A client asked me over the weekend about why wine prices in Singapore continued to be significantly higher than in New York or London (two other large cities without significant local wine production), prompted by her interest in Luneau-Papin's L d'Or being wine of the week on Jancis Robinson's site (a deserved mention, if there ever was one!). The prices, converted into SGD, were $27 (US) and $45 (UK), whereas we're offering it at $53, inclusive of GST. Her exact words were: "give discount lah, you're making so much money".
I'm going to explain it more succinctly (and politely) here: taxes and shipping. With Muscadet finally being able to breach the 12% ABV mark (fun fact: the AOC rules prohibited wines from being higher than 12% when we first started the business!), a ripe, well-made wine such as the L d'Or attracts about $8 in alcohol duty. There's also GST of ~$3.50 (for now, we're all expecting it to be raised in the upcoming budget). Both of these taxes are higher than corresponding duties in the US (which varies by state) and the UK.
In a moment of serendipity, she had offered me a glass of wine I knew very well. The telltale signs of heat damage were all there - faded colour, attenuation on the nose, and very slight caramelisation on the finish. If I wasn't so familiar with the wine, I would have let it pass; I casually enquired about the source, and then all was clear. It had been shipped 'dry' (as opposed to refrigerated), and is currently stored in an air-conditioned (i.e. hovering around 20 degrees) rather than refrigerated (we recommend and stick to 11-13 degrees) warehouse. A full cold chain, including the crucial last leg to consumers in warm and humid Singapore, now costs us about 5 times (yes, that's right) what it did pre-pandemic.
There are many lessons here: Luneau-Papin's L d'Or is a great Muscadet (pictured are the 2005 and 2015, 2 outstanding vintages); Jancis Robinson's team have impeccable taste; taxes are truly inevitable; most importers, incredibly, are still not offering a full cold-chain, But maybe it's just that you get what you pay for.
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