Tag Archives: grange

A Range to Grange

Standard

 

A cup of opal
Through which there glows
The cream of the pears,
The heart of the rose;
And the blue of the sea
Where Australia lies,
And the amber flush
Of her sunset skies,
And the emerald tint
Of the dragonfly
Shall stain my cup
With their brilliant dye.
And into this cup
I would pour the wine
Of youth and health
And the gifts divine
Of music and song,
And the sweet content
Which must ever belong
To a life well spent.
And what bread would I break
With my wine, think you?
The bread of a love
That is pure and true.

Bread and Wine by Ines K. Hyland (1863-92)

Indeed, there is so much passion ingrained in the hearts and souls of the people behind the iconic Penfold’s brand that it inspires beautiful poetry.

The thing is, their winemakers are so zealous that they’ve made wines from so many different parts of Australia, including Adelaide, Barossa, Clare Valley, Coonawara and Limestone Coast and McLaren Vale, with the aim of creating some of the best wine Australia has to offer.

This is a lovely notion, but it does tend to overwhelm buyers.

dinner setup.jpg

Penfolds Wine Dinner, Old Manila, Manila Peninsula

Well. Never fear, because we are here to run through the different labels for everyone. This is a collection of information based from books, and experiential knowledge obtained through a dinner we were privileged enough to attend on 27 August in Old Manila, Manila Peninsula.

Icon Wines

Bin 95 Grange Shiraz

grange

Top of the Penfolds line, the iconic Bin 95 Grange

First released commercially in 1952, this predominantly Shiraz powerhouse is a multi-regional blend, with grapes coming from Barossa Valley, Clare Valley, McLaren Vale, Coonawarra, Padthaway, Robe and Magill Estate. It was named after the Grange cottage built in 1845 and initially labeled as Grange Hermitage until the 1989 vintage (an interesting tidbit for would-be collectors). It was also the first Penfolds label to be available in a Magnum size.

“I hope that the production and the acceptance of Grange Hermitage as a great Australian wine has proved that we in Australia are capable of producing wines equal to the best in the world.”Max Schubert, winemaker and creator of Grange Hermitage, after achieving the 100th Gold Medal Award in November 1975

“Grange is one of the singular great wines of the world.”Josh Raynolds, Editor of International Wine US

Personally, I lost sense of poetry when I had this during the dinner and told my BFF, “Grange will change your life.” He agreed.

Bin 144 Yattarna Chardonnay

This beauty has been around since 1995 and is similarly a multi-district blend, with grapes hailing from Adelaide Hills, Tumbarumba, Henty, and Derwent River Valley. When it was first released, it was deemed as the “most eagerly anticipated white wine in Australian history”. Consistently, Yattarna is an elegant, intense, linear style Chardonnay with apple and white peach flavour profiles, and a pure fruit expression complimented by crystalline freshness. “Yattarna” is from an indigenous word meaning “little by little” or “gradually”.

Luxury Wines

Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon

Since 1964, this South Australian (Barossa Valley, Coonawarra, Padthaway, Robe, and Wrattonbully) Cabernet Sauvignon is made with so much pride that they refuse to make this label unless the harvest is phenomenal. Their goal is to release the Penfolds style at its most powerful.

“Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon is completely unadulterated. The blend offers one of the most distinctive expressions of this variety in this world.”Peter Gago, Penfolds Chief Winemaker

“The original Bin 707 was a marvellous wine; it comprised mostly Block 42 Cabernet. The first releases had the richness and ripeness expected of a warm- to hot-climate fruit. A gradual move to Coonawarra during the 1980s changed it to a more elegant cool-climate wine. During the mid-1990s it seems to have reverted back to its original style; a distinctive Penfolds wine divorced from other Australian Cabernets.” Don Ditter, Penfolds Chief Winemaker (1973-1986)

RWT Barossa Valley Shiraz

RWT stands for Red Winemaking Trails, but is more famous as being the “Baby Grange”. It’s a cellaring style wine whose first vintage is 1997. “Whereas Grange uses American Oak, RWT definitely shows off French oak like a French lady showing off her mink coat” – Neal Martin

Bin 169 Cabernet Sauvignon

Made from grapes harvested from prime Coonawarra vineyards, it’s an excellent alternative to a Bin 707, although it uses French oak, and is distinctive for having gorgeous scents and rich concentration.

