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Delhi Wine Club
Taste and Buy Wine at Singapore Heinemann Duty Free

Posted: Tuesday, 24 April 2012 10:48

Taste and Buy Wine at Singapore Heinemann Duty Free

Apr 24 : While the leading vendor at the Delhi Duty Free, Brindco has been unable to start the complimentary wine tasting at the Delhi International Airport Arrival, one can taste 8 wines poured from an Enomatic machine at the relatively recent duty- free store at Terminal 2 of the Changi Airport without any obligation to buy, writes Subhash Arora who was in Singapore recently.

Click For Large ViewWalking towards the departure gates to catch flights of Singapore Airlines, past the last of the fancy duty- free shops, a small store ‘Vine and Leaf’ right next to it may catch your eyes. Welcome to the latest and the only addition to the Duty Free shops under concession to DFS, supposedly for the last quarter of a century. Although the small store also has the Tobacco concession, the emphasis is on fine wines and specialty wines. An Enomatic machine is there to welcome a casual walk-in customer with a tasting shot of 8 different wines.

Melvin Goh, Operations Manager of Heinemann Asia Pacific Pte. Ltd. with their headquarters in Germany, who have been given the concession about 4 months ago explains, ‘We have taken the Wine & Cigar concession at Changi T2 Departure since December 2011. It had been a monopoly for several years till we were able to get the permission to open a small outlet. Our one and only major competitor is DFS who operates the Liquor Tobacco concession throughout the airport.’ He further shares with  delWine, ‘Our concession is for three years plus two  more optional ones, from December, 2011.’ 

‘Vine and Leaf’ has notched up monthly sales of S$300,000 during each of the last 3 months, according to Melvin who was a fellow judge at the WSA Wine Challenge in Singapore last month. The store has some of the real fine wines difficult to find in a duty free shop. Three full length wine coolers ensure the continued provenance, which is very critical for expensive wines. One can find a First Growth 1945 duly certified by the Chateau and displayed in an original wooden case. ‘The wine aficionados are very particular about provenance and we make sure that we provide it,’ he says.

‘The attractive USP of the store is also complimentary tasting of wines as a tasting shot of 5 mL so the customer can taste before buying it,’ says Goh. Do customers buy it after tasting? ‘About 80% of tasters buy something-it may not necessarily be what they taste. The tasting runs in conjunction with the theme of the month at the store. For instance, in April, the themed tasting is about Australia. - Buy 2 bottles of  Coldstream Hills, Devil’s Lair, Saltram, Seppelt or Wynns from their boutique wine portfolio and you an exclusive wine rack free.’ he says.

Interestingly, the taxes on free sampling have to be paid. ’The Enomatic comes with a computerized recording set up that records the amount poured out of the bottle. The technology for measurements is so developed that the moment a new bottle is opened, the computer at the tax department’s end gets to know and the amount is debited to the importer’s account.  However, because of the long term benefits they do not mind paying the tax over and above the price of a bottle.

No go at Delhi Airport

Click For Large ViewBrindco has also been trying to get the similar concept at the Arrival lounge at the Delhi Airport, to start with in order to attract more wine buyers at the duty free shop from returning passengers. Apparently, the excise department has not given the permission even though the company claims they were willing to pay the excise duty and the VAT on the wine used in Sampling (of course there would be no customs duty payable).

Anyway, bringing in the next phase, it has enhanced the offerings and in conjunction with the Duty Free Shop has got over a 100 wines from its portfolio at Duty Free prices. Here are a few of  that seem to offer good value- for- money wines and are worth picking up (try picking up 3 bottles totaling 2.25 liters. Only 2.0 liters of alcohol is allowed but despite what you may have heard, customs guys are very understanding about the .25 liter excess problem (sorry, vintages not known)-these are based on the international price/ DF price ratio only                               



Laroche Punto Niño Pinot Noir 




D’Arenberg High Trellis Cabernet Sauvignon




D’Arenberg Footbalt Shiraz   




Gaja Promis 




Guidalberto Tenuta San Guido




Gaja Dagromis Barolo




Louis Jadot Corton Grand Cru


The regular, young Masi Amarone (Costasera) at $122 would be a poor value but Brindco confirms it is a 1990 vintage- a part of the fine wine collection from the personal cellars of the Boscaini family, the owners. In that case, it would be an excellent value-for-money buy for someone who relishes Blue Label Scotch and appreciates fine wines.

Subhash Arora


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