Wine Advocate 93 points - 2011 was of course a difficult, uncharacteristically rainy vintage in South Australia and particularly Barossa, but thanks to Penfolds’ privileged position with access to some of the region’s best fruit, they have nonetheless been able to blend an impressive Grange. Still sourced mainly from Barossa Valley, there’s a good dollop of McLaren Vale fruit (21%) - a region less affected by the rains in 2011 - contributing to this vintage. Interestingly, it is the 6th vintage ever to consist of 100% Shiraz, mainly because the Cabernet Sauvignon didn’t make the grade this year. (Note that no Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon was produced in 2011.) Deep purple colored, in typical fashion the nose of the 2011 Grange is still closed at this youthful stage with broody tar and pepper laced notes over a core of blackberries, black plums, licorice and loam. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is taut and muscular with pepper and baking spice flavors supported by firm, grainy tannins. The finish has great length, contributing a refreshing lift.
From humble beginnings in the 1950s, Grange has maintained its place as Australia’s most prestigious red wine over five decades. Today, it is a wine of international renown, with each vintage eagerly awaited by collectors both in Australia and overseas.
Penfolds Grange is a wine of extraordinary dimension and power. Richly textured, intensely concentrated and packed with fruit sweetness, these wines, regardless of vintage, require medium to long-term cellaring. They develop into immensely complex, beguiling wines that seduce the senses.
An Australian icon, Grange represents a tradition in winemaking that is totally uncompromising. Grange has bypassed the fads and trends of modern winemaking in the sense that it has maintained an integrity of style and remained true to its origins in the mind of Max Schubert. Penfolds Grange is the quality standard against which all other Australian red wines are judged. To share a mature Grange, 15 to 20 years old, in fine condition, is one of the great wine experiences.
|Beef, dehydrated vegetables, shaved mojama, quinoa, braised oxtail and horseradish
Rare roasted aged fillet of beef with a red wine reduction
|Australia’s winemaking history of less than two hundred years is brief by European measures though, like Europe, punctuated by periods of extreme success and difficult times. From the earliest winemaking days Penfolds has figured prominently and few would argue the importance of Penfolds’ influence on Australia’s winemaking psyche.
Without the influence of Penfolds the modern Australian wine industry would look very different indeed. Sitting comfortably outside of fad and fashion, Penfolds has taken Australian wine to the world on a grand stage and forged a reputation for quality that is without peer.
Penfolds’ reputation for making wines of provenance and cellaring potential might suggest a mantle of tradition and formality is the preferred attire of a company with so much history to defend. But to label Penfolds as simply an established and conventional winemaker, would be to confuse tradition with consideration and to overlook the innovative spirit that has driven Penfolds since its foundation, and continues to find expression in modern times.
If there is anything traditional about Penfolds, it is the practice of constantly reviewing the wines it already does well, and continuously evolving and refining styles as vineyards mature and access to ever older and more varied vineyard sites improves.