Making red wine ice cream

Vintec, the wine storage company, displayed this recipe on Facebook and I thought I would share it since I took the time to translate the recipe from Spanish to English (OK, Google Translator helped a little bit!).  I was going to write another post on why you need to build a cellar, but that will wait another day now.  I have two Vintec wine storage lockers and they are great.  But again that will be the focus of another post.  For now, I am going to explore making red wine ice cream.  I have not tried this yet, but will give it a go next weekend when we are in the Hunter Valley for a long weekend and let you know the results.  If any of you try it before I do, please write to tell me how it turned out.

Red wine ice cream.The recipe calls for:

  • A bottle of red wine
  • 150g sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 250ml cream
  • 300ml whole milk
  • cinnamon stick

This is not actually a recipe so much as just an ingredient list!  I am sure you could substitute a half-teaspoon cinnamon powder for the stick.  And if you want to make it a bit creamier and smoother texture, use six egg yolks instead of only four.  Then just whip it up in a blender and put into a container to freeze.  I am guessing a more elegant, finer red wine works better than heavier, coarser red wine.  I would use a Pinot Noir or a Zinfandel.  And a full bottle seems to be quite a bit, so you may want to use half a bottle first, then taste, and determine if you need to add more.

Based on the quality of the wine, this could be a pretty expensive dessert.  But it does look delicious and we will give it a try!  Once I know more and can recommend more, I will write an update about our experience making it and how it tasted.  Please let me know if you try it first!


Steve Shipley, author Wine Sense, out early 2014. Published by InkIT Publishing
© 2013.  Steve Shipley
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Win a $100 bottle of wine give-away!

I have been growing a social media presence, but one without significant influence or success to date.  I am the first to admit I am a neophyte and I do not work as hard to increase my presence as I can.  I also get a bit cranky when I realize my writing and copy-writing efforts are suppose to focus on ‘gaming’ Google by targeting my content and copy-writing for Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  I love writing for an audience, not Google!  But people tell me that is naive, so I continue to learn and continue to work at it.  I now have a social media strategy, or at least a ‘to-do’ list of things to try.

I have seen a lot of other writer’s conduct virtual blog tours and provide a give-away to help drive up traffic (and ultimately to sell more books).  I am providing a guest blog tour for a writer friend in a few weeks.  But by just providing a beauty package give-away, my wife, Deanna’s World, drove significant new traffic to her YouTube channel.  During that time, her subscription based doubled, increasing significantly, and she had a lot of people sign up for the give-away.  And fortunately, her AdSense revenue also doubled because a lot more people were viewing her videos and clicking through to related ads.

I must say that I have been impressed and have learned a lesson in how to effectively attract social media.  That is why I have decided to copy her idea!  I will now be doing a give-away for following my wine Facebook page (SAZ in the Cellar), and for subscribing and following my wine blog and website (also called SAZ in the Cellar).  Since my upcoming book Wine Sense is still several months from being published, I will be offering a special bottle of a 2005 Reserve Hunter Valley Shiraz which is no longer available to give-away to the general public.  The wine is very approachable and can be drunk immediately, or it will last into the early-mid 2020s (if you have the discipline to keep it that long!).

It is a great wine, and unique in that it is not available from any other source (unless you find someone who has a bottle or two from a while back still in their cellar).  I was fortunate to buy the last several dozen of this wine a few years back.  The wine is worth $100 per bottle and has been cherished when received by select business colleagues and visiting Chinese diplomats among others.

I will be giving two bottles away, wherever you may be located anywhere in the world!  One will be awarded if you are the lucky draw from those of who ‘Like’ my Facebook page, SAZ in the Cellar.  The other will be awarded similarly if you are the lucky draw from the group who Subscribes to follow my blog and website, SAZ in the Cellar.  Feel free to join both and be in for two chances to win!  I will be introducing the wine and drawing up the simple rules and conditions  over the next few days, but by Liking Facebook or Subscribing to my blog now, you will be notified when the rules come out and how long we have to go before announcing the winners!

And be sure to help me out as I don’t like losing to my wife, Deanna’s World, and right now I am getting crushed!


Steve Shipley, author Wine Sense, out early 2014. Published by InkIT Publishing
© 2013.  Steve Shipley
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Is a red wine diet a real diet?