Magill Estate Shiraz

A single vineyard wine with grapes from Magill Estate, Adelaide, and South Australia, and has been in production since 1983. The concept involves making a “chateau-style” red wine distinctly different from the top-of-the-line Grange style, which resulted to a gentler Grange in terms of texture, without compromising the powerful notes and flavours of a Penfolds Shiraz.

“These are complete expressions of Cabernet Sauvignon. There’s nothing quite like this in Australia”James Halliday, The Australian

St. Henri

Released commercially since 1957, this blend of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon is a multi-district blend. It was initially named “Claret” until the 1989 vintage. Describing it is a challenge to wine professionals, as it’s consistently a contradiction of old-fashioned and contemporary wine styles. It’s also easy to spot from the Penfolds range because of their distinct, curved logo.

Reserve Bin A Chardonnay

“All finesse and elegance. They reflect the exciting and ongoing changes in Australian style.” James Halliday, The Australian

This minerally, fresh style of a Chardonnay has had a huge fan base since its release in 1994. It is everything contrary to a flabby Chard: Flinty and aromatic, with a sharp acidity.

grange-line

A wine soaked dinner courtesy of Penfolds

Special Bins

These are wines that Penfolds releases only during really good years… Part of my ultimate wino dreams is to be able to sample some of these.

Block 42 Kalimna Cabernet Sauvignon: 1953 as a Grange Cabernet, 1961, 1963, 1964 as Bin 707, 1996, and 2004
Bin 60A Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz: 1962 and 2004
Bin 620 Cabernet Shiraz: 1966 and 2008
Special Bin Wines: One-off releases (often limited to a single barrel or micro-blend), starting with the 1948 Kalimna Cabernet Sauvignon. There are many, including the 1958 Bin 136 Magill Burgundy, 1957 Bin 14 Mincinbury Dry Red, 1962 Bin 60 (the “off-blend”), 1962 Bin 434 Coonawarra Cabernet Shiraz, 1967 Bin 7, 1973 Bin 169 Coonawarra Cabernet Shiraz, 170 Kalimna Shiraz, Bin 80A, Bin 820, Bin 90A Bin 920, 2008 Bin 620, 2010 Bin 170.

Cellar Reserve Wines

These were similarly “one-off”, experimental wines, targeting hardcore wine enthusiasts.

Cellar Reserve Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir
Cellar Reserve Barossa Valley Sangiovese
Cellar Reserve McLaren Vale Tempranillo
Cellar Reserve Barossa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Cellar Reserve Coonawarra Cabernet Barossa Valley Shiraz
Cellar Reserve Barossa Valley Grenache
Cellar Reserve Kalimna Block 25 Mataro
Cellar Reserve Adelaide Hills Merlot

Bin Wines

Trivia: The word BIN actually stands for Batch Identification Number, a system which most wine makers use to identify barrels in their (normally) vast cellars.

Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz
Bin 150 Marananga Shiraz
Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon
Kalimna Bin 28 Shiraz (a personal favourite, proving affordable wines can be delicious)
Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz
Bin 138 Barossa Valley Grenache Shiraz Mataro
Bin 23 Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir
Bin 2 Shiraz Mourvèdre
Bin 8 Cabernet Shiraz
Bin 311 Chardonnay
Bin 51 Eden Valley Riesling

adam .jpg

Adam Clay, Winemaker, Penfolds

Koonunga Hill

Beautiful entry-level wines that don’t compromise quality

“No guilt, no apologies. Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet is a real Penfolds red wine.”Peter Gago, Penfolds Chief Winemaker

Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet
Koonunga Hill Seventy-Six Shiraz Cabernet
Koonunga Hill Autumn Riesling

Fortifieds

As mentioned in a previous blog entry, Penfolds started their foray into winemaking by making fortified wines. It does make sense to continue this tradition by steadily creating a line of fortifieds.

grange-desert

The iconic Grange, and a Father Grand Tawny for dessert

Club Tawny
Club Reserve Tawny
Father Grand Tawny
Grandfather Rare Tawny
Grandfather Rare Tawny Series 12 and 13
50 Year Old Rare Tawny
1940 Grandfather Aged Tawny Port
1945 Bin S6 Grandfather Aged Tawny Port

So there you have it, a little cheat sheet on the Penfolds line.

