Posts Tagged 'Le Vigne'

Some giant deals, and some giant wines

Reviewed 21 wines on offer by Carrefour, Cornerstone Wines, Giant (yes, Giant!), Le Vigne, Underground Wines, Wine Exchange Asia, commenting on 12 here today.

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2010 / Dog Point / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / S$32 at Wine Exchange Asia – I reviewed this wine back on 14th June and said then that (at 87 points Bob Campbell), it was a good buy. Well, it was $36 then and it’s $32 now so that makes it an even better buy. Retails for NZ$25.

2009 / Murdoch James / Blue Rock / Martinborough / Pinot Noir / S$59 at Underground Wines – This has a good rating from Wine Advocate (90 points -“outstanding”), is drinking out to 2015, and the price here is exactly where the BBI would put it. So, fair value for a good wine. Retails for about NZ$40.

2008 / Saint Clair / Rapuara Reserve / Marlborough / Merlot / S$45.48, $34.78 by the case at Cornerstone Wines – With a price difference like that, Cornerstone certainly entice you to buy in bulk. This wine gets 85 points from Bob Campbell (“above average”) and 3.5 stars from Michael Cooper (“very good”). With a RRP of NZ$27, the single bottle price is OK but the case price is excellent value if you’re into Kiwi merlots. I’m not.

2005 / Elderton / Command / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / S$75, $70 by the half case at Wine Exchange Asia – I’m so long on Elderton Command that I won’t be buying any of this, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. In fact, if you like Barossa Shiraz, then this is one to get. There must be an ocean of Elderton Command around as you can still buy old vintages (e.g 2002 or older) at Dan Murphys in Australia. This vintage is still on sale downunder at around A$80, which means that if you shipped it in now, it would land at about S$92. So how come it’s only S$70? Well, there’s quite a bit of it in Singapore too, sitting in investment portfolios, and as the GFC bites, you can be the beneficiary of some, er, rebalancing of priorities. What would you like to know? Wine Front 95 points, Epicure 5 stars, Wine Advocate 97! That should be enough to convince you.  Look, in my opinion this is a great wine at a fantastic price that’s still got years ahead of it, and it ought to be in the cellar of any true-blue Aussie or wannabe Ocker. This is something no other country can do.  Oi! Oi! Oi!

TBA / Elderton / Barossa Valley / Cabernet or Shiraz / S$29.95 at Giant – My fingers trembles as I typed that. Fairly typically with the big supermarkets, they figure you don’t need to know the vintage, which is either a reflection of their opinion of the wine, or of you. Early vintages of the Shiraz (2005) are still selling at Dan’s downunder, and at about A$25. As a general rule, Elderton’s “plain” Shiraz and Cabernet get pretty good ratings. A quick check showed that most vintages fall into the 90+ range from James Halliday and Wine Front so these wines are no slouch. The price at Giant is very, very attractive for such a drinkable wine. I’ll be ducking down to Giant later today (it’s OK, I’ll wear my dark sunnies) to make sure that this is just plain Elderton and not their “E” brand, which is a different kettle of fish.

TBA / Hardys / VR / South Eastern Australia / Chardonnay or Cabernet or Merlot or Shiraz / S$17.90 at Giant – Once you get below the S$20 mark, with some rare exceptions, it’s hard to talk of good value as roughly $7 in the price is duty alone. You can’t expect much from what’s left in the price. From what I can see, the VR label is an export only one, so my data comes from Decanter where they give the Shiraz (of unknown vintage) a “recommended” score based on value over there. It sells in the UK for the equivalent of A$7.50, shipped and all. Get the picture. To be honest, this doesn’t look a bad deal when you consider the duty, but for a little over $10 bucks more, you’ll get the Elderton. No brainer.

NV / Hardys / Reserve / Party Pack (3 Litre) / Sauvignon Blanc or Shiraz / S$69.90 at Giant – I’ve never done a review of a box before! OK, so let’s not talk about the contents as if you’re buying this, you’re not doing it to impress your wine buddies, you’re doing it coz’ it’s bulk drinking for Xmas. Well, yes. And, no. You see, the $7 a bottle duty doesn’t magically disappear simple because you put 3 litres in a box. It’s still there only now it’s about $28 of that $70 price. So is the wine worth the difference of $42 that’s left in the price? Here’s a hint. The box sells in Australia for A$17. That right A$17. For A$63, you’ll get four boxes at Dan’s. That’s A$5.25 per litre. Makes it hard to get one’s mind around S$70 for one box doesn’t it?

