I don’t know any new world wine which conjures up a stronger impression of identity or place than Penfolds Grange. The name of this luxury cuvee originates from the cottage (named The Grange) that Englishman, Dr Christopher Rawson Penfold and his wife built in 1845 (in South Australia), and around which he planted vine cuttings taken from the south of France.
Dr Penfold believed in the medicinal qualities of wine, and at first much of the estate’s produce was fortified wine (a common style in Australia at the time). It was prescribed to, and presumably enthusiastically received by, his patients. In fact it wasn’t until the early 1950’s that Penfolds shifted its focus towards the style of wine that has helped to secure its reputation as one of the finest producers in the world (1952 being the first commercial vintage of Grange).
Still youthful in appearance, this bottle displayed an incredibly expressive and complex nose of cassis, cherry and plum with hints of tar, liquorice and eucalyptus. The weight of fruit in the mouth is massive, yet it is balanced by a wonderful streak of acidity that contributes very well to the excellent vitality which I find so important, especially in big new world wines, as well as a gorgeous and enticing minerality. The finish really makes this wine; it just goes on and on with sensational aromatics continuing long after the event. This is a big, powerful, almost port-like wine, yet with an elegance that I find quite beguiling.