Posts Tagged 'Sauvignon Blanc'

“Thick with oak, thinned with bourbon…” Love it.

James Halliday’s latest Wine Companion magazine included a booklet entitled “Wow Factor Whites” and I’m pleased to say that two of Tiger Wines offerings appear therein. The first is the 2007 Colvin Wines Hunter Valley Semillon which gets 96 points. I’ve got a tiny amount coming up but I don’t know the pricing yet so keep an eye on the Tiger Wines website (www.tiger-wines.com). The other is the 2013 Kate Hill Tasmania Riesling which gets 94 points. It will sell here at $56.

I’ve got some more of the delicious 2011 Dawson & James Tasmania Pinot Noir @ $79 (Halliday 96) but it’s going quickly.

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No 5 star deals today. In fact only one 4.5 star deal. Some deals look decidedly average with probably a record number in the sub 4 star bracket. Oh, well.

For some, but definitely not all the deals, the pricing is actually OK, but they’ve been let down by sitting in that no-man’s land of a sub-90 rating.

Here goes:

2013 / Matchbox Wine Company / Clare Valley / Malbec / $66.34 at Artisan Cellars – Frankly, I don’t understand the logic of the pricing. This is new wine to the market from a relatively unheard of producer. It’s rated 87 by Mike Bennie so it’s OK at the retail price of A$25, but at S$66? What was that phrase in the classic Australian film The Castle? “Tell him he’s dreaming”. I think the wine deserves better and should sit around the $47 mark. BBI♥♥

2013 / Tamar Ridge / Devil’s Corner / Tasmania / Pinot Noir / $49 at Crystal Wines – This sometimes sits under the Devil’s Corner moniker, sometimes under Tamar Ridge but either way, it’s from the large Brown Brothers holding in Tasmania. Huon Hooke gives it 89 and it retails at A$21 although you’ll see it lower at the discounters. The pricing is on the limit of just OK, so combined with the rating, the best I can come up with is…BBI♥♥♥

2011 / Elephant Hill / Central Otago / Pinot Noir / $55 at Wine Exchange Asia – It’s often useful to read the words that accompany a rating as they sometimes don’t seem to line up. Bob Campbell writes that this Pinot Noir is “deliciously drinkable” but only manages to give it 87 points. With a RRP of NZ$34, the pricing here is spot on. BBI♥♥♥

2006 / Lindis River / One by One / Central Otago / Pinot Noir / $80.25 at Artisan Cellars – First reviewed this wine (at this price and this same vintage) three years ago so I’m guessing it’s not walking out the door. Could it be the price? RRP was/is NZ$40 so it’s certainly no bargain. Rating is OK though at 18.5 from Raymond Chan which by my calculation works out at about 94 in the 100 point scale. Your call. My call is…BBI♥♥♥

2010 / Matahiwi Estate / Wairarapa / Pinot Noir / $36 if in a six pack at Wine Directions – So far, this is the best deal on a pure price basis but the rating of 85 by Bob Campbell pulls it back. But hey, $36 for Kiwi Pinot? What more do you want? BBI♥♥♥

2011 / Fairhall Downs / Marlborough / Pinot Gris / $38 by the six pack at Wine Directions – I could have just cut and pasted the commentary on the Matahiwi Estate. Same, same. BBI♥♥♥

2001 / Henschke / Mount Edelstone / Eden Valley / Shiraz / $130 single bottle, $120 in a six pack (if there’s any left) at Wine Exchange Asia – Ah, those were the days. I remember my first taste of the Mount Edelstone. It would have been around 1994 and it became the wine of choice at our Boat Club’s board meetings. $36 on the restaurant wine list. Keep in mind though that I was buying 1990 Hill of Grace for $48 at the supermarket at the time! I’ve still got some. Gee, it’s hard to work out value on some of these older wines, especially with the market so screwed up by all those investment wines that still keep flowing on to the Singapore market. I don’t believe that Henschke ever got mixed up in that, so there’s never been a ridiculously cheap Henschke here as far as I can tell. This wine retailed on release at around the A$60+ mark and last traded at Langton’s this year at A$86. Theoretically could be pitched lower than this, but where else are you going to find some in Singapore? Robert Parker gave it 95 and said drink to 2021. Campbell Mattinson gives it 92 and says drink it now, right now. You choose your raters. I’m giving it BBI♥♥♥♥

2012 / Wither Hills / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / $31.90 at Eve Spirits – This really wins on price because it’s another 85 point wine (Bob Campbell). RRP of NZ$25 makes the price excellent, so maybe this is something you stick in your fridge for those times when in-laws visit and any Kiwi Savvy will do. BBI♥♥♥♥

