This vintage was destined to be one of the greatest Granges. In the flesh it is majestically complex, superbly focused and intense, and wondrously balanced. It has every black fruit flavour known to man or woman, and will become more magical with each passing decade. Drink to 2062.
Deep colour. Intense panforte, dark chocolate, dark blackberry aromas with lifted roasted chestnut, mocha, English-toffee aromas and notes of sweet tobacco, dried roses, shellac and frankincense. Superbly concentrated wine with wonderful presence, structure and density. Plush in scale yet possessing lovely energy and structure... Dense, expansive, rich and voluminous. All in perfect symmetry. A transcendent and powerfully expressive Grange harking back to Max Schubert s original blueprint. Its aromatic complexity, generosity and suppleness is reminiscent of the early 1960s. This has to be in the pantheon of all-time great vintages. Unbelievably good to drink now; a great indication of its lasting quality (but suggest you don't!). Leave it for a minimum of 10 years, if you can. Drink 2026-2080.
Very deep, dark red colour with a tinge of purple and a hint of black. Black olive, creosote, savoury, vanilla, chocolate and mocha aromas, touches of smoked smallgoods. The palate is full-bodied but it's not a blockbuster. Soft and fleshy, smooth and supple, already showing a glimpse of the excitement and fascination that will follow in its maturity. The finish is all harmony, despite the flood of tannin: soft, savoury, powdery tannin. The components are all in great harmony so that no one feature stands out. The wine's balance and seamlessness are impressive. I sense this could be a top-level Grange, and may score another point when it's mature. huonhooke.com
This release is 81% Barossa and, unusually, doesn’t include any Magill Estate component. Indeed it’s Barossa and McLaren Vale only; 98% Shiraz, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon. All into 100% new American oak hogsheads for 18 months, as you’d expect. Penfolds Chief Winemaker Peter Gago describes this 2012 release as 'channelling the 2010 Grange -- an unfolding kaleidoscopic vinous mosaic of charm, allure, character and cerebral reward… luxury that treads lightly.' Across the board the Penfolds supers ooze confidence this year and none more so than the mother of them all, Penfolds Grange Shiraz. Some releases are ripped with tannin and bulging with fruit, their skin so paper-thin that every ripple is highlighted. This release maintains a cuddliness, a softness; it’s not so eager to strut. It’s all there anyway; no need to try too hard. Sweet fruit, black and bright; musky vanillin oak and plenty of it. Blossomy notes. Studs of tannin, impressed into suede. A dry spiciness, set into the face of the waterfall of sweet soy-splashed berries. The seduction here has an inevitability to it. You know you’re being worked over but you succumb anyway. Certainly a top-tier Grange with an easy-as-you-like air. WineFront.
The 2012 Grange comes from just two sub-regions of South Australia this year: Barossa Valley (the majority) and McLaren Vale. This makes a lot of sense since 2012 was a cracking year in both of these areas, producing a number of extraordinary wines. As usual, this Grange contains a splash of Cabernet Sauvignon, just 2%. Very deep purple-black in color, it opens on the nose with complex earthy/meaty/savory notes, soon giving way to baked blackberries, plum preserves, hoisin and Chinese five spice with dabs of sandalwood, licorice, menthol and vanilla. The palate reveals a surprisingly open, rich, full-bodied expression exuding a powerhouse of velvet-lined decadence. Still, it characteristically possesses that rock-solid “Grange” backbone of firm tannins and great freshness expressed in a real lively lift to the finish. And the finish is epically long. There are some stylistic similarities here to the opulent, gregarious 2008 vintage, perhaps just lacking ever so slightly in the same exhilarating abandonment of winemaking protocols for the celebration of the fruit and sites. That said, this is unquestionably a stonking great Grange!
South Australia is the driest state on the world’s driest continent. Covering almost 1 million (984 377km) square kilomteres, it represents 12.8% of the Australian land mass. Sweeping plains are intersected by a spine of relatively low lying ranges, the Mount Lofty/Flinders Ranges which extend through the heart of the State. Over 50% of the state is elevated at under 150 metres. The Great Artesian basin covers almost one-third of the State. The major river is the River Murray which lethargically makes its way into the Southern Ocean. This water mass has a moderating effect on climate, particularly in the southern regions of South Australia where most vines are planted.
Summers are generally hot and dry with relatively mild nights. Winters are cool. Rainfall occurs mostly during late autumn/winter (May, June, July, August). Drought and salinity are major concerns.
The principle wine regions in South Australia are; the Adelaide Hills, Barossa (comprising the Barossa and Eden Valleys), Clare Valley, Langhorne Creek, McLaren Vale, Padthaway, Coonawarra and the Riverland. Vineyard expansion has also extended to Wrattonbully, Mount Benson, Bordertown, Robe, Southern Fleurieu and the Flinders Ranges.
It is a tradition for many wine companies to make multi-district blends from South Australian fruit – the idea of house style taking precedence over regional definition. Penfolds pioneered this concept. The vagaries of vintage variation can be evened out by fruit selection, ensuring quality at a high level. However there is debate that this concept comes at the expense of the ‘soul’ of the wine. Penfolds Grange is probably the most famous multi-district blend and is an excellent counter-argument.Andrew Caillard MW, Langton's
Penfolds is probably the most extraordinary of the world’s wine brands with an enviable reputation for quality at every price level. The original Penfold was an English doctor who, in 1844, planted grapes at Magill, now a suburb of Adelaide. However, it was not until the late 1940s that Penfolds began to forge a reputation for red wine.
The Penfolds house style emerged from a fortified wine producing culture and evolved as a winemaking philosophy which has had a profound effect on the entire Australian wine industry. Many of the techniques initially adopted to make Penfolds Grange would become part of the wider Penfolds winemaking culture. The number of techniques employed in the research and development of Penfolds wines is astonishing. Max Schubert and his team pioneered: major advances in yeast technology and paper chromatography; the understanding and use of pH in controlling bacterial spoilage; the use of headed down/submerged cap fermentation and the technique of rack and return; cold fermentation practices; the use of American oak as a maturation vessel and perhaps most critically, partial barrel fermentation. Nowadays, the use of American oak and barrel fermentation for instance is considered traditional Barossa winemaking practice!
Today, Penfolds house style embraces the concept of multi-regional blending, optimum fruit quality, the use of fine-grained American or French oak, barrel fermentation and maturation. Overall, the Penfolds style is about highly-defined fruit aromas, fruit sweetness, ripe tannins, richness, power and concentration. The number of iconic wines that have emerged from the Penfolds stable over the years is remarkable. Bin 389 a Cabernet Shiraz blend released in 1960 is now considered the quintessential Australian wine blend. Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz and Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz released in 1962 pre-empted the contemporary enthusiasm for regional definition by about 25 years. Improved vineyard management, site selection and winemaking brought about subsequent releases of Bin 707 and Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon. The Penfolds Wine Making Philosophy is the accumulation of more than half-a-century of knowledge and winemaking practice initiated by Max Schubert and subsequently refined by Don Ditter, John Duval and Peter Gago. Their collective commitment to multi-regional and vineyard blending contributed to a consistency of style and quality that has cemented Penfolds reputation as the foremost producer of premium age-worthy red wines in Australia.