There are many forms of diets available and frankly, I think most are crap.  Anything that is counter to your normal lifestyle is not sustainable.  I believe you need to change your lifestyle and your choices a little bit at a time, and then make sure they are sustainable.  When I have tried dieting previously, I have seen quick results only to backslide after some period of time.  I love drinking wine, I love eating great food and I have always loved my snacks, be they potato chips, popcorn, ice cream or chocolate.


Over the last two months, I have lost 13 pounds (6 kgs) and have been happy about the results.  But I have done that before only to have backslid sometime later and put the weight back on again.  But this time, I have notice something different.  I am still eating the same amount of food for a main meal, but I have been able to substitute my previous poor choice of snacks with healthier ones and be content doing that.  The giant Kit Kat bar with 900 calories or the bowl of microwave popcorn with 500 calories has been replaced by an apple at 45 calories.  If I feel the need for a small sweet treat, I have one piece of chocolate at 70 calories, or a small piece of homemade baked banana, zucchini, or carrot cake with about 125 calories.  I am not munching on the six or so biscuits I used to eat every day at work, nor am I eating multiple chocolates or having multiple treats in a single sitting after dinner.  That’s it – that’s all I did and I have dropped 13 pounds.

Fortunately, I did not require eliminating wine or even cutting down on wine.  I am drinking the exact same amount of wine I had before.  Wine is not high in calories.  150 ml glass (about 5 ounces) is 125 calories.  This means an entire bottle of wine is only 625 calories on average.  I can have half a bottle wine every day and  consume only about 300 – 325 calories which is about the third the caloric intake as the giant Kit Kat bar I mentioned earlier.  Once I knew this trade-off, I gave up the mass consumption of unhealthy snacks and allowed myself to keep drinking wine.  Wine is satisfying and it is also good for you, if you are drinking two or three glasses per day.

In my upcoming book, I recommend a lot of other books for reading, including two on wine diets.  There is good science supporting a wine diet along with other healthy foods.  For me or almost anyone else to lose weight, there are many other things you should give up or constrain before you need to consider limiting your wine intake.  I won’t go into the details here as they are presented in the books.  I have included excerpts from my upcoming book which describes two wine diet books.  a description of them follows:

The Red Wine Diet (Roger Corder): The Red Wine Diet credibly explains the health benefits of red wine. It shows how to use appropriate amounts of red wine to provide an increase in antioxidants and lower hypertension to improve overall health. It goes further and provides healthy food recipes into an overall lifestyle plan of which wine and particularly red wine are an integrated component of that healthy lifestyle. I found this book useful, if a bit detailed in the science, but it is the explanation of the science which makes it credible. Minimally, this book reduced guilt associated with drinking a bit of wine almost every day and has encouraged me to continue to enjoy wine as part of a healthy lifestyle.

Age Gets Better With Wine: New Science for a Healthier, Better & Longer Life (Richard Baxter, MD): This text is similar to The Red Wine Diet, but an easier and more enjoyable read. It focuses less on the scientific understanding of ‘why’ to follow the diet and focuses more on ‘how’ to follow the diet and what to do. However, it is still very credible.

Either one of these wine diet books is a great read. Since it involves your health and your passion for wine, I recommend reading both as they provide somewhat different perspectives, and the combination of both provides a number of useful tips, some which may work best for your situation.


Steve Shipley, author Wine Sense, out early 2014. Published by InkIT Publishing
© 2013.  Steve Shipley
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A perfect food and wine match

My wife, DAZ in the Kitchen, is making a magnificent slow cooked beef with mushrooms and barley for this evening!  I have been smelling it cook for the last two hours and getting ravenous!  We will have a serve of Quinoa and a light salad as sides. With such a combinations of flavors going on, we thought a nice Bordeaux style blend would go really well with this meal.  I have had one bottle left of the 1992 Lindeman’s Pyrus which I have been saving to enjoy with some friends, but we just have not been able to arrange a meal together (well, we did, but had a bottle of the 2001 Henscke Hill of Grace with that meal).  Fortunately for them, we still have two bottles of the 1992 Lindeman’s Limestone Ridge which I am sure we will drink together.

