Posts Tagged 'Wine Exchange Asia'



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

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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.

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

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!

Promises unfulfilled

An interesting excursion to Saigon and surrounds, and an interesting experience with Australian wine in Vietnam. We dined at Shri in Saigon CBD and managed to sample Torbreck Juveniles and Mount Langi Ghiran Cliff Edge at a reasonable price considering the view. We later ventured to Mui Ne, a beach resort about 250kms north of Saigon to stay at the Small Luxury Hotel of L’Anmien. Things looked promising when I checked their wine list, with a good smattering of Australian and New Zealand wines at fair restaurant prices. Even better, the resort had an impressive looking cellar (see below) so it hit all the right buttons. Ah, promises unfulfilled.

We ordered a Hewitson Lulu Sauvignon Blanc, (sorry, out of stock), a Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc (out of stock), a Villa Maria Private Bin Chardonnay (ditto) a d’Arenberg shiraz, a d’Arenberg pinot (ditto) and so it went. Each time we picked something it was met with “but we do have the Berri Estates Shiraz”. I couldn’t – someone might see us – so we opted for pretty much the only other wine on offer, a “vin ordinaire” Beaujolais.

The next day we stocked up on a couple of bottles of Wolf Blass President’s Selection from the shack across the road (screwcap thankfully, given the storing conditions). It was $8 a bottle less than at Cold Storage in Singapore!

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A real mixed bag this weekend. Maybe the sellers are holding off to launch their festive specials. Presumably we’ll see some of those emerge next week – there is one great deal starting on Monday, but it is very limited, case buy only, and cash & carry:

2009 / Cloudy Bay / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / S$39.90 at Bottles & Bottles, Parkway Parade – I’m not going to bore you with the write-up on the wine. If you know it (and who doesn’t), you’ll know this a great deal.

The best of the rest:

2007 / Kumeu River / Estate / Auckland / Chardonnay / S$39 from Wine Exchange Asia – A mixed opinion on this one. Decanter only gives it 4 stars (15.9 points) and it retails in the UK for GBP19. The Kiwi rater Michael Cooper gives it 5 stars, and says drink between now and 2014. It retails in New Zealand for around the NZ$38 mark so the price here of S$39 is excellent, and makes it the best comparative value of the wines reviewed here today by a fairly big margin.

2008 / Pierro / Margaret River / Chardonnay / S$95 from Crystal Wines – Pierro chardonnays are usually outstanding and this vintage is no exception. Jeremy Oliver gives it 96 points, James Halliday gives it 96 points, and Wine Front gives it 95. The lowest rating I have is 4.5 stars from Epicure.  Fairly consistent opinion on the drinking, with 2015 seeming to be the common end date.  The retail price seemed a bit all over the place so a quick check on-line currently gives it at A$75 which makes the asking price here (on special as well) a fair way outside the BBI. I reckon S$82 would be closer to the mark, but you’ll form your own opinion on whether you want to buy.

2007 / Moss Wood / Ribbon Vale / Margaret River / Cabernet Merlot / S$60 from Crystal Wines – A solid 4.5 star wine, with Oliver giving 94 points, Halliday 93, Wine Front 91. Fairly consistent opinion that it’s drinking out to 2017ish.  With a RRP of around A$41, this too is a little outside the BBI. Not much, but still outside.

Two Robert Parker 99 pointers for the Xmas stocking:

2003 / Standish / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / S$155 from Epsilon Wines – To be frank, I’d never heard of Standish, but that doesn’t matter because Robert Parker had, and he gave it 99 points. Recommended drinking between 2018 to 2040. I have no idea of whether this is a good price. I think there is/was only one bottle available but I’m thinking that a Parker 99 point Barossa shiraz at S$155 would be worth a punt.

2003 / Torbreck / Run Rig / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / S$290 from Epsilon Wines – Another Robert Parker 99 point wine, with exactly the same drinking window as the Standish, i.e. 2018-2040.  James Halliday gave it 96 points, Jeremy Oliver 93, and Wine Front 94.  None of them are quite so bullish on the drinking window though, with Oliver suggesting drink within the next couple of years, Wine Front by 2019, and Halliday by 2023. It’s 14.5% alc. You can currently get a bottle on-line in Australia for A$239, so if you’re serious about filling that stocking with an older vintage wine, then you’ll decide on the price without my help.

Hopefully next week, we’ll have a wider range of specials for you that won’t break the bank.

“…..wine is a subject with no practical dimension, in contrast to cooking and gardening. You can’t chop it, steam it, sauté it, plant it or weed it. All you can do is understand it and appreciate it, which are intellectual pursuits with a sensual dimension.” – Andrew Jefford, writing in Decanter, August 2010.

