Posts Tagged 'Wine Exchange Asia'

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

Not a shiraz or sauvignon blanc in sight

Reviewed wines on offer by Absolute Blizzard, Equatorial Wines, Rubicon Reserve Wines, The Local Nose, Wine Exchange Asia.

Had a pinot noir tasting amongst friends on Saturday night, with the theme being one pinot from any country. It ended up being only a small group (do I need to get more friends?) and the surprising thing was that there wasn’t a single pinot from Australia, New Zealand or France represented. Maybe we’re getting tired of the predictability. The range included California (Sonoma Coast) and South Africa, but the surprise winner on the night was a pinot from Chile (Leyda). Definite similarities with Central Otago but not quite as “in your face” as the Kiwi south-islanders can be. I read recently that “this is South America’s decade” when it comes to wine so it will be fun to see how their wines catch on.

Also attended a blind Aussie/Kiwi pinot punch up last week with the Aussies truly trounced, although it’s fair to say that a quality Aussie pinot can hold its own. The middle of the road stuff is a different story.

So, on to today’s wines, starting not surprisingly with a couple of pinots:

2008 / Wild Earth / Central Otago / Pinot Noir / S$53, S$49 by the half case at Wine Exchange Asia – this is a good rather than great wine according to the raters. Wine Spectator gives it 87 points, Bob Campbell 84 points, Michael Cooper 4 stars, and The Age Good Wine Guide 91 points. Campbell said it needs time and that seems fairly safe as it’s drinking out to about 2015. It retails at NZ$40-42 so the price here, especially by the half case, is definitely great value. In fact, on a pure price comparison, it’s the best value of the wines reviewed today.

2009 / Te Kairanga / Martinborough / Pinot Noir / S$42 at Equatorial Wines – slightly higher rating than the Wild Earth by Bob Campbell (85 points) but with a significantly lower retail price of NZ$21, so much so that Campbell said it is great value in its home market. By the time it gets here though, the value is good rather than great because, even though it’s half the cost of the Wild Earth at home, it creeps up towards the Wild Earth by the time it gets here. So, a good wine, but the value got lost in transit.

2005 / Chapman Grove / Margaret River / Chardonnay / S$45, S$40.50 by the dozen at Rubicon Reserve Wines – this should still be drinking OK as James Halliday reckons drink by 2012. He gave it 90 points. It retailed at A$23 so the single bottle price here is OK, but the case price clearly good value.

2006 / Amadio / McLaren Vale / Cabernet Sauvignon / S$39 at Absolute Blizzard Resources – another Halliday 90 pointer drinking out to 2015. With a RRP of A$20, the asking price here is absolutely spot-on with the BBI calculation.

2006 / Zema Estate / Coonawarra / Cabernet Sauvignon/ S$42, S$38 by the half case at Wine Exchange Asia – a Coonawarra cabernet, how could you go wrong? Not with this wine that’s for sure. Halliday gives it a solid 94 points, drinking out to 2016. Like the Wild Earth, both the single bottle price and the half-case price come in under the BBI benchmark. RRP is A$25. The single bottle price is good value, the half-case price is great value. Stop complaining about the price of wine in Singapore and stock up with some of this stuff.

So where does that leave us? On a pure comparative price basis, the Wild Earth is the best buy, but when you factor in the quality as well (as measured by the rating), then the Zema Estate wins. Both from Wine Estate Asia. Are you surprised?

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I stumbled onto this ad in the latest Decanter magazine. It reminded me of the great fight that erupted between Australia and France over the use of words such as champagne, methode champenoise and French colombard. Having seen this example, I wonder if Australian wineries might not be able to call their wine “burgundie”, with a phrase on the label that said “this Burgundie is not affiliated with, approved by, endorsed by, or in any way connected to Burgundy in France”. But then again, why bother…..let’s just call it Australia pinot noir.

“It is often said that if a great (and expensive) European wine was sneaked into an Australian wine show, the judges would probably award it nothing!” – Andrew Corrigan writing on different judging styles in Winestate, October 2007

It’s a white day today

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

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

All whites today, reds to follow….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A rollicking good read, and a rollicking strong Aussie dollar

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

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

Just the one white today:

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

A flood of pinots:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is this a new record for Singapore? – Penfolds Grange at S$820

I think this deserves its own special mention.

Carrefour has listed in today’s Today, 2005 Penfolds Grange at S$820, on sale from U.P. S$890.

Gobsmacked is a word that comes to mind. Or, as we might say down under “tell ‘em they’re dreaming”

Last I heard (and saw), 2005 Grange was selling in Singapore for around the S$520 mark. Wine Exchange Asia certainly had it at that, and maybe they still do. It’s currently on offer in Australia for A$500.

You be the judge, but the BBI doesn’t have a publishable designation for this asking price.

Let us have some wine and women,

mirth and laughter,

Sermons and soda-water

the day after

– Lord Byron

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.

 

Inflation, inflation, inflation – creeping wine prices but a great deal on Peccavi

Looked at wines from Crystal Wines, Epsilon Wines, eWineAsia, Hermitage Wine, Le Vigne, The Cellar Door, The Local Nose, Wine Connection & Wine Exchange Asia.