1992 Pyrus in Riedel Bordeaux Grand CruThe ’92 Pyrus is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc.  I love this blend as each flavor comes through.  I have written about this wine previously, when I pulled a bottle out and we had it with soup!  You can refer to that post to get a review of the wine.  As with that bottle, the cork was perfect on and the sample of wine I had while decanting indicates that this is a slightly fresher and fruitier bottle than the last one we tried.  It should be a perfect match for the dinner.  We once again will be serving this wine in the Riedel Vimun XL Grand Cru Bordeaux glass to get maximum enjoyment from the wine.  The only thing that beats a perfect food and wine match is the same thing, but serving the wine in a Riedel glass!  I discuss the benefits of using proper glassware and taste in my upcoming wine book at some length.  For a synopsis on why proper glassware is important, review my previous post on Riedel glassware.

This meal and wine will be special.  I am sorry we could no longer save our last bottle for dear friends, but we have more than enough ‘last’ bottles to share with them – more than we can find time to drink them all.  So it was with some regret, but more excitement that we opened our last bottle of the 1992 Lindeman’s Pyrus to match our wonderful beef dinner this evening.

Now that Daz in the Kitchen has rebuilt her computer and is catching up from helping me with a number of technical and publishing issues, she should be able to get a post with the recipe out soon.  In fact, she just wrote the post with the recipe, and I am sharing with you here.

While you are unlikely to find a bottle of the 1992 Lindeman’s Pyrus to go with this meal, any good Bordeaux blend or a blend such as the Rosemount Traditional should work just fine.  Just make sure it is a Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blend and optionally either Malbec or Cabernet Franc.  A Shiraz blend or a GSM (Grenache, Shiraz, Mouvedre) is likely to be too heavy.

Steve Shipley, author Wine Sense, out early 2014. Published by InkIT Publishing
© 2013.  Steve Shipley
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1998 Tyrrell’s Vat 9 Shiraz – will it work with pork?!

I am experimenting this evening by opening a Shiraz to go with pork fillet, mash, vegetables and gravy.  Usually I would play it safe and go with a good Pinot Noir for this meal.  It is difficult to find a much better food / wine matching combination than a Pinot Noir with pork!

But I really wanted to try another bottle of the 1998 Tyrrell’s Vat 9 as it is a superb wine and at 15 years of age, I needed to check it out to make sure (that’s my excuse and I am sticking to it!) it will cellar for a while yet as I have about a ten bottles left.  I don’t want to wait too long, but I do want to pace drinking this wine over the next several years or longer if I can.  I would hate to wait too long and have it go off, as it is drinking very well now, but I am hoping to make it last as long as I can.

I have a great deal of respect for James Halliday and subscribe to his wine service.  But he missed the mark when evaluating this wine as he gave it an 86/100 and said to drink it by 2008.  This wine is still very big, yet elegant, with lively fruit, tasting of blackberry with light overtones of spice and leather.  It is well integrated, and nicely balanced with strong tannins.  The finish is moderate to long, and you can feel the accumulated tannins on the inside of your cheeks for a long time.  This is an excellent wine, regardless of how Halliday and others scored it.

I had this wine as one of my three red wines at my 58th birthday party over two years ago.  This was the first red, followed by the 2001 Yalumba Octavius Shiraz and the 1981 Penfolds Grange.  All three red wines were spectacular, but the 1998 Tyrrell’s Vat 9 got the consensus vote for the best red wine of the evening.  It could be that it was the sequencing and by the time we drank the 1981 Penfolds Grange, we were over-satiated.  Or it could be that the 1998 Tyrrell’s Vat 9 is just that good!

So why is having a Shiraz a risk with pork?  It is because a Hunter Valley (and many other) Shiraz’ are heavier and spicier than most Pinot Noirs and could overwhelm the pork and side dishes.  But the 1998 Tyrrell’s Vat 9 is an elegant, more refined Shiraz than many others.  I know it will be fine with the pork dinner and wanted to see if it works to provide some variety from always using a Pinot Noir with pork.  If not, I will go back to Pinot Noir!  But if you don’t try, you will never know!

I have also had this wine with spaghetti and it worked very well.  My wife, DAZ in the Kitchen, makes a very fine and spicy spaghetti and the 1998 Tyrrell’s Vat 9 matched up extremely well with it.  This is a versatile Shiraz!  Andrew Thomas made this wine while still at Tyrrell’s and I remember talking to Andrew about it several years ago and the fond memories he had for this particular vintage.

