Posts Tagged 'voyager estate'

No surprises, just solid value – by Farr, Charles Cimicky, Leeuwin Estate, Majella & Voyager Estate

[Reviewed offerings by Island Wines, Rubicon Wines, The Cellar Door, Wine Exchange Asia]

There’s a bit of a slanging match going on over the sale of New Zealand wines in Singapore at the moment, so I’m going to stay out of the way and focus on Aussie wines until things settle down.

A word on GST: If you’re buying wine in Singapore (other than for consumption at a restaurant), the price quoted must include GST. If like me, you find GST added to the retail price after you’ve made your order, cancel the order and dob the offender into the IRAS. It’s not like GST hasn’t been around long. It’s tough enough out there for the law-abiding sellers without having to compete with those who gain advantage by appearing to show low prices.

A word on vintages: Yep, it still happens, You order one vintage and you get delivered another. There’s no excuse for this. I’ll give the seller the benefit of the doubt (for a genuine mistake)– but only once. After that, the wine goes back and the seller’s off my list.

A solid bunch of wines recommended here. Nothing exceptional (although the Voyager Cabernet Merlot is the best comparative value wine here), just good, down to earth pricing. The cheapest are the Majella Musician Shiraz and the Charles Cimicky Trumps Shiraz, each at S$27 a bottle by the case. If you can’t spend S$27 on an Australian wine, I guess you should be looking elsewhere (or going teetotal). Also, if you like your wines with a little less alcohol, have a look at the by Farr from Geelong.

The whites:

2008 / by Farr / Geelong / Chardonnay / S$66, S$60 by the case at Island Wines – 5 star. Halliday 96 points, drinking to 2016 and 13% alc. RRP of A$63 so BBI says “Good Value”

2003 / Leeuwin Estate / Margaret River / Chardonnay / S$88 at Wine Exchange Asia – 3 star to 5 star depending on who you follow. Jeremy Oliver has it as 5 star (97 points), as does Gourmet Traveller Wine. Wine Spectator thinks 4.5 but if you follow Wine Estate (I don’t), they say 3 stars. Drink out to 2015. RRP is/was about A$85 so BBI reckons this is “Good Value”.

In 1995, James Halliday wrote of Voyager Estate:

“10,000 cases – Formerly Freycinet Estate, renamed after its purchase in May 1991 from Western Australian viticulturalist Peter Gherardi. Millions of dollars have been spent by new owner Michael Wright in extending the vineyards and erecting a state-of-the-art winery reminiscent of the more opulent showpieces of the Napa Valley.”– (James Halliday’s Pocket Companion to Australian and New Zealand Wines)

Fifteen years later, James Halliday wrote:

“35,000 cases – Voyager Estate has come a long way since it was acquired by Michael Wright (of the mining family) in 1991. It now has a substantial high-quality vineyard, which means it can select the best parcels of fruit for its own label, and supply surplus (but high-quality) wine to others. The Cape Dutch-style tasting room and vast rose garden are a major tourist attraction. Exports to the UK, the US, and other major markets.” – (James Halliday Australian Wine  Companion 2011)

2007 / Voyager Estate / Margaret River / Chardonnay / S$52, S$49 by the half case at Wine Exchange Asia – 5 stars. Halliday and Oliver agree on 96 points! Can’t get easier than that. Drinking 2012 – 2016. With a RRP of A$42, another “Good Value” rating.

2009 / Voyager Estate / Margaret River / Sauvignon Blanc Semillon / S$35, S$32 by the half case at Wine Exchange Asia – 4.5 stars. Halliday 93, Oliver 94, drinking to about 2014. RRP of A$24 so BBI says “Great Value”

The reds:

2008 / by Farr / Farrside / Geelong / Pinot Noir / S$70, S$63 by the case at Island Wines – 4.5 star. Halliday 94 points, drinking to 2016, 13.5% alc. RRP of A$65 so “Good Value” again.

2008 / by Farr / Sangreal / Geelong / Pinot Noir / S$70, S$63 by the case at Island Wines – 5 star. Halliday 96 points, drinking to 2018, 13% alc. RRP of A$67 so BBI says “Good Value”.

2008 / by Farr / Tout Pres / Geelong / Pinot Noir / S$95, S$85.80 by the case at Island Wines – 5 star. Halliday 96 points, drinking 2020 (for a pinot?) 13.5% alc. RRP of A$98 so more “Good Value”

2005 / Voyager Estate / Margaret River / Cabernet Merlot / S$54, S$52 by the half case at Wine Exchange Asia – 5 stars. James Halliday 96, drink 2015-2025, Jeremy Oliver 95, drink 2013-2017+. The only other thing you need to know is the value. RRP of A$60 so BBI says “Terrific Value”.

2008 / Majella / The Musician / Coonawarra / Cabernet Shiraz / S$30, S$27 by the case at Island Wines – A range of 3 star to 4.5 star. Halliday gives it 94 points, and Epicure gave it 4.5 stars. Wine Estate gave it 3 stars and 4 stars in the same issue (?). With a RRP of A$17, the price here earns a “Good Value” rating.

2008 / by Farr / Geelong / Shiraz / S$66, S$60 by the case at Island Wines – 5 star. Halliday 96 points, drinking to 2020, 13.5% alc. RRP A$63 so a solid “Good Value” rating.

2006/ Charles Cimicky / Trumps / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / S$30, S$27 by the case at Island Wines – 4.5 star. Halliday 94 points, drinking to 2016. RRP of A$20 so makes it “Great Value”

2008 / Voyager Estate / Margaret River / Shiraz / S$45, S$42 by the half case at Wine Exchange Asia – 4.5 stars. Halliday 94, Oliver 92. Drinking to 2016. RRP of A$32, “Good Value” again.

