Posts Tagged 'kilikanoon'

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

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!

Why spend $21.50 when you can spend $30?

Did my usual wander through the liquor section of some of the retailers and noticed The Little Penguin merlot selling for S$21.50. Now, The Little Penguin sells in the US (where it’s pretty popular) for US$6 and is rated by Wine Spectator at 84 points (3.5 stars) so it’s not my cup of tea, but if it’s selling at that price in the US, my guess is that the wine going in to the bottle is (wholesale) less than a dollar. Bear that in mind.

Add freight, Singapore duty and VAT and you’ll come up with a figure of about S$10.50 in total, double it for the mark-up (and I have no qualms at all about that level of mark-up) and you quickly get to around $21.50. So, the pricing is understandable. And it’s mainly tax.

But…..if you could just drag yourself up the pricing point a fraction, to say S$30, look what you can get!

All of the wines listed here rate 90 points or better (4.5 stars or better) and they all sell at a RRP in Australia of between A$19 and A$25 so in pricing terms in their home market, they’re good mid-value wines. And if you’re on a budget, I think they make sense in Singapore too.

Turkey Flat Rose S$27.50
Majella The Musician Cabernet $29
Tim Adams Riesling $30
Lengs & Cooter Riesling $30
Kilikanoon Mort’s Block Riesling $30

All the above from Wine Exchange Asia. The following from Island Wines:

Jackson Estate Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc $30
Charles Cimicky Trumps Shiraz $30

So no excuse for not drinking well at an affordable price.

Had a quick look to see if I could find any Babich wines on offer in Singapore. Only turned up the 2008 sauvignon blanc which doesn’t rate particularly highly (Wine Spectator 88 points, Bob Campbell 78 points) so will pass on Babich for now. Also tried to get some pricing on Wither Hills but pinning the retailer down on vintage has been a work in progress.

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