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  • 1998 Penfolds Grange - Australia, South Australia (7/31/2008)
    My best friend from childhood was visiting from California and the occassion called for a special wine. I called on the 1998 Penfolds Grange and boy was it ever up to the task. I have been reluctant to open any of my 6 bottles too soon (as evidenced by my drinking the 07's) but this was the right occassion to take this wine for a spin and find out where it is 10 years in. Decanted for 2 1/2 hours before serving. You will have to excuse the verbose nature of my tasting note but this wine brought out the poet in me (Whitman I am not) and elicited all sorts of verbs and adjectives that just needed to get out. A wine this good deserves much be written about it.

    On the pour, both for the decant and then later in the glass, this beauty was a deep, dense and elegant inky purple. Indeed it was almost black. An absolute work of art to look at. Nosing this wine was an experience unlike any other. The room was slient as we all savored amazing and bold aromas of blackberry, plum, black currant with some elements of oak, spice and a hint of vanilla. Outstanding bouquet that quieted the room in reverance to what we were experiencing. In fact, we nosed the wine for so long we almost forgot to taste as it almost seemed an afterthought. On the palate there was an abundance of dark fruits with blackberry, plum, black currant, spice (white pepper and dare I say a hint of ginger?) with traces of oak, licorice and vanilla cream. It was massive! Huge mouthfeel, full bodied, well integrated and complex. There were some well integrated tannins still showing and this wine will surely age very well for 10-20 more years and I would lean more toward the longer the better. The finish was forever.

    We tasted and drank this wine in silence for some time and then the descriptive words just poured out of us. Elegant, abundant, beautiful and supple are all words that emanated from my mouth.

    If you have 6 of these in cellar I would consider opening one now just to get a glimpse of what this wine is doing now and where it is headed. If you have 3 or less I would try to hold on for another 5 years before popping open the first one.

    I think this is a flagship Grange from Penfolds and one people will be talking about for years to come. I also think that in 5 years this might be a 100 point beauty. (99 pts.)

Posted from CellarTracker
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This is from my anniversary year, and the gem(s) of my celebration wines. I have 3 now and was planning on waiting until 15-25-xx years to celebrate and enjoy, but you are making that very difficult with that tasting note!!!!!

Thanks for the note and I would say that we all hope that our bottles are as wonderful as yours was.

Dale
I agree that Grange really starts showing its best after 15 years of age. I tasted the 98 upon release and really couldn't taste how good it could be but i bought six of them anyway. I have had several bottles of the 86 and the 90 and they are in the top 10 wines i've ever had. Buy the way, the secret to drinking Grange is a six hour decant. Trust me on that one. Even older ones!
Dale451 - hold on my friend, hold on. As Lakersguy said 15 years tends to be a nice window to start drinking Grange in. I agree with that. Think of it this way, it is already aged 10 years so only 5 more until the first bottle. I might suggest the Penfolds RWT as a modest fill in during the wait.

Lakersguy - I couldn't agree with you more on the 6 hour decant. I have tinkered with different decant times on Grange and I concluded a minium of 5 so you likely dead on the money. Thanks for the advice.
quote:
Originally posted by gigabit:
We are taking a large group to dinner tomorrow night for Mrs. Gigabit's birthday. The restaurant has this wine in their cellar. The price is $350 which seems very reasonable based on the current auction prices.

I'm thinking this might be a great way to finish the dining experience.

Indeed the price for this, relatively speaking, is quite good. This is a power house of a wine, gig. Beautiful, surely.

If you decide to go for it, I'd strongly suggest you contact the restaurant before hand to please open it and give it a couple hour splash decant. At the very least, get this open as soon as you arrive. Just maximize its air time. It's still a kid. Not a pup, necessarily, but young.

Enjoy! Best B'day wishes to Mrs. Gigabit. Wink
gigabit, what a generous host you are!

Virtually all Grange, but especially from a warmer year like 1998, will benefit tremendously from a decant. My Dad goaded me into opening a 1996 for my last birthday and it took hours to open up. It was practically painful to sip for the first hour or so. Maybe you can order it right away and leave it decanted on the side until later? Anyway, I thought this information might help in your preparation for the evening.

I hope you, your wife, and your friends have a wonderful birthday celebration.
Thank you both for your input.

I will probably purchase and decant this wine upon arrival, and enjoy 2+ hours after we finish our meals.

You suggest splash-decanting this wine. Based on my limited experience, I interpret this term a couple of different ways and, again, I need some input.

A. Pour abruptly into the decanter?

B. Decant slowly and then swirl vigorously in the decanter?

or

C. Both?

With the wine laying down in their cellar, the sediment, if any, will not have properly worked its way to the bottom of the bottle.

