Posts Tagged 'grange'

Are you a wine snob?

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

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

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

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

And therein lies the key.

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

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

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TASMANIA WINS…AGAIN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oops. That’s blown it.

 

 

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Is this a new record for Singapore? – Penfolds Grange at S$820

I think this deserves its own special mention.

Carrefour has listed in today’s Today, 2005 Penfolds Grange at S$820, on sale from U.P. S$890.

Gobsmacked is a word that comes to mind. Or, as we might say down under “tell ‘em they’re dreaming”

Last I heard (and saw), 2005 Grange was selling in Singapore for around the S$520 mark. Wine Exchange Asia certainly had it at that, and maybe they still do. It’s currently on offer in Australia for A$500.

You be the judge, but the BBI doesn’t have a publishable designation for this asking price.

Let us have some wine and women,

mirth and laughter,

Sermons and soda-water

the day after

– Lord Byron

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!

St Henry or St ‘Onree?

Did French for 5 years (and failed) but that tells me it should be St ‘Onree. Try asking for that in Dan’s and see how far you get, so we’ll stick with St Henry.

Wine Exchange Asia has both the 2005 and the 2006 on sale for S$82 or S$78 by the half case. Here’s what the raters think:

2005 / Penfolds / St Henri / South Australia / Shiraz – Halliday likes it (94 points) and Oliver likes it (95 points). Say no more. And they both agree that it’s best drinking between about 2015 to 2025, so a keeper then.

2006 / Penfolds / St Henri / South Australia / Shiraz – Campbell Mattinson from the Wine Front gives it 95 points and the same drinking range as the 2005.

As they’re both the same price, how does the price stack up in Singapore? Pretty damned good if you compare it with a RRP of A$90-100. In fact, that’s enough to be able to gloat the next time you have visitors from down-under who rant about the cleanskins they’re picking up that are really surplus Grange.

Just don’t be too cocky, as it does appear that the St Henri doesn’t always sell at recommended retail. You can get the 2006 at WineStar in Australia at A$70 but to be fair, even when comparing S$78 to that price, it’s still a good deal. I’d love to add some to my cellar, but I just couldn’t wait that long.

Penfolds – Nice wine, pity about the price, and then…..Nice wine, good price

I rarely wander into a wine shop and buy off the shelf. I usually know what I’m looking for and I’ve got a fair idea of the price. There are exceptions – I will take advice from people I trust and they know who they are because I buy from them.

But, to be fair, I thought I’d throw my prejudices to the wind and start having a look around at wine shopping in Singapore in general. What better place to start than Cold Storage. Now I’m not a regular shopper for wine at Cold Storage, but from time to time, something pops up that shouts “buy me”. So, to the test…

I picked the first two wines on the shelf, and the brand is Penfolds.

Now Penfolds produce some outstanding wines (Grange for example) but there’s a lot of, how should we say it, bbq wine at the other end (but not at my bbq). The two wines I’m looking at here are Bin 389, often called the poor man’s Grange, and Bin 128, certainly in the mid to upper range of Penfolds line up.

Here’s the data:

2006 / Penfolds / Bin 389 / South Australia / Cabernet Shiraz / S$102 – The Australian raters love this wine, with Halliday giving it 96 points (5 star), and Epicure giving it 5 stars too. It’s one for the cellar though as Halliday suggests it’ll last until 2036 and Epicure to at least 2024. No good for my cellar then! Wine Spectator is less keen only giving it 4 stars, with a price of US$36. The retail price in Australia is A$55. Sorry, run that past me again. That’s right, A$55. Now, I can tweak A$55 every which way, add GST, add freight, add the duty, and no matter how much I tweak it, I can’t make it come anywhere near S$102.

2006 / Penfolds / Bin 128 / Coonawarra / Shiraz / S$70.05 – Halliday gives it 93 points (4.5 stars) and suggests drinking 2017-2027, so another keeper. Same old story on the price though. Retail price downunder is A$30, so who knows what’s going into the price to get it to S$70.

I haven’t given up on Cold Storage, but with these two in particular, I’ll leave you to be the judge.

BUT you can buy Penfolds at a decent price, a very decent price. Wine Exchange Asia has the following on offer, and if past experience is anything to go by, you’ll have to be quick. I’ve bought mine.

2007 / Penfolds / Koonunga Hill Seventy Six / Shiraz-Cabernet / S$35, S$32 by the case – Halliday rates this 94 (4.5 stars) drinking 2010-2020, and Oliver rates it 93 (still 4.5 stars) with drinking 2015 – 2019. On offer in Australia at A$20 so at S$35/S$32 it definitely falls acceptably inside my PPB (price pain barrier). Over to you.


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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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