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Monthly Report - March 2013




Well I have just sat down and the house has had a fly past of a hundred Baudin’s Black Cockatoos heading from the bush block on our west into the vineyard – what rowdy birds and apparently a forbearer of rain when you see them flying past.  This is one of the many bonuses of living in a very quiet corner of Margaret River, it is Easter weekend and apart from an extra car driving down our road, you would never know what the world was up to.


This month has been quiet without the rush and panic of vintage taking place and it has meant travel abroad for work, as well as time at home and Singapore promoting our wine.  In fact Singapore has become a bit of a theme this month, with the visit by a Singapore based wine critic also later in the month – but more about that later.


Singapore.  Well it is small – very small, but oh so neat and tidy.  I dropped into Singapore in the middle of March to do some wine promotion after a fortnight in the Philippines.  After the crush and chaos of Manila to the wide roads and less populated walk ways of Singapore it is like chalk and cheese.  I travel through Changi Airport once a month at a guess, and with my travels being channeled through this little island nation it does give me an opportunity to take the odd day off on my return trips to start promoting Blue Poles wines.

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Blue Poles in Singapore

Singapore is the most cosmopolitan city of Asia.  Bar none.  It feels like an independent state to everything – it is like its history is just wall paper, hardly noticed.  The cleanliness and the architectural splendour now overrides the inhabitants themselves, which are only noticed in the food halls and bars after dark.  Go for a walk around the river from the northern quays to Marina Sands and then back again and feel like you are strolling in a quiet empty town, you only notice a few tourists, some joggers during lunch time, some workers sleeping under the odd tree, and a sense of “peace”.  But you are missing the point – look up at the myriad of tall buildings and you will realise there are 1000’s upon 1000’s of working people looking out at you (if they could break away from their computer screen).  It is a money making machine this city – everyone is busy making it and all their kids are trained to want to make it.


Singapore is a city where the ex-pats are not the top of the tree, they are just as likely to be working for the locals as working above them.  After being in Asia for a while, this is a significant difference.  It means that the society has become as close to “equalised” as they come, with much of the menial tasks given to foreign workers in the shops and the construction sites.  In effect Singapore is Asia’s London, without the bad weather.


I spent a day wandering around looking at wine stores and retailers to determine how our wines would fit into such a market place.  What initially surprised me was the lack of cheap wines, and the wines that in Australia are very cheap were very expensive here. At the top end, the wines were expensive again, but not much more than prices around the world and this confirms that the taxing system in Singapore favoured better wines as there was a fixed rate rather than a tax based on the wines cost.  It also confirmed that the distributors and retailers have to apply large mark-ups to account for living in the city and paying the shop’s rents.  Another thing it confirmed – air conditioning is set to 15°C in many shops, and once you walk outside your glasses are an instant of fog, and this has never changed since I have been going to Singapore.


We do have a number of wine buyers in Singapore and a dinner was organised in which I showed off the Allouran and the Reserve Merlot – a couple of vintages of each.  It was a great dinner and the wines showed well and hopefully through the contacts made we can start the process of exporting wines to Singapore in the coming months.  But there was something which pleased me as well which was unusual – at the dinner, ladies outnumbered men – that may seem trivial but I think it highlights just where Singapore is at with wine.  There is no “cheap” wine and as such everyone has an interest in locating good value wine that goes with their eating out lifestyle.  So this is not just a men’s hunting game, but also a ladies sport as well – and I say hoorah!


Now back to the Singaporean wine critic.  One of the recent big events in the wine world has been the selling of perhaps the most important wine critique magazine “The Wine Advocate” of Robert Parker Jr’s to a group of wine lovers from Singapore.  I believe that RPJ is still part of the magazine, but part of the process of the sale appears to have been the moving of Lisa Perotti-Brown from a contributor to also Editor-in-Chief.  Lisa is based out of Singapore with her family.  I had contacted Lisa and was going to deliver some wine to her address in Singapore while I was there, but she kindly told me that she would drop in for a tasting at Blue Poles on Wednesday, 27 March.


Having turned up at lunch time we had some snacks while we went through the wines and it was a really pleasant couple of hours.  I believe Lisa enjoyed the wines and later the following day she tweeted on her twitter account the following:


Gr8 tasting/visit yday @BluePoles! Exciting Merlot (yes, Merlot!) & Merlot/CF blends from southern Margaret River. Wines 2 watch!


Given the 140 character limit I think Lisa did very well :)  Fantastic to see another wine critic (and one so well regarded), come on board and appreciate the wines, and it is extremely rewarding to see these wines which were just a concept many years ago starting to really sing.  And as I keep repeating to you all, you are on to a good thing with Blue Poles wines!


No topic this month – Singapore overload…


Autumn appears – just like that...


And I can tell you the date.  11 March 2013.  Literally it was like an axe split the seasons this year, with the first 10 days of the month averaging a maximum of about 30°C and night time temps of about 18°C – when wham, bam, thank you ma’am, it was all over.  Cooler day and night time temps arrived in a rush and we even contemplated turning the heater on.


The numbers for the month and last year’s figures are provided below:


March 2013:      

Avg Maximum Temp          24.7°C

Daily Max recorded            32.9°C


Avg Minimum Temp           13.3°C               

Daily Min recorded               7.6°C


Rainfall:                               21.8mm

The maximum temperature range is significantly lower than last year and this is more typical of the average for March. The minimums are quite similar and are typical of autumn in the south west of WA. Rainfall this year much more than last year, but it still totalled less than an “inch” in the old scale.

March 2012:      

Avg Maximum Temp          27.5°C

Daily Max recorded            36.7°C

Avg Minimum Temp           13.2°C

Daily Min recorded              7.6°C


Rainfall:                              0.1mm


Time to keep pushing on …


We have had a great few months with sales of our wines, very exciting to see lots of new faces get on the Blue Poles train.  We will be pushing on with this as much as we can, with April finding me abroad again for a couple of weeks working away with lawyers more than my beloved rocks – I know which I prefer more :)  The vineyard will start to drop some leaves and look like it needs a haircut – which will be on the go in May.

As always if you have any queries about what’s been written or about wine in general, do not hesitate to contact us either by email or and we’ll do our very best to answer any question.





Mark Gifford

Blue Poles Vineyard

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