On its own, this is a great wine (I know as I am on my second glass while writing this) and it should be fine with the meal.  I will let you know in a follow-up blog post how it works with the pork.  And once I finish off the last of my 1998 Tyrrell’s Vat 9, I will move onto the 2007 Tyrrells’ Vat 9.  In fact, I will probably try my first bottle this weekend or next to see how it goes.  Halliday rated the 2007 Vat 9 at 95/100 and drinkable until 2025.  Campbell Mattinson rated it 96/100 and as one of the best reds released in 2010/11. This must be an amazing wine!  But for now, I am drinking the 1998 and greatly enjoying it.


Steve Shipley, author Wine Sense, out early 2014. Published by InkIT Publishing
© 2013.  Steve Shipley
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1999 Penfolds St Henri – wow, what a red!

This is one of my all-time favorite red wines.  I started drinking it almost a decade ago and it was great then, and is even better now.  This wine has a few more years before it starts to fade, but I only have two more bottles left, so not a worry.  But if you have some of it in your cellar, you should drink it soon, at least in the next three years.

I had a funny introduction to this wine the first time.  I was in Dallas in 2004 on a business trip with some very senior banking executives and trying to a very large IT contract extension.  There were eight of us eating at a fancy steak house as you can only find in Dallas!  One of my team was a Frenchman, so the client asked him to order some fine wine.  Well this particular Frenchman did not do a very good job ordering the first bottle, and I looked at the one of the key client’s face when he took a sip and could tell he was not happy with the wine.  I took the wine list and while not familiar with the Penfolds St Henri of any vintage at the time, I figured a Penfolds red in this price range would be a pretty good wine without me spending several times as much for a Penfolds Magill Estate or RWT.  I ordered a bottle, could tell the client thought I had made a great choice (the smile and thumbs up were evidence enough!), and subtly pushed the bottle the Frenchman ordered down to the other end of the table to be consumed.  And six bottles of 1999 Penfolds St Henri later, we left the restaurant very happy!

I then introduced my wife, DAZ in the Kitchen, to this particular wine about a year later when I found it on the wine list at a restaurant in Sydney.  She loved it and it continued to be a favorite choice for a few years when eating out during the mid-2000s.  And upon returning from Qatar in 2009, we bought some to keep in the cellar as you could no longer find it in restaurants.  This weekend is our 12th wedding anniversary, so we are celebrating by opening one of our last bottles and enjoying tonight and tomorrow night (if there is any left!).

This is not the best vintage, but still an excellent vintage.  The 1996 vintage would have been slightly better and also will last another decade longer, so if you read this review and want to secure some St Henri, either buy the 1999 and drink it soon, or buy some of the 1996 or 1998 which you can drink now and lay some down for later.

The1999 Penfolds St Henri is a lively, fruity wine with blackberry, boysenberry and tart plum flavors.  It also has a lot of spice and goes extremely well with chili infused dark chocolate.  I know that from previous wine / chocolate matching events, but more importantly I know that as my mouth is currently filled with this wine after eating a square of the Lindt Chili dark chocolate!  Wow – what a combination!

The wine also has big tannins and is moderately heavy on the palate.  It is 14% alcohol, but certainly not over the top.  It is a complex wine with a lot of nuance.  It has the mouth feel and slight odor of wet leather.  The finish lasts a long, long time.

We will be making a rice with seared beef dish tonight to have with the wine, but frankly, we will probably finish off the bottle before dinner.  We are two-thirds the way through it already.  It just goes down so easily!

James Halliday has mentioned that compared to the Penfolds Grange, that the St Henri is certainly under-valued given what a great wine it is.  This is a perfect example of wine economics.  I would always take eight or nine bottles of the current vintage St Henri over one Penfolds Grange and that is the current exchange rate between the two wines.  Frankly, it’s a no-brainer to go with many bottles of St Henri over Grange.

I will finish this post the same way I started it:   wow, what a red!


Steve Shipley, author Wine Sense, out early 2014. Published by InkIT Publishing
© 2013.  Steve Shipley
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Red wines from secondary grapes to be discussed on Food in Focus with Natascha Moy!

