A remarkable collection of Australia’s greatest wine, Penfolds Grange, is now available online at Langton's closing on July 14, 2003. This is Australia’s largest ever single auction of Grange representing over AUD$1 million in value.
The sale comprises every vintage of Grange released including - rare single bottles from the 1950s, a complete collection of Grange 1951 to 1998 (some bottles originating from the private cellar of Max Schubert the creator of Grange), over 80 magnums from the inaugural 1979 vintage to 1998, four extremely rare imperials from the 1975, 1985 and 1993 vintages and full multiple case lots of vintages from the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.
Specialist wine auctioneer and Grange expert, Stewart Langton, comments: “This is very close to the definitive Grange auction. The sheer size and scope of this sale is quite breathtaking. We expect this auction to attract buyers from all over the world but especially from our home market. Australians are profoundly proud of Penfolds Grange. It embraces both traditional values and innovation. Grange is in every respect an Australian icon.
The recent release and unprecedented interest in the 1998 vintage is a timely reminder of how Grange is perceived by wine collectors and enthusiasts. While the 1950s vintages and some specific older vintages (like the 1971) may attract significant interest, many vintages from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s will be sold at comparatively moderate prices - in the AUD$240-300 range. Compare these prices with the prices reported currently in the primary retail market. And for those who missed their allocation of 1998 Grange this auction will be an excellent panacea to their disappointment!”
Grange is an Australian wine icon for good reason. It is probably the most consistent wine produced in the world. Today the style is distinctive and individual. Wines of immense power, plush concentration and balance are a combination of ripe fruit and well-seasoned American oak woven together by barrel fermentation and careful maturation. Great vintages will last longer than forty years. Ordinary vintages will go for at least twenty. This is achieved through vintage triaging and classification - a system that ensures that only the best components find their way into the final Grange blend.
The development of Grange has influenced a whole generation of winemakers. The use of American oak and partial barrel fermentation has had a profound effect on winemaking philosophy. From an investment perspective Grange is the quintessential investment wine. Its iconic status is reflected in Langton's Classification of Australian Wine. Although the wines in each of Langton’s four classification levels are ordered alphabetically, Grange heads the list - indicative of its present significance and historical importance.
Penfolds Grange is inextricably linked to the foundation of the contemporary Australian wine industry. As the market for ultra-fine Australian wine evolves, embracing new ideas and enthusiasms, Grange remains the rock on which it was built.
A Drinking and Cellaring Guide
from The Rewards of Patience 4th edition, published 2000
This tasting was in many ways like reviewing a gallery of old masters, impressionists, expressionists and exhibitionists. With Grange it is not a question of looking at fruit favours. Colour, texture, dimension and proportion are the components of this wine – this long lived creature! (AR). I was moved by the presence of these wines – a remarkably consistent group of wines. I was bowled over by the monumental nature of Grange – only the idiosyncratic Vega Sicilia comes near it. This wine lasts for decades (TW).
Once one was acclimatised to the background noise of Grange a strange thing seemed to happen. Firstly you see the true relativity of the wines within the group but loose perspective of the outside. Then you see oak in proportion to the wine itself. Sometimes it stood out. Sometimes it receded. Yet if you put Grange up against any other wine you would see the oak very clearly (JH).
The 1953 vintage has amazing colour with still predominantly red hues. The wine is in perfect condition with sweet berry and more spicy savoury notes. The palate is supple with sweet lingering cherry berry and chocolate. A fantastic finish and aftertaste, although the tannins are gone (JH). The wine is easing a little but it’s still a grand old wine nonetheless with its truffly gamey aromas and sweet velvety palate (AR). The wine is still structurally sound but I think it has lost its flesh. Certainly it is beginning to fade (TW).
The 1955 is still vibrant and youthful belying its age with plenty of sweet coffee chocolate spice plum aromas. The palate has unbelievable density/extract (AI). It’s a very savoury wine with fungal truffly notes, a sweet silky textured palate suffused with coffee richness. The wine is still hanging delicately by a thread. (AR). It’s got a lovely mature smoky nose with savoury farm-yardy pencil like characters – Bordeaux almost. The wine attacks with sweet fruit and dry tannin. I agree with AR. The wine needs to be drunk – and I’m putting my hand up! (TW).