NV / Jacob’s Creek / Sparkling Rose or Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir / S$49.20 for 2 at Giant – Ah, yes, this would have been called Champagne in days gone past. But, Champagne it’s not, it’s just an inoffensive bubbly that scores around the 85 point mark from the likes of James Halliday and Decanter.  RRP is A$14 but it sells closer to A$10, even A$9. Not a bad buy, just not my type of wine.

TBA / Wolf Blass / Red Label / Moscato or Moscato Pink / S$18.90 at Giant – Run away! Run away! That’s usually my reaction when I see any wine with “pink” in its name (or Hello Kitty for that matter), and in this case maybe that’s justified. No point in talking of quality, although I do see that Epicure regularly say 3.5 stars which is OK. Sells at Dan’s in Australia at sub-$9. There’s that duty again.

TBA / Wolf Blass / Yellow Label / Various varieties / S$25.90 at Carrefour – I can pretty much repeat what I said about the Red Label, although this does sell for A$5 more at Dan’s.  But by the time you get to S$26 for the Shiraz, why wouldn’t you get the Elderton at $30?

TBA / Wolf Blass / Eaglehawk / Various / S$15.75 at Giant – I’m guessing this is where many young Singaporeans get introduced to Australian wine. I think my only advice would be drink half as much at twice the price. One bottle of Elderton or two bottles of Eaglehawk? Easy for me to say that’s a no-brainer, I’m not 21 any more. Sells at Dan Murphy’s at A$6.65. You listening kids?

And finally….

NV / Ninth Island / Tasmania / Sparkling / S$34.50 at Le Vigne – Le Vigne had this listed at S$40.55 back in November so this is a real discount. The wine regularly scores 90-92 points from Halliday, so another example of “pay a little more, get a lot more”. A great deal.

Bastard Box was born near the Barossa so the decision here today is easy. It’s the Elderton Command by a country mile.  But its little brother is also a great deal and will even tempt Bastard Box to the 5th floor of Parkway Parade (something not easy to do) to quickly secure the Elderton Shiraz. And for the fizz, go for the great deal on the Ninth Island.

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Moving quickly from the world of $10 bubblies to the higher realms of true Champagne, Bastard Box tracks sub US$150 wines that score 95 points or better, and there’s two Champagnes just in time for Xmas. I’m not saying these are available, or at this price in Singapore though. That’s for you to do your own homework on, but if you do find some, let me know.

Theses ratings and comments come from Wine & Spirits, one of my favourite and affordable (S$9.95 downstairs at Siglap Shopping Centre) wine magazines.

2002 Bollinger Brut La Grande Annee Champagne, US$150 – 98 points

“There is Champagne, and then there is 2002 Bollinger. This wine makes me dizzy, stammering in cross-eyed bliss. Taking a step back, the sustained chord of flavour comes into focus, revealing a limestone honey; scents of acacia, marzipan, apricot and golden citrus. Jamal Rayyis, one of our tasters with the broadest flavor library in his head, described the scent as loomi (dried lime) and dried apricots, as if walking into a Middle Eastern market. Flavor details aside, the wine’s richness softens the structural grandeur of the vintage, which is buoyed in a mineral bath of power.” –

2002 Dom Perignon Brut Champagne, US$150 – 96 points

“Think of standing above a well at the edge of an apple orchard, the cool feel of the earth deepening the bosky scent of the ripening fruit. This wine may take you there, then leave you to contemplate its complexity; full-on limestone-derived power, juicy nectarine and apricot scents, candied lemon and lasting spice, all of it rounded into a supple shape and a subtle mist of a finish.”

Wow, does it come any better than those two pieces of wine writing? I love it!

The other Champagnes that met the 95+ at US$150 or less were:

1999 Bruno Paillard Brut Assemblage, US$100 – 96 points

2004 Louis Roederer Brut Blanc de Bancs, US$75 – 95 points

2004 Louis Roederer Brut Vintage, US$70 – 95 points

As I said, if you see any of these in Singapore at a reasonable price, please let Bastard Box (and our readers) know (after filling your own interests first of course)!