2010 / Thompson Estate / Margaret River / Cabernet Sauvignon / $61 at Fairprice – OK, I’ll admit it. I blew it. I should have told you about this a week or so ago when it was on special at Fairprice for $42. Now THAT was a deal. But that was then and this is now, so it’s gone back to $61 and the opportunity has been lost. At $61, it’s a fair price (groan) and it gets good ratings from most. James Halliday 95, ditto Huon Hooke, but Jeremy Oliver didn’t like it at all giving it 85. Again, you choose your raters. At least they are consistent in saying it’s still got many years ahead of it. BBI♥♥♥♥

2004 / Fox Creek / Reserve / McLaren Vale / Shiraz / $55 by the bottle, $50 by the six pack at Wine Exchange Asia – And so, as we often do, we come to one of the investment wines. This one retailed at around A$70 on release but was last seen at Langtons at A$51. Here’s a wine where raters don’t agree. Halliday says 93, drink to 2019; Jeremy Oliver says 95, drink to 2024; Campbell Mattinson says 88, drink two years ago. Again, your call, but I’ll give it…BBI♥♥♥♥

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WINESPEAK 101 – How to waffle with the best of them.

Continuing with the theme that not all raters are sycophants, here’s more from one of my favourite raters, Jeremy Pringle of http://www.winewilleatitself.com

Big boy juice. Even men will need shoulder pads. Diesel fumes, prunes, vanilla custard and pulverized cloves. Thick with oak, thinned with bourbon…”

A 15% shiraz of course, but surprisingly not from the Barossa but from Padthaway. Sign up to Jeremy’s free site, and add a bit of colour to your own winespeak.

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The saliva production difference between the sexes is an important one, as having less saliva makes women more sensitive to sourness, bitterness and astringency, which makes a male assessment of a particularly astringent pinotage problematic for women and vice versa.” – Neil Pendock writing in Wine, April 2011

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Yes, you can buy Australian wines cheaper in Singapore than in Australia

Some outstanding value out there today. Get into it!

2013 / Marisco Vineyards / The Ned / Marlborough / Pinot Gris / S$39.90 at Eve Spirits – I found a rating of 17/20 from Raymond Chan so scrubs up OK if not outstanding, With a RRP of NZ$20, the S$ price here is about right so a fair deal – BBI ♥♥♥

2012 / Ata Rangi / Summer / Martinborough / Rose / S$39.90 by the 12 bottle case at Eve Spirits – With a RRP of NZ$18, my BBI reckons this should be priced at S$39.90. Well, how about that. Best drink this now though, certainly before 2014 becomes 2015. With 18/20 from Raymond Chan, I’m giving it 4 stars – BBI ♥♥♥♥

2013 / Huia / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / S$42.90 at Eve Spirits – Another 18/20 by Raymond Chan, RRP of NZ$25 so pricing here very fair. – BBI ♥♥♥♥

1999 / Tahbilk / 1860 Vines / Nagambie Lakes / Shiraz / S$59 by the 12 bottle case at Crystal Wines – The highest rating I could find on this was 93 from Gary Walsh at The Wine Front. Jeremy Oliver & James Halliday are both at 91. They all agree that it should drink to 2019. When it was released, this wine retailed at A$110. So, what’s it worth now? A lot less apparently as the last sale at Langton’s Auctions was A$48. No point in using the initial RRP so I’ve used the auction price as a guide to value and my BBI still comes up showing it as a very good price indeed. I had this wine recently and I was very pleasantly surprised by its drinkability. I’ve often found the Tahbilks disappointing, but the 99 I had was definitely rewarding. At S$59, I reckon it’s worth a place in your wine fridge. – BBI ♥♥♥♥

2011 / Rockburn / Central Otago / Pinot Noir / S$55 at Wine Exchange Asia – What’s not to like about the better Central Otago pinots? This one gets 18.5/20 by Raymond Chan and has an RRP of NZ$40. That makes the value here pretty good and so I’m giving it 4.5 stars – BBI ♥♥♥♥

2013 / Cloudy Bay / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / S$48.90 by the 12 bottle case at Eve Spirits – I’m not even going to comment on the ratings as you’ve probably already made your mind up that you love Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc, or you’re so over it that no rating will entice you back. It’s all a matter of price really. This is about the middle of where Cloudy Bay ends up when on special so a fair deal. Maybe not the sharpest you’ll have seen, but a long, long way better than many I’ve seen. Think about this price the next time you’re asked to fork out S$150 at that lush hotel. Oh, you’d want to drink this now too. – BBI ♥♥♥♥

2012 / Chandon / Yarra Valley / Pinot Noir / S$44.90 at Eve Spirits – Chandon used to be marketed here as Green Point (which is the location of the vineyard in the Yarra Valley), but I think they may have dropped that now in favour of just Chandon. Jeremy Oliver wasn’t overly impressed (87) but James Halliday and Gary Walsh have it in the low 90s. RRP of around A$33 so fair pricing again. BBI ♥♥♥♥