The 1963 vintage is a rich complex glorious wine with sweet plum cherry spice and cedar characters. As usual the wine is amazingly rich and voluptuous crammed with glistening plum and chocolate fruit flavours (JH). The wine still has that sparkle about it. The wine still has some pure cassis fruit characters and some leaf and tobacco. The palate is long and succulent. The wine is at its absolute peak now, but will hold for a few more years (TW). This is a gorgeously rich wine with lovely complex molasses and stock characters and silky palate texture (AI). The wine has immense power and structure with plenty of flesh on the bones (AR).
The 1966 vintage is just beginning to wind down and dry out, but it is still a graceful old wine with its pure roasted coffee and gamey aromas, sweet fruit and silken palate (AR). I wanted to love this wine but in the end I only liked it. It had a beautiful mahogany-scarlet colour and tree-bark tarry aromas with hints of cocoa, leather and fig. The palate was vibrant - even juicy- with leather cedar earth nuances and soft tannins. The wine was slightly alcoholic (AI). It was sweet earthy and creamy with those patined wood and old worn comfy leather characters associated with age. It attacks sweet and deep and rich and chewy, although it is beginning to dry out (TW). It was a very fresh and firm wine with almost cabernet notes. There is some volatility which falls well within acceptability. The palate tracks the bouquet precisely although I too saw some curious gamey characters (JH).
The 1970 has an unusual browned varnishy nose with some wet cork/old cellar smells and stocky sweetness. The palate is not especially complex with browned veal bone and caramel flavours and grip and chewyness (TW). The wine is quite muscular with a dry old leathery finish. The wine is beginning to fade (AR). It’s got some sweet raisiny berry fruit but in the context of this tasting seems out of line. It’s a nice wine nonetheless (JH). The wine is slightly madierised and drying out – drink soon (AI).
The 1971 is a very big powerful wine with lifted notes on the nose and some leather gamey notes. The wine is vigorous with almost chunky tannins overlying rich chocolate fruit (AR). It is an intensely complex wine with that controversial whisk of volatility, but sweet earth and truffle bouquet. The palate has plum prune truffle like flavours and an extremely long finish due in part to that volatility (JH). I thought the wine was looking very youthful with ripe black cherry blackberry fig plum fruit and some more complex chocolate – Christmas pudding characters. The palate is spicy with cinnamon plum like fruit and plenty of gritty tannins (AI). The wine was a little varnishy on the nose (VA) but had prune, violet fig fruit and some mushroomy sweetness. I found the wine tasted a little dried and varnishy although the wine finished stocky and sweet with vellum and grip (TW).
The 1972 vintage often considered as a weaker vintage by the secondary market looked impressive at this tasting as it has done at several tastings over recent years (AC). The nose showed gorgeous pure blueberry fruit characters – unbelievably juicy and vibrant. The palate is packed with sweet plum, allspice, chocolate and cedar balanced by that very attractive silky texture – a hallmark of the Grange style (AI). The wine is holding up remarkably well. It has smells not so unlike a brand new laid down woollen carpet combined with sweet reduced berries too. It has both excellent succulence and a tight dry structure. There is a Middle Eastern flavour to the wine too with those spicy star anise like characters (TW).
The 1973 vintage continues the theme of noticeable VA although there is plenty of complex chocolate-berry-earth bouquet. The palate is markedly sweet with plummy berry fruit and hints of fruit pickle (JH). The wine had notes of dry citrus rind and chocolate. It had abundant fruit sweetness and power in a core of almost rounded fruit. It was a very big mouth-filling wine with grace notes of tar and leather (AR).
The 1974 vintage is leathery and spicy with touches of baked plum tamarind and chocolate. The palate is concentrated and chewy with dried cherry fruit and dusty tannins. This is a very tight wine with more aging potential (AI). It was a ripe pruney wine with some dried fig and shellac characters. That whiff of VA is quite acceptable and complexing at the moment. The palate is sweet and stocky with a silky texture (TW).