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“Champagne is a pleasant start to the day, but the real problem is, what wine does one serve with breakfast?” – Anders Ousback writing in Wine & Spirit Buying Guide, January 1979

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It’s a white day today

Reviewed offers by Cornerstone Wines, Crystal Wines, Epsilon Wines, Equatorial Wines, eWineasia, Le Vigne, The Cellar Door, The Local Nose, Underground Wines, Wine Connection, Wine Directions, Wine Exchange Asia, Wine Guru.

I used a rate of 1.3245 for the A$/S$ calculation in the BBI. Last post it was 1.3101. The Kiwi/S$ rate hasn’t changed much at .9893

All whites today, reds to follow….

2009 / Bilancia / Hawkes Bay / Pinot Gris – S$34.90 at The Local Nose & The Cellar Door. Bob Campbell said he particularly liked this wine and gave it “above average” score of 86 points. Its RRP is NZ$25 so a fair value on the BBI could have had it come in as high as S$44. At S$34.90  it’s terrific value.

2009 / Heart of Stone / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc – S$25 at Underground Wines. Just when you thought you’d tried all the Kiwi sauvignon blancs, up comes another one. Cloudy Bay won’t be too worried by this one. Michael Cooper gives it 3.5 stars (“very good”) but it’s the price that grabbed his attention saying that it is “fine value. I’m not going to argue with that. With a RRP of NZ$17, the price here is really quite outstanding at this end of the market.

2010 / Mt Difficulty / Target Gully / Central Otago / Riesling – S$41.50 at eWineAsia. Bob Campbell sort of damned this with faint praise.  He gave it 87 points which equates to “above average” but added “whilst very good, doesn’t live up to my memory of past classics”.  Retails for NZ$25 so the price here is fair to good.

2008 / Neudorf / Nelson / Chardonnay – S$42 at The Local Nose & Wine Guru. I’m a big fan of Neudorf and the Nelson area, often overlooked in the flood of stuff (not all good) that comes out of Marlborough. Michael Cooper agrees giving this wine an “excellent” rating (4.5) and Bob Campbell gives it 89. It retails for NZ$30 so it’s great value here. Give it a try for a change!

2007 / Villa Maria / Cellar Selection / Marlborough / Chardonnay – S$39.90 at The Cellar Door. Bob Campbell gave it 87 points and called it “stylish”. It retails around the NZ$24 mark so the price here is good, rather than great.

2010 / Woodlands / Margaret River / Chardonnay – S$42, S$37 by the half case at Wine Exchange Asia. We had to get an Aussie in the line up sooner or later. Wine Front says “very happy with it” and suggests drinking to 2013. With a RRP of A$23, the single bottle price is spot on the BBI, and the half case price is a great deal.

The wine and the place.  La Motte at Salt Rock, near Durban

“The results of a blind tasting cannot be predicted and will not even be reproduced the next day by the same panel tasting the same wines.” – Stephen Spurrier after Bottle Shock apparently.

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

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

Merry Xmas from Down Under!

“Owyagoin Santa Claus, gee you’re a real good bloke, come in and crack a coldie, sit right down and have a smoke……” with apologies to John Vincent.

Very pleased to report that the Bastard Box vines are growing quicker than a Bondi tram, what with all the recent rains. Now all we need is some warm weather. 9 degrees centigrade on site yesterday, and it’s supposed to be summer. The four strands of electric fence are keeping out the wombats, kangaroos and deer, and the ultra-sound seems to be keeping out the possums. Fingers crossed.

This week, reviewed wines on offer at Cellar Door, Crystal Wines, Epsilon Wines, eWinesAsia, DFS Changi, Le Vigne, Rubicon Reserve Wines, The Local Nose, Top Wines, Underground Wines, Wine Exchange Asia

One theme that has emerged over the last year is that there are some sellers who are consistently good in their pricing, and there are those, well, let’s just say that there doesn’t appear to be any logic. Not to Bastard Box anyway. If you’re a regular subscriber, you’ll know by now who’s consistent and fair, who’s all over the place like a dog’s breakfast, and who’s just plain greedy.

Usual caveats apply – availability and pricing can change.

Let’s start with a bubbly:

NV / Ninth Island / Tasmania / Brut / S$36.50 at Le Vigne – OK, so it’s not champagne, but neither’s the price. Usually sells for about A$27 except around Xmas when just about anything with bubbles is discounted. James Halliday consistently gives it 90-92 points. At this price, it’s Good Value.