2001 / Tahbilk / Reserve / Nagambie Lakes / Shiraz / S$37.50 by the 12 bottle case at Crystal Wines – Here’s another wine that’s dropped a bucket load in value from its initial release price. On release, it was A$70, now at auction it’s A$31. It’s not a bad wine (Jeremy Oliver 92), in fact that makes it a very good wine, so I guess consumers just didn’t think the value was there initially. I’ve seen this in the past in Singapore at S$50 too. It will last another 15 years or so if you can resist. After this vintage, the wines were rebranded as “Eric Stevens Purbrick” rather than “Reserve”. Worth considering, especially when you know what you can get for $37.50 at a supermarket. BBI ♥♥♥♥

2006 / Elderton / Command / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / S$80 by the bottle, S$69 by the half case (6 bottles) at Wine Exchange Asia – A personal favourite, despite me slowly moving away from big Barossa shiraz to cool climate syrah. Like an old pair of slippers (the western type!). Comfortable, familiar, warm and slightly old fashioned. It gets 94 across the board from Walsh, Oliver and Halliday, and they all agree it should drink to at least 2020. RRP of A$95 so what’s not to like about S$80, or even better still S$69. On any other day, this would have won best value hands down. But today, against very strong competition…BBI ♥♥♥♥

2002 / Tahbilk / Eric Stevens Purbrick / Nagambie Lakes / Shiraz / S$50 by the 12 bottle case at Crystal Wines – Again, the raters are in agreement. Campbell Mattinson 94+, Jeremy Oliver 95, James Halliday 96. Do I need to go on? Drink to 2020. Retailed on release at A$70. Now? A$36 at auction. I say, “so what!”. Surely there’s space in your fridge. BBI ♥♥♥♥

2010 / Sandalford / Estate Reserve / Margaret River / Cabernet Sauvignon / $45.90 at Eve Spirits – OK, so Campbell Mattinson and Jeremy Oliver can’t get overly excited by this (87, 89) but Halliday can and gives it 95. This wine is currently for sale at the winery at A$45. That’s right A$45. I often say to people in Singapore that if you do your homework (or let Bastard Box do the homework for you) you can sometimes buy Australian wines here cheaper than you can in Australia. I usually get that slightly askew look that says “he’s been here too long, the man’s gone troppo.” Well, here’s the proof. You can buy at the cellar door for A$45 or you can buy it in Singapore for about the equivalent of A$39. I rest my case…BBI ♥♥♥♥

2009 / Desert Heart / Central Otago / Riesling / S$32 at Wine Exchange Asia – This one had me confused. Bob Campbell wrote glowingly about this wine but gave it only 85/100. So I looked elsewhere and found Raymond Chan giving it 19/20. RRP of NZ$24, Terrific comparative value. I’m giving it…BBI ♥♥♥♥♥

2002 / Tahbilk / Eric Stevens Purbrick / Nagambie Lakes / Cabernet Sauvignon / S$50 by the 12 bottle case at Crystal Wines – Wow. Campbell Mattinson 95. Jeremy Oliver 95. James Halliday 96. It will still be drinking when I’m dribbling into my mushy senior’s dinner. Initially retailed at A$70 and has held up better than the other Tahbilks here today. A$50 at auction. Buy another fridge if necessary. BBI ♥♥♥♥♥

2010 / Thorn-Clarke / William Randell / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / S$59.99 by the bottle or S$49.99 by the 12 bottle case at Cornerstone Wines – Wow again. Gary Walsh 94, Jeremy Oliver 93, and James Halliday 97. Choose your drinking window. Jeremy Oliver usually stretches the longest but this time he’s at 2030 and Halliday is at an incredible 2050. It won’t be my dinner that’s mushy by then. And here’s the rub. Yes, yes, you’ll say I’m rabbitting on, but you see, this wine is still for sale at the winery for A$60. That’s S$70. Yours for S$20 bucks less. Enough said? BBI ♥♥♥♥♥

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WINESPEAK 101 – or how to waffle with the best of them

This occasional section usually focuses on just a single word in the world of wine-speak, but today it’s a bunch of words. And for those of you who think raters only write good things about wine, prepare to be educated. This is by Jeremy Pringle, who writes what I think is one of the best free blogs on wine around. Check him out at www.winewilleatitself.com

Anyhow, here’s the review:

Ah, average wine…kind of full-bodied yet lacking in substance. Utility not luxury. Black fruits and gum leaf. Uncouth tannin. Fades quickly – on the palate and from memory – 84 points”

If you’d like to know the wine, visit Jeremy’s website and search “alkoomi”

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Here’s Tiger Wine’s current promotion:

2006 DA Cabernet

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“To regular wine drinkers, wine is not just a beverage like tea or coffee. It is a magic that makes plump oysters more tangy, the onion soup more friendly, the duck richer, the veal cutlet more urbane, and the melon more exotic. The average young man attempting to explore this great avenue of pleasure is often frightened away because of the aura surrounding the wine judges art. A man may hesitate to judge, discuss or even drink for fear of committing some ghastly social error. The same man might try a tropical fruit, and unhesitatingly assert ‘I say it’s Mango, but what the hell”. When he buys a bottle, however, of fine vintage wine in a restaurant, he often becomes paralyzed with fright.” – Wine Talk, Mrs Rada Penfold Russell, Penfolds Advertising Director approx 1978

 

Ah, the tax…

The news is a little old but I see that the 2012 Mayer Yarra Valley Syrah was listed in the Australian Financial Review’s Top 20 Wines, calling it ‘the coolest, most perfumed and elegant shiraz in my Top 20”. Yes, of course I have some! And it’s in stock so there’s no price increase from the tax changes. $63 to you by contacting me at tigerwines@singnet.com.sg

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And now, the tax. Yes well I’m guessing you all know by now that the alcohol tax went up from $70 a litre of alcohol to $88 a litre.  The tax is applied before GST, so after the GST on the tax kicks in, it changes the cost on a 14% alc. bottle from $7.86 to $9.89, or roughly $2 a bottle. No retailer in his right mind sells at cost so that $2 is going to get marked up too. Expect price rises closer to $3 a bottle or more.

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It’s a bit of a minefield making comparisons across deals at the moment as many deals only apply until stock runs out and they may have run out by now. Until things settle down, this is the best I can do…

? / Penfolds / Koonunga Hill / South Eastern Australia / Shiraz / $29.90 at Cellarbrations – No vintage quoted in the advert, and no vintage quoted in the shopping cart equals no respect from me. Let’s assume it’s the 2012 in which case Campbell Mattinson gives it 84 points calling it “a quaffing bistro red”.  In today’s market, the pricing’s not too bad but it’s that rating that lets it down. Remember, the alcohol tax doesn’t affect anything that was in stock before the announcement so I reckon you’ll do better than this for a little while yet. A$13-ish downunder. BBI ♥♥

? / Cloudy Bay / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / $49 at Cellarbrations – Ya’ feelin’ lucky? It really is an unnecessary lucky dip when you don’t know the vintage. Would you be happy with 2011 Cloudy Bay? What about 2012? Jancis Robinson reckons they both should have been drunk by now. Quality-wise you don’t have to worry too much about variation across Cloudy Bay vintages but that’s not the issue. The pricing’s quite reasonable given the NZ$30 RRP. BBI ♥♥♥♥

2007 / Mollydooker / Carnival of Love / McLaren Vale / Shiraz / $120 at Wine Exchange Asia – If you love this style of big shiraz (16% alcohol) then you’re on a winner. You’re in good company with Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate who give it 96 points. I don’t love this big style so I’m in company with Huon Hooke who gives it 86. One man’s meat…etc. So, what of the $120 asking price? It looks a tad high compared to its original release price of US$80 but the real test is what is it selling for now. Last Langton’s auction price (2013) was A$104 so looks about right to me. BBI ♥♥♥♥

2013 / Sacred Hill / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / $30.50 cash & carry at Le Vigne – Lovely to see the vintage quoted, especially on Sauvignon Blanc which is so susceptible to quick ageing.  With a RRP of NZ$23, this is great buying. Raymond Chan gives it 17.5/20 so I’m giving it BBI ♥♥♥♥

2005 / Troll Creek / Barossa Valley / Shiraz /  $39 at Wine Exchange Asia – You might have to get used to seeing a lot more wines at $39, so in context, I reckon this looks like a great deal, price-wise. A bit of an opinion divider, as Halliday gives it 88 (“too acidic”) and Wine Advocate, whilst not rating the 2005, give the 2004 and 2006 comfortably into the 90s. It initially retailed for US$70 but it’s not got a great following so the last Langton’s price for a 2006 was A$40. I reckon it’s worth a punt. BBI ♥♥♥♥

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THE WAY WE WERE – 1990

Typical Australian irreverence from the 90s.