Early into the New Year and I’ve had some adjusting to do. No, not to the quality of wine I’m drinking, but to the Bastard Box Index (BBI). I’m always adjusting the inputs, but not the criteria, for “fair comparative value” especially as the exchange rates change, but there are other influences as well. Cost of freight pushes prices up, but the swag of specials coming from liquidated (!) wineries makes some of the RRP a bit meaningless.  I’ve noticed a bit of a general price creep in Australian and New Zealand wines on sale here in Singapore, so you might have to readjust your expectations. I did say about the middle of last year that some prices were too good to last. No matter. You got that bonus and pay rise, right?

The Kiwis:

2005 / Vinoptima / Ormond / Gisborne / Gewurtztraminer / S$80.25 from Hermitage Wine – Can you believe it? $80 bucks for a gewurtz? Well, believe it you should as this winery has a tremendous following. I don’t have a rating for 2005, but Michael Cooper raves over the 2004 and the 2006. The winemaker agrees that both those years are better than the 2005 but there’s no suggestion that the 2005 is anything but another excellent wine. Besides, I just wanted to write about an $80 gewurtztraminer for a change. The 2006 is “drink 2012”, so I’m going to guess the 2005 is “drink now”. With a RRP of NZ$55, the price here is creeping into marginal BBI territory.

2007 / Felton Road / Dry / Central Otago / Riesling / S$44.90 at The Cellar Door –   Surprisingly, I couldn’t find a rating for this amongst the gaggle of Kiwi raters, so I’ve relied on Gourmet Traveller Wine (which draws on Bob Campbell anyway) who gave it 90 points and suggested drinking to 2014. RRP is NZ$30 so the price at Cellar Door is good value indeed.

The Aussies:

2006 / Shadowfax / Victoria / Chardonnay / S$42.90 at The Cellar Door – This wine comes from all over the place, hence the Victoria domicile. Shadowfax also has specific regional wines (e.g Geelong) so don’t be confused. You probably won’t be, as the regional wines are more expensive than the Victoria one. This wine is rated 94 points by Halliday, drinking to 2012, and retails for A$28. That makes the price here good value.

2008 / Peccavi / Margaret River / Chardonnay / S$52 at The Local Nose (but also at Peccavi) – Jeremy Oliver gives it 92 points, and suggests drinking between 2013 to 2016. With a RRP of A$45, the offer here is great value.

2009 / Mollydooker / The Violinist / McLaren Vale / Verdelho / S$42 at Epsilon Wines – Mollydooker had a focus on the US market and that’s reflected in the fact that I’ve only found one rating, and that’s out of Wine Spectator. They gave it 87 points (4 star) and suggested drinking it by 2009. The pricing’s OK (it retailed for A$27, US$25) so you just have to worry about the age.

2006 / Paradigm Hill / L’ami sage / Mornington Peninsula / Pinot Noir / S$80, S$75.50 by the case at eWineAsia – 4.5 stars across the board. Epicure 4.5, Halliday 90, Wine Front 93. Mid-range of the “drink by” recommendations is 2015. So far, so good but this is where it starts to fall apart. With a RRP of A$45 (and still available at that e.g. at Wine House) the price here is about S$15- S$20 a bottle above where the BBI would put it.

2006 / Bindi / Pyrette / Heathcote / Shiraz / S$75, S$71.25 Member Price at Crystal Wines – No doubting the quality. Halliday 96 points. Drink between 2011 and 2021, but…….with an RRP of A$40, same as the Paradigm Hill, about S$15 to S$20 outside the BBI.

2008 / Henschke / Keyneton Euphonium / Barossa Valley / Shiraz Blend / S$60 at Wine Exchange Asia – Do you want to be confused? Firstly, one of the respected raters says that this wine used to be called Keyneton Estate but now it’s just known as Euphonium. Wrong – the 2008 is Keyneton Euphonium, that’s what’s on the label. Another rater says it’s 75% shiraz, 11% cabernet, and 8% cabernet franc. Wrong – it’s 75% shiraz, 11% cabernet, 8% merlot and 6% cabernet franc (check my maths though). That’s what’s on Henschke’s website. But even here it gets confusing. The label says Barossa Valley, but the write-up on Henschke’s website says “[from grapes] grown in the Barossa Valley (Eden Valley and Barossa Valley). Anyway, the wine gets 92 from Wine Front and 94 points from Tyson Stelzer with recommended drinking out to 2018. With a RRP of A$48, the price here is good value.

On a comparative value basis, the Peccavi Chardonnay is the stand out, followed by the Felton Road Riesling, and the Shadowfax Chardonnay. If I wasn’t so long wine. I’d put the Henschke in my cellar too. It’s a fair price and you won’t regret it.

Sorry to hear that one of my favourite wineries, Best’s at Great Western, went under water recently. I mean actually, not financially. The vineyard copped the floods from the recent rains in the NW of Victoria and I understand that most of the vines got more water than they’d had for the last decade. My thoughts go out to everyone involved in the clean up and the restoration/preservation of this year’s crop.

This story is a little old now (October last year) but the kudos isn’t. Have a look at Australia’s first “perfect wine” judged at the 2010 Rutherglen Wine Show.

http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/article/2010/10/06/241321_horticulture.html

“I believe that wines of texture and elegance and length are the way forward for Australian wine. If we don’t make wines of structure, and longevity, and complexity, and increasingly wines with a sense of place, then the areas of the world market that we need to penetrate will always be shut off to us.” – Phil Sexton of Giant Steps quoted in Gourmet Traveller Wine in July 2007

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

 

 

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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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