Posts Tagged 'Marlborough'



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.

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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.

Warehouse Wine Fair – Tomorrow at Extra Space

I wouldn’t normally promote a wine sale on its own, but I know quite a number of my subscribers like to head down to Extra Space at 301 Boon Keng Road for Wine Directions regular sale. Is it a sale if it’s this regular? No matter, I’ve not been, but my friends tell me the cheese is good.

Here’s what I scoured on some of the wines:

2009 / Fairhall Downs / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / S$29 – Not the greatest savvy to come out of New Zealand. Bob Campbell 82 points, Michael Cooper 4 stars. But never mind the quality, look at the price. Retails for NZ$20 so price here is terrific comparative value. Another wine for the “rater-rejectors”.

2008 / Fermoy Estate / Margaret River / Chardonnay / S$29 – Now you’re talking. James Halliday 91 points, drink to 2018.  Value? Sure is. RRP A$29, here S$29. It’s hard to see it getting better than that.

2008 / Torzi Matthews / Vigna Cantina / Barossa Valley / Sangiovese / S$34 – Kick back and watch the The Godfather with this one. Halliday gives it 90 points, as does Wine Front, so 4.5 stars then. Drinking out to about 2015 so no rush to hire the DVD. And the 14% alcohol should get you in the mood for, well, whatever. The RRP is A$18 so at S$34 this slips into the good value category.

2006 / Shottesbrooke / Eliza / McLaren Vale / Shiraz / S$39 – Yeh, interesting this one. Let’s get the pricing out of the way first. RRP A$38, here S$39. You don’t need a doctorate in maths to work out that that is terrific value. Epicure 5 stars, Halliday 94 points. Great, so what’s the problem then? Well, Wine Front hated this wine. Really hated this wine. 82 points and “yuk” was the description, and not just on one bottle sample. So……you’ve got two raters giving it a great wrap, and one canning it. You’ll have to be the judge, but at least you know price-wise, if you like it, it’s a great deal.

The Fermoy Estate is the stand-out value buy here, but they’re all priced well.

“Restaurants around the world are jumping aboard the Apple cart as they pass customers an iPad in place of their usual wine list. From New York to Napa Valley to Naples, Florida iPads are revolutionizing the dining experience, and wine list software developer Incentient says it orders have tripled since an article in The New York Times last month” – Katie Walsh, writing in Australian Financial Review 17th October 2010.

 

You’ll have to pick & choose amongst this lot. A trio of Heathcote wines though.

Reviewed wines on offer by Crystal Wines, Epsilon Wines, eWineAsia, Parklands Wine, Peccavi, Profiters International, The Cellar Door, The Local Nose, Underground Wines, Wine Connection & Wine Exchange Asia

There must have been something in the Xmas pud. There’s no other way I can explain the irrational pricing that has emerged. There’s some good deals here today, but there’s some pretty ordinary ones as well, and a couple that are well, best forgotten.

First off the rank, the Kiwis:

I had a look at the NV Overstone Brut Sparkling from Wine Connection but couldn’t find a rating anywhere, so we’ll leave that for another time.

2010 / Summerhouse / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / S$30.50 from Underground Wines – Only 3.5 stars for this wine (Bob Campbell 84 points) but the price is right as it retails for NZ$22. Good value if you don’t care about ratings.

2007 / Pegasus Bay / Waipara / Sauvignon Blanc Semillon / S$39.90 from The Cellar Door – Is that a misprint? Surely it should be just Sauvignon Blanc? Well, no. According to Bob Campbell, Pegasus Bay makes New Zealand’s only Sauvignon Blanc Semillon. He likes it enough to give it 93 points (4.5 stars). It retails at about NZ$28 so the price here is exactly where BBI would expect it to be. Spot on value, for something a little different.

2007 / Cloudy Bay / Marlborough / Chardonnay / S$55.25, S$52 by the case from Crystal Wines – This is on special at Crystal, down from their Usual Price of S$65, which is odd given it’s listed on their normal retail price list at S$63. Let’s not quibble over a couple of bucks in the advertising blurb and focus on the wine. Michael Cooper gives it 4.5 stars and suggests drinking out to 2014. Bob Campbell loves it, and gives it 95 points (5 stars). Reckons it one of the best wines to come out of Cloudy Bay. It retails for about NZ$40 so the single bottle price of S$55.25 is fine, but the case price of S$52.00 really is good value.