“When we die, all that is left of us is what is mineral and material – our skin, veins and tissues, all that decays. Wine gives us a sense of life, of what persists. That’s why people spend a lot of money on a great bottle” – Jacques Lardiere, winemaker at Louis Jadot, speaking with Stephen  Brook in Decanter, September 2010.

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Not much under S$50 here. Sorry! And some arbitrage on Grange.

Just to set the record straight, for this post I reviewed a smattering of wines from Crystal Wines, Epsilon Wines, The Cellar Door, Underground Wines, Wine Direction, and Wine Exchange Asia. If they’re not mentioned here, it means either the wine I selected didn’t make the BBI cut (i.e. not rated well, or not particularly good value) or I couldn’t find a rating on it. Usually the latter. Bastard Box is 100% independent from any distributor or retailer – I buy from most of them (or have), I’ll drink with any of them, but I’ll still judge their prices on comparative value using the same criteria for all.

(By the way, with Xmas coming on there’ll be a fair few offerings of mixed dozens. I’m not a great fan of mixed dozens when they’re already packaged up for you. I’ve always had a sneaking suspicion that the good wines get paid for by the bad ones, and that the mixed dozen is just meant to hide the real pricing from you. Nothing I’ve seen changes my mind on that, but I’m willing to be convinced. It just means you’re unlikely to see a review of a mixed dozen here any time soon.)

Let’s start with the Kiwis:

2007 / Kumeu River / Mates / Auckland / Chardonnay / S$49 from Wine Exchange Asia – Michael Cooper loves this wine and gives it 5 stars. Drinking from now until 2014. Price-wise, I don’t know how WEA do it. This wine retails for NZ$52 – here it is in Singapore at S$49. Don’t “go figure”, do “go get it”!

2007 / Kumeu River / Hunting Hill / Auckland / Chardonnay / S$49 from Wine Exchange Asia – Ditto for everything I said about Mates. Michael Cooper 5 stars, drinking to 2014 and RRP of NZ$45. A comparative bargain.

Now to the Aussies:

2005 / Voyager Estate / Margaret River / Cabernet Merlot / S$52 at Crystal Wines – Oliver 95, Halliday 96 and Decanter 4.5 stars. Unusually, Oliver wants to drink this one earlier by around 2017, but Halliday thinks it will go to 2025. RRP was A$60 so the price here of S$52 is damned good.

2002 / Moss Wood / Margaret River / Cabernet Sauvignon / S$95, or S$85 by the half case at Wine Exchange Asia – Oliver 95 points, Halliday 91 (he didn’t think it was developing enough under screwcap). Oliver says drinking to 2014 to 2022, Halliday out to 2015.  The RRP was A$95 so the price here of S$95 is spot on.

2007 / John Duval / Plexus / Barossa Valley / Grenache Shiraz Mouvedre / S$57, or S$52 by the half case at Wine Exchange Asia – I always look forward to the Singapore F1 GP because our Australian guests usually have a bottle or two of John Duval in their bags. I’m a big GSM fan anyway and this definitely hits the spot. Oliver 93, Wine Front 92, Halliday 93 (but Decanter only 4 stars). 14.5% alc. Consensus on drinking to 2015+. RRP of A$39 so marginally outside the BBI unless you get it at S$52, when it slides into the BBI. Best to get a half case then (or a whole one!).

2007 / John Duval / Entity / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / S$62, or S$57 by the half case at Wine Exchange Asia – Oliver 94, Wine Front 93, Halliday 94 (but Decanter only 4 stars…) Drinking to 2016. With a RRP of A$48, the BBI would put it at about S$59-60 and that’s right where it is. 14.5% alc.

2006 / Kilikanoon / The Covenant / Clare Valley / Shiraz / S$50 at Wine Exchange Asia – 4.5 stars across the board, from Decanter, Oliver (93), and Halliday (92). Drinking range from 2011 to 2020. RRP of A$40 so S$50 is right where the BBI would expect it to be. 15% alc.

2006 / Kilikanoon / Oracle / Clare Valley / Shiraz / S$65 at Wine Exchange Asia – Another solid 4.5 star wine. Decanter (4.5), Oliver (94), Halliday (92). Consensus on drinking is to 2015. With a RRP of A$79, the price here is outstanding. 15% alc.

How about some Grange for the Xmas stocking?

Too expensive? Depends where you buy it, I suppose.

2001 / Penfolds / Grange / South Australia / Shiraz – S$550 at Epsilon Wines or S$399 at Wine Exchange Asia – Oliver 95, Parker 98. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more. Drinking out to 2031 or 2035 depending on who you believe (or whether you care!)

2002 / Penfolds / Grange / South Australia / Shiraz / S$429 at Wine Exchange Asia – Even better, Oliver 97, Parker 98. Oliver says 2032+, Parker says 2050. See if you (and the wine) can last that long.

So, what’s the best comparative value in that lot?

In the whites, the Kumeu River Mates is a terrific buy. In the reds (putting aside the Grange which trades in a stratosphere of its own), the Kilikanoon Oracle, followed closely by the Voyager Estate.

“A quarter acre of grape vines isn’t a working vineyard. At best, it’s a hobby; at worst, it’s an affectation……..Like a child, a vineyard needs love and maintenance and constant vigilance. As with children, a very small one isn’t necessarily easier to manage.” – Tony Lee writing in The Age, 24th August 2010. Could have been talking about Bastard Box!


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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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