Posts Tagged 'Halliday'

If in doubt, talk with the winemaker, …..and some good deals on Ferngrove

Earlier this year, I bought some 2002 Ashton Hills Sparkling Shiraz for my cellar in Australia. I’m a big fan of aged sparkling shiraz and we’re still drinking 1985 Seppelt Show Reserve. Sure, the odd bottle is a little flat but the blackberries, oh, the blackberries.

I tracked down some Ashton Hills reds and whites in Singapore but they were a bit exxy, so I used the opportunity to ask the retailer when I might drink the 2002 sparkling shiraz. The answer I got was that all sparkling wine should be drunk early and that I shouldn’t hang on to the wine for much longer. Hmm, this just didn’t gell with the fact that the current release is 2002 so I decided to follow up with Ashton Hills direct. No website, so that meant a phone call. Of course, one of the benefits of picking up the phone is that you actually get to speak with a real person, and in this case it was the winemaker himself, Stephen George. His candid response to the advice I had received was “BS” and that the wine would cellar for at least another 10 years.

Denise’s GSS continued……some good buying here.

Don’t ask me why, but some wines just slip under my radar. I can’t remember when I last had a Ferngrove wine from Frankland River in Western Australia, if in fact I ever have. In reviewing Denise’s GSS sale offers, I realise that it’s time I mended my ways. Denise has a swag of Ferngrove on special and what I’ve listed below are all consistently and solidly under my BBI for comparative value.

2007 / Symbols / Shiraz Viognier / S$27.72 – Rated 90 points by Jeremy Oliver, drinking 2009-2012 RRP A$16

2007 / Symbols / Cabernet Merlot / S$26.90 – 90 points by Halliday, 89 points by Oliver, drink to 2012, RRP A$16

2007 / Chardonnay / S$29.36 – 90 points by Halliday, drink to 2012, RRP A$19

2008 / Sauvignon Blanc / S$29.36 – Another 90 pointer from Halliday, drink now, RRP A$19

2007 / Shiraz / S$30.18 – Winestate thought it average (4 stars) but Halliday gives it 4.5 (94 points), drinking 2012-2022 RRP A$19

2009 / Cossack / Riesling/ S$36.74 – Epicure gave it 4.5 stars and suggested drinking 2012-2018 with RRP A$23

2007 / Diamond / Chardonnay / S$38.38 – Oliver 90, Halliday 94, how can you go wrong? Drinking to 2013 RRP A$22

2007 / Dragon / Shiraz / S$40.84 – Oliver 92 points, drinking 2012-2015. RRP A$29

2007 / Majestic / Cabernet Sauvignon / S$40.84 – Oliver 93, Halliday 94. What’s stopping you? Drinking 2015-2019+.

2007 / King / Malbec / S$40.84 – Oliver 95! Halliday 94. They just keep getting better. RRP A$29

2005 / The Stirlings / Shiraz Cabernet / S$48.12 – Halliday 94, Gourmet Traveller Wine 4.5 stars drinking now to 2020, RRP A$50. Yes, that’s right A$50.

What a great selection. A bunch of 4-4.5 star wines for sub S$30 and nothing over S$50. Why pay S$21.50 for Little Penguin? On a BBI comparative basis, The Stirlings is the stand out value.

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Denise’s GSS sale continues……

Up to K in the list plus a Kiwi. The value on the K1’s is OK rather than startling but still within the BBI of value so definitely worth considering.

K1 by Geoff Hardy / 2007 / Adelaide Hills / Cabernet Sauvignon / S$51.50 – Mixed bag on this one as Winestate rate it at 4 stars, but Halliday gives it 94 points, drinking 2012-2022. RRP is A$35 so just scrapes within the BBI for value.

K1 by Geoff Hardy / 2006 / Adelaide Hills / Merlot / S$51.50 – Halliday has at 92 points, drinking 2010-2016. RRP A$35 too.

K1 by Geoff Hardy / 2006 / Adelaide Hills / Shiraz Viognier / S$35.10 – A 4 star wine according to Winestate and just scrapes into 4.5 stars with Halliday (90 points), drinking 2010-2014. RRP A$18.

K1 by Geoff Hardy / 2007 / Adelaide Hills / Pinot Noir / S$50.68 – 91 points by Halliday, drinking 2010-2014, RRP A$35.

It’s pretty much line ball, but the shiraz viognier just pips the others as the best value of the bunch.

Only one from New Zealand in this review:

CJ Pask / 2005 / Declaration / Hawke’s Bay / Merlot / S$53.14 – Another significant difference of opinion. Winestate give it 3 stars, Gourmet Traveller Wine give it 4.5 stars. Take your pick. Mid range price is about NZ$52 so coming in at S$53.14 makes it a particularly good value buy

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.

Affordable Torbreck & Arlewood, and goodbye to Vineyards Direct

2003 / Torbreck / The Struie / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / S$69 at Wine Exchange Asia – Halliday rates this wine at 95 points drinking to 2018 and Oliver rates at 90, drinking 2008-2011+. Retailed in Australia at A$55 so at S$69 a reasonable deal for an older vintage, and one you don’t have to sit on to enjoy (but you can if you want to). If my own cellar wasn’t so full, I’d get some.

2005 / Arlewood / Margaret River / Shiraz / S$33.80 at Le Vigne – We’ve tried this wine ourselves, and whilst it’s not in the Barossa mould, it’s a good affordable shiraz. Halliday rates this wine at 91 points (4.5 star) and recommends drinking between now and 2018. RRP is A$22 so with Le Vigne’s usual 10% discount (no Nets or cards) the price comes down to less than $31 so that fits inside my BastardBox Index of comparative value.