2008 / Pencarrow / Martinborough / Chardonnay / S$29.90 from The Cellar Door – If you’re looking for a rating, you might also try looking under Palliser, as this wine is a junior label from there. A bit junior in the actual rating as well, with Bob Campbell only scrounging up 83 points for this wine. With a RRP of around NZ$17, the pricing here is a bit marginal from a BBI benchmark.

Now to the Aussies, head down with the Ashes gone and a one run loss to you know who in the one-dayer. Not to mention the floods……

2007 / Torzi Matthews / Eden Valley / Riesling / S$33 from Epsilon Wines –  A solid 4.5 star wine. Epicure 4.5, Jeremy Oliver 90 points, James Halliday 94 points. Opinions vary but should keep out to 2015 at least, possibly 2020. RRP is around A$25 so pricing here is keen, great value in fact. You might see it a bit cheaper elsewhere from time to time but here, today, this is a great deal.

2005 / Dominique Portet / Heathcote / Shiraz / S$56.50 at eWineAsia – Dominique Portet has the cellar door in the Yarra Valley but they also offer a couple of Heathcote wines. The 2005 Shiraz is rated 94 by Halliday, with recommended drinking out to 2020. RRP of A$45 so price here is good value.

2005 / Fox Creek / Reserve / McLaren Vale / Shiraz / S$107 (UP S$120) at Profiters International – Wow! If you go to my blog of December 21st, you’ll see that Wine Exchange Asia had this wine on offer at S$55. I said then it was a great deal. Profiters International must know something about this wine that Robert Rees and I don’t.

2008 / St Hallett / Faith / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / S$47.10 at The Local Nose – A solid but not outstanding wine. Oliver 86 points, Wine Front 91, and Halliday 90. Drinking to 2013 or 2019 depending on whether you follow Oliver or Halliday. Sub A$20 down under, RRP of A$19 in fact. That makes the price here a fair way outside an acceptable BBI, a fair way. Not for me.

2005 / Trentham Estate / Heathcote / Shiraz / S$36 at Epsilon Wines – Halliday gives it 94, Wine Estate only 4 stars, but it’s a stayer (drink to 2025) and the pricing’s right. With a RRP of about A$28, price here is great value.

2008 / Battle of Bosworth / McLaren Vale / Shiraz Viognier / S$42 (S$39.90 Member) at Crystal Wines – Wine Front give it 92 points, and reckon it will drink out to 2015. RRP of A$25 so price here is OK.

2005 / Dominique Portet / Heathcote / Cabernet Sauvignon / S$55 at eWineAsia –  Er, is that three Heathcote wines in one blog? Halliday wasn’t quite so wrapped in this one, giving 89 points, drink to 2015.  With a RRP of A$42, this is right where I would expect it to be. Spot on.

2005 / Rockford / Rifle Range / Barossa Valley / Cabernet Sauvignon / S$61 at Parklands Wine (recommended by The Local Nose) – Not much difference of opinion between Oliver and Halliday on this one (Oliver 86, Halliday 90) but Oliver reckons drink it now, Halliday says 2014. It’s academic for me as I won’t be tempted. With a RRP of A$35, this misses an acceptable BBI by a long shot. I’ll pass.

2002 / Majella / The Malleea / Coonawarra / Cabernet Shiraz / S$75, S$70 by the half case, at Wine Exchange Asia – well, this time you really are going to have to ignore the ratings, or choose who you favour. Jeremy Oliver says 88 points, drink last year. Halliday says 94 points, drink to 2022. You make the call. Had a RRP of A$66 but that’s a while ago. I’ve seen prices for this anywhere from A$48 to A$75 down under.

“Unreliable thermostats and air-conditioners are the main cause of damage to wine cellars and rate well ahead of the wrath of a maligned partner or the light hands of an uncontrolled teenage party boy.” – Andrew Caillard MW writing in Gourmet Traveller Wine July 2007

 

 

Year of the Rabbit – uh, oh!

