The 2008 Penfolds Grange has been named a perfect wine by American critics Wine Spectator and Robert Parker and received 98 points, the highest score by James Halliday in his latest Wine Companion. It is therefore the most highly rated Australian table wine ever, I think.
Yesterday I had the chance to have a tiny taste of the new Grange. Obviously, top quality fruit has gone into it. The wine is made in the traditional way, finishing its fermentation in large American oak. The intensity of the fruit and the big body indicate it is a Grange from a strong year. What is amazing is the elegance this wine achieves already despite the power. The wine has perfect structure and the expected long and lasting finish.
Now comes my gripe: on the mid palate, I tasted a really sweet core which was not balanced by any savoury characteristics. This makes the wine too much in your face. Yes, it is meant to make a powerful statement, but for a perfect wine, I expect ripe fruit to be held in check. I did not find this on this occasion.
My taste was very small. I will have a chance to taste this wine again in a couple of weeks. I will report if my assessment will change as a result. If I could pay for these bottles, I would put my money for 2008s on Henschke's Hill of Grace.