Posts Tagged 'Wolf Blass'

Some giant deals, and some giant wines

Reviewed 21 wines on offer by Carrefour, Cornerstone Wines, Giant (yes, Giant!), Le Vigne, Underground Wines, Wine Exchange Asia, commenting on 12 here today.

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2010 / Dog Point / Marlborough / Sauvignon Blanc / S$32 at Wine Exchange Asia – I reviewed this wine back on 14th June and said then that (at 87 points Bob Campbell), it was a good buy. Well, it was $36 then and it’s $32 now so that makes it an even better buy. Retails for NZ$25.

2009 / Murdoch James / Blue Rock / Martinborough / Pinot Noir / S$59 at Underground Wines – This has a good rating from Wine Advocate (90 points -“outstanding”), is drinking out to 2015, and the price here is exactly where the BBI would put it. So, fair value for a good wine. Retails for about NZ$40.

2008 / Saint Clair / Rapuara Reserve / Marlborough / Merlot / S$45.48, $34.78 by the case at Cornerstone Wines – With a price difference like that, Cornerstone certainly entice you to buy in bulk. This wine gets 85 points from Bob Campbell (“above average”) and 3.5 stars from Michael Cooper (“very good”). With a RRP of NZ$27, the single bottle price is OK but the case price is excellent value if you’re into Kiwi merlots. I’m not.

2005 / Elderton / Command / Barossa Valley / Shiraz / S$75, $70 by the half case at Wine Exchange Asia – I’m so long on Elderton Command that I won’t be buying any of this, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. In fact, if you like Barossa Shiraz, then this is one to get. There must be an ocean of Elderton Command around as you can still buy old vintages (e.g 2002 or older) at Dan Murphys in Australia. This vintage is still on sale downunder at around A$80, which means that if you shipped it in now, it would land at about S$92. So how come it’s only S$70? Well, there’s quite a bit of it in Singapore too, sitting in investment portfolios, and as the GFC bites, you can be the beneficiary of some, er, rebalancing of priorities. What would you like to know? Wine Front 95 points, Epicure 5 stars, Wine Advocate 97! That should be enough to convince you.  Look, in my opinion this is a great wine at a fantastic price that’s still got years ahead of it, and it ought to be in the cellar of any true-blue Aussie or wannabe Ocker. This is something no other country can do.  Oi! Oi! Oi!

TBA / Elderton / Barossa Valley / Cabernet or Shiraz / S$29.95 at Giant – My fingers trembles as I typed that. Fairly typically with the big supermarkets, they figure you don’t need to know the vintage, which is either a reflection of their opinion of the wine, or of you. Early vintages of the Shiraz (2005) are still selling at Dan’s downunder, and at about A$25. As a general rule, Elderton’s “plain” Shiraz and Cabernet get pretty good ratings. A quick check showed that most vintages fall into the 90+ range from James Halliday and Wine Front so these wines are no slouch. The price at Giant is very, very attractive for such a drinkable wine. I’ll be ducking down to Giant later today (it’s OK, I’ll wear my dark sunnies) to make sure that this is just plain Elderton and not their “E” brand, which is a different kettle of fish.

TBA / Hardys / VR / South Eastern Australia / Chardonnay or Cabernet or Merlot or Shiraz / S$17.90 at Giant – Once you get below the S$20 mark, with some rare exceptions, it’s hard to talk of good value as roughly $7 in the price is duty alone. You can’t expect much from what’s left in the price. From what I can see, the VR label is an export only one, so my data comes from Decanter where they give the Shiraz (of unknown vintage) a “recommended” score based on value over there. It sells in the UK for the equivalent of A$7.50, shipped and all. Get the picture. To be honest, this doesn’t look a bad deal when you consider the duty, but for a little over $10 bucks more, you’ll get the Elderton. No brainer.

NV / Hardys / Reserve / Party Pack (3 Litre) / Sauvignon Blanc or Shiraz / S$69.90 at Giant – I’ve never done a review of a box before! OK, so let’s not talk about the contents as if you’re buying this, you’re not doing it to impress your wine buddies, you’re doing it coz’ it’s bulk drinking for Xmas. Well, yes. And, no. You see, the $7 a bottle duty doesn’t magically disappear simple because you put 3 litres in a box. It’s still there only now it’s about $28 of that $70 price. So is the wine worth the difference of $42 that’s left in the price? Here’s a hint. The box sells in Australia for A$17. That right A$17. For A$63, you’ll get four boxes at Dan’s. That’s A$5.25 per litre. Makes it hard to get one’s mind around S$70 for one box doesn’t it?

NV / Jacob’s Creek / Sparkling Rose or Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir / S$49.20 for 2 at Giant – Ah, yes, this would have been called Champagne in days gone past. But, Champagne it’s not, it’s just an inoffensive bubbly that scores around the 85 point mark from the likes of James Halliday and Decanter.  RRP is A$14 but it sells closer to A$10, even A$9. Not a bad buy, just not my type of wine.

