This morning we are delighted to offer an allocation of the newest release of Penfolds Grange, the spellbinding 2012 and ‘Baby Grange’ Bin 389 2014. Taken together the wines are two of the best in class anywhere in the world. Penfolds Grange needs no introduction; it is the flagship New World wine. This year’s release is the 2012, a very fine vintage in Barossa that has resulted in a wonderful Grange. Penfolds other leading wines received some of their highest ever scores in 2012, St Henri for example was awarded 96+ when released last year. Grange is released a year after St Henri and the 2012 is special, although yields are down. We tasted it a few weeks ago and it is world class Grange destined for high critical acclaim.
Penfolds is selected from the very best grapes taken from the best parcels and blocks in Penfold’s vast