The battle of the Pinot Gris. Two 4 star wines:

2009 / Eradus / Marlborough / Pinot Gris / S$28.88 by the case at Rubicon Wines – Bob Campbell gives it 85 points, RRP NZ$19 so price here is Good Value.

2009 / Forrest / Marlborough / Pinot Gris / S$30.50 at Underground Wines – Another 85 pointer from Bob Campbell. RRP of NZ$25. Much of a muchness between the two Pinot Gris isn’t it? I’d probably opt for the Forrest as the single bottle price looks pretty good, but to be honest, I’m not that into Pinot Gris.

It wouldn’t be summer without Sauvignon Blanc. The Cloudy Bay is the pick of the bunch here:

Cloudy Bay / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / S$38.90 at Le Vigne – I’d usually deduct points for not advertising the vintage, but I can’t imagine the team at Le Vigne selling you anything that was “out of date” so to speak. And look at that price! The cheapest I’ve seen it anywhere in Singapore. Great Value. RRP NZ$34.

2007 / Dog Point / Section 94 / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / S$59 at Crystal – Solid ratings no doubt. Michael Cooper 4.5 stars, Bob Campbell 94 points, but with a RRP of NZ$33, it just doesn’t stack up on a BBI (especially when compared to Cloudy Bay) so it gets a “Reconsider” rating. Probably expect this to be closer to S$45 than S$59.

2010 / Palliser / Martinborough / Sauvignon Blanc / S$32.90 at The Cellar Door – 5 stars (95 points) from Gourmet Traveller Wine (GTW) with recommended drinking to 2013. RRP of NZ$19 so price here is a smidgeon outside the BBI. Not worth nitpicking on though so let’s call it “OK Value”.

Two Chardonnays, and the Kiwis win hands down on value:

2008 / Moss Wood / Margaret River / Chardonnay / S$88 at Crystal – 4.5 to 5 stars. Halliday gives it 5 stars (95 points), Wine Front 93, and Jeremy Oliver 91. Drinking range seems to be around 2013 – 2018. This not a cheap wine in Australia (A$55) but S$88 puts it way outside the BBI. Not for me at this price.

2007 / Palliser / Martinborough / Chardonnay / S$34.90 at The Cellar Door – 4.5 to 5 stars. Gourmet Traveller Wine gives it 95 points, Bob Campbell 93 and Decanter 16.2/20. Drinking to 2013. RRP of NZ$28 so price here is Great Value. Go for it.

Just one Riesling, but a good one:

2007 / Granite Hills / Macedon Ranges / Riesling / S$33 at Epsilon Wines – 4.5 to 5 star. Whenever I write Granite Hills I always want to put “Knights” in front of it, as that is how I remember it. First visited the winery in about 1979 and discovered how many cases of Granite Hills you can stuff into a Lancia HPE hatchback  (lots) and Knights Granite Hills became the “house red” for quite a while.  This Riesling gets 96 points from Jeremy Oliver, 94 from Halliday and 92 from Gourmet Traveller Wine. A fairly diverse opinion on cellaring though with Oliver saying 2015+, GTW saying 2019+ and Halliday saying 2029.  Good Value at this price.

A couple of cabernets:

2005 / Cape Mentelle / Margaret River / Cabernet Sauvignon / S$80 at Crystal – 4 to 4.5 star wine. Halliday and GTW give it 94 points and 92 points respectively. Oliver gives it only 88. With a RRP of A$84, the price here comes in at Great Value. Go figure. Drinking out to 2017+.

2006 / Dominique Portet / Cuvee Andre / Heathcote & Yarra Valley / Cabernet Sauvignon / S$110 at eWinesAsia – I’ve only got one rating on this, and it’s by James Halliday – 96 points. He really liked this wine and suggested drinking out to 2020. With a RRP of A$120, price here is Great Value.

Duty free Pinot Noir:

2007 / De Bortoli / Reserve / Yarra Valley / Pinot Noir / S$77 at DFS Changi – 4 stars. An 89 pointer from Gourmet Traveller Wine who suggest drinking this year. With a RRP of A$57, (seen at A$47 at Dan Murphys this week) this wine could retail in Singapore around the S$65-S$66 mark. Duty free, one might expect it to be at least S$7 cheaper than that, or even S$14 cheaper if you assume the duty gets marked up 100% by retailers (which BBI does.) But, it’s not $7 or S$14 cheaper – it’s $7 more.  That scores it a BBI of “Reconsider”.