The 1975 vintage is a rich fruit in an iron girder style. The wine is big and muscular with intense rich Port-like fruit. The palate structure rips, bites and chews in an almost muscle-bound way. The tannins are only just yielding (AR). There is a noticeable colour change at this point with the wines from brick red to dark red. I found the wine showed some vegetal/canopy characters – somewhat unexpected. The wine is powerful, however, with leaf berry and mint aromas – again those quasi-cabernet characters. The wine is definitely out of the mainstream (JH). It’s not especially Grange smelling although it is very fragrant with a browned banana, date and dried fruit aromas. Its smells almost like Turkish delight! The wine is chewy and dry with extractive powdery tannin (TW).
The 1976 was a great wine – making allowances (AR). There was a general feeling that the wine was very slightly cork-tainted although the sheer intensity, power and overall balance convinced the panel that the wine deserves its place as one of the great vintages of the 1970s (AC). The wine had immensely rich fruit and power. The palate showed huge flavour complexity with truffle chocolate and tar notes (AR). The wine has a wonderful array of liquorice berry and chocolate fruit characters. It is very powerful and complete with rich fruit and lovely tannin balance. This should be a very longed lived wine (JH). I thought the wine was spectacular. It had enormous density of fruit with plenty of chocolate and dried fruits. The wine is almost Port-like. The tannins are velvety and thick. The wine is so youthful – so monumental, so massively concentrated – amazing! (AI).
The 1977 needs to be drunk over the next five years. The wine is quite pruney with whole nutmeg characters, a touch of shellac too. The palate is sweet and chewy with earthy potting mix characters finishing a little papery and dry (TW). It is a clean and balanced wine with quite intense berry briar earth fruit. There are some slightly assertive green tinges to the fruit which, in the context of this tasting, are distracting (JH).
The 1978 vintage had a complex spicy tobacco-like bouquet. It had a huge black-fruit core infused with tar and spice and shrouded in a cloak of velvety tannins – a superb wine (AR). I thought the wine was going through a slightly awkward phase. The wine was showing very appealing juicy/succulent ripe fig plum fruit and earthy notes yet I found the palate quite gritty and the fruit drying out (AI). It lands with a sweet thud in the mouth yet has fine dry tannins – a very nice wine (TW). The wine was much lighter than most of the Granges. It has a smoky earthiness reminiscent of the Hunter Valley. This is a soft easy drinking wine now (JH).
The 1979 was a very complex wine with developed cedary cumin like bouquet with hints of mint tobacco and leather. The palate is big although I found the wine a little out of balance. Both the alcohol and tannin submerge the fruit (AI). The wine does seem to be in a rebellious mood. The VA is pretty obvious as are the tannins (JH). The bouquet is a little rustic with some blackcurrant fruit that follows onto the palate. By the time it reaches the mid palate it hits a wall of dry ‘blackstrap’ tannin (AR).
The 1980 vintage is really big in colour with a slightly peppery nose, rich almost treacle-like ripe fruit and hefty tannins. The wine is very big-boned and just starting to ease into a long final straight. I suspect this is/will be a classic Grange (AR). The wine is intense and fragrant with sweet syrupy prune and dried fig aromas. The palate is dense and chewy/grippy with smoky dusty coal characters. This is very good. I like this. It’s just about perfect! (TW). It’s looking particularly good with sweet chocolate cherry cassis fruit and a very potent long lingering palate – a very glossy wine (JH).
The 1981 vintage looks like an early drinking Grange. It is already mature with a coffee cedar pruney aromas and some mint. The palate is soft and supple. It’s a medium-weighted wine with all its components nicely together (AI). I thought the wine had ball-gripping tannin structure. The wine smacks you in the mouth right to the finish (AR). The wine is texturally pleasant with high-pixelled tannin structure but is quite lean in the context of the Grange style (AC).
The 1982 vintage has that Penfolds ’82 essence character again with pure compote of raspberry with background molasses. The wine is sweet and ripe almost reminiscent of Vintage Port with essency blackberries and raspberries – even molasses – and drying tannins. It’s a very tasty wine (TW). It has some of those hessiany green canopy aromas and soft caramel crème-brulee notes (JH). It had sweetly over-ripe fig and blueberry and chocolate characters. Like Tim I thought the wine smelled like young Port but without the spirit. The palate is seductively supple and velvety with a very long cocoa like finish (AI).
