Posts Tagged 'Wine Culture'

A rollicking good read, and a rollicking strong Aussie dollar

Reviewed offers from Crystal Wines, eWineAsia, Le Vigne, Rubicon Reserve Wines, The Cellar Door, The Local Nose, Wine Connection, Wine Culture, Wine Directions, Wine Exchange Asia

A big plug for a book that I just read on the plane and train between Singapore and Durban. It’s a quick read for sure but thoroughly entertaining. It’s “The Billionaire’s Vinegar” by Benjamin Wallace (thank you Lisa & Jos for the gift) and the story is of fakes in the wine industry, especially rare old Bordeaux.  I’m coincidentally thumbing my way through old Wine Spectator magazines from the last decade and the whole story of “suspect” 1787 Chateau Lafite Thomas Jefferson is covered month after month as the various parties, from buyers to auction houses, counter accusation with accusation. One of the themes is that the US was ripe for counterfeits because they didn’t know much about old wine, they just bought them for status. Where does that leave today’s China buyer? Another novel in the offing, I suspect.

Just the one white today:

2010 / Mitolo / Jester / McLaren Vale / Vermentino – S$28.20 at Crystal Wines. I could only find one rating on this and it was Epicure at 4 stars. The RRP is shown as A$24 so the price in Singapore at S$28.20 looks an absolute bargain on a comparative basis. But there’s a catch. Epicure reckons this wine should have been drunk in 2010, so no surprise that’s it being marketed at an attractive price.  Given that it’s only just out of the first quarter in 2011, it’s probably still worth a punt.

A flood of pinots:

2009 / Bass Phillip / Crown Prince / Gippsland / Pinot Noir – S$89.25 at Crystal Wines. I don’t have a rating on this vintage so can’t offer any help there. What I do know is that this wine is currently on sale at Wine House in Australia at A$57 so the price here looks a sizeable premium. I’m guessing not all that much comes to Singapore, so if you want it, you’ll probably buy it at that price anyway.

2008 / Mt Difficulty / Long Gully / Central Otago / Pinot Noir – S$110 at eWineAsia. One thing about Bob Campbell – when he likes something, he says so. He gives this wine 95 points (“excellent, top quality”) and says that “this is a great pinot noir”.  Its RRP of NZ$90 puts it right at the top bracket for Kiwi pinots and its price here of S$110 is right where the BBI would expect it to be. I think I’ll be tempted to try it.

2008 / Nazaaray / Mornington Peninsula / Pinot Noir – S$50.25, S$43.93 by the case, at Rubicon Reserve Wines. I’ve never come across this name before but in any event, Wine Front gives it 90 points (“very happy with it”) and suggest drinking out to 2014. With a RRP of A$30, the price is about right for the case buy.

2008 / Tarrawarra Estate / Reserve / Yarra Valley / Pinot Noir – S$62 at The Local Nose and Wine Directions.  All round accolades for this one. James Halliday “outstanding”, Jeremy Oliver “top silver”, and The Big Red Wine Book “exceptional”. General consensus is to drink out to about 2018. With a RRP of A$50, the pricing here is good value.

2006 / Trentham Estate / Mornington Peninsula / Pinot Noir – S$35 at The Local Nose and Wine Directions. I recommended this wine back in May last year and you should have bought it then when it was offered at S$30. It’s now S$35 as the Aussie’s gone up but it’s still a terrific buy. Halliday 92, drink to 2013.

And a trio of shiraz (or should that be shirazes?):

2008 / Kilikanoon / Killerman’s Run / Clare Valley / Shiraz – S$31.45 at Crystal Wines. Another wine/vintage that I don’t have a rating for. So what can I tell you? Well, it’s on sale at Dan Murphys in Australia at A$16.99 which would equate to a BBI of about S$36.  That makes the price here great value, and if you know the wine, then the deal is good.

2003 / Shirvington / McLaren Vale / Shiraz – S$143 at Wine Culture. Have you ever seen a bottle of this? No, me either. All you need to know is that Robert Parker rated it 96 points. Now, it just happens to be on sale at Wine House downunder for A$95 but in limited quantities, and you’re sure as hell unlikely to get the WET back. I think this is another case of “if you know it and like it, you’ll buy it” because you won’t be seeing much of it around.

