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Jay Labrador

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WTN: Penfolds Grange 1996

by Jay Labrador » Sun Apr 09, 2006 1:55 pm

According to Penfolds' publication The Rewards of Patience, the 1996 Grange should start being approachable in 2006. Since we were having Oz ribeye steaks for dinner, I figured it was now time to see what this was all about.

I decanted the wine about 90 minutes before dinner. Cutting away the foil revealed a stain on about half of the top of the cork. Not a good sign. The cork seemed fine enough upon extraction so maybe there wasn't too much damage.

Very dark core with a slight faded rose edge. Starting to show some age in the color. Aromas of chocolate, cherries, cherry brandy, a hint of anise and mint. My wife detected some coffee notes as well. Still a bit tannic but soft enough to be drunk with pleasure now. Has a good sweetness to it balanced by a streak of acidity. It does not have the heavy character and cloying sweetness that I find in some other top-end Barossa Shiraz. No overripe or cooked fruit either. There is also no alcohol heat even if it is 14% alcohol. Not at all oaky. The wood is well integrated and does not stand out. In fact, it does not have the coconut and/or vanilla character of American oak. Instead, it seemed Bordeaux-ish with some cedary wood notes. Some VA emerged after about 4 hours exposure to air. This was a bit off-putting but some vigourous swirling seemed to make it go away. Finishes dry and long. It will obviously age more and will no doubt continue to improve. Enjoyed it immensely.

This is my second Grange and so far I have been fortunate to drink it from the great vintages of 1986 and 1996. What strikes me is how this wine is so unlike the typical chocolate milkshake ultra ripe wines seemingly so many South Oz wineries seem to make. While that kind of wine will certianly stand out, it's not really something you want to drink more than a glass or two of. The Grange, on the other hand, is something you want to keep drinking. It does not tire the palate. It goes with food. it isn't heavy. It is a harmonious wine with excellent balance. It is a supremely drinkable wine.

I'm glad I have a few more bottles of this as it would be fascinating to track the development of this wine.
Last edited by Jay Labrador on Wed Apr 26, 2006 11:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
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David Lole

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Re: TN: Penfolds Grange 1996

by David Lole » Sun Apr 09, 2006 5:20 pm

Jay Labrador wrote:What strikes me is how this wine is so unlike the typical chocolate milkshake ultra ripe wines seemingly so many South Oz wineries seem to make. While that kind of wine will certianly stand out, it's not really something you want to drink more than a glass or two of.


Thanks for your note, Jay.

Nineteen-ninety-six was terrific year for Soth Australian reds and I'd be keeping my hands off this Grange for at least ten years. Harder said than done, I suppose, when this bottle drinks so well for you now!

Perhaps the export market sees plenty of South Australian uber ripe chocolate "thickshakes", but from where I sit (in Australia) the local market certainly doesn't seem to be inundated with this wine-style. Evidence of this is borne out by the number of wines I've seen written up on the American boards, in particular, over the past few years that are totally unknown to this writer and AFAIK, are not available on our local market. Wine "made to order", perhaps? :wink:
Cheers,

David
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Bill Spohn

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Re: TN: Penfolds Grange 1996

by Bill Spohn » Mon Apr 10, 2006 2:06 pm

I agree with David - the 1996 should be on hold for another decade, and that our view of Australian wines in North America is skewed by the choices of the importers.

I try to find the more moderate, elegant styled wines - usually heading for Western Australia - but it can be a real battle as most importers seem to think the buying public is only interested in their jammier offerings.

And none of the buggers will bring in the old Semillons I crave!!!

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