Posts Tagged 'Felton Road'

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

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

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

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

Not so in New Zealand apparently.

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

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

“Er, sorry could you repeat please?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s a comparative price test:

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

And, I told you…..

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

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

Advertisements

Inflation, inflation, inflation – creeping wine prices but a great deal on Peccavi

Looked at wines from Crystal Wines, Epsilon Wines, eWineAsia, Hermitage Wine, Le Vigne, The Cellar Door, The Local Nose, Wine Connection & Wine Exchange Asia.

Early into the New Year and I’ve had some adjusting to do. No, not to the quality of wine I’m drinking, but to the Bastard Box Index (BBI). I’m always adjusting the inputs, but not the criteria, for “fair comparative value” especially as the exchange rates change, but there are other influences as well. Cost of freight pushes prices up, but the swag of specials coming from liquidated (!) wineries makes some of the RRP a bit meaningless.  I’ve noticed a bit of a general price creep in Australian and New Zealand wines on sale here in Singapore, so you might have to readjust your expectations. I did say about the middle of last year that some prices were too good to last. No matter. You got that bonus and pay rise, right?

The Kiwis:

2005 / Vinoptima / Ormond / Gisborne / Gewurtztraminer / S$80.25 from Hermitage Wine – Can you believe it? $80 bucks for a gewurtz? Well, believe it you should as this winery has a tremendous following. I don’t have a rating for 2005, but Michael Cooper raves over the 2004 and the 2006. The winemaker agrees that both those years are better than the 2005 but there’s no suggestion that the 2005 is anything but another excellent wine. Besides, I just wanted to write about an $80 gewurtztraminer for a change. The 2006 is “drink 2012”, so I’m going to guess the 2005 is “drink now”. With a RRP of NZ$55, the price here is creeping into marginal BBI territory.

2007 / Felton Road / Dry / Central Otago / Riesling / S$44.90 at The Cellar Door –   Surprisingly, I couldn’t find a rating for this amongst the gaggle of Kiwi raters, so I’ve relied on Gourmet Traveller Wine (which draws on Bob Campbell anyway) who gave it 90 points and suggested drinking to 2014. RRP is NZ$30 so the price at Cellar Door is good value indeed.

The Aussies:

2006 / Shadowfax / Victoria / Chardonnay / S$42.90 at The Cellar Door – This wine comes from all over the place, hence the Victoria domicile. Shadowfax also has specific regional wines (e.g Geelong) so don’t be confused. You probably won’t be, as the regional wines are more expensive than the Victoria one. This wine is rated 94 points by Halliday, drinking to 2012, and retails for A$28. That makes the price here good value.

2008 / Peccavi / Margaret River / Chardonnay / S$52 at The Local Nose (but also at Peccavi) – Jeremy Oliver gives it 92 points, and suggests drinking between 2013 to 2016. With a RRP of A$45, the offer here is great value.

2009 / Mollydooker / The Violinist / McLaren Vale / Verdelho / S$42 at Epsilon Wines – Mollydooker had a focus on the US market and that’s reflected in the fact that I’ve only found one rating, and that’s out of Wine Spectator. They gave it 87 points (4 star) and suggested drinking it by 2009. The pricing’s OK (it retailed for A$27, US$25) so you just have to worry about the age.

2006 / Paradigm Hill / L’ami sage / Mornington Peninsula / Pinot Noir / S$80, S$75.50 by the case at eWineAsia – 4.5 stars across the board. Epicure 4.5, Halliday 90, Wine Front 93. Mid-range of the “drink by” recommendations is 2015. So far, so good but this is where it starts to fall apart. With a RRP of A$45 (and still available at that e.g. at Wine House) the price here is about S$15- S$20 a bottle above where the BBI would put it.

2006 / Bindi / Pyrette / Heathcote / Shiraz / S$75, S$71.25 Member Price at Crystal Wines – No doubting the quality. Halliday 96 points. Drink between 2011 and 2021, but…….with an RRP of A$40, same as the Paradigm Hill, about S$15 to S$20 outside the BBI.

2008 / Henschke / Keyneton Euphonium / Barossa Valley / Shiraz Blend / S$60 at Wine Exchange Asia – Do you want to be confused? Firstly, one of the respected raters says that this wine used to be called Keyneton Estate but now it’s just known as Euphonium. Wrong – the 2008 is Keyneton Euphonium, that’s what’s on the label. Another rater says it’s 75% shiraz, 11% cabernet, and 8% cabernet franc. Wrong – it’s 75% shiraz, 11% cabernet, 8% merlot and 6% cabernet franc (check my maths though). That’s what’s on Henschke’s website. But even here it gets confusing. The label says Barossa Valley, but the write-up on Henschke’s website says “[from grapes] grown in the Barossa Valley (Eden Valley and Barossa Valley). Anyway, the wine gets 92 from Wine Front and 94 points from Tyson Stelzer with recommended drinking out to 2018. With a RRP of A$48, the price here is good value.

On a comparative value basis, the Peccavi Chardonnay is the stand out, followed by the Felton Road Riesling, and the Shadowfax Chardonnay. If I wasn’t so long wine. I’d put the Henschke in my cellar too. It’s a fair price and you won’t regret it.

Sorry to hear that one of my favourite wineries, Best’s at Great Western, went under water recently. I mean actually, not financially. The vineyard copped the floods from the recent rains in the NW of Victoria and I understand that most of the vines got more water than they’d had for the last decade. My thoughts go out to everyone involved in the clean up and the restoration/preservation of this year’s crop.

This story is a little old now (October last year) but the kudos isn’t. Have a look at Australia’s first “perfect wine” judged at the 2010 Rutherglen Wine Show.

http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/article/2010/10/06/241321_horticulture.html

“I believe that wines of texture and elegance and length are the way forward for Australian wine. If we don’t make wines of structure, and longevity, and complexity, and increasingly wines with a sense of place, then the areas of the world market that we need to penetrate will always be shut off to us.” – Phil Sexton of Giant Steps quoted in Gourmet Traveller Wine in July 2007

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.


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 74 other followers

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

Advertisements