Last but not least, Shiraz:

2005 / Balthazar of the Barossa / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / S$51.50 at The Local Nose – 5 stars from Halliday (95 points), drinking out to 2020. RRP of A$45 so Great Value.

2005 / Fox Creek / Reserve / McLaren Vale / Shiraz / S$55 at Wine Exchange Asia – 4.5 stars. Oliver 90, Halliday 94. Drinking to about 2016-ish. RRP of A$70. Yup, A$70. Terrific Value.

2007 / Maxwell / Ellen Street / McLaren Vale / Shiraz / S$53 at Crystal – 4.5 stars. Halliday 93 points, drinking to 2020. RRP of A$32 so BBI of Marginal Value.

2002/ Grant Burge / Meshach / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / S$85 at Wine Exchange Asia – 5 stars . Oliver 95 points, Epicure ditto. Too hard to comparative price but with an RRP of A$90 on release, this looks like a good deal. Seen higher elsewhere.

2001/ Grant Burge / Meshach / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / S$80 at Wine Exchange Asia – ditto for the 2002, except Oliver wasn’t so keen giving it 88 points.  Regularly seen at S$90 plus, even S$95 plus in Singapore.

2003 / Standish / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / S$120 at Wine Exchange Asia – I’ve listed this wine before through a different seller, only there it was (and still is I believe) S$155. I don’t know much about the wine other than Robert Parker gave it 99 points.

Out of all the wines here, the Fox Creek Shiraz at Wine Exchange Asia is the clear BBI winner for comparative value.

Try before you buy in the UK. I reckon this service was offered in Queenstown, New Zealand in about 2002! See- http://www.harpers.co.uk/news/news-headlines/9526-new-wine-retailer-offers-try-before-buy-on-150-wines.html

“Before you can appreciate great Burgundy, you’ve got to cut your teeth on good Bordeaux” – Julio Iglesias speaking with Lucy Shaw in Decanter September 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.

Now we’re starting to motor – some real deals here, a cracker sparkling shiraz, and a Top Ten in the World for less than $40 bucks!

[Reviewed wines from Wine Exchange Asia, Crystal Wines, The Cellar Door, Epsilon Wines, The Local Nose, Le Vigne , Wine Culture, Top Wines, eWinesAsia,  Wine Directions, and Cold Storage.]

It wouldn’t be an Australian Xmas without sparkling shiraz. My all time favourite is still the 1985 Seppelt Show Reserve (I still have some for this year) but it’s getting a bit long in the tooth.  Trying to buy decent sparkling shiraz in Singapore (as distinct from red lolly-water) can be a challenge. Not impossible, just a little hard at times.

Well, your troubles are over! Bastard Box has sniffed out a terrific deal, just in time for Xmas. Have a look at this:

NV / Peter Rumball / SB18 / Coonawarra / Sparkling Shiraz / S$30 at Top Wines – Peter Rumball only makes sparkling reds, and for sheer consistency, they can’t be beat. If you’re from down-under, you probably know them already. Rarely rated, often enjoyed. No argument from me, I’ve ordered mine already. (Peter V, if only we’d known! – sorry mate) RRP of A$20 so the pricing’s right, but who cares! I can taste mine already.

Now to the rest:

2003 / Caledonia Australis / Gippsland / Chardonnay / S$49.50, or S$37 by the case at eWinesAsia. I only have one rating on this, and that’s Halliday at 94 points. I favourably reviewed it in an earlier blog when it was on sale at S$40.25. With a RRP of A$25, the single bottle price is a bit steep, but the case price is pretty good. Drinking to next year, 13.5% alc.

2008/ Cape Mentelle /Margaret River / Chardonnay / S$48 at Crystal Wines – Plaudits across the board – Halliday 96, Epicure 4.5, Gourmet Traveller Wine 96, Decanter 17. Drinking to about 2016, 2017. RRP of A$42 so S$48 is a good buy. 13% alc.

