My favourites? Well, firstly, I want to single out the 1983 vintage which I particularly liked and I love the story of how, through adversity, such an incredible Grange was produced. As described by Nicks Wine Merchants I’ve paraphrased below:
“The 1983 vintage was seriously affected by drought in 1982 that lead to the Ash Wednesday bushfire in February 1983 followed by floods in March the same year. An extraordinary season. Amazingly, with all these weather conditions combined, it lead to an exceptional Grange. The vineyard underwent rigorous fruit selection due to the severity of the weather, which produced smaller yields of very high quality fruit. The 1983 Grange culminated in a very big and immensely concentrated wine that was lauded as an outstanding vintage with very long cellaring potential (up to the year 2030).”
For me, it’s the stories that go behind the wines that I love. To create such an outstanding wine under such circumstances is incredible.
After 1983, the next best for me was probably more emotional than anything: the year our son was born:1987. Now those in the know will say it wasn’t or isn’t one of the best and…dare I say it…it was the first vintage for John Duval as Chief Winemaker. But it was still mighty fine to me!
In the nineties, 1991 was unbelievable and I really enjoyed the 1995. Now a lot has been said and written about the 1996 and 1998 – which I didn’t get to taste on this occasion – and they hold top spots on the mantle for sure, but I still liked the one in between: the 1997. Without the reputation of the even years around it, it is still a standout, none-the-less.
Beyond that, the others were still “young” and my palette, dare I say it, might not have been “as” reliable by the time I got to taste them as it was earlier on. Which was fine by me: I got to savour them even more with no pressure to judge!
By-the-way, if you are ever worried about when to open your Grange, especially because you have such an attachment to it, Penfolds regularly hold re-corking clinics around the world where the wines can be assessed, and if necessary topped up, recorked and re-capsuled – or you get told “drink now!” Not sure which is better…
Penfolds are fully aware of the significance of every Grange in everyone’s cellar and that emotional (and financial) hook, so they too, want it to be amazing when you open it.
Watching 17 different magnums being poured on the one day was simply magnificent: who cares WHEN you open a Grange…just make sure you invite me!