I once again have the privilege of being a guest on Natascha’s great food and wine show, Food in Focus.  It will be on Saturday, 18 May at 4 pm Sydney time.  If you are dialing (does anyone truly have a dial on their radio anymore?) in, it is 89.7 FM in Sydney, Australia or can be found and heard over the Internet as Food in Focus.

Natascha is always great fun and mixes it up well.  The first time I was on the show, we talked about party winesThe next time, we sampled and discussed Rieslings.  This time we are going to be discussing wines made from secondary red wine grapes.  The four primary red wine grapes are:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Shiraz
  • Merlot
  • Pinot Noir

A majority of red wine is made from these primary grape sources.  Yet, I have fallen in love with the different mouth feel, textures and variety of the so-called secondary grapes.  They are only secondary when referring to the volume of grapes sold as wine.  They make some great, great wines.  Examples of secondary wine grapes include:

  • Sangiovese
  • Zinfandel
  • Tempranillo
  • Durif
  • Barbero
  • Grenache (is considered by some to be a primary red wine grape)
  • … and many more!

There might be over 1,000 different wine grapes now.  What I love about the secondary grapes is that they have real character and sense of terroir.  They uniquely reflect the region where they are grown, more so than primary red grapes.  The primary grapes have been replanted so many times and so far around the world and have been groomed to reflect the strength of the varietal.  Secondary grapes have far more diversity and different characteristics based on where they are grown.  This is not to say that primary red wine grapes do not reflect their terrior – they certainly do.  And they make some great wines.  But the secondary red wine grapes make wines which are all over the place, picking up the local climatic and soil traits and the influence of various wine makers not yet familiar with the grape, and therefore, can sometimes take on unique characteristics which make then truly special.

I am not sure exactly what bottles I will be bringing tomorrow.  I am still figuring that out this evening and tomorrow morning.  But as always, it should be a great show.  Tune in if you can!


Steve Shipley, author Wine Sense, out early 2014. Published by InkIT Publishing
© 2013.  Steve Shipley
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A Cabernet Sauvignon without peer

I am just finishing off a bottle of one of the very best Cabernet Sauvignon wines I have ever had.  I was very fortunate to have bought 21 bottles of this wine and have about 18 left.  It was one of those deals where I tasted the wine, knew it was a winner, and the wine maker was willing to deal as he was ready to be stocking and selling more current vintages.  I paid $45 per bottle for it and it was a steal!  It compares with imported Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux blends which cost several hundred dollars per bottle.

It is truly an amazing wine.  I shared a bottle last year with one of my friends who is a wine judge and critic and likes his Cabernet Sauvignon wine.  He called it ‘ethereal.’  The wine I am referring to is the 2005 Saddler’s Creek Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.

This wine has large tannins for a Cabernet Sauvignon and coats the inside of your cheeks providing a very long finish.  It possesses strong blackberry and boysenberry flavors.  While more robust than elegant Grand Cru Bordeaux’s, it is still refined, beautifully balanced and ripe with giant, live fruit flavors.

I had this wine with a Waygu cheeseburger a few nights ago and it would go great with almost any cut of firm and slightly marbled steak.  This wine is also drinkable on its own as it is so ripe in fruit – it is almost a meal in itself!

I will be careful to allocate this wine over a long period of time as it has at least another ten years of optimum drinking pleasure.  It is a pure delight to drink.  I have had the bottle open for three days now and it is as fresh as when I opened it.

The grapes for this wine are from Langhorne Creek which is well known for some great Cabernet Sauvignon wines.  I drink more Shiraz than Cabernet Sauvignon, but this is a full-bodied red wine and truly enjoyable.  There are not many Cabernet Sauvignon wines or blends you can chew on, but this is one of them.

I have searched high and low and have not found this wine for sale anywhere and expect that most stock has been consumed.  There may be some in a private cellar or two similar to mine, but it will be a difficult wine to source, so I am almost reluctant to promote its praises.  But I wanted to in case you ever do come across a bottle, you will know to scoop it up without question.

Or if you want to try a bottle, then convince me to have a dinner with you, bring a great bottle yourself and I will bring a bottle of the 2005 Saddler’s Creek Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon to share!


