2013 Kelman Cate’s Paddock Chardonnay

The vineyard where we live is known for making decent, but not great wines.  However, over the years, they have won a few medals and produced some exceptional wines.  I was taken by surprise today tasting the 2013 Kelman Cate’s Paddock Chardonnay.  It is magnificent for such a young wine.  Tangerine and rock melon flavors, orange citrus flavoring, nutty and honey also.  But most impressively, this wine has body!  It has medium-plus body and structure and smooth, yet full texture which fills the mouth and finishes long.

The Cate’s Paddock line is meant to be the second tier of Kelman wines, but with some of the best 2013 Chardonnay grapes and the way it has been structured, this wine should be getting some top prizes.  It will not last long at the cellar door at the price.  If you are coming through the Hunter Valley, you need to stop by Kelman Estate and definitely buy some of this wine.  After tasting it today, I picked up a dozen on the spot and will be getting another dozen to cellar for a few years – it is an outstanding buy.

2013 Kelman ChardAs it is getting into winter, we are having our first winter soup for dinner this evening.  My wife is making one of my favorites, which is wild rice and mushroom soup.  As rich and creamy as the soup is, we usually have a Montrachet to go with it, or a Penfolds Yatarnna.  However, this evening we are drinking the 2013 Kelman Cate’s Paddock Chardonnay at a fraction of the cost of a Montrachet!  This is a fine, fine wine and will be sold out soon, so make sure to stop by and get some while supplies last.  And if you do, let me know so we can share a glass together!


Steve Shipley, author Wine Sense, due out July 2014. Published by InkIT Publishing
© 2014.  Steve Shipley.  All rights reserved.
SAZ in the Cellar on Facebook
Wine Pinterest Boards
Twitter:  Steve Shipley @shipleyaust;   InkIT Publishing @inkitpub


2014 grape picking underway in Hunter Valley

This should be a spectacular vintage in The Hunter Valley.  Weather has been perfect and hopefully will hold for a while longer.  The 2013 vintage was hit by torrential late-season rains that made grape picking at the optimal time difficult and yields of great grapes low.  Based on the region and grape varietal, grape picking in Australia occurs from January to April each year.  Growing seasons are obviously dictated by the annual weather patterns and type of grape involved.  We were one of the first to start picking Chardonnay at Kelman Vineyards last week.  Tyrrell’s was also picking their Chardonnay grapes for their iconic Vat 47.

My wife, DAZ in the Kitchen,  and I have noticed since we started cooking, how much more we have have enjoyed our food, regardless if we make it ourselves or are eating out.  We are more attuned to the entire process of food preparation and better understand what seasonings, flavors and processes (steaming versus boiling,  or if the meat is seared first or not for example) are involved and how to get the most enjoyment while eating.  It is similar with wine.

2014-01-09 06.13.36

In my upcoming book, Wine Sense, I discuss a number of ways to learn more about wine and have fun doing so.  Grape picking and other volunteer work around the vineyards and winery is a great way of learning while having fun!  I have always enjoyed drinking wine, but I now enjoy it more by appreciating how each step from growing and processing the grapes to bottling has influenced the quality of the final product.  Grape picking and having the grape juice on your hands and smelling the juice in its rawest form builds anticipation for what the wine will taste like.  In one sense, my bodily senses are experiencing the wine well in advance of actually drinking it.  Talk about prolonging the experience and getting maximum value from a bottle of wine!

2014-01-09 06.16.46You also learn a great deal in a very short period of time.  You learn to identify ‘ready-to-pick’ grapes versus ‘still-growing’ grapes.  You learn to identify if a bunch or a few grapes in the bunch have become ruinous and should be discarded.  You learned how stems and leaves are introduced when grape picking and some can be all right in terms of flavor and improving tannins, but you also learn not to be too picky or your grape picking productivity slows significantly!  There are processes later on to remove the stems anyway.  And you learn to start very early, 6 am in our case, before the heat overwhelms you!

Getting involved in any aspect of vineyard management or wine making is a great way to learn and appreciate wine more!  Other ideas on getting involved are presented in Wine Sense.

