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This wine comes with high expectations—as does the vintage. The 2018 vintage across South Australia (and cheekily, we could probably extend the accolade to all of Australia) was excellent. It was warm, but without incident, and responsible for powerfully ripe, serious wines. Many producers made some of their best wines in this vintage. So here, to the 2018 Grange: there is spiced raspberry, lashings of salted licorice, red curry paste, layers of forest berries, rendered lamb fat and crushed pink peppercorns to start. In the mouth, the tannins close around the fruit with the same polish and seamlessness as the 2008, possibly the 2004? Very different vintages, but there is a textural similarity for me. This is polished and glossy and so very pretty. It contains 3% Cabernet Sauvignon this year, and 69% Barossa, 18% McLaren Vale and the balance from Clare Valley. Each of the regions brings with it its own characteristics. Barossa brings the red dirt, blood, deli meat and rust. McLaren Vale brings the plush purple fruits with a side of meat and licorice. Clare brings the polish, the opulence and the velvet texture. With their powers combined, this is an extraordinary Grange. One of the true greats, which will only get better as it ages.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 99 RPA remarkable wine, bursting with complexity and intensity but on a polished, mouthcoating and juicy frame, which makes this easy to enjoy now. Features chicory, sarsaparilla, dark chocolate and salted caramel notes that mingle with ripe black cherry, framboise and huckleberry flavors, backed by hints of almond paste and savory details of cured meat and fresh-crushed rosemary that linger on the epic finish. Drink now through 2045. 426 cases imported.Wine Spectator | 98 WSSuch open-hearted approachability has never been so pronounced in Grange. The even-footed balance comes from a smooth, silky palate that glides on a sleek acid line to complement rather than override the robust flavours. There’s spice, aniseed and sage lifting above blackberry, redcurrant and earthy forest floor notes, all integrated effortlessly through a lengthy profile. No longer trying to be the loudest or most pious Shiraz in the market, this vintage is surprisingly well behaved. Released at A$1,000/bottle. Drinking Window: 2022 - 2062Decanter | 95 DEC
It’s a hard act to follow the monumental 2018 Grange, which – priced at AU$1000 for the first time on release – earned a slew of perfect scores. Chief winemaker Peter Gago regards the 1989, 1999 and 2009 as ’sleeper vintages’ so urges against any rash prejudgement on this 2019. Sure, it is not as showy as the 2018 was on release, but if it is anything like the 1999 when it hits its stride in 20 years’ time, then patience will be rewarded. The imposing structure, concentration and sheen of new American oak remains the trademark style, but the most powerful wine in the Penfolds stable – officially Bin 95 – is nevertheless becoming increasingly more approachable in recent vintages, and this 2019 is no exception (although approachable remains a relative term for a wine with 40 to 50 years ahead of it). Initial high-toned aromas of chinotto and kirsch lead to spicy liquorice, cedar freshness and more savoury, earthy tones. The palate is mighty: bold, chewy espresso oak char overlaying ripe black berries, plum pudding, rosemary, cured meat and balancing acidity. A blend of Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Coonawarra and Clare Valley fruit, aged 19 months in new American oak hogsheads. Released at £670.Decanter | 97 DECThe bold, expansive 2019 Grange (97% Shiraz, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon) spent 19 months in larger new American Oak and is powerful and expressive as it delivers a dense core of coca, blackberry and baked terracotta aromas, all well backed by toasted coconut oak. Mouth-filing, expansive and seriously tannic, it then delivers waves of dark berry flavor laced with touches of spice, leading to a rich, muscular finish. It’s built for the long haul, so don’t even think of opening for at least a decade.Vinous Media | 96 VMThe 2019 Grange is 97% Shiraz and 3% Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s the pinnacle of the Penfolds release (although if you ask me, the Chardonnays are my favorite part) and a wine that takes some understanding prior to scoring. The key to Grange is the old wines; it is a style of wine heavily fortified with oak (100% new, AP Johns American oak), tannin, fruit (multi-regional) and everything else. In the mouth it can be an almost impossible constellation of flavor and texture to wrap the mind around. But in time, yes, in time, this wine shows its capacity for grace and majesty. Ten years is too young to open a bottle. 20 years is about right. 30 and beyond, not a problem. It is a cellaring proposition of the highest order, but in youth it can feel impenetrable. So, this wine in front of me now has toasted coconut, dusted licorice, roasted meat, violets, burnt toffee, pastrami, coffee grounds, crushed ants/formic, roasted pecans ... all of these dark and broody (and chunky) things. 2019 was a hot year and one marred by low yields due to some inclement weather during flowering. This has meant that, as a whole, the wines have felt big, dark and compressed. This is no exception. It’s a product of the year and the state from whence it has come and in the mold and style of Grange, typical. It will be even better. For now, ne touche pas. 14.5% alcohol sealed under natural cork.Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 95+ RPA blend of 97% Shiraz with a 3% splash of Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2019 Penfolds Grange was sourced with 82% of the fruit from Barossa Valley and the rest from McLaren Vale, Coonawarra, and Clare Valley. It was aged for 19 months in 100% new American oak hogsheads (slightly larger than the classic Bordeaux barriques) and is deep garnet-purple in color. It needs a swirl or two to bring out fragrant scents of garrigue, tilled soil, black olives, and fallen leaves, over a core of blackberry preserves, baked plums, and boysenberries, with emerging wafts of cast-iron pan and star anise. The full-bodied palate is super-tight knit with a firm, grainy texture and a crisp backbone supporting the muscular black fruit and savory layers, finishing long and minerally with a touch of star anise.The Wine Independent | 95 TWI
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