I’m holding on to the edge of my seat, excited for what they have next for the world. 😉

What’s your favourite Penfolds wine? Cheers!

*Resource: The Rewards of Patience, Seventh Edition by Andrew Caillard, MW

The Icon From Down Under

Standard

No other wine captures the true essence of Australian wine making better than Penfolds.

The label could trace its roots from two immigrants in 1844 through the husband and wife team of Dr. Christopher and Mary Penfold. Dr. Christopher was a pharmacist, and their initial purpose of putting up a vineyard was so that he and Mary could concoct wine tonic to cure anaemia (as the old saying goes, “A little wine for thy health’s sake”).

They purchased what was then known as the “Makgill” (now called “Magill”) estate and concentrated on sherry and port production. They planted a combination of vine cuttings they brought from South Africa, and some that they bought from William Macarthur (sourced from France, Switzerland, and Northern Italy before being planted in Camden Park).

Years after establishing their vineyard, Dr. Penfold died in 1870, leaving behind his widow Mary to continue winemaking. During her time, the Penfolds winemaking was dictated largely by Mary’s taste, and they ended up with a diverse selection that concentrated primarily on sweet wines.

It slowly started to change after Joseph Gillard, Penfolds’s cellar master (and the man responsible for urging Mary to continue the family business) started winning awards, particularly one in 1893 for the Penfold’s No. 1 Claret.

Her daughter, Georgina, married Thomas Hyland, and together, they continued the business after Mary’s death in 1896. Their son, Herbert (fondly known as Leslie), managed the company. His brother, Frank, studied winemaking in Europe, and then established Penfolds’s cellars in 1901.

Over the years, and after several acquisitions of vineyards in different parts of Australia, they slowly established Penfolds as the wine of the land down under… Largely, by hiring the most phenomenal winemakers at the time.

Among them were Alfred Scholz, the “father” of the famous Grandfather Port; and Ray Beckwith, whose discoveries in preventative winemaking set precedence for applying science in winemaking. He also established wine production methods that are still being taught in wine schools (and applied by present-day vignerons globally).

Perhaps the most legendary Penfolds winemaker was Max Schubert. He joined Penfolds in 1931 when he was just 16 years old, and showed such an amazing talent that Frank Hyland’s widow, Gladys, sent him to London to study sherry production.

Max Schubert’s name, however, is forever associated with his production of the Grange Hermitage, the top-of-the-line Penfolds icon wine. He was inspired to make the first Grange after studying Bordeaux wines and having the idea of making red wine capable of “staying alive for a minimum of 20 years”. This style of wine (and the methods used to create it) was unheard of during the time in Australia, so he was not without naysayers. Amazingly, he pressed on, and proved everyone wrong.

Today, Grange is considered one of the best wines in the world, and has consistently secured a spot in the top 10 wines of the world.

Schubert has gone on to garner several accolades himself, including “Man of the Year” (1988, UK Decanter), and was considered amongst the 100 most influential winemakers of the 20th century (2001, Sydney Morning Herald). He lives on after his death in 1994 through the creation of a new political electoral district in the South Australian parliament, which was named after him.

As his name is forever linked with his contributions in Australian winemaking through Penfolds, it was only fitting that he would have a range named after him.

penf_Fotor

A bottle you just can’t miss: A shiny red Max’s Shiraz Cabernet 2014 by Penfolds

The Max’s range of wines from Penfolds is a collection of delicious and accessible wines that gives a fitting homage to Max Schubert’s amazing innovations and pursuit of excellence during his years with the label. The deep, dark crimson wine has complex notes of dark, sour cherries and savoury smells of sage and bayleaf. On the palate, it calls to mind red berries and the signature pepper characteristics from the Shiraz, with a creamy texture and an amazingly long finish.

I will talk about the different tiers of the Penfolds brand, including the Grange and the BIN series, in a future article… For now, I think I’ve whetted my appetite enough and am craving for a bottle.

Cheers!

 

*some information sourced from the book “The Rewards of Patience” by Andrew Caillard, MW