Cape Mentelle is always a fairly safe bet and this vintage is no exception. Jeremy Oliver 94 points, James Halliday 96 points, with drinking out to 2019 or 2027 depending on who you follow.  RRP of A$39 making S$48 a good buy. 14% alc.

And in case you’ve not kept up with what’s been happening down under:

“Amontillado sherry is now medium dry apera, Oloroso is medium sweet apera, tokay is now topaque, tawny port is now just tawny and vintage port is now vintage fortified red”

Off to Vietnam for a week so expect to see the next posting around 26th November. Happy drinking!

Shhh, don’t tell anyone

You’re possibly familiar with that ghastly (sorry, in my opinion) travel show where the host constantly chips in with “but wait, here’s a little secret”. Well, at the risk of being ghastly myself, here’s a little secret.

If you want to buy 5 star wines from Australia, i.e. rated 95 points or above, and you don’t want to pay a fortune for them, what variety should you buy? Well, that would be shiraz, wouldn’t it? Wrong.

The great under-recognised wine from down under is – riesling!

The raters love Australian riesling handing out 95+ points with gay abandon. Larry Cherubino from Western Australia, Halliday 97 points. Bay of Fires and Craigow from Tasmania, Grosset, Henschke and Pewsey Vale from Clare and Eden Valleys, all rated 96 points or more by Halliday, Oliver, Wine Spectator and others.

And not one of them over A$45, in fact many fit in the A$25-A$30 category. Gourmet Traveller Wine recently awarded Pewsey Vale Riesling 97 points, and listed it the top wine of its varietal tasting – RRP A$25.

I have a problem of course, and that is that my wife is not a great fan of riesling, no matter where it comes from, so if you’re a riesling fan, call around and we can solve the problems of the world.

I had a quick look at what you can get in Singapore, and here’s what I turned up:

2008 / Grosset / Polish Hill / Clare Valley / Riesling – Wine Spectator rates this at 90 points (4.5 star) and US$44, drinking 2010-2015. Halliday has it at 96 points (5 star) A$44 and drinking 2018-2028. Price in Singapore? Listed at S$45 at either of Wine Exchange or Island Wines. A comparative bargain!

2008 / Grosset / Watervale / Clare Valley/ Riesling – Spectator rates at 90 points again (4.5 star), US$31 and drink 2010-14. Halliday rates at 96 points again, A$36 and drinking 2010-2020. Wine Exchange has this listed at S$40 so no doubting the comparative value.

2008 / Kilikanoon / Mort’s Block / Clare Valley / Riesling – Halliday rates at 95 points (5 star), A$35 and drinking 2010-2020. Wine Exchange has it listed at S$30. Shhhh.

2008 / Frankland Estate / Isolation Ridge / Frankland River / Riesling – Epicure (Ralph Kyte-Powell) rates this wine at 5 stars, whilst Halliday and Gourmet Traveller Wine rate it at 4.5, all of them showing a price of A$28. Crystal Wines have it listed at S$45.60 member price, so whilst not the comparative bargain of the Grosset or Kilikanoon, it still scrapes into my tolerable PPB (price pain barrier).
I’ll keep an eye open for more value top-rating rieslings in Singapore, but in the meantime, happy drinking.


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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