Suggestions, from any Forum members, would be greatly appreciated. Smile

P.S. I'd ask for w+a's input, but we are all familiar with his aversion to Aussie wines. Razz
gigabit,

Splash decanting doesn't have a universal definition, but basically it means using an aeration tool that the wine is poured through prior to entering the decanter that exposes as much surface area of the wine to air as possible. Honestly, I have not seen too many of these used in restaurants, but it can't hurt to ask. In short, any way you can get the wine exposed to as much air as possible the better the Grange experience will be.
quote:
Originally posted by gigabit:
A. Pour abruptly into the decanter?

B. Decant slowly and then swirl vigorously in the decanter?

Due to the likely deposit, or sediment, in the bottle as you mentioned the clear choice would be:

B Wink

As Montsant mentions, be sure to let us know how this turns out. Vinaigre opened a '99 last year at a BBQ and it was gorgeous. If I recall correctly, Escape opened a '98 in Dallas, February last year, and it too showed very well.

Cheers
quote:
Originally posted by Montsant:
Let us know how it goes. We have a bottle sleeping downstairs that probably will not be popped until 2014 (10th Anniversary), but I always love hearing about this wine, as little else in our cellar compares to it on paper.


Ditto. I have some '02 sleeping, and love hearing stories about this wine.

Cometspider, when you describe the wine you had as "painful" in the early going, you're describing tannin intensity, correct?
quote:
Originally posted by cometspider:
gigabit,

Splash decanting doesn't have a universal definition, but basically it means using an aeration tool that the wine is poured through prior to entering the decanter that exposes as much surface area of the wine to air as possible.

I've never, personally, heard of the venturi piece associated with the term of splash decanting, but of aerating, but there you go. (Ya gotta' watch those MD boys and their Southern meanings. Wink )

So to be clear, regarding what I was referring to by splash decanting, I mean to pour into the decantor, to cause agitation. To me, 'splash decanting' is just that. To pour aggresively into the vessel to cause maximum agitation. Of course, with the sediment this bottle will likely begin showing, it'd be best to pour in cautiously, purly to seperate the sediment, and then give it a good agitation.

I would expect a venturi, or an aerator, to have little effect on this beast of a wine.
Cometspider,

Thanks for the info. My question: Why don't more people open these wines young? With my short-term knowledge of Aussie Shiraz, a balanced one is still a balanced wine, and delicious, even if it is huge. Not suggesting everyone quit aging their Grange, just wondering. Smile

Primordealsoup, if you read this, curious if you've had young Grange. Our palates are pretty similar.
quote:
Originally posted by indybob:
Cometspider,

Thanks for the info. My question: Why don't more people open these wines young? With my short-term knowledge of Aussie Shiraz, a balanced one is still a balanced wine, and delicious, even if it is huge. Not suggesting everyone quit aging their Grange, just wondering. Smile

Primordealsoup, if you read this, curious if you've had young Grange. Our palates are pretty similar.


Great question here indybob and, though you didn't pose the question directly to me, I hope you don't mind my response.

First, on the question of other young Aussie Shiraz, I recently had a 2007 Amon Ra and it was immaculate. I wouldn't say it was quite as good as the uber impressive 2006 but it was very close. The Amon Ra, both vintages and other vintages I have had, are clearly very age worthy but - in my humble opinion - you are dead on when it comes to the better Aussie Shiraz. They are VERY approachable when young. On a quick side note I find the Amon Ra to be a really smooth and, dare I say, more medium bodied Shiraz then Grange. I wonder if anyone who has had it agrees?

That said, the youngest Grange I have had is the 2003. With proper decanting it was splendid and everything you would expect from a Grange. I will admit that, as good as they are when young (and they are spectacular), they get out of this world when aged properly.

For me this is the beauty of Grange and other similar (nothing IMHO is as good as Grange in this varietal) Shiraz is that they are so approachable when young and if you are fortunate to have 6 or more you can give them a spin when young and enjoy them over their life cycle.
quote:
Originally posted by gigabit:
We are taking a large group to dinner tomorrow night for Mrs. Gigabit's birthday. The restaurant has this wine in their cellar. The price is $350 which seems very reasonable based on the current auction prices.

I'm thinking this might be a great way to finish the dining experience.


gigabit, a couple of thoughts.

First, Happy Birthday to your bride!

Do not ever confuse Grange with Shiraz. Grange is a different animal most years. I have had the '98 several times, as I tend to hang around very impetuous people. Wink As others have said, open early, and I hope it shows well. It is/will be a very special wine.

I do have a question. Does the wine list have a '90 or '91 by chance? I know both are better now, and I feel both will always be better wines. Also, what other gems do they have on the list for $350?

I may try to talk you out of it after I hear what else is selling for $350 - $400. Wink
quote:
Originally posted by wine+art:
quote:
Originally posted by gigabit:
We are taking a large group to dinner tomorrow night for Mrs. Gigabit's birthday. The restaurant has this wine in their cellar. The price is $350 which seems very reasonable based on the current auction prices.

