With age comes character.
In 2016 Penfolds unveiled a collaboration with Europe’s most respected French glassmaker, Saint-Louis to acknowledge the art and culture of a service ritual long associated with the flagship Grange. This limited edition Penfolds Aevum Crystal Decanter with Grange 2012 was released as part of the collaboration. The decanter features the striking diamond cut, a signature hallmark of Saint-Louis. Hand-blown, hand crafted.
|Varietal||Syrah / Shiraz|
Dense and imposing. Dark… RED!.
Unmistakably, it is what it is. In a word, Grange. (Almost) all unleashed immediately upon the first splash into the glass – exuberant, lifted, flamboyant. An aromatic ‘multi-cultural’ chromatogram brazenly unfolds: First, enticing barrel ferment formics and balsamics, spliced with soy, tomato puree, black olive and liquorice (Dutch?). Then, the exotics - wafts of tiramisu/mascarpone/zabaglione (Italy?), replete with freshly roasted hazelnut and ground coffee beans (Kenya?)
Fresh and refined. Nervy. Red liquorice, gravy reduction flavours and black olive tapenade to the fore. And then, just so much more! Where to start? Compelling depth - weighty/voluminous/fleshy - structurally complete and even throughout. A radiant inner sheen, yet still assertive – a film encrusted with dusty, softened tannins that coat tongue. Great length. A loss of innocence, as sculptured oak (purity/clean) and a boundless array of red fruits, congeal into a darkened pool of (un)known and (un)savoury delights! Unashamedly and quite blatantly THE wine of this year’s Penfolds 2016 new releases! Enough said.
The Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale regions were impacted with lower than average rainfall across the winter period. This resulted in early budbreak in spring. Healthy and welcome spring rain ensued, merging with a mild summer with just a few short periods of heat. Mild daytime temperatures and cool evenings were observed across the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale, allowing impressive flavour development without inflated baumés. Balanced canopies and crops provided even development throughout veraison across both regions. Bursts of warmth and dry conditions continued throughout harvest allowing fruit to be picked in optimal condition. Smaller berry and bunch sizes along with favourable weather conditions induced great results for traditional quality markers-colour, tannin profile, fruit concentration and flavour depth.
The 2012 Grange comes from just two sub-regions of South Australia this year: Barossa Valley (the majority) and McLaren Vale. This makes a lot of sense since 2012 was a cracking year in both of these areas, producing a number of extraordinary wines. As usual, this Grange contains a splash of Cabernet Sauvignon, just 2%. Very deep purple-black in color, it opens on the nose with complex earthy/meaty/savory notes, soon giving way to baked blackberries, plum preserves, hoisin and Chinese five spice with dabs of sandalwood, licorice, menthol and vanilla. The palate reveals a surprisingly open, rich, full-bodied expression exuding a powerhouse of velvet-lined decadence. Still, it characteristically possesses that rock-solid “Grange” backbone of firm tannins and great freshness expressed in a real lively lift to the finish. And the finish is epically long. There are some stylistic similarities here to the opulent, gregarious 2008 vintage, perhaps just lacking ever so slightly in the same exhilarating abandonment of winemaking protocols for the celebration of the fruit and sites. That said, this is unquestionably a stonking great Grange!
This vintage of Grange is 98 percent shiraz, the balance cabernet sauvignon, the sources limited to Barossa and McLaren Vale, where the mild 2012 season and its cool nights sustained even ripening in the grapes, with smaller-than-usual berries and bunch sizes. It’s a succulent vintage of Grange, fresh in its intensity, luscious in its elegance, cool in its lasting sense of incipient complexities. There’s nothing aggressive about the wine as it presents a range of flavors, from anise to blueberry skins and tart, fresh-picked blackberries, held in tension by the structure, which feels more fruit-driven than oak-derived (though if you consider it carefully, you can sense the oak in underlying notes of coffee and the crisp direction of the flavor). The tannins have a silky abrasion that sets this wine apart. Among the best releases of Grange in the modern era—under chief winemaker Peter Gago and his predecessor, John Duval—this is a wine to hold for decades.
Peter joined the winemaking team in 1989, initially in the craftsmanship of sparkling wines, before moving on to reds as Penfolds Red Wine Maker. In 2002 Peter became the fourth ever Chief Winemaker for Penfolds. Together with his fellow winemakers, Peter’s careful custodianship has ensured that Grange and the other ‘older’ members of the Penfolds family, have continued to set the benchmark for their style and quality, while new additions to the range push the boundaries ever wider.