 

1990 Wilson's 2

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“There’s an advertising agency in Toronto who I bet are laughing at the rip-off they got over Kelvin the Koala. Gee, they must be in bloody hysterics! ‘Half a million in your pocket? Great, we can do you a beaut one! ‘And of course, what everybody forgot was by putting this French-speaking koala on the market was that they immediately alienated all the English-speaking Canadians who thought that they had a strong bond with Australia through the old Commonwealth. And I mean that’s just a fundamental marketing mistake. If they cant’s see such elementary mistakes, who knows what happens when they get down to the fine print with dealing with these Americans who are so bloody sharp that they’ll eat you before breakfast. In fact, that’s probably when they got this bastard, before breakfast, and tied him up then. You know, while he was still half asleep. They’ve all had a jog and a shower and a Jacuzzi and a screw and they’re into the office at 7:30 in the morning, bouncing and raring to go. You know me, and any pom I know, we stagger in and say ‘I need a glass of bloody champagne.’ And you know, these Americans: ‘While you’re signing the documents we’ll open the Deutz, Sir.” – Tony Lord, then editor of Decanter speaking with Winestate, August 1982

Lemon curd and stale ginger

I’m always delighted when one of the small wineries I represent gets a great rating for one of their wines, and that was the case this week when I emailed Syd Bradford at Thick as Thieves with congratulations that his 2013 Thick as Thieves Show Pony Yarra Valley Sauvignon Blanc had just been given 96 points by James Halliday, with James calling it an outstanding wine. Syd didn’t know about it, so was over the moon on the news.

This is not your usual Sauvignon Blanc but one that has 14% of Semillon (and therefore can legally still be called Sauvignon Blanc in Australia), and where both varieties spent time separately in French oak.  That means it will cellar until 2016.

Not surprisingly, I cajoled a few cases out of Syd. It will be arriving in the last week of March and retailing for $51 inc. gst. Email me at tigerwines@singnet.com.sg if interested.

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Here’s the reviews for today. Not the highest rated bunch of wines but they are all fairly priced.

2012 / Sandalford / Margaret River / Cabernet Merlot / $39.90 at Eve’s Spirits – Raters can get criticized for be too soft in their ratings, for rarely dropping below 90 points. Well, not this lot. Huon Hooke gives it 88 which equates in his terminology to a bronze medal. Campbell Mattinson gives it 85 which indicates a reasonable or quaffing wine depending on the price, and he comments specifically on this wine that “this is half decent. Not $20 decent but if you see it on discount it might be worth considering.” Drinking to 2017. With a RRP of A$20, the price here is fair, so….BBI♥♥♥

2011 / Doctor’s Flat / Central Otago / Pinot Noir / $65 or $58 by six at Wine Exchange Asia – This is a new name to me, not a lot of ratings that I could find for it. Bob Campbell gives it 90 (“very good but not great”) and Raymond Chan gives it 19.5. I don’t know much about Raymond but anyone who can add to the local discussion on Kiwi wines is welcome.  Retails for NZ$46 so the pricing here is perfectly pitched. I’m giving it BBI♥♥♥♥

2012 / Mitolo / Jester / McLaren Vale / Sangiovese Rose / $37.50 at Crystal – The regular raters have it sitting between 90-94 although Huon Hooke dissents at 86. Consensus is it should be drunk this year. Alcohol is 12.5%, RRP A$22. Good pricing. BBI♥♥♥♥

2012 / Mitolo / Jester / McLaren Vale / Vermentino / $37.50 at Crystal – I could only find two ratings on this, Campbell Mattinson at 91 and Huon Hooke at 86 so it’s a choice between “excellent” and an implied “not worth mentioning”. Don’t wait, drink this now. Pricing is very good, but Mattinson says “must be consumed with food or it’s not all that enjoyable.” You have been warned. BBI♥♥♥♥

2004 / Kalleske / Greenock / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / $55 or $49 by six at Wine Exchange Asia – 94 points from Campbell Mattinson is putting it into the top wines today, and on a pure price comparison basis with its initial release price, it is the best value here today. Drinking for a few more years yet, initial RRP of A$60 but look away now if you want to know what it’s doing at auction…(A$33 last seen at Langtons). Still worth every bit of BBI♥♥♥♥

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WINESPEAK 101 – How to waffle with the best of them

OK, here’s your challenge for this year. Somehow, you need to work into your wine conversation a selection of the descriptive words used below by Jeremy Pringle on his website www.winewilleatitself.com when talking about the 2012 Michael Hall Marananga Roussanne (watch this space, you’ll see this wine in Singapore soon):

Apples, lemon curd, cheese on sourdough toast and Twinings Gunpowder Green Tea….a little creamed honey and stale ginger

Fabulous. Love it or loathe it (I love it), writing about wines has come a long way since the 1970s when wine writing consisted of:

“A fine wine with a great colour, a developed rich fruity nose and plenty of flavour on the palate, with complexity and harmony,” or;

“A wine with considerable colour, vinosity, fruit and flavour, and finishing with firm acidity and fullness on the palate.

Give me green tea and stale ginger any day.

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The action of swishing wine liberally around the mouth and then expectorating makes sure that the teeth get maximum exposure to wine acids, so the American Academy of General Dentistry recommends tasting wine through a straw – a dental health tip Georg Riedel is unlikely to support.” – Neil Pendock writing in Wine, April 2011

The tale of two bays – it’s not what you buy, but where you buy

Three of “my” wines from Tasmania and Yarra Valley got a gong this week in the latest (Feb/Mar) edition of Gourmet Traveller Wine.

