Vino Rouge Special Vertical Tasting of Penfolds Grange Flight One

Setting the bar higher than we ever have before, the Vino Rouge club will be enjoying four unbelievable flights of the infamous Penfolds Grange, covering 27 consecutive vintages from 1976 through 2002!

Penfolds Grange tasting

The first flight was held at Basta in Pawtuxet Village on March 25, 2015, and really was a terrific start to a truly amazing vertical.

Penfolds Grange tasting

The wines tasted spanned 20 years and included the 1979, 1983, 1987, 1991, 1995 and the 1999. Prior to the tasting, the wines were prepared using a decant procedure that included filtering the wine through cheese cloth twice and completing a double rinse of the bottles using Peligrino water, after which the wine was repoured in the rinsed bottles and vacuum sealed.

Penfolds Grange tasting

While it was extremely difficult to pick a favorite, the club managed to do so and it was the 1987, followed by the 1983 and then the 1999. Collective tasting notes from the club for these and the other remaining wines in this first of four verticals are woven into the following wine descriptions.

1979 Penfolds Grange Hermitage – Rating 90 (Feb 2002) Suggested drinking range 2000-2015

A blend of 87% Shiraz and 13% Cabernet Sauvignon, Max Schubert commented in 1983 that this vintage was “not quite up to the mark”. For technicians, this was the last vintage to use white capsules on the bottle, with Penfolds moving to the crimson red foils in 1980. The wine is deep ruby garnet with an unusual nose of root vegetables mixed with cola, caramel, black currant and tar. The club thought the wine had a quiet nose with a touch of cola and mint chocolate. Really nice mouth feel with cherry cola, vanilla with great balance and the best finish of the bunch, with a lingering buzz on the back pallet. Still a lot of fruit and still seems young, in the opinion of most (i.e. look, feel, glycerin)

1983 Penfolds Grange Hermitage – Rating 92 (Feb 2002) Suggested drinking range 2006-2020

The earliest harvest on record at Penfolds, the 1983 vintage was characterized by devastating bush fires, followed by enormous flooding in March. A blend of 94% Shiraz and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, the wine has a surprisingly low pH (3.41) for a Grange, with an amazing 7.1 grams of acid per liter. We experienced an earthy milkshed nose and found the wine more refined, with some acidity and dark fruit, although starting to separate out. Not a bold attack, but with consistent monolithic fruit, with a silky feel. Seems to be at a peak and should be consumed as opposed to cellared much longer.

1987 Penfolds Grange Hermitage – Rating 90 (Feb 2002) Suggested drinking range 2003-2016

A light, elegant style of Grange made with a blend of 90% Shiraz and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine has a deep ruby/purple color and a spicy, peppery nose with some new oak, black cherry and blackberry flavors. The club noted a really robust nose of earth and cranberry and all expressed delight in the unbelievable coating of sweet vanilla, caramel and luscious fruit with hints of mocha coffee and butterscotch. Absolutely perfectly balanced with a syrupy heavenly mouth feel that just coats the palate. Super lush bomb!

1991 Penfolds Grange – Rating 93 (Feb 2002) Suggested drinking range 2002-2017

This wine is generous, open, and sweet in its personality Dense purple, this blend of 95% Shiraz and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon shows great fruit, a very lush, open-knit style with full body, high glycerin, low acidity and superb purity. My notes show a sweet creamy milk sugar nose. Awesome mouth feel with an explosion of cherry, jammy fruit, roasted meat and licorice on a nice pleasant finish.

1995 Penfolds Grange – Rating 92 (Feb 2002) Suggested drinking range 2004-2018

An impressive Grange that may ultimately prove to be underrated, like many wines from this vintage, the 1995, a blend of 94% Shiraz and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, exhibits a saturated plum/purple color and a sweet blackberry liqueur nose intermixed with cassis, licorice and new oak. The wine is textured, jammy, fill-bodied, with impressive levels of extract, glycerin and black fruit flavors. We found the nose to be subtle, with touches of raspberry and blackberry. This full bodied wine coats the pallet with chewy and sexy fruit with a long ripe finish with unobtrusive acidity and tannin.

1999 Penfolds Grange – Rating 92 (Oct 2004) Suggested drinking range 2006-2019

The 1999 Grange is a dense ruby/purple to the edge, with a bouquet of blackberries, mulberries, and floral-like aromas. Medium to full body, the 1999 has an acid punch, but also tremendous layers of fruit and extract. Not massive, but elegant and nicely layered. We discovered lead pencil on the nose with hints of cranberry too. Layored balance gives a great mouth feel with tart cranberry on a long lasting finish. Has a strong acid backbone with soft round pronounced tannins. More of an elegant profile, although still a little tight.

Penfolds Grange tasting

Dessert

NV Penfolds Club Austalian Tawny – A proprietary blend dry red fortified Mataro, Shiraz, Grenache wine from South Australia

Pale tawny-amber colored, the NV Club Australian Tawny expresses a lovely nose of raisins, sultana, toffee and dates with hints of dried figs and caramel. Full-bodies, it is nicely poised in the mouth with rich, sweet and concentrated flavors that finish long.

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