Saturday, 2 August 2014

Storing Wine in Singapore - A 2014 Update

I have been meaning to update my 2012 post on wine storage options in Singapore, and despite my tendency to procrastinate, my hand was recently forced - my wines were evicted! (well, kind of...)

An Eviction of a More Serious Kind...
As regular readers know, I have been storing my wines with 12 Degrees, the wine storage arm of Cornerstone Wines' / Hock Tong Bee.  The main reason for this was the low cost.  For a collection of my size (roughly 85 bottles), 12 Degrees was by far the cheapest option, with my monthly storage bill coming in at around $26 a month.  I also liked the central location (Geylang) of their facility, which made it easy for me to pop by during weekday lunchtimes to pick up a bottle or two for the weekend.

But in early June, I received an email from 12 Degrees enclosing their new price list, stating that the minimum monthly storage bill was going to be raised to $50, almost double my current bill.  To rub salted iodine into the wound, the minimum fee for a withdrawal of any size would now be $10.70 nett (up from the current 43 cents per bottle).  I typically withdraw a couple of bottles each time when I visit, and paying $5.35 per bottle as a withdrawal fee did not strike me as good value for money.

So I had to go shopping, and consider my anew.  I would ask my regular readers to please bear with me if I repeat little bits of my 2012 post in this one.  I haven't revisited Wine Exchange Asia's service as I understand that they prefer their customers to store their wines elsewhere, and actually recommend that their customers first consider storing their wines with Extra Space Boon Keng as a first option.

1.  Self-Storage

As I mentioned before, the key advantage of self-storage is that (a) you get 24/7 access to your wines, and (b) you don't need to pay fees each time you deposit and withdraw a bottle.  The key disadvantage is that you need to do all the work yourself, and no one at the storage provider is going to help receive your deliveries and stash them in your locker, and neither will they deliver or collect your wines for you.  Depending on your appetite for hard labour or the number of maids you have, this can get quite time-consuming and physically intense. And if you are a Bordeaux drinker whose wines come in heavy OWCs (original wooden cases), be prepared for an unseemly number of cuts on your fingers and forearms.

Extra Space is the leader in providing storage facility management in Singapore, and its three facilities at Boon Keng, Eunos and Marymount contain wine storage lockers.  With the growing interest in wine in Singapore, however, Extra Space lockers have become extremely popular.  Depending on the size of your collection, it may not be easy to find a locker with dimensions to fit your needs.  For example, at Marymount, which is the closest facility to my home, the smallest locker they could offer me could fit some 450 bottles, at the cost of $198 per month.  This was way too expensive, not too mention I would barely fill up 20% of the locker space.

2.  In-Bond Storage

This is the option for lazy people, such as myself, who don't mind paying a small fee for their affairs to be looked after.  For the longest time, I could simply order some wine, and ask them to deliver it direct to 12 Degrees, who would look after matters for me.  In a way, I was like the Godfather - a mere phone call and others would do your dirty work for you.  Unlike the Godfather, whose deadly kiss was enough to make a grown man wet his pants, these "others" were only available during business hours on weekdays, and I had no access to your wines on weekends.  And if I tried to kiss them on the cheek, they would probably sue me for "molest".

I have given you the dirty on 12 Degrees' new fee scale.  A player who seems to have made a big impact in the last few years is WineBond, which came highly recommended to me by a few trustworthy winos.

To make it easy for readers to compare, I set out below a point-by-point comparison between the rates and services offered by 12 Degrees and Wine Bond.

(a)  Monthly Storage Rate - both 12 Degrees and Wine Bond charge S$0.43 nett for bottles up to 750mL.  12 Degrees used to charge a lower rate for smaller bottles, but it no longer does.  This category is a tie.

(b)  Minimum Monthly Storage - 12 Degrees' minimum is $53.50 nett.  Wine Bond does not allow you to open an account if your collection is less than 240 bottles, so its minimum monthly storage fee is $102.72 nett.  If you are a hobbyist with a modest collection like me, rather than a die-hard collector, 12 Degrees holds a decisive advantage on this point.

(c)  Insurance - Wine Bond offers comprehensive insurance coverage up to S$50,000 on your holdings, included in the storage rate.  Additional coverage above this amount is charged at 0.8 of 1% of total declared value.  To give you an idea of how much this perk is worth, Extra Space offers comprehensive coverage up to $50,000 for an annual premium of $128.

I tried taking up insurance with 12 Degrees a couple of years ago but despite their rate card saying they offered coverage, I was told I couldn't get such coverage even if I paid extra.  The 12 Degrees rate card still says the same today, with the premium set at 1.5% of total declared value.  Assuming you can get insurance through 12 Degrees, it still costs a fair bit more than Wine Bond,  Wine Bond is the clear winner here.