The 2010 Glaetzer-Dixon “Reveur” Tasmania Pinot Noir scored 95 pts with “a pinot of profound flavour, great texture, density and length…”. It’s incorrectly listed at A$30 which it isn’t. It’s A$56 on Glaetzer-Dixon Family Winemaker’s website and it’s “limited”. I’ve got 9 bottles in Singapore and 3 cases in Melbourne waiting to come up in late March. It’s S$65 including GST so if you’re interested, let me know.

The 2012 Mayer Yarra Valley Syrah scored 94, “with gorgeous spice and red-fruit flavours”. It’s listed at A$55 and you can get it from me at S$63. I’ve got a couple of cases so let me know your interest.

The 2013 Freycinet Vineyards Tasmania Riesling scored 93 with “rich and full in the mouth with a  trace of sweetness…”. Listed at A$25 and drinking for up to 12 years. I have the 2012 (Gourmet Traveller Wine 96 pts) for S$44 coming up in March and the 2013 is on order so hopefully March too. If you’re interested, you know what to do (tigerwines@singnet.com.sg).

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Gong Xi Fa Cai! It seems a bit ridiculous to be sending a blog on specials when most wine shops are shut today and some all weekend. Anyway, here goes…

? / Overstone / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / $35 at Wine Connection – Let’s get straight into one of my pet hates – listing a wine but not listing the vintage. Why anyone would buy a wine via a shopping cart without knowing the vintage is beyond me, and if there’s any wine you’ll want to know the vintage on, it’s Sauvignon Blanc. It can go off quicker than Fiats used to dissolve in water. And believe me, that’s quick. There’s no help on this wine from Overstone’s website (minimalist would be the best term to describe the website) so I’ve had to turn to Dan Murphy’s in Australia to eke out any information. Dan’s has the 2013 listed (yes, Dan’s does list the vintage) at A$9.99 a bottle or A$9.49 if you buy six. So you know where this wine is pitched then. I also read that Overstone wines are exclusive to the supermarket Woollies in Australia (which includes Dan Murphy’s) so again, you know where it’s pitched.  S$35’s looking a bit much isn’t it, especially when for another S$8 you’ll get the 2013 Cloudy Bay and that sure as hell isn’t A$9.99 at Dan’s? Best I can do…BBI ♥♥♥

2009 / Pyramid Valley / Growers Collection Cowley Family / Wairau Valley / Pinot Noir / $67 at Artisan Cellars – Artisan say you have to quote “web price” to get this deal. James Suckling gives it 93 pts and Lisa Perotti-Brown from Wine Advocate 90, so it’s no slouch.  Should be safe drinking for another year or so, retails at NZ$42 so the pricing’s just a fraction over the BBI (Bastard Box Index) but fair all the same. I’m giving it…BBI ♥♥♥♥

2012 / Cloudy Bay / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / $53.81 at Winelah! – Let’s get straight into my second pet hate for today – listing wine prices before GST. It’s naughty (don’t believe me? – check the IRAS website) and it’s annoying when it comes to price comparisons with other suppliers whose prices include GST. The wine is listed at $50.29 but actually it’ll cost you $53.81 so that’s what I’m running with. I’m going to assume you already know all that there is to know about Cloudy Bay so I’ll just mention quietly that you could have bought this vintage at Wine Exchange Asia a little while ago for $44. Enough said. – BBI ♥♥♥♥

2013 / Cloudy Bay / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / $49 or $44 by six at Wine Exchange Asia – So the first question on any release of Cloudy Bay is “is it as good as usual?” The answer on this vintage is yes. Campbell Mattinson for one gives it 93 pts but also reckons it should be drunk this year (see Overstone above…). Pricing is spot on, and my guess is you’ll struggle to see lower than the six-pack price, so if Cloudy Bay ticks your box, then get stuck into it. BBI ♥♥♥♥

2005 / Paradigm Hill / Col’s Block / Mornington Peninsual / Shiraz / $48 at ewineasia.com – Mornington’s better known for its Pinot than its Shiraz but this is a pretty good example according to James Halliday who gives it 94 pts. Should drink to 2020 according to James. With a RRP of A$35, the pricing here is very attractive indeed (although the “Recommended Retail” of S$79.50 looks a bit ambitious), and this wine was offered up at over $65 a few years ago. I’m giving it…BBI ♥♥♥♥