If you didn’t know already, Vineyards Direct is ceasing its operation in Singapore as of today I understand. If you did know, then you’ve probably scoured their list and made your purchases already. There may be some unsold stock so keep your eyes peeled to see if any of it pops up in the market at special prices.

Bannockburn – Ah, variety, the spice of life

Went searching for Bannockburn in Singapore and found it listed in at least three places being Island Wines, Crystal Wines and Wine Exchange Asia. A quick check of Island Wines’ website showed they’ve sold out, leaving Crystal and Wine Exchange as follows:

2006 / Bannockburn / Geelong / Chardonnay / S$78 (S$74.10 member price) at Crystal Wines – Halliday has no doubt with the quality of this wine rating it at 96 points, drinking to 2015 with a RRP of A$51. My BBI puts that at about S$60 into Singapore so the Crystal Wines asking price of S$78 looks a bit exxy for me.

2005 / Bannockburn / Geelong / Pinot Noir / S$56 at Wine Exchange Asia – Wow, this one brings out a difference of opinion. James Halliday rates this wine at 94 points, drinking to 2015. Jeremy Oliver doesn’t like it at all and thinks it’s close to past it. He gives it 80 points and drinking 2007-2010. Who’s right? Don’t ask me, I’m just the messenger! What I can tell you is that the RRP is A$55 which translates through the BBI to roughly S$63, so at S$56 on sale at Wine Exchange Asia, it’s either a fine wine bargain or an expensive dud depending on who you believe.

2005 / Bannockburn / Geelong / Serre / Pinot Noir / S$99 at Wine Exchange Asia – Are three opinions better than two? At least these three are in agreement – Gourmet Wine Traveller and Epicure both give this wine 5 stars, whilst Halliday gives it 4.5 stars (94 points). Pricing is less certain but a mid-point looks about A$110 with drinking to 2013. That translates into a Singapore price of S$107, so the listing at Wine Exchange Asia for S$99 again looks like a good deal.

An unashamed recommendation

Have you ever bought wine at a service station? No, neither have I. And I personally don’t buy wine from a place that sells toasters, bicycles and dishwashing liquid all under the same roof. I know many of you do, but I prefer a place that focuses on wine.

The question I get asked by newcomers to Singapore, or newcomers to Australian and New Zealand wine is “OK, I know where NOT to buy wine, but can you recommend where I CAN buy wine confidently?”

The key word here is “confidently”. I buy wine all over the place based on price but when I get stuck or frustrated by the pricing or service, I have two sources that I regularly fall back too. Unashamedly, I mention Le Vigne and Wine Exchange Asia.

If you’re relatively new to Australian and New Zealand wine, and want to wander the shelves, touch the bottles, and maybe just buy the odd bottle or two initially, then Patricia and Lewis at Le Vigne in Holland Grove Road would be my tip. They know their stuff and they’ll take their time to understand what it is you like. I’ve been buying from them for years.

More recently, I’ve been following and buying, from Robert Rees at Wine Exchange Asia. It’s on-line shopping so you need to have some idea of what you’re after (although Robert’s on hand to provide advice) but the pricing is consistently good and stock seems to turnover quickly which is no bad thing in this climate. There’s also a good smattering of older and better quality wines.

Neither of these places are easy to get to but both will deliver. Le Vigne is in a suburban strip, and Wine Exchange’s pick-ups are in Kallang. If you still prefer the convenience of paying at a checkout, just do your homework first.

On that note, my recommendation for this weekend is:

2004 / Kay Bros Amery / Hillside / McLaren Vale / Shiraz – Halliday rates this wine at 94 points (4.5 star), drinking 2010-2018, suggesting RRP A$40. He says (and I quote from the Australian Wine Companion 2009) “Bright red and dark fruits on the bouquet, with a little savoury edge of dried leather and spice; the finish is long, pure and even. Screwcap. 14.5alc.” The Bastard Box Index suggests that this wine should sell around the S$51 mark so I’m happy to see that Wine Exchange Asia has it listed for S$54 by the bottle or S$49 by the case. I just hope they’ve still got stock!

Denise “2 to go” for May

Denise’s May specials http://www.denisethewineshop.com lobbed in my in-tray today so thought I would have a look at what’s on offer. They have 5 Australian wines on offer but my data was found wanting as I could only get info, at least for the vintages shown, on 3 of them.

Here goes:

2009 / Two Hands / Brilliant Disguise / Barossa Valley / Moscato S$45 for 2 – This wine was just reviewed by Wine Spectator in their April edition. They gave it 88 points (4 star), selling for US$19, and suggested drink this year. It retails in Australia for A$18 so S$22.50 seems OK. It doesn’t say so on the website, but I’m pretty sure this is a 500ml bottle, and I’m pretty sure (but don’t quote me) that this style used to be called white frontignac.

2006 / Wills Domain / Margaret River / Shiraz S$69 for 2 – Halliday rates this wine at 93 points (4.5 star), drinking to 2018, and RRP A$23.50 so at S$34.50, it still falls within my PPB (price pain barrier). It says 14%, but I’m also reminded that in Australia, that can mean anywhere between 12.5% and 15.5%.

2002-2003 / Yarra Yarra / Yarra Valley / Syrah Viognier S$129 for 2 – Interesting one this, as I don’t have a price for the 02/03 vintages. The ’05 and ’06 are on sale now in Australia at around A$65. Jeremy Oliver gives the ’02 87 points (4 star) drinking 2007-2010, and gives the ’03 90 points (4.5 star) drinking 2008-2011+. It would seem that for the same price, you’d want to try and get the 2003.

Cheers


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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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