The 1983 vintage has rich brambly fruit with plenty of liquorice. The wine has huge power and intensity. This is another muscular Grange with very firm but not unyielding tannins (AR). This is a very pretty wine. It has sweet and savoury aromas – sweet spice and savoury tomato paste, chutney characters combined with some cedar. The palate is mature and silky with cedar spice flavours – a great wine to drink with food (AR). I think the wine is still incredibly youthful tasting – perhaps six years from its best. It is however the most savoury wine with plenty of grip (TW). It’s got decades to go! (JH).
The 1984 vintage is fast developing but it is an elegant seductive wine. It’s quite fragrant with sweet cherry plum mint aromas and excellent mouth-feel (JH). The wine had a good fresh coffee spice bouquet with a slight undercurrent of VA and truffles – it too is slightly Port-like. The palate is vigorous with stocky tannins and a chewy tanginess on the finish (AR).
The 1985 vintage is voluptuous stuff with opulent fruit encased in a firm tannin fist!(AR). I found the wine quite youthful with pure blackberry fruit and a chunky palate (AI). It’s a firm wine with some of those familiar ’85 family anopy characters. The flavours are better than the bouquet suggests with minty berry characters and some thyme and herb (JH).
The 1986 is huge deep and intense with rich prune, caramel, fig and toffee aromas. It even has some ferruginous characters. The wine is richly flavoured with some earthiness and smoke. It’s a very strong chewy wine with plenty of grip and good length (TW). It’s absolute perfection with smooth sweet plum cherry fruit. You can’t see the oak even though you know it’s there. The palate is perfectly constructed – seamless in every respect – all the flavours you could ever wish for! (JH). The wine has very gritty tannins with a very good core of very sweet, very ripe blackberry fruit. It’s beginning to develop some spice notes. The wine has loads of time left to develop – it’s only just beginning to harmonise (AI). The wine has a very powerful bouquet with touches of spice and cedar. The palate is immense with lovely black fruit complexity and very fine balancing tannins. The wine has a long fine life ahead of it (AR).
The 1987 is remarkably closed although some liquorice earth berry aromas came up in the glass. The wine is powerful and quite firm. It doesn’t really show cool vintage characters. It has nice chewy berry fruit and soft, slightly dusty tannins (JH). It’s got an earthy note on the nose. The wine has very muscular tannins, some fine black fruits and a power-packed mouth-feel. It’s a bit unyielding at the moment (AR).
The 1988 has gorgeous heady blackberry mint chocolate aromas. It’s a massive wine with lush sweetness balanced by gritty tannins (AI). The wine is rich and intense smelling – sweet and lifted with super ripe blackberry and strawberry conserve characters. There is plenty of fruit essence, dark burnt berries and some earthiness. It’s deep and chewy, dusty and dense with some smoke and wholemeal characters. The wine has excellent fruit length – a very seductive wine (TW).
Those ripe raisiny characters of the 1989 vintage come rocketing through this ultra voluptuous wine. The wine tastes almost like over-ripe grenache – this is a strange one! (JH). The 1989 has exotic over-ripe blueberry cherry chocolate aromas. The palate is very juicy – like a blueberry pop-tart. It’s a very flamboyant irresistible wine (AI).
The 1990 is a big rich vibrant wine. It has a fabulous bouquet – with complex black fruits and polished oak. The wine is immensely seductive with concentrated black fruit flavours with a sweet spice oak overlay and lovely velvety texture (AR). It has massive black bitumen and sweet fruit – burnt blackberries coal and wet peat – fantastic! The wine has masses of extract and is very deep with sweet chewy caramel marmite smoke and wholemeal characters balanced by dusty tannins and excellent length. It has masses of flavour – it needs at least twenty years! (TW). This is simply stunning! It has essences of cassis and blackberry with mint eucalypt and fig. The palate has the most amazing structure and density with the purest viscous texture and fruit power (AI). There’s not a hair out of place. It’s sweet elegant and fragrant with soft berry chocolate mocha fruit and very fine persistent tannins (JH).
The 1991 is very exotic with wild-berry smells. It’s leaner than the 1990 – more medium scale – but it still has mouthwatering spicy blackcurrant fruit and a lovely long cherry flavoured finish (AI). It’s not quite as thunderous as the 1990 but the wine is just as hauntingly beautiful. It has some wheaty Barossa Valley characters, toffee and apple, dry dirt and some prunes. The palate is deep dense and liqueurous with grip and savoury toast. The wine is sweet long and chewy with an excellent long dry structure (TW). This was a voluptuous potent wine. It’s ripe – not jammy, with cherry plum aromas, ripe bold fruit and touches of liquorice on the palate and soft and persistent tannins (JH). The wine has abundant complex ripe fruit with touches of citrus peel and vanilla. It is richly spicy on the palate with fine-grained tannin structure – a great double act with the 1990 (AR).