NV / Ninth Island / Tasmania / Sparkling / $37.75 at Le Vigne, cash & carry – If you’re already reading this blog, I don’t have to explain the difference between Non Vintage and No Vintage, so I won’t. With a rating of 90 from Halliday, it’s fair to say that this is a quaffing sparkler and that’s just what James infers when he says “ideal aperitif on a hot summer day”. Well, that’s every day in Singapore so best you stock up. RRP is A$27 although I’m sure it’s discounted below that but even so, the price here is (again for Le Vigne – well done chaps) the best on a pure price comparison basis. BBI ♥♥♥♥

2010 / BK Wines / Cult Single Vineyard Lobethal / Adelaide Hills / Syrah / $49 or $45 by six at Wine Exchange Asia – I’m a sucker for cool climate Syrah so can’t understand how I’ve missed this one. Halliday gives it 96, reckons it’ll drink to 2025 and says that it’s “cool climate shiraz at its best”. Good enough for me. With a RRP of A$27, the pricing here is spot-on…it’s only that some lucky *$%!! got one at Langton’s auction last year for A$17. I’ll have to be more vigilant. BBI ♥♥♥♥

2005 / Dalwhinnie / Moonambel / Pyrenees / Shiraz / $49.99 or $45 by six at Cornerstone Wines – I’m guessing this has come out of an investment holding (although I don’t know for sure) as this wine pops up from time to time across other retailers in Singapore. It’s been listed at $65 in the past so waiting for once looks like it might have paid off. Is that a warning that it’s waning? Not according to Campbell Mattinson who says it’ll drink to 2017 and gives it 93 pts. It’s still holding up at Langton’s too with the latest sale at A$47 against its initial retail of A$52 so all things considered, it looks like a safe bet. Pricing is great. BBI ♥♥♥♥♥

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THE WAY WE WERE – 1951

1951 Penfolds

It could be said that in cricket, Australia has returned to form and with Penfolds, their premium wines have certainly scored runs, although I see Treasury Wine Estates is expected to announce a profit fall of up to 20% according to some analysts.

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In stimulating the appetite, the valuable action of Australian wine cannot be entirely attributed to the tranquilizing effect of alcohol. Wine will stimulate appetite directly by acting on the taste buds because of its palatability. In addition certain components of wine have been shown by laboratory studies to have an appetite stimulating action. These include tannins, Tartaric acid and acetic acid. In general, small amounts of wine are needed for appetite simulation.

For instance, 4 oz or two standard glasses of dry sherry is sufficient.” – Wine and Health, Winestate magazine, December 1978

A Christmas bargain

It’s a bit of a mixed bag today.  Nothing makes it into a BBI 5 star deal but there’s still some good buying to be had.

Vintage unknown / Fat Bird / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / $19.95 or $18.45 by the six at Cold Storage – There’s a saying you should always avoid wines with critters on the label. Is a fat bird a critter? I don’t know, but I do know that it sells in New Zealand for about NZ$9 so you know where it’s pitched. And to be fair, it’d probably sell here for about $9 too if it wasn’t for the roughly $7 of alcohol duty sitting in that $19.95 price. So the pricing’s quite OK if you don’t mind the tax taking a big slug of what you could be spending on quality. Best to let the tax work in your favour on wines that started out a bit more premium. BBI ♥♥

2006 / Two Hands / Bella’s Garden / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / $85 or $79 by six at Wine Exchange Asia – I’m guessing this has come out of someone’s investment holding which means it’s probably been stored well. It’s a good wine too with 92 from Wine Advocate , 94 from James Halliday and 17- from Jancis Robinson. Consensus seems to suggest it’s got somewhere between 3 to 8 years left in it. Big on alcohol at 15.2% but it is a child of the period. Very hard for me to pin down a fair price on this as it initially retailed at A$60 but has slipped away a bit in the auctions scene in Australia. This isn’t Australia, so I reckon the price (especially the 6 bottle price) is fair enough but I’m playing cautious today and giving it 4 stars. It looks pretty good against any current releases of quality Barossa shiraz though. BBI ♥♥♥♥

2011 / Forrest / The Doctors’ / Marlborough / Gruner Veltliner / $28 at Underground Wines – Mediocre ratings on this, Michael Cooper 4, Bob Campbell 85 and Campbell Mattinson 86 who says “shows promise, just doesn’t quite get the job done”. Where it wins is on price. RRP of NZ$25 means $28 here gets it…BBI ♥♥♥♥

2007 / Standish / The Relic / Barossa Valley / Shiraz Viognier / $69.99 at Cornerstone Wines – There are some wines that you just know there’s a story behind them. I don’t know what the story is, but this wine seems to have been abandoned by Australian raters since the 2002 vintage. Was it only sold in the US after 2002? Wine Advocate gives it 94+ which is a high ranking in their scale. It hasn’t appeared at Langtons for auction since 2011, so no help to me there. It’s a mystery. What I do know is that this wine has appeared in the Singapore market at prices much, much higher than what’s being asked here now, sometimes double this. Personally, I don’t think this would be my type of wine (I don’t like the big wines designed for the US market on the back of Parker ratings) but on a price/quality basis, it looks good – BBI ♥♥♥♥