TBA / Wolf Blass / Red Label / Moscato or Moscato Pink / S$18.90 at Giant – Run away! Run away! That’s usually my reaction when I see any wine with “pink” in its name (or Hello Kitty for that matter), and in this case maybe that’s justified. No point in talking of quality, although I do see that Epicure regularly say 3.5 stars which is OK. Sells at Dan’s in Australia at sub-$9. There’s that duty again.

TBA / Wolf Blass / Yellow Label / Various varieties / S$25.90 at Carrefour – I can pretty much repeat what I said about the Red Label, although this does sell for A$5 more at Dan’s.  But by the time you get to S$26 for the Shiraz, why wouldn’t you get the Elderton at $30?

TBA / Wolf Blass / Eaglehawk / Various / S$15.75 at Giant – I’m guessing this is where many young Singaporeans get introduced to Australian wine. I think my only advice would be drink half as much at twice the price. One bottle of Elderton or two bottles of Eaglehawk? Easy for me to say that’s a no-brainer, I’m not 21 any more. Sells at Dan Murphy’s at A$6.65. You listening kids?

And finally….

NV / Ninth Island / Tasmania / Sparkling / S$34.50 at Le Vigne – Le Vigne had this listed at S$40.55 back in November so this is a real discount. The wine regularly scores 90-92 points from Halliday, so another example of “pay a little more, get a lot more”. A great deal.

Bastard Box was born near the Barossa so the decision here today is easy. It’s the Elderton Command by a country mile.  But its little brother is also a great deal and will even tempt Bastard Box to the 5th floor of Parkway Parade (something not easy to do) to quickly secure the Elderton Shiraz. And for the fizz, go for the great deal on the Ninth Island.

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Moving quickly from the world of $10 bubblies to the higher realms of true Champagne, Bastard Box tracks sub US$150 wines that score 95 points or better, and there’s two Champagnes just in time for Xmas. I’m not saying these are available, or at this price in Singapore though. That’s for you to do your own homework on, but if you do find some, let me know.

Theses ratings and comments come from Wine & Spirits, one of my favourite and affordable (S$9.95 downstairs at Siglap Shopping Centre) wine magazines.

2002 Bollinger Brut La Grande Annee Champagne, US$150 – 98 points

“There is Champagne, and then there is 2002 Bollinger. This wine makes me dizzy, stammering in cross-eyed bliss. Taking a step back, the sustained chord of flavour comes into focus, revealing a limestone honey; scents of acacia, marzipan, apricot and golden citrus. Jamal Rayyis, one of our tasters with the broadest flavor library in his head, described the scent as loomi (dried lime) and dried apricots, as if walking into a Middle Eastern market. Flavor details aside, the wine’s richness softens the structural grandeur of the vintage, which is buoyed in a mineral bath of power.” –

2002 Dom Perignon Brut Champagne, US$150 – 96 points

“Think of standing above a well at the edge of an apple orchard, the cool feel of the earth deepening the bosky scent of the ripening fruit. This wine may take you there, then leave you to contemplate its complexity; full-on limestone-derived power, juicy nectarine and apricot scents, candied lemon and lasting spice, all of it rounded into a supple shape and a subtle mist of a finish.”

Wow, does it come any better than those two pieces of wine writing? I love it!

The other Champagnes that met the 95+ at US$150 or less were:

1999 Bruno Paillard Brut Assemblage, US$100 – 96 points

2004 Louis Roederer Brut Blanc de Bancs, US$75 – 95 points

2004 Louis Roederer Brut Vintage, US$70 – 95 points

As I said, if you see any of these in Singapore at a reasonable price, please let Bastard Box (and our readers) know (after filling your own interests first of course)!

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“Champagne is a pleasant start to the day, but the real problem is, what wine does one serve with breakfast?” – Anders Ousback writing in Wine & Spirit Buying Guide, January 1979

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Where’s the shiraz in this lot? – and lessons on how to spit

[Reviewed offerings by Cold Storage, Crystal Wines, Epsilon Wines, eWine Asia, Le Vigne, Monopole, The Cellar Door, Top Wines, Underground Wines, and Wine Directions]

Specials are a bit slow this week. Here’s the best I could do:

2003 / Kreglinger / Vintage Brut / Tasmania / Bubbly / S$48 at Le Vigne – From the same stables as Ninth Island and Pipers Brook, this is a personal favourite. No, I don’t always buy wines on ratings, as this one only gets 88 points from Jeremy Oliver (although other vintages score much better). It’s refreshing and it’s priced right. With a RRP of A$50, this comes in with a BBI rating of  “Terrific Value”.

2009 / Moss Wood / Ribbon Vale / Margaret River / Semillon Sauvignon Blanc / S$44 at Crystal Wines – Don’t have much on this one. Halliday 95 points, drink to 2013, 14% alcohol. RRP is A$26 so this one gets a BBI rating of  “OK Value”.