Kelman Vineyards is a beautiful spot in The Hunter Valley which has about 85 home owners.  It is a cooperative vineyard with grapes, olives and lemons grown under the management of a body corporate.  There are plenty of opportunities for the owners to volunteer their time from serving at the cellar door (requires an RSA), netting the vines, picking grapes, bottling olive oil and so forth and includes picking snails off the vines if you are so inclined!  I was one of many volunteer owners who helped out with the season’s first grape picking last week.  You realize what a manual process it can be, and you learn very quickly how to cut and collect bunches of grapes without snipping yourself or wasting grapes in the process.  Grape picking is also great exercise and community involvement.

2014-01-09 07.25.21

The annual grape picking and harvesting for a vintage is an annual festivity in many regions of the world with the whole community involved.  Willian Younger in his great book, Gods Men and Wine, starts out by describing the Vintage on the Douro and how year after year, the community comes together for grape picking and harvesting.  It is a festival of celebration shared by the entire community.  Kelman has recreated a localized version of that for us as owners which I find exhilarating and an educational experience.  If you want to learn more on how to appreciate wine, get involved in grape picking and other activities in the vineyard and winery.  And may sure to look for my upcoming book, Wine Sense to learn even more!


Steve Shipley, author Wine Sense, out early 2014. Published by InkIT Publishing
© 2014.  Steve Shipley.  All rights reserved.
SAZ in the Cellar on Facebook
Wine Pinterest Boards
Twitter:  Steve Shipley @shipleyaust;   InkIT Publishing @inkitpub

The give-away wine you have been waiting for!

Last week I put up the rules to win one of two $100 bottles of wine.  Today, we will take the covers off and tell you what wine it is!  This wine cannot be sourced anywhere anymore as it is of premium stock and they are sold out at the cellar door.  There may be one or two bottles floating around in private collections, but I believe that I hold the remaining stock of several dozen bottles.  That alone makes this wine unique and somewhat special, but only if it is good wine and good wine it is!  Coming from the 2005 vintage and being a Hunter Valley Shiraz, you know this wine has to potential to be excellent.  Langtons’ rated this vintage an 8 out of 10 for Hunter Valley Shiraz.  While not the very best year, certainly an excellent year.

The wine for the give-away is the 2005 Kelman Chairman’s Reserve Shiraz.  Kelman is a cooperative vineyard in Pokolbin, at the corner of Marrowbone Road and Oakey Creek Road, just across from Saddler’s Creek in the Lower Hunter Valley.  They grow their own grapes and the Shiraz vines are about 15 years old now.  They have only made two vintages of the Chairman’s Reserve Shiraz, first in 2003 and then again in 2005.  These two vintages reserved (hence the name!) the very best Shiraz grapes for these Reserve wines.  Halliday rated the 2003 Kelman Chairman’s Reserve Shiraz as excellent and scored it 93/100.  He did not rate the 2005, but I can attest that it is the better wine.  I know because I have drank both the 2003 and 2005 Kelman Chairman’s Reserve Shiraz side-by-side a few years back and had a bottle of the 2005 Kelman Chairman’s Reserve Shiraz just a few days ago.  This is a big wine with live, juicy fruit and plum and blackberry flavors.  It is an earthy wine, with smells and texture of leather, yet beautifully balanced with moderate tannins which are well integrated.  It also has a touch of oak and a very long finish.  While you can tell it is a Hunter Valley Shiraz, its style is similar to a big Barossa Valley Shiraz.

After having this wine a few days ago, I wondered why I was giving such a great bottle away!  But I wanted to make the give-away special and not just any good bottle you could pick up in a bottle shop or buy at auction.  This is a wonderful wine, suitable for drinking today, but it will continue to improve and last into the early 2020s.  If you win one of the two bottles, your most difficult choice will be to drink it right away or set it down for a while!

Remember to ‘Like’ SAZ in the Cellar on Facebook, or to ‘SUBSCRIBE TO BLOG VIA EMAIL’ for this blog to have a chance to win.  We will ship a bottle for each winner anywhere in the world and that includes our cost of shipping!  So easy and such a great bottle of wine which is available for you to win.  If you need further explanation or want to review the rules for entering (such as being of legal age to drink wine!), you can review my previous post on the matter.  Enter now and win!


