I went into the vault a few days ago to get a special bottle out. I had reason to celebrate. My book Barossa Shiraz - Discovering The Tastes Of The Barossa's Regions has made the shortlist of best wine book of the year by Wine Communicators of Australia. The wine oscars are on 19 November. My chances to win are low, but being in the top three, next to Tyson Stelzer's Champagne Guide, is pretty good, I reckon.
So a 1989 Penfolds Grange Hermitage was called for. The start wasn't so good. The wine had a very high shoulder, but the cork crumbled into 1000 pieces. However, a good sieve kept the glasses fairly cork free. 1989 is not regarded as a particularly strong year, but I found the wine very solid and displaying an intriguing flavour profile.
The colour of the wine was garnet, as you would expect, the aromas were lively, and on the palate, there was an unusual combination of elder-flower and lifted alcohol, a bit like a cognac. So, a fair bit of the fruit was gone, but there was enough left to keep the wine together. The wine still had some depth and intensity. This is the amazing thing about Grange: its ability to age and maintain the structure, even in an average year. As an aside, at the time, the bottle was less than $100.