2009 / Pierro / LTC / Margaret River / Semillon Sauvignon Blanc / S$53 at Crystal Wines – Oliver 90 points, Halliday 94 points, drinking to 2013-14. With a RRP of A$31, this gets a BBI rating of “Reconsider”. Interesting eh, given that both are from the same retailer.

2008 / Jim Barry / The Lodge Hill / Clare Valley / Riesling / S$42 at Monopole – Halliday gives it 93 points, but Decanter didn’t rate it highly, giving it only 15.5 points (out of 20). Drinking to 2018 according to Halliday. With a RRP of A$20, the BBI on this is “Marginal Value”, especially when compared with the Pikes at S$29 from Wine Directions in the last post.

2007 / All Saints / Rutherglen / Durif / S$35.90 at The Cellar Door – It seems you’re either into Durif, or you’re not. I don’t mind the occasional one, especially with some age on it. This is too much of a generalization, but I think of it as a sort of black, inky shiraz. Oliver rates this one at 91 points (4.5 stars) and suggests drinking between 2015-2019+. With a RRP of A$24, the BBI on this is “Good Value”

2008 / Water Wheel / Memsie Homestead / Bendigo / Red (Shiraz, Malbec, Cabernet) / S$29 at Crystal Wines – I’ll be right up front and say I don’t like this wine. I’ve got some in my cellar, and it’s always overlooked when hunting around for something nice. Maybe I’ll drag it out when my relatives next visit. I’m not alone. Wine Estate give it only 4 stars and Wine Front 4 too (87 points), but Halliday is stumping up with 90 points. Halliday suggests drinking out to 2017. With a RRP of A$14, the BBI gives it a rating of “Good Value”, but it won’t be enough to convince me to stock up. Just a personal choice.

Where’s the shiraz? (sounds like an Elton John song….) Not here, I’m afraid.

2008 / Wolf Blass / Presidents Selection / South Australia / Shiraz / S$44.95 at Cold Storage – You might recall that this is the wine we got a roadside stall in rural Vietnam for about S$35. It’s a four star wine for sure (Wine Front 88 points) and I have it on good authority that Presidents Selection, which is not sold as such in Australia, is closer to Yellow Label than other Wolf Blass brandings.  So……if it is close to Yellow Label, then the RRP would be about A$16, giving the price here a BBI rating of “Reconsider”.

We often hear people say when shocked by the price of wine in Singapore, “oh, it’s the tax you see” and I have to bite my tongue every time I hear it. Yes, yes, it can be the tax, but only at the lower end of cheaper wines. The tax can even work in your favour if you’re prepared to lash out and spend above $30 bucks, and if you really want to splash out, have a look at how the tax creates a very favourable arbitrage on Grange and the like. Hundreds of dollars worth, so please, no more, “it’s the tax”. Unless……. you really are buying at the wrong end.

Let’s have a look at two examples. Not stunning wines. The Grant Burge is 4 star for sure; the Angove’s, I’m prepared to bet it’s no more than 4 star either.

2009 / Angove’s / Butterfly Ridge / Colombard Chardonnay / S$30 at Top Wines – I say S$30 because it’s listed at Top Wines at S$28 before GST (something they’ll presumably fix, and quickly – you never know who might be looking at this website) so I’ve added the 7% for correctness.  Well, this wine retails (at most) in Australia at A$7. That’s right, A$7. If you take out the margin, the GST and the WET in Australia, I’m guessing the wholesale price is around A$2.20. Now, if we convert to S$, add the freight, add the alcohol tax, add the Singapore GST and mark it back up by 100% (that’s fair), we’ll get to S$25, give or take a few cents. That’s how you get an A$2.20 wine to S$25 – it’s all mark up on the tax and on-costs and very little to do with the wine. For the record, the BBI rating on this particular deal would be “Marginal Value”.

2007 / Grant Burge / Summers / Adelaide Hills / Chardonnay / S$30 at Epsilon Wines – 4 stars from Decanter and Halliday, and the same price as the Angoves. Only this one starts with a RRP of A$24, not A$7. On a comparative value basis (i.e. the BBI), this wine would get a rating of “Terrific Value”. So, the real issue is, do you believe that retail prices reflect the quality of the wine? That’s up to you – I’ll just tell you the story.

But wait, there’s more! If you want to learn how to spit “with elegance”, have a look at:

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xcvujq_comment-cracher-le-vin-avec-eleganc_webcam

And finally, is there no respect? The 2008 Schild Estate Barossa Shiraz, having just been listed as the number 7 top wine in the world by Wine Spectator, has been discounted down from A$20 to A$14.99 (at winestar.com.au)!

“I drink it when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and I drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it, unless thirsty.” – Lily Bollinger in 1961, on drinking champagne.

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.


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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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