Vintage unknown / Penfolds / Bin 2 / South Australia / Shiraz Mouvedre / $39.95 at Cold Storage – What? Cold Storage I hear you say! Yes, indeed. Assuming it’s the 2011 release, it’s a good wine from Penfolds getting 92 from Halliday and 91 from Huon Hooke. RRP in Australia is A$38 so the deal here is very, very good. Put it away for a couple of years and you’ll enjoy it more. This was a special deal but I’ve lost the date of the paper so it may have passed. If you did buy it, I think you got a bargain. If the deal’s still on, grab some. If it’s gone back to $54, then it’d drop back to 4 stars but it’s still actually a fair price. BBI ♥♥♥♥

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NEW RELEASES

There’s been ratings galore thrown around for a very exciting bunch of new releases over the last month. Here’s a sample of what Tiger Wines  ( http://www.tiger-wines.com or tigerwines@singnet.com.sg or +65 96610429) follows:

THE WINE FRONT: If you don’t subscribe to their blog, you’re missing out on some of the best and up-to-date discussion on wines covering not only Australia, but a great selection of Europeans as well. Almost daily updates on tastings from Gary Walsh, Campbell Mattinson, Mike Bennie and a host of other commentators. Great stuff. Go to their website at http://www.winefront.com.au and start enjoying now. I have no association with WineFront other than I’m an enthusiastic subscriber!

All the ratings below are by Gary Walsh from The Wine Front:

2010 / Luke Lambert / Yarra Valley / Nebbiolo / A$55 / 95 points – It’s only just been released but I’ve got some (just got it today!). If you’re interested, email me and I’ll work out a price for you landed and cleared here.

2012 / Luke Lambert / Yarra Valley / Crudo Rose / A$28 / 95 points – Ditto, as per the Nebbiolo.

2012 / Mayer / Granite / Yarra Valley / Pinot Noir / A$55 / 94 points – Yep, got a tiny amount of this too. Email me for pricing and timing.

2012 / Holyman / Tasmania / Chardonnay / A$45 / 94 points – I don’t have it but I’m a bee’s whisker away from it. If you’re interested, you know what to do.

2012 / Holyman / Tasmania / Pinot Noir / A$50 / 96 points – If you want some, I I may have to dip into my personal purchase!

2012 / Chatto Wines / Isles Vineyard / Pinot Noir / A$45 / 95 points – I have it on personal account, yell out if you’d like me to get some for you.

The Dec/Jan issue of GOURMET  TRAVELLER WINE  had these reviews:

2012 / 3 Drops / Mount Barker / Pinot Noir / $28 / 94 points – Coming up in January and S$39. A bargain.

2001 / Arras / EJ Carr Late Disgorged / Sparkling / A$130 / 96 points – A very, very limited number for S$188.

2011 / Bellwether / Tasmania / Chardonnay / A$50 / 96 points – I’m chasing some as we speak. If you want to join me…you know what to do.

2012 / Freycinet Vineyards / Tasmania / Riesling / A$25 / 96 points – It’s waiting to come up and it’s S$44 (inc gst). Not a lot of it, so don’t muck around.

2011 / Goaty Hill / Tasmania / Pinot Noir / A$34 / 90 points – Here now at S$55.

2012 / Pooley / Coal River Valley / Pinot Noir / A$60 / 95 points – I don’t handle Pooley, but of you’re interested, I’ll see if I can get some for you

2002 / Radenti / Tasmania / Sparkling / A$55 / 97 points – A special release by Claudio Radenti of Freycinet Vineyards. Not available wholesale and only available via Freycinet’s website. If you want some up here, yell out (quickly), as I’m getting some.

2010 / Spring Vale / Tasmania / Pinot Noir / A$40 / 95 points – Will definitely be getting some, in the meantime I have just 4 bottles left of the 2009 (Halliday 92) at S$52.

NV / Stefano Lubiana / Brut Reserve / Sparkling / A$34 / 92 points – here now and S$43. Perfect for Christmas but be quick. We finish deliveries on the 8th.

2012 / Waterton / Tasmania / Riesling / A$29 / 93 points – I’ve got the 2009 (Halliday 96) in Singapore and it’s $58.

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1989 Xmas

 

Ah, how times have changed. The young’uns amongst us probably wouldn’t appreciate that when the fax machine first came out, most places locked it up at night behind a clear cover. Life before the urgency of an email, text or Twitter. And $199 was a fair bit in 1989.

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If we’re after a true varietal expression, Tasmania offers us better quality than any other Australian region.” – Glenn James, white winemaker for Foster’s Wine Estates quoted in Gourmet Traveller Wine, January 2008

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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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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