What do you open when you want to pull out all stops for a big celebration? Well, you can't go wrong with a 90 Grange, and I thought as a comparison, a 96 Clarendon Hills Astralis would be interesting.
The Astralis has not had much publicity lately, probably because it has become very expensive and also is quite rare. However, I just looked up its ratings at Wine Spectator and the last five vintages rated between 95 and 98 points. Not many wines would have achieved that.
Anyway, this wine worked a treat that night. Big blackberry and plum fruit, quite a mouthfull, yet elegant, still a lot of primary fruit, good length - a beautiful big wine.
Then came the Grange. And while I thought it would be hard to top the Astralis, this Grange did (not all years would have). Amazing flavour complexity, still very young. Secondary flavours are only just emerging. The wine goes on and on and finishes with soft grained tannins. The unique thing about Grange and this wine in particular was how it can be so lively at 18 years of age, while the aging allows the full complexity of the fruit to develop.
Both wines are obviously bold wines, yet they were lively and elegant. When people argue they are sick of big Shirazes and they fight the food rather than accompany it, they would do well to look at these two wines as outstanding benchmarks of first class Shiraz. Maximum flavour and elegance - it can be done.