Steve Shipley, author Wine Sense, out early 2014. Published by InkIT Publishing
© 2013.  Steve Shipley
SAZ in the Cellar on Facebook
Wine Pinterest Boards
Twitter:  Steve Shipley @shipleyaust;   InkIT Publishing @inkitpub


What a weekend hoot discussing party wines on Food in Focus

We have had so much going on the last few weeks, both work-wise and personally, it seemed we did not get an evening together at home for several weeks.  This meant I was tired going into my 60th birthday party weekend.  Fortunately, surrounded by great friends, great food and great wine, I was able to pick myself up to make it through the weekend.  And even more fortunately, I had some leftover 2006 Penfolds Yatarnna and some 2005 Chateau Haut Bergeron which I am drinking now while blogging!

With friends from the US and Melbourne in town, we had five of us for a fabulous meal at Fish on the Rocks with great matching wines Friday evening. And then the bigger affair with 11 of us on Saturday evening with an outstanding wine and food line-up cooked by Jay Huxley, Masterchef finalist and his crew.  But first I want to discuss the fun I had participating in Food in Focus radio show Saturday afternoon.  This is a regular Saturday feature at 4 pm which Natascha Moy has been hosting for four and a half years now on FM 89.7 radio.

We had great fun.  Natascha always has three guests from various aspects of the food and wine industry.  I was privileged to be on the show with Lisa Margan, owner and proprietor of Margan Estates in Broke in the Hunter Valley, and with Nick Wills, owner and Brad Sloane, the chef of The Riverview Hotel at 29 Birchgrove Road in Balmain, NSW.

I have been to Margans several times and have some of their great 2003 White Label Shiraz and their 2006 Barbera in my cellar.  It is a beautiful setting for doing a tasting, having a meal, or even for getting married!  I have not been to the The Riverview Hotel, but will definitely try it now that I have sampled some of these guys food!  And if I remember correctly, they do a very nice pizza for $20 and on Tuesday, you can get two for $20!

I was the ‘wild card’ wine guy for the show.  I brought along three bottles of wines as representative party wines.  The wines I brought were the 2010 Vavasour Pinot Gris from New Zealand, the 2009 Tyrrell’s Verdelho, and the 2005 Kelman Shiraz, both from the Hunter Valley.  The winning wine among the guests was the first one we opened and tasted, which was the 2010 Vavasour Pinot Gris.  It had a very smooth texture, and mandarin and a bit of grapefruit flavorings.  And everyone really seemed to enjoy a New Zealand white wine which was not a Sauvignon Blanc!

So what did I have to say about party wine?  It can be summarized as follows:

  • You don’t need to spend more than $20 per bottle for party wines and you can still impress.  All three bottles I brought along were between $12 – $18.
  • Don’t bring Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc as everyone else is bringing those, so bring something else to provide some choice.
  • Parties can get warm if there are a lot of people or if outside, so if you are only bringing one bottle, make it a white wine.
  • Good white party wines can be Pinot Gris or Verdelho which are easy and enjoyable to drink on their own and go with canapes, dim sum, etc.  A Marsanne would not go as well or be appreciated by a wide variety of people.  A Semillon or Gewürztraminer would be ok, but not have the wide-spread appeal that a Pinot Gris or Verdelho would on its own.
  • If you are bringing a red wine, try a secondary grape to treat people to something different.  A Barbera, Tempranillo, or Sangiovese is different and easy to drink.
  • Or bring something unusual or a bit more personal.  That is the reason I brought along the Kelman Shiraz, as it can only be bought at the cellar door, and it is associated with the winery where I have a place to live.
  • Don’t bring a bottle of wine if you do not know how it will taste or are trying to recycle a bottle received from someone else!

I really enjoyed previously listening to Food in Focus and now have really enjoyed being part of the show.  Each week has different topics and guests and is a continual learning experience for anyone interested in food or wine!  Check it out