Steve Shipley, author Wine Sense, out early 2014. Published by InkIT Publishing
© 2014.  Steve Shipley
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Mother Nature makes a real mess of 2013 Hunter Valley vintage

I had recently published a post where I stated the 2013 Hunter Valley vintage would be among the best of all time.  The content for that post was written in early January, 2013.  However, just before harvesting the bulk of grapes for the 2013 vintage, Mother Nature has deluged the Hunter Valley vineyards persistently and forcibly over the last six weeks.  This has turned the 2013 Hunter vintage from superior to below average on the whims of Mother Nature, God, or some force of bad karma.

The tonnage will be far less than expected and the quality of the grapes far less also.  Many grapes were picked too early, too late, or worst of all – not at all.

I spent a lot of time in the Hunter Valley this vintage and saw the growth of the vines and grapes through almost perfect weather conditions.  My excitement and anticipation of both a large and high quality haul of grapes was unprecedented.  After buying a lot of the 2007 Shiraz vintage and some of the 2009 Shiraz vintage, I was excited that 2013 would be a better vintage than either the 2007 or 2009.

But damn if Mother Nature did not wreak its havoc!  Six straight weeks of tumultuous rain had crippled, if not destroyed the harvest.  The cooperative vineyard where we have a place just released their vintage notes with less than satisfactory results.  I have been following the harvesting schedules of  many of the Hunter wineries and they have had to pick early, late or not pick at all.

There will of course be selected pockets of success and the big growers such as Tyrrell’s will have picked as optimally as anyone possibly could have.  But overall, the rain in such a short period of time has turned a once in a decade vintage to an inferior one.  I really feel for the growers and the wine makers.  They may be making 25% – 40% (purely a speculated guess on my behalf!) what they could have had the rain held off.  Why, oh why, is Mother Nature so cruel to wine makers?  And why tempt us all with the promise of such a great vintage to have it mostly destroyed through rain and more rain?

I am heart broken for the Hunter wineries, yet some of them will still do all right.  Bruce Tyrrell will of course still claim it is the vintage of the century as he does most years!  (And having followed in detail the harvesting by Tyrrell’s, they seemed to have done as well as they could!)  But many of the smaller wineries would be suffering and wondering why they are in the game at all.  It is one thing to have dry conditions and add a little in irrigation when necessary.  But when you have torrential rains, there is nothing you can do, especially so late in the season.

But so is the cycle of life. And next year is another year.  And many will fail and many will prosper in 2014.  But I was looking to 2013 as the year that many of the coffers of the Hunter Valley wineries would be lined to provide a buffer for future years and that will not happen now due to the cruelty of Mother Nature.

I hope to hear good news from some of the vineyards as to their success in picking grapes at the right time, but am not hopeful that the Hunter Valley overall will have a great vintage when only two months ago, it look like it would be one of the best of all time.

A roll of the dice against the Gods and once more the Gods made their lesson known.  So is the unpredictability and excitement of being a wine grower or wine maker.  Not for the faint of heart!


Steve Shipley, author Wine Sense, out early 2014. Published by InkIT Publishing
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2007 Hunter Valley Shiraz, featuring the Wyndham Estate Black Cluster Shiraz

2013 looks to be a spectacular year for Hunter Valley wine.  We have been visiting the region frequently during the growing season and the climate and precipitation have been close to perfect.  Last year was almost a total loss with far too much rain making the grapes moldy or bursting them before picking, causing most grapes to be lost.  And the ones that were saved were likely picked too early and lacked the full fruit flavor that most vintages should have.

Having returned from Qatar in middle of 2009, we were able to taste a number of the 2007 Hunter Valley Shiraz’ as the premium brands were just being bottled and released.  I fell in love with the 2007 Hunter Valley Shiraz vintage and purchased at least a dozen of about 14 different brands (and four more different brands of the 2007 Hunter Valley Shiraz vintage where I have a least a couple of bottles), so I would be able to enjoy and compare them for many years to come.  I thought it would be a fascinating journey to see how each wine developed over the next decade when compared against its peers.  With that in mind, and when tasting the 2007 vintage, I tried to think about how this wine would taste in ten years time.  While some wines were already mellow and very drinkable right away, I was looking for and trying to appreciate which ones were too tight currently, but had the big fruit and complexity to mature into a beautiful wine over the next 5 – 10 years.