2004 / Torbreck / Run Rig / Barossa Valley / Shiraz – S$199 at Wine Exchange Asia. We’re in the big hitters today aren’t we? Wow. OK, the lowest rating I could find on this was Jeremy Oliver at 88 points, drink 2012. The highest rating I could find was Wine Advocate at 99+! Everyone else is in the 95+ bracket and a bit more generous in its ageing potential. Let’s call it 2018 to be fair. It WAS on sale in the US at US$225 a bottle. It’s NOW on sale at Wine House for A$240. I never thought I’d say it, but that makes S$199 smashing value.

The star deals for today are the Trentham Pinot Noir, and wait for it, the Torbreck Run Rig.

So, how much has the Aussie dollar changed the pricing in Singapore over the last 12 months? Perhaps not as much as you’d expect. In an A$50 bottle of wine, the BBI reckons the exchange rate has added about S$2 here.

“Like many males of my age, I live along that fine line between pretentious wine snob and wine enthusiast. I call myself an enthusiast. I absolutely drew the line at the sommelier slurping thing.” – Andrew Bruce, HK lawyer and wine enthusiaist writing in GrapeGrowers & Vignerons March 2011

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A bouquet of sandalwood, tobacco, vanilla……..or Avon?

Reviewed wines on offer by Crystal Wines, Epsilon Wines, Eve Spirits, Hermitage Wines, Singapore Straits Wine Company, The Cellar Door, Wine Connection, Wine Culture, Wine Exchange Asia, & Wine Universe.

There’s smells, and there’s smells. The one’s I want to talk about today are the one’s that linger, the one’s that stick to you long after the event. Cigar smoke from that crowded bar still in your clothes next morning. The pungent aroma of wet seals after a visit to Cape Palliser where you just had to move close enough for that photo. The lingering aroma of drying prawns after a visit to Kukup, the reminder coming for the next two days every time you open your car door.

And then, there’s perfume.

Why, oh why, do some people wear the strongest possible perfume to wine tastings? You’re in the middle of nosing a wonderful wine in a proper glass (in my case, it was a 1999 Ata Rangi Pinot Noir) when, bang! your olfactory senses are assaulted, interrupted, confused and destroyed for the rest of the evening by an overwhelming  bouquet of fake roses and frangipani. I’ve had this happen more than once at properly defined wine tastings. Makes you wonder what the wearer is there for. And yes, it stuck with us in the taxi like Kukup prawns.

To the offers….all Australian today:

2008 / Fonty’s Pool / Single Vineyard / Pemberton / Chardonnay / S$33 at Wine Connection – Just goes to show, you can’t always judge a book by its cover. I’ve wandered in to Wine Connection from time to time and not been tempted, but this offer looks great value indeed. The pricing is very attractive (RRP A$22 vs S$33) but it’s the rating that stands out at this price level. James Halliday 96 points which puts it in the “outstanding” category. I’ve ordered some to try.

2008 / Sticks / Yarra Valley / Sauvignon Blanc / S$39 at Wine Culture – This wine has the same rating as the Sidewood (see below) but with another year of age, even more reason to drink now. Not next month, but now.  With an RRP of A$19, the pricing is spot on, but today it’s been trounced by the Sidewood which starts at a similar RRP but ends up S$15 a bottle cheaper.

2009 / Sidewood Estate / Adelaide Hills / Sauvignon Blanc / S$48 for 2 at Singapore Straits Wine Company – You’d want to drink this one straight away, no point in sitting on it at all. Halliday says “highly recommended” (90), and Wine Front says “very happy with it” (88). You should be very happy with the price too as it retails for around A$18. Outstanding comparative value. It’s their January “2 for 1” deal so you might have to twist their arm to still get it at this price.

2005 / Bannockburn / Serre / Geelong / Pinot Noir / S$125.19 at Hermitage Wine – Bit hard to put a BBI value on this one as it’s been around a while but recent pricing in Australia (around A$110) suggests the price here is OK. Both James Halliday and Gourmet Traveller Wine put it in the “outstanding category”.

2008 / Nepenthe / Tryst / Various / Cabernet Blend / S$29.90 at Eve Spirits – Halliday “recommended, above average” (88), drinking to 2013, and with a RRP of A$15, pricing is great value.

2008 / Kaesler / Stonehorse / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / S$88 for 2 at Singapore Straits Wine Company – This was in their January “2 for 1” offer so check to see if it’s still around.  Halliday “recommended” (89) and Wine Front “very happy with it” (90). RRP is A$15 to A$20ish, so deal here is OK. 15% alc but.