The 1992 is simpler with wheaty grassy aromas – some savoury baked plum pie. The palate is more lightly textured but it still has plenty of flavour. The wine has some pepper and grip (TW). The wine has that bright breezy fruit of the ‘92 vintage. It’s redolent of liquorice, leather and minty berry with soft fine tannins and raspberry liquorice flavours (JH). It’s a bit shocking after the previous vintages appearing two rather than multi-dimensional (AR).
The 1993 vintage is a big ripe plum and prune style. It looks a trifle gauche in this line up!(JH). It’s lacking a shade of intensity with a slightly simple cigar-box cassis aroma. The palate is on the syrupy side with cassis and plum jam flavours and big gawky tannins. I find it two-dimensional again (AR). It’s not as dense as one would expect of Grange with over-ripe fig and camphor aromas. The palate is medium bodied with lighter cherry spice flavours (AI). It’s sweet and syrupy supple combined with that weedy 93 character (TW). This wine had unusually high cabernet content. As an early ripening variety we found it gave some excellent ripe fruit characters into the wine (JD).
The 1994 vintage has excellent concentration and balance with dark plum cassis fruit interwoven with oak. It’s got powerful dense dark berry plum liquorice fruit and strong tannins (JH). It has stewed raspberry aromas and some spice too. The oak is toasty but beginning to mesh in. The palate is deep, fat and rich. It’s a massively structured wine with grippy tannins but balanced with deep figgy prune molasses flavours and some smoke and toast (TW). The wine has a fine but elemental nose with lovely youthful seductive fruit. It’s a power packed wine with intense concentrated rich red fruits characters and firm tannins (AR).
The 1995 vintage has unbelievable purity of fruit with distilled essence of blackberry and cassis both on the nose and palate (AI). It’s very elemental. It’s very chewy and mouth-puckering with very heavy extracted blackberry jam fruit (AR). It’s got lots of stewed plums and molasses. The palate is sweet and silky with syrupy berries. It’s deep and grippy, firm and long – phew! (TW). There’s no sign of a poor vintage here. It’s rich and ripe with red and black cherry fruits and sweet as can be oak. The palate has plenty of ripeness and power with soft tannins and length. I suspect this will be an early developing Grange though (JH).
Of all the wines in The Rewards of Patience tasting this is by far and away the most extraordinary. The older wines don’t seem to fade. They all deliver in astonishing ways. These are wines that you don’t wrestle with. You just submit to them! (AR). This tasting illustrates that Grange is about dimension, proportion and texture rather than simple fruit flavour (JH). I enjoyed all of the wine in this line up. I was struck by the consistency of Grange. It’s such an original wine. There is nothing in the world quite like it (AI).
AC – Andrew Caillard, MW – who compiled this commentary, is a wine auctioneer, wine writer and author of Langton’s Australian Fine Wine Buying and Investment Guide.
AI – Andrea Immer, MS – New York based Beverage Director of Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide. Master sommelier, wine buyer, consultant, writer and broadcaster.
AR – Anthony Rose – wine correspondent for The Independent (London) contributor to Decanter, Wine Magazine (UK), The Oxford Companion to Wine and other publications.
JH – James Halliday – wine writer The Weekend Australian, Director and contributor to the Winepros website (www.winepros.com.au) international wine show judge and consultant.
TW – Tim White – wine columnist for The Australian Financial Review, wine judge and author.
Penfolds Grange Shiraz 1951 – 1998
Tasting Notes by Andrew Caillard MW and Robert Parker Jr.
Bin 1 Grange 1951
Fading medium brick red. Skeletal wine with little flesh and fading tannins. Rare and eclectic. Miraculously we have seen some very good bottles of this vintage!
Bin 4 Grange 1952
Fading medium brick red. More lively than 1951, but both fruit and tannins fading. Rare and eclectic.
