Friday, January 1, 2021

Penfolds Grange

 The third wine in this trio of indulgence was Grange, of course. I was tempted to open a 2010 as well, the last vintage I bought of this wine. However, I felt this would not have been near its peak yet, so I decided for a 1998 Penfolds Grange. This wine had been recorked at the recorking clinic in 2016. This is a terrific service by Penfolds. First, the wine is opened to check on its quality. Then a couple of thimbles of new wine (in this case Grange 2010) get added to the wine. As a result, there is a threefold benefit: a new cork, very high shoulder, and a bit of refreshment, if you like). 

Note the very high shoulder of this 22 years old wine

The 1998 Grange performed very much as expected. I previously described Grange built like a skyscraper; the structure is wide and long. This makes the wine unique and instantly recognizable. Blood plum, blackberry, mocca, and meaty flavours dominate the layered profile.

This is a big and ripe wine, but it is smooth just the same. The tannins are coarse, but balanced by the massive fruit weight, and supported by enough acidity to keep the wine lively. The finish is huge, almost moving back up the throat (I have not experienced this before). Thankfully, the wine is not hot on the finish. The dominant feature of this wine is power, with elegance playing a support role. In the last 10 years, there has been a gradual shift to more elegance.

This 1998 Grange is still fresh and will live well for at least another 15 years.

Score: 97/+++ 


Anonymous said...

Hi Thomas,
I’d be interested in your personal preference in regard to the 10 year shift to elegance of Grange you speak of, and secondly what you believe was the catalyst for this change?

Happy New Year

Alontin said...

Good to hear from you again, Colin. You raise a really interesting question. On the surface, it is obvious. Who would not want a wine to be more elegant? At the same time, the fruit weight and power of Grange is its uniqueness and makes the wine immediately recognisable. So personally I would want to see a shift to more elegance without losing the signature of Grange. This would be quite a balancing act. Given this is such an important issue, I should find a way to taste more recent Grange somehow.

What is driving this shift? A couple of things. One, Robert Parker and his Wine Advocate (no longer his), the biggest voice for full-bodied and ripe red wines, have lost some influence. Secondly, many wine critics have been critical of alcoholic and ripe wines from South Australia, and some public preference has followed, I think.