I'm thinking this might be a great way to finish the dining experience.


gigabit, a couple of thoughts.

First, Happy Birthday to your bride!

Do not ever confuse Grange with Shiraz. Grange is a different animal most years. I have had the '98 several times, as I tend to hang around very impetuous people. Wink As others have said, open early, and I hope it shows well. It is/will be a very special wine.

I do have a question. Does the wine list have a '90 or '91 by chance? I know both are better now, and I feel both will always be better wines. Also, what other gems do they have on the list for $350?

I may try to talk you out of it after I hear what else is selling for $350 - $400. Wink

w+a-

Despite anything I might ever post in your direction regarding the Sooners or Cowboys (Dallas), please know that I value your opinion very highly, and I look forward to sharing wine with you someday.

(Yes, I know, you are overcome with joy)

However, to answer your question, this particular restaurant only pretends to have a respectable wine list (I know, how could we possibly enjoy a place with an inferior wine list? Wink). We usually BOOW (bring our own wine) to this establishment, which we will also do tomorrow night - Champagne, Chilean Chardonnay and Alsatian Riesling, and Cabernet Sauvignon - from various regions.

Unfortunately, the only other supposed gems on their wine list are mostly young, overrated, or off-vintage wines from California: 2000/2003 Shafer HHS ($270), 2004 Caymus SS ($220), 2003 Napa Silver Oak Roll Eyes ($184), 2001 Shafer Relentless (somewhat intriguing at $120), and 2002 Opus One (Roll Eyes again) $325. There is no Bordeaux, very little Burgundy, and very little Spanish or Italian wines. (GASP!!! What did you expect? I live in Utah! Razz Wink Big Grin)

(Oh, I forgot to mention the 1999 Dom for $225. Big Grin)

I have never tasted a Grange, and I thought that tomorrow night might be the time to initiate myself.
quote:
Originally posted by gigabit:


I have never tasted a Grange, and I thought that tomorrow night might be the time to initiate myself.



Then I say, GO FOR IT. Cool

On a side note, do not overlook the 2000 Shafer HSS. Despite being from the 2000 vintage, it is a stellar wine.

Gig, we will bend our elbow together this year I think. I'm going to try to put together an offline in the Southwest this year, hoping to include forum friends from California, Arizona, Utah, Colorado and Texas. I'm thinking somewhere easy for everyone to get to like Phoenix or Vegas. With any advance planning, airfare and hotels should be very affordable for everyone.

Enjoy the birthday celebration!
quote:
Originally posted by Italian Wino:
quote:
California, Arizona, Utah, Colorado and Texas



WHAT ABOUT KENTUCKY? Wink
Dorrie and I have a ticket we need to use on Southwest Airlines.

IW


Oh, please know everyone is invited. Big Grin

Just seems I have been going East a lot recently, and there are many in the Southwest I'm wanting to meet soon.

I hope you and Dorrie can make it, and would be good to see you both again. Southwest loves both Phoenix and Vegas. Wink
quote:
Originally posted by wine+art:
Gig, we will bend our elbow together this year I think. I'm going to try to put together an offline in the Southwest this year, hoping to include forum friends from California, Arizona, Utah, Colorado and Texas. I'm thinking somewhere easy for everyone to get to like Phoenix or Vegas. With any advance planning, airfare and hotels should be very affordable for everyone.

Enjoy the birthday celebration!

Thank you for your feedback.

Count me in for the offline. Cool

IW-
You should definitely try to make it.
  • 1998 Penfolds Grange - Australia, South Australia (2/8/2009)
    We gave this bottle a 4+ hour decant; to be consumed at the end of one of the most wonderful evenings of dining I have ever experienced, with many great friends, and my beautiful wife. Immediately after pouring, we passed the decanter around so that everyone could smell the wine. I believe that all were VERY intrigued by the bouquet. Personally, I had never smelled such a dark, lurking behemoth.

    Once dinner was finished, after 4 hours, our server brought fresh stems, and we decided to pour five glasses - one for each couple to share.

    Everyone was very quiet as they swirled and smelled the wine. It was truly a pleasure to see such gratification as they began to sip from their glasses, and I wanted everyone to vocalize their impressions of the wine. The comments from the group were: "warm blanket", "soft and smooth", "dark, concentrated, and delicious", "big and balanced", and "OK, that is ****ing good!"

    Penfolds Grange has always been right near the top of my list of wines that I have wanted to enjoy, and it did not disappoint. The nose was dark, sweet, and inviting. The palate was massive, but balanced. The finish went on forever - I could still taste it this morning.

    It was the finest bottle of wine I have ever tasted; made even more enjoyable by fantastic food and some of our very close friends. (98 pts.)

Posted from CellarTracker

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