I set all of them down in the cellar until 2010, but then would drink an occasional bottle.  Among my favorites were the 2007 McWilliams Mount Pleasant Maurice O’Shea, and the 2007 De Iuliis Reserve.  However, there are many excellent brands from the Hunter Valley in 2007, each outstanding in their own right.  The difference in quality between most of the wines listed below would not be more than several points out of 100.

The wines are now six years old and starting to drink extremely well.  Whenever I need a very good Shiraz and do not want to dip into my last bottles of pre-millenium Grange, St Henri, or Vat 9, I will now retrieve a bottle of a 2007 Hunter Valley Shiraz.  I have a lot of them including:

  • McWilliams Mount Pleasant Maurice O’Shea
  • De Iuliis Reserve
  • Tyrrell’s Vat 9
  • Tyrrell’s Stevens
  • Tulloch Hector
  • Glandore Hamish
  • Brokenwood Graveyard
  • Thomas Kiss
  • Thomas DJV
  • Meerea Park Alexander Munro
  • Meerea Park Hell Hole
  • Meerea Park Terracotta
  • Audrey Wilkinson Museum Reserve
  • Pokolbin Estate Reserve
  • Pooles Rock HV
  • Rothvale
  • Saddler’s Creek Best Barrique (blend of Hunter Valley and Langhorne Creek grapes)
  • Wyndham Estate Black Cluster

All of these wines are excellent wines, and will last at least another decade, but being six years in bottle already, they are a true delight to start drinking now, so that is what I plan to do.  (Some, however, like the 2007 Meerea Park Alexander Munro are so big though that they need at least another three years before even attempting them.)

Today, I am having a bottle of the 2007 Wyndham Estate Black Cluster.  This is their premier Shiraz and is an excellent wine.  I first had this wine when attending a wine and chocolate matching course at Wyndham Estates last year.  We had a chili flavor induced dark chocolate and this wine was an excellent match, being powerful and confident enough to stand up to chili chocolate!

Drinking it on its own now, you can tell this is a bold wine with many more years left to help it mature.  I may not drink my next bottle for another 5 – 10 years.  It has bold, powerful fruit flavors, strongly tasting of plum, cherry and blackberry with some spice.  It does not possess as strong a pepper taste as some Hunter Valley Shiraz, but you can still tell it is from the Hunter Valley  It also has full tannins, yet a smooth, elegant texture to match the great taste.  This wine has deservedly won four Gold Medals.

When drinking the 2007 Wyndham Estate Black Cluster, and recently having sampled the 2007 McWilliams Mount Pleasant Maurice O’Shea and the 2007 De Iuliis Reserve, I have been surprised to find out how similar these wines are.  These are definitely Hunter Valley Shiraz as compared to Victorian or Barossa Valley Shiraz.  These wines have slight nuances and their own unique characteristics, but they are more similar than different.  It would be very difficult to pick these wines out in a blind tasting.

What excites me about the similarity is that the wine makers let the quality of the grape from the 2007 vintage rule the day.  They did not get in the way and try to manufacture a unique outcome for their wine.  They let the natural flavor of the grape grown with Hunter Valley terroir do the job for them with this resulting in an  excellent batch of wines.

I bought so much 2007 Hunter Valley Shiraz and a little 2009 Hunter Valley Shiraz.  2008 and 2012 were bust vintages.  2010 was ‘fine’ and 2011 was also considered quite exceptional, but I did not buy any of those vintages as I have so much of the 2007, but am starting to work through them more rapidly now.  As great as the 2013 Hunter Valley vintage looks, I may pick up some of those also to compare to the 2007 and also just because some of the best winemakers such as Michael De Iuliis, PJ Charteris, and Andrew Thomas are also working with some new sources of grapes (for example Michael now has access to the Stevens Vineyard, one of the best Shiraz vineyards in the Hunter Valley) and I am excited to find out what these wine makers can do with the very best grapes around!

Riedel Vinum Shiraz glassware

If you are looking for a good Shiraz and find a bottle of 2007 Hunter Valley Shiraz, you can feel pretty confident that you will be picking up a very good to excellent bottle, no matter how much you pay for it.  These wines deserve to be served in the Riedel Vinum Shiraz glassware also.  They are so big and powerful, that frankly no other glass in my opinion will do.