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.