Wednesday, December 26, 2012

1994 Penfolds Grange

Last night's Christmas dinner was whole braised leg of lamb with mashed potatoes and green beans sauteed with slivered almonds. After hemming and hawing around in the cellar looking at my wines and the selections my father-in-law brought up with him I decided against the myriad of Napa Cabernets, Bordeaux, Chateauneuf-du-Papes and Brunello and just pulled the trigger on my one lonely bottle of 1994 Penfolds Grange Shiraz, South Australia. We had been joking about it earlier in the day but then I decided "why not?" I've had it since release. And we gave my father-in-law a bottle (as a Christmas gift) back when we got ours. He has always promised to share his bottle with us when he gets around to opening it so I figured tonight's bottle would just be a preview of what's to come.

The wine exceeded all expectations. And that's something I consider a tall order for a bottle of wine originally costing $150 with a current value probably somewhere well north of that. Most times I have the privilege of tasting something in this price range I'm underwhelmed and find myself wondering what the wine does to justify the tariff. But not tonight. The pretty, deep color has a youthful magenta rim and shows no trace of being old enough to vote. The nose is full with well-integrated, Bourbon-tinged American oak, mint, eucalyptus and roasted meat. In the mouth the wine shows powerful tart berry, dark cocoa powder, a mouth-coating texture and fine tannins that lead to an impossibly long finish. Ready to drink now, but this wine will probably last forever. Seems a bit more alcoholic than the stated 14% alcohol. In doing a bit of research on the wine's accessibility yesterday, I couldn't help but notice that a lot of people describe this wine as "an iron fist in a velvet glove." And although cliche, it is entirely appropriate.


  1. Now there's a wine!
    last time I saw The Grange it was 465 dollars.

  2. My guess is this will be your number ONE wine of 2012.
    This guy in the local paper picked Robert Young 2006 Merlot as his number ONE red wine of 2012, while Nick from WineSpeak USA picked: Groth Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
    Napa Valley’s Groth Vineyards Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, and WS picked : Shafer's 2008 Relentless.
    I suppose I'd have to go with Two hands 2005 Ares.
    It's a fun game, but Robert Young is a surprise and no one else's radar except this one guy (As far as I know).

  3. Hmmmm, two Aussie wines #1?? What is the world coming to. I don't know what my WOTY would be. The 1993 Sassicaia was something special, as was the unabashed youth of some of those Tabarrini Sagrantinos. The Aldo Conterno Barolo Bussia was special too....

  4. Not sure it would be my number one wine, but it would rank way up there.

    Truth is, I really find it difficult to compare wines from different regions and vintages. So I'll probably take some time this week to come up with a top 10 list, but I'll hedge my bet (again) by listing them alphabetically. :)