So, if you’re out shopping today, I’d look for the Sidewood Sauvignon Blanc at Singapore Straits Wine Company and the Fonty’s Pool Chardonnay at Wine Connection.

Enjoy that bottle of wine last night did you? Well, you were in good company. According to annual wine production statistics, around 80 million bottles of wine are drunk EVERY DAY around the world.  Glad to see you did your bit.

By the way, the stats for Singapore are 23 million litres of wine a year (Winestate Jul/Aug 2010). That’s 63,000 litres a day. Someone’s doing a lot more than me! Oh, yeh, that’s probably half a million dollars a day in duty too.

 

Just the Kiwis, nothing but the Kiwis

Reviewed offers by Crystal Wines, The Cellar Door, Hermitage Wine, eWineAsia, Wine Exchange Asia, Underground Wines and Wine Culture.

I had a look at 8 wines in this review and 3 of them didn’t make the cut because the pricing was marginal at best.

That leaves the following:

2009 / Bilancia / Hawkes Bay / Pinot Gris / S$34.90 from The Cellar Door – Bob Campbell gave this 86 points, which in Bob Campbell speak means it’s OK. In fact he wrote that he really liked it. Interesting isn’t it? I’d interpret 86 points from Jeremy Oliver as meaning the wine is a complete dud, 86 from James Halliday as being just OK, 86 from Bob Campbell as being not too bad really, and 86 from Winestate as being “very good, silver medal”……but that’s a discussion for another day. You’ll just have to figure it out for yourself. RRP is NZ$25 so pricing here is terrific value.

2006 / Mt Rosa / Central Otago / Riesling / S$31.50 from Underground Wines – Winestate 4 stars (85-89 points) and Bob Campbell 86 again. Thankfully I don’t have a rating from Oliver or Halliday to confuse the issue. Anyway, RRP of NZ$22 so again, terrific pricing.

2008 / Mount Edward / Central Otago / Riesling / S$42, S$38 by the half case from Wine Exchange Asia – OK, now we’re getting down a bit. Bob Campbell 80 points, but the comparative value is good by the bottle, great by the half case. RRP NZ$25.

2007 / Te Mania / Nelson / Sauvignon Blanc / S$39 at Wine Culture – It wouldn’t be a Kiwi review without at least one sauvignon blanc, and this is it. I have a soft spot for this region. It lives in the shadow of Marlborough a bit like Padthaway does to Coonawarra, but I’d say keep it on your radar. Bob Campbell gives it 84 points and with a RRP of NZ$19, the pricing here is spot on the BBI.

2008 / Drumsara / Central Otago / Pinot Noir / S$48 at Wine Exchange Asia – Can’t say as I’ve ever had a Drumsara, and to be honest. I’d hardly heard of it. Bob Campbell has, and he gives it 84 points with particular mention of its favourable cellaring potential (although no specific recommendation). With a RRP of NZ$38, the price here is great value, so I’d say give it a try.

The Mt Rosa is probably the pick of the bunch today, with the Bilancia close behind.

Just catching up on my summer reading and I see in the Winestate Annual Edition 2011 that Ian Lim, Business Manager and Chief Sommelier at Singapore Straits Wine Company won the Asia-Oceania section of the ASI (Association de la Sommellerie Internationale). For many, many years, we were Sunday night regulars at a local restaurant (now closed) and Ian had our palates worked out so well that the wine would be chosen and ready before we arrived, and rarely a disappointment. Good on yer’ mate! A well deserved win.

Have a look at the article below on PET vs Glass bottles. Who’s going to be the first to bring along a PET bottle to a tasting?

http://www.europeanplasticsnews.com/subscriber/featured2.html?cat=1&featuredid=1286353564

And finally..

“75 per cent of New Zealand’s wine export growth [over the last two years] has been in bulk wine. We have handed control or are in the process of handing control over to the buyers of that bulk wine and, in Australia and the UK, those buyers are largely supermarkets. We are in the process of turning supermarkets from our very important customers into our competitors” – Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers quoted in Winestate Jul/Aug 2010.

 

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

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

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

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

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

Now to the rest:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and see if you think it’s still ordinary!

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

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


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Wine quotations

"A good bottle of wine contains more philosophy than all the books in the world" - Louis Pasteur

“The unexacting palates of the masses…are content to ask no question [on origin] so long as a florin or half-a-crown will purchase a roomy flagon of strong , full-bodied, fruity wine” – CE Hawker writing in 1907

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