It may be coming up to the Year of the Rabbit but that’s no need to treat consumers as rabbits. I do hope that some of the pricing seen in the last week or so is not representative of the year to come. I know the A$ is high, but hasn’t anyone heard there’s a wine glut on? Ditto for New Zealand where things are possibly even more dire than in Australia. Will Lyons wrote in the Asian Wall Street Journal this week:

“…2011 will continue to see an oversupply of grapes, particularly in countries that have experienced a sustained wine boom. I fear some of those growers who planted vineyards in New Zealand to cash in on the phenomenon of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc will realize the economics don’t add up.”

What with the glut, and the collapse of a major US distributor last year, there’s a lot of wine washing around in the hands of liquidators, and harsh as it might seem for the growers, that can mean tremendous deals for buyers. Last week in Australia I bought several cases of 2006 The Colonial Estate Eclaireur Old Vine Grenache forA$8.99 a bottle. That’s a 92 point Wine Spectator wine that listed at US$28 before the collapse of the distributor.  At A$8.99, I’ll take a punt on it (and did) (See http://www.getwinesdirect.com)

Instead, in Singapore, some distributors/retailers still seem to think that “ignorance is bliss” and as buyers we are all ignorant. It’s going to come as a shock when they realise (or care) that buyers can have Halliday’s ratings and pricing on their i-Phone for next to nothing, and thats there’s a growing number of websites dedicated to hunting down the best deals.

Bastard Box will continue to hunt out the good (mainly), the bad and the ugly (occasionally) in Singapore.

Let’s kick away with some Kiwis:

2008 / Ata Rangi / Crimson / Martinborough / Pinot Noir / S$48 at Crystal Wines (S$45.60 member price) – 4 Stars – You’ll know I’m a big fan of the flagship 2008 Pinot Noir but it sells for about S$72, so this “lesser” label comes in quite a bit below that. Michael Cooper gives it 4 stars and Bob Campbell gives it 87 points, but both comment that it’s still a good wine and a good price, where it sells in New Zealand at NZ$32. The BBI reckons it could list here at around S$43-44 so the price at Crystal is OK, but only just. You’ll be better off hopping down to The Cellar Door in VivoCity where you’ll get the same wine for S$36.90. Think about it.

2006 / Pegasus Bay / Waipara / Chardonnay / S$49 at The Cellar Door – 4.5 Stars – Bob Campbell gives it 91 points. It retails for NZ$35 so the price here is pretty close to where the BBI would expect it to be. Drinking out to 2016.

2010 / Soho / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / S$29.50 at Underground Wines – 3.5 Stars  from Bob Campbell (83 points) so don’t expect too much. It’s only NZ$17 at home.  The price here is OK, but for an extra S$10 you could have got Cloudy Bay just before Xmas.

And now to the Aussies:

Let’s talk about wine because talking about cricket is just too painful. All out for 98! Wow, what a Boxing Day.

2007 & 2008 / Angove / Long Row / Riverland / Chardonnay / S$31.03 at Top Wines (that’s after adding GST which isn’t included in the quoted price)  – 3 to 4 Stars – Wine Estate gives it 3 stars, Halliday gives it 87 points. Not top line then, but neither is the price, at least in Australia. There it retails (a loose term at this end of the market) for A$9.75. At that price, you can forgive a lot of sins, and frankly it’s what you’d expect to pay for a Riverland chardonnay. But the “normal” price in Singapore is S$36 (oh, plus GST making it normally S$38.52) and that’s a whole different equation. Even at S$31.03, this falls too far outside the BBI to gather any recommendation, rating aside. Pass.

2009 / Dominique Portet / Fontaine / Yarra Valley & Pyrenees / Rose / S$34 at eWinesAsia – 4 to 4.5 Stars – Had one of these earlier in the year and found it quite agreeable. Halliday gives it 92 points but Wine Front only 87. Drink it this year though. Great for a pre-dinner drink outside.  With a RRP of A$20, this is good value.

2002 / Lengs & Cooter / Reserve / McLaren Vale / Shiraz / S$99 from Profiters International – 4.5 Stars – I don’t get it. This wine on release was A$45, and even now my research shows you’ll pay about that to get it now. So why the “Usual Price” of S$120 discounted down to S$99? For the record, Halliday rates it 94 points, drinking to 2013. I must be missing something.

“We will always have the time to make love and drink Champagne, and we will do it even more. Champagne’s only competitor is Viagra.” – Pierre-Emmanuel Tattinger, CEO of Taittinger

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.


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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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