(d) Deposit / Withdrawal Costs - Both 12 Degrees and Wine Bond charge $0.43 nett or bottles up to 750mL for deposits and withdrawals.  As mentioned above, 12 Degrees imposes a minimum charge of $10.70 nett per deposit / withdrawal.  Wine Bond does not impose a minimum charge.  Wine Bond therefore wins here.

(e)  Delivery / Collection Costs - Wine Bond charges a minimum $42.80 nett for delivery up to 10 cases, and an additional $1.93 for every case after that.  For collections, the charge is $58.85 nett for up to 10 cases, and an additional $1.93 nett for every additional case.

12 Degrees charges $107 nett for delivery and collection up to 20 cases.  Additional cases are charged at $2.14 nett.

For greater flexibility and a cheaper rate, I award this category to Wine Bond.

(f)  Inventory Recording - Both Wine Bond and 12 Degrees offer updated inventory reports.  While 12 Degrees' service has noticeably improved in the last 12 months, you still see a couple of (admittedly non-consequential) gaffes such as listing Domaine Zind-Humbrecht as a South African winemaker, and Weingut Robert Weil as French.  The 12 Degrees document is emailed to you by PDF.

The Wine Bond system, powered by Microsoft Navision, is a more interactive real-time system that allows you to sort out your wines by vintage, country, region, value, etc.  

With the disclaimer that I have not tested the Wine Bond system, I have to award this category to Wine Bond based on its greater capability.

Summary

If you qualify for Wine Bond's minimum collection size of 240 bottles, Wine Bond seems to offer a  more cost-effective service.  If you don't, however, Wine Bond is not an option open to you, and 240 bottles as a collection is quite sizable for most people.

The Decision...

At the end of the day, I couldn't justify spending $50 a month on storage and $10 each time I withdrew a single bottle.  And to be fair to 12 Degrees, with my esoteric collection of many varied labels and not many bottles of each, the burden of managing my collection was probably a bit (a lot!) of an administrative headache.

WineBond's offer looked very attractive, but the minimum account of 240 bottles was prohibitive from my low starting base.  More decisively, their facility is out near Jurong West, which is nowhere near where I live, work or hang out, and I don't have a car.  I would therefore need to rely on their delivery service each time I wanted to bring out something nice to drink.

Luckily, I still have my health, a strong back and youth on my side.  At the last minute, ES Boon Keng came through for me, with a 288-bottle locker becoming available for $80 a month (pay only 11 months if you pay a year in advance).  I ended up sharing the locker with a friend, thereby keeping my storage bill to around $40 a month, and giving me the convenience of access to my wines around the clock.  And if you are on the lookout for storage, at the date of uploading of this post, Extra Space Boon Keng still has a 288-bottle locker available, so call Javier Tong soon on +65 6771 3103.  First come first served!

I'm looking forward to seeing how this next episode in my wine adventure unfolds. I have already sustained a few cuts on my forearms from lugging my friend's OWCs into the locker! Regardless, it has been fun, and it will always be educational.  But to be honest, I am just relieved that my wines have found a new home, and that I have one less thing to be worried about.

EXTRA SPACE
301 Boon Keng Rd
Singapore 339779
Tel: +65 6771 3103 (Mr Javier Tong, Assistant Facility Manager)
Website: www.extraspace.com.sg

WINE BOND PTE LTD
14 Chin Bee Rd
Singapore 619824
Email: enquiry@winebond.net 
Tel: +65 6265 2213
Website: www.winebond.net

12 DEGREES PTE LTD
61 Lorong 17 Geylang
#02-00 Cornerstone Building
Singapore 388574
Email: log01.sg@12deg.com
Tel: +65 6732 0555
Website: www.12deg.com

5 comments:

  1. Useful post and honest restaurant reviews unlike the average "food blogger". Keep up the good work Julian.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi P,

      Woops, sorry for not replying earlier. Thanks so much for reading!

      Delete
  2. Happy New Year Julian !

    Seeking your advice - any advice on shipping wine from US (specifically California) - any recommendations on shippers/freight forwarders and cost estimates would be greatly appreciated. Cheers !

    ReplyDelete
  3. Happy New Year CyberK!

    Can you drop me an email? Details in the "About Me" tab at the top of the page. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Julian,

    I would like to give you a few corrections regarding Wine Bond:
    -Wine Bond charges storage by the bottle regardless of bottle size.
    -Wine Bond allows you to open a storage account with us even if you have less than 240 bottles. However they will have a minimum charge for 240 bots.

    The major difference between Wine Bond and Extra Space, besides receiving/shipping wines for you, is:
    -They can store duty free wines. This would be especially helpful if you buy wines from overseas and intend to store them long term.
    -All inventories are recorded for including in out date. And you will not need to have to go through all your boxes

    ReplyDelete