Fair crack of the whip!

Got a flyer this week from a retailer who gets mentioned favourably in this blog fairly often, but this time, well…..

The promotion is a boxed set of six Kilikanoon wines, all reds from 2006 with an asking price of S$930. I’m not going to suggest that I could replicate the complete boxed set, but I could go close, finding four of the six wines on sale in Singapore right now.  Problem is, and it’s a very big one, is that on just three of the wines in the box, I can buy elsewhere and save over S$260 on just those three wines alone!!!!

Here’s the comparison, after allowing the discount from S$1055 a box down to S$930.

2006 / Kilikanoon / Attunga / Clare Valley / Shiraz / In the box, S$335 – on offer now at Wine Exchange Asia for S$185!

2006 / Kilikanoon / R Reserve / Clare Valley / Shiraz / In the box, S$143 –  on offer now at Wine Exchange Asia for S$95!

2006 / Kilikanoon / Oracle / Clare Valley / Shiraz / In the box, S$130 – on offer now at Wine Exchange Asia for S$65!

Something’s not right is it?

On a brighter note, Anna Pooley from Tasmania has just been named Young Winemaker of the Year. Have a look at:  http://www.themercury.com.au/article/2010/11/17/186611_food-wine.html

And, an imperial of 1947 Cheval Blanc has just been sold for US$304,375. See http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6AF4UA20101116

Now to the wine reviews:

2009 / Eradus / Awatere Valley / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / S$32 from Wine Exchange Asia and also from Rubicon Reserve Wines – Tried this for the first time this week and wow, it is different from your usual Marlborough sav blanc. Not quite as spritzig as say Cloudy Bay but full of very interesting fruity flavours. Michael Cooper liked it enough to give it Best White Wine Buy of the Year on his Buyer’s Guide to New Zealand Wines 2010. Bob Campbell didn’t like it giving it only 83 points. It retails for NZ$19, so the pricing here is fair rather than outstanding but I think it’s worth a try just for the change from the run of the mill.

2009 / The Doctors / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / S$26 at Underground Wines – This wine only gets 3.5 stars from Michael Cooper so it wouldn’t normally appear here, but it’s only 9.5% alcohol, so I reckon it could be perfect to serve to the in-laws staying with you over Xmas.  The pricing is quite keen too as its RRP is NZ$22.

2010 / Kilikanoon / Morts Block / Clare Valley / Riesling / S$33 from Wine Exchange Asia – A Halliday 95 pointer with a RRP of A$35. A no brainer – get some.

2009 / Frankland Estate / Isolation Ridge / Frankland River / Riesling / S$40 from Crystal Wines – To be frank, I’ve struggled to find value in some of Crystal’s recent Aussie offerings but this one hits the mark. 95 points from both James Halliday and Jeremy Oliver and both agree it will last out to 2020 or a smidge beyond. With a RRP of A$30, the pricing is spot on here.

2008 / Ata Rangi / Craighall / Martinborough / Chardonnay / S$52 from Cellar Door – Bob Campbell gives it 93 points, and Michael Cooper gave the 2007 5 stars. Worth a punt. RRP is NZ$38 so the price here is right.

2006 / Leeuwin Estate / Art Series / Margaret River / Chardonnay / S$105 from Crystal Wines – This wine collects ratings like people collect credit card receipts. Lot’s of them. Halliday 95 points, Wine Spectator 94 points, Gourmet Traveller Wine 96 points, Jeremy Oliver 93 points. All agree it should last out to 2017 to 2020. With a RRP of around A$95, the price here is right on the edge of the BBI for value (in fact if you’re prepared to hunt around, I think you’ll find this about S$6 cheaper elsewhere)

2006 / Kilikanoon / The Duke / Clare Valley / Grenache / S$55 from Wine Exchange Asia – Decanter gives it a Silver rating (4.5 stars) as does James Halliday with 93 points. Drinking to 2016. With a RRP of A$69, the price here is a stunner. 15% alc.

2007 / Cape Mentelle / Margaret River / Shiraz / S$48 from Crystal Wines – Cape Mentelle is always a fairly safe bet and this vintage is no exception. Jeremy Oliver 94 points, James Halliday 96 points, with drinking out to 2019 or 2027 depending on who you follow.  RRP of A$39 making S$48 a good buy. 14% alc.

And in case you’ve not kept up with what’s been happening down under:

“Amontillado sherry is now medium dry apera, Oloroso is medium sweet apera, tokay is now topaque, tawny port is now just tawny and vintage port is now vintage fortified red”

Off to Vietnam for a week so expect to see the next posting around 26th November. Happy drinking!


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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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