Bin 2 Grange 1953
Brick red. Extraordinary wine with complex leathery mushroom/polish/gamey/cedar aromas, soft silky palate with mushroom/meaty/cedary flavours and fine tannins. Still holding up well with core of sweet fruit. Rare and eclectic. (Also Bins 10 & 86C).
Bin 11 Grange 1954
Medium brick. Fading wine with dried out fruit, virtually no tannin and pronounced acidity. (Also Bin 12).
Bin 95 Grange 1955
Crimson brick. Rich, perfumed, gamey, meaty, liquorice fruit with hints of allspice. The palate is rich and supple with cedar/meaty flavours, fine-grained tannins and excellent length. The wine is still lively and fresh. (Also Bins 13, 14, 53, 54 & 148A).
Bin 14 Grange 1956
Brick red. Still amazingly youthful colour. Intense prune/liquorice aromas with touches of paneforte and soy. The palate is still vital with rich prune, plum, cedar and soy flavours, plenty of concentration, lacy tannins and a long finish. Classic wine with excellent fruit sweetness. Wine came from the drives of Penfolds at Magill. A great example of why provenance is so important when it comes to aged wine. Score is academic.
Bin 50 Grange 1957
Brick red. Intense cedar/meaty/malty aromas. Very tangy bright wine with cedary, meaty flavours, fine-grained, slightly gripping tannins, with acidity just at the fore, but excellent concentration, finishing firm and tight. Another example of good provenance. There is not such a thing as a great old vintage – only great old bottles. Score is academic. (Also Bin 113).
Bin 46 Grange 1958
Brick red. Overdeveloped dilute wine with dried out palate. Rare and eclectic. (Also Bins 46,47 & 49).
Bin 95 Grange 1959
Brick red. Verging on overdeveloped with coffee/spice fruit, fine-grained tannins and some fruit sweetness. Variable bottles. Rare and eclectic. (Also Bins 46 & 49).
Bin 95 Grange 1960
Brick red. Very developed, earthy, mushroom consommé aromas and flavours with fine tannins and good fruit sweetness. Bottles can be variable. Rare and eclectic.
Bin 95 Grange 1961
Brick red. Developed mushroomy aromas and flavours, some sweet fruit and soft tannins. Rare and eclectic.
Bin 95 Grange 1962
Brick red. Cedary, sweet fruit aromas with plenty of sweet fruit, concentration and fine-grained tannins. Rare and eclectic.
Bin 95 Grange 1963
Brick red. Looseknit but deep-set, gamey, liquorice/honey-glaze aromas. The palate is rich and ripe with plenty of sweet fruit, gamey, prune/honeyed flavours, a ripe fine tannin structure, superb concentration and length. Drinking superbly.
Bin 95 Grange 1964
Brick red. Developed, earthy prune/cedar aromas. Earthy prune flavours with sinewy tannins but beginning to dry out.
Bin 95 Grange 1965
Brick red. Complex gamey sweet-fruited aromas. The palate is highly concentrated with developed gamey, soupy flavours, looseknit tannins and good length. Holding up well.
Bin 95 Grange 1966
Brick red.Opulent coffee/nutmeg/old, dusty-cedar aromas. The palate is more structured with coffee/nutmeg flavours, chewy, grainy tannins and lovely length. Plenty of fruit sweetness and concentration.
Bin 95 Grange 1967
Brick red. Intense mushroom/meaty aromas. The palate is still fresh with plenty of sweet fruit, fine-grained tannins and good length.
Bin 95 Grange 1968
Brick red. Fading wine with leathery, sous bois aromas. The palate is beginning to dry out with leathery, gamey, fruit flavours, fine tannins but acid coming to the fore. Drink up.
Bin 95 Grange 1969
Brick red. Cedar/mushroomy aromas with some polished leather notes. Touch of fruit sweetness and cedar/leathery flavours and chalky tannins, finshing dry. Fading. Drink up.
Bin 95 Grange 1970
Brick red. Gamey, herbal, smoked-oyster aromas. The palate is looseknit with overdeveloped smoked-oyster/liquorice flavours, fine tannins and a firm finish. The wine is beginning to dry out. Drink as soon as possible.
Bin 95 Grange 1971
Brick red. This surely must be one of the greatest wines ever made. Exotic and fragrant aromas of gardenia and apricot with touches of blackcurrant, strawberry and raspberries. The palate is silken and viscous with apricot/meaty flavours, ripe, sweet, supple tannins, superb concentration and length. A great experience!