2009 / Pikes / Traditionale / Clare Valley / Riesling / S$29 at Wine Directions – Now here’s a real deal. Oliver 92, Halliday 94, and with a RRP of A$23, this is a great price. And you know how much I love Clare Valley Rieslings. S$29 for Pete’s sake! What are you waiting for? Drinking from about 2012- 2022, 12% alc.

2001 / Lake’s Folly / Hunter Valley / Cabernet / S$98

2002 / Lake’s Folly / Hunter Valley / Cabernet / S$94

2004 / Lake’s Folly / Hunter Valley / Cabernet / S$95

Each of these is available at Wine Culture – The 2001 is rated 96 by Jeremy Oliver and 94 by Wine Front and even though it’s the oldest, it’s the one that still has some legs. To 2014 according to Wine Front, to 2021 according to Oliver. The 2002 is rated 95 by Oliver, 93 by Halliday but definitely drink now. The 2004 is rated 92 by Oliver, 90 by Halliday, and also drink now, right now. No point in looking at the RRP which was around A$45-50 at the time of release. On-line in Australia, the 2001 is A$105, the 2002 A$85, and the 2004 A$70.  That makes the pricing here pretty attractive, but the 2001 is the pick of the bunch in price, rating and longevity.

1998 / Tahbilk / Reserve / Nagambie Lakes / Shiraz / S$73 at Epsilon Wines – Jeremy Oliver gives it the highest rating at 95 points, Wine Front at 94, Halliday at 90. Drinking out to 2020 if averaging the raters. Hard to price this one retail as it listed at A$70 but it’s been around a while. There’s at least one on-line price of A$54, so assuming there’s no WET to get back (it’s old stock) the pricing looks OK. It’d cost you about S$83 to buy it retail on-line in Australia and ship it up.

2003 / Penfolds / Grange / South Australia / Shiraz / S$379 at Wine Exchange Asia – There’s still time to urge that this should be in your stocking. I won’t bore with heaps of ratings, just one. Oliver 96 points, drinking 2023 to 2033. This vintage initially listed at A$550 but is now on-line at A$465. If you’re into Grange, the price here will make your mates down-under want to re-locate.

2007 / Flametree / Frankland River / Shiraz / S$48 at The Local Nose – Interesting this one. The 2008 is an absolute stunner, but the 2007, apparently not. Wine Front gave it 86 points (4 star), WineEstate gave it 3 stars (ouch!) but Halliday  gave it 90 points, bringing it into the 4.5 star range. The alcohol is high-ish at 15.5% but my real problem with this wine is the price. With a RRP of A$25, the price here of S$48 puts it a fair way outside the BBI. I’d say wait for the 2008, and wait for the price to come down.

2008 / Battle of Bosworth / McLaren Vale / Shiraz / S$39 at Crystal Wines – Who says raters don’t disagree? They sure do here. Jeremy Oliver gives this wine an unflattering 82 points (3.5 stars), James Halliday gives it 92 points (4.5 stars). If you believe Halliday, then this is a good buy. With a RRP of A$25, the price here of S$39 is absolutely spot on with the BBI. Drinking to about 2014, 14.5% alc.

2008 / Schild / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / S$40 or S$37 by the half case at Wine Exchange Asia – Same old, same old, you say. Wine Front 90 points, drinking to 2014, 14.5% alc. With a RRP of A$20, the single bottle price is OK, but the half case price is spot on with the BBI. Same old, same old, eh? Have a look at http://www.foodmag.com.au/news/south-australian-wine-listed-as-top-ten-in-the-wor

and see if you think it’s still ordinary!

2008 / Torzi Matthews / Frost Dodger / Eden Valley / Shiraz / S$45 at Wine Directions – A hard act to follow the Schild isn’t it? Sort of like Rubens Barrichello to Michael Schumacher. You might be good, but someone else keeps stealing your thunder. Well, this wine can stand on its own – 94 from Halliday, and 92 from Wine Front, drinking to roughly 2016, 14.5%alc. RRP of A$30 so S$45 is spot on the BBI.

“Australia has long been known as the world’s most important source of this wine [Riesling] after Germany, but great Australian Riesling no longer has to come from either Clare Valley or Eden Valley. Riesling lovers can choose from particularly fine wines made in places such as Tasmania, Great Southern and Henty.” – Jancis Robinson writing in Gourmet Traveller Wine,  January 2008


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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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