Bin 95 Grange 1972
Brick red. Lively, sweet raspberry/apricot marmalade/blackberry fruit. The palate is well-preserved and vibrant with concentrated, sweet honeyed/apricot fruit, fine lacy tannins and excellent length. An exceptional bottle rather than an exceptional wine conjuring up the idea that there isn’t such a thing as a good old wine, just good old bottles. My score was 92. Unfortunately, my experience on several other bottles is that the wine is more like 80.
Bin 95 Grange 1973
Brick red. Sweet camomile/earthy/apricot/cigar-box aromas. The palate is fleshy and sweet fruited with earthy, apricot flavours, slightly bitter but evenly proportioned tannins. Drinking well.
Bin 95 Grange 1974
Brick red. Intense apricot/prune/vanillin/meaty aromas - quite opulent. Fleshy and lightly structured with prune apricot fruit, fine-grained tannins and a firm finish.
Bin 95 Grange 1975
Brick red. Restrained, difficult wine with sweet burnished leather/meaty/liquorice aromas. The palate is thick and brooding with deep-set, leathery, almost one-dimensional fruit, high concentration and bitter, furry tannins, finishing firm. This is the kind of wine that goes on and on forever. It’s a very unyielding wine, yet could open up and surprise us.
Bin 95 Grange 1976
Deep crimson. Liquorice, earthy, meaty aromas with a touch of bilge. A soft and supple palate with liquorice/apple-skin flavours, high concentration, fine tannins and firm finish. This is not a great bottle. 1976 is supposedly a great Grange vintage. Poor corks have made this wine extremely variable. Clinic-ed wine is more likely to provide drinkers with better results.
Bin 95 Grange 1977
Deep crimson. Intense, developed and sweet gamey fruit with a touch of tar. A well-rounded wine with complex roasted meat/gamey/tar flavours, looseknit tannins, good concentration and a firm finish.
Bin 95 Grange 1978
Deep crimson. Classical cedar-wood/sweet fruit/gamey aromas. The palate has plenty of sweet, developed apricot/gamey flavours, lovely gravelly tannins, high concentration and long finish.
Bin 95 Grange 1979
Deep crimson. Quite youthful blackberry jam/aniseed aromas with developing sweet/gamey nuances. The palate is deep set with apricot/cedary/blackberry fruit and massive, firm tannins. Not quite top-notch.
Bin 95 Grange 1980
Deep crimson. Liquorice/tar/treacle/chocolate aromas. The palate is generous with chocolate/dark berry fruit, pronounced, but lacy tannins and a firm finish. Not very complex but still a good drink.
Bin 95 Grange 1981
Deep crimson. Complex red earth/sous bois aromas with touches of VA lift. The palate is highly pixellated with marked, slightly bitter, tannins and underlying cedary tones. Interesting for Grange. It’s quite lean in style with more emphasis on texture than fruit.
Bin 95 Grange 1982
Deep crimson. Christmas cake/baked plum aromas with some contrived fruit characters. The palate has plenty of sweet contrived fruit favours, marked tannins and good length but it tastes a little overdeveloped. Quite an odd Grange.
Bin 95 Grange 1983
Deep crimson. Very complex and intense apricot/blackberry/exotic scented aromas with touches of aniseed/liquorice. Beautifully constructed palate with abundant apricot/meaty fruit, excellent concentration and tannin definition. Will almost certainly develop down the same path as the 1971 vintage.
Bin 95 Grange 1984
Deep crimson. Prune/blackberry/cherry/briary aromas. The wine is quite forward, rather than complex, with developed fleshy prune fruit balanced by gripping tannins. Firm finish. At peak but will hold for some years.
Bin 95 Grange 1985
Deep crimson. Restrained, slightly leafy nuances, with meaty, blackberry fruit. The palate is cedary with a firm backbone of tannin. This is a very tight wine but could come round.
Bin 95 Grange 1986
Deep crimson/purple. Quintessential Grange. Sweet and complex chocolate/paneforte/prune-like fruit with some liquorice. The palate is richly flavoured and chocolaty with huge concentration, fine but vice like tannins, balanced by sweet paneforte/apricot fruit and superb length. A blossoming wine.
Bin 95 Grange 1987
Deep crimson. Restrained, slightly lifted, leafy, briary aromas with hints of blackcurrant and tar. The palate is compact and grainy with briary blackcurrant fruit, looseknit harsh tannins and a firm finish. A compressed, rather unyielding Grange.
Bin 95 Grange 1988
Deep crimson. Lifted gamey, coconutty aromas with American oak slightly overwhelming the fruit. The palate is rich and sappy with plenty of sweet fruit and oak, fine-grained tannins and a firm finish. Still looking quite youthful and awkward.
Bin 95 Grange 1989
Deep crimson. Contrived shaded fruit/cherry/apricot aromas. The palate is sweet-fruited and highly concentrated but has a quite harsh, bitter tannin backbone. Could improve.
Bin 95 Grange 1990
Deep crimson/purple. Intensely concentrated wine with strong prune/plum/dark chocolate aromas and some liquorice. The palate is rich, ripe and chocolaty with plum/blackberry nuances, a ripe, fine tannin structure, savoury slightly coconut oak, and great length. Classic Grange.
Bin 95 Grange 1991
Deep crimson/purple. Exotic fruits and liquorice/gamey aromas. The palate is looseknit and more supple and generous than 1990, perhaps a little more forward. Lovely liquorice/apricot/gamey fruit, ripe but pronounced tannins and good length. An excellent foil to the previous vintage.
Bin 95 Grange 1992
Deep crimson/purple. Rather simple blackberry/cherry/cedary fruit aromas and flavours. Highly concentrated with plenty of sweet fruit, sinewy tannins and a firm finish. Early drinking Grange.
Bin 95 Grange 1993
Deep crimson/purple. Intense blackberry/meaty/gamey aromas with menthol nuances. The palate is sweet-fruited with apricot/meaty/menthol flavours, looseknit, gravelly tannins and excellent length. Nice balance between cool and warm. Very successful wine considering the vintage.
Bin 95 Grange 1994
Deep crimson/purple. Elemental and disjointed wine with lovely deep-set choco-berry/ginger snap aromas and well-seasoned American oak. The palate is strong and powerful with deep-set, concentrated, sweet ripe fruit, cedary oak and a backbone of ripe grained tannins. In evolution.
Bin 95 Grange 1995
Deep crimson/purple. Crushed aniseed/ginger/blackberry/oaky aromas. The palate is rich ripe and soupy with meaty, blackberry fruit flavours, some cedary, toasty oak and looseknit rasping tannins. This is an early drinking Grange, possibly in the same mould as say 1992 or 1987.
Bin 95 Grange 1996
This wine has all the hallmarks of a great vintage. Here’s a wine with very high fruit definition and substance, an explosion of meaty/gamey/plum/prune/liquorice aromas and coffee/chocolate nuances. A mass of well-seasoned oak lies behind this dense curtain of fruit. The palate is decadently rich with lashings of sweet fruit, deep set choco-plum/prune/mocha/liquorice flavours, supple, ripe but pronounced tannins building up to a firm finish (99/100 points). Certainly it is in the same class as the 1990 and 1991 with a cellar life of decades.
Bin 95 Grange 1997
Looks to be a classic Grange. The wine has a saturated purple color and a gorgeously sweet nose of blackberry liqueur intermixed with cherries, camphor, chocolate, plum, and mocha. The wine is opulently textured, extremely soft, layered, and seductive, with Grange's tell-tale personality well-displayed, but in a seamless, seductive style.
Bin 95 Grange 1998
This is going to be a legendary Grange. The wine shows an extraordinarily intense nose of creme de cassis intermixed with blueberries and almost floral notes. As the wine sits in the glass, some meat, plum, and cola notes emerge. In the mouth, it is absolute perfection, seamless, with extraordinarily sweet tannin, well-integrated acidity, sensational extract, and just layer upon layer of blackberry and cassis fruits that stain the palate and fill the mouth. Its harmony, freshness, and remarkable length (nearly a minute) suggest an all-time classic and another legend. 99/100 points.
The reviews for the 1997 & 1998 Grange are by Robert Parker Jr. (sourced from The Wine Advocate). All other vintages are reviewed by Andrew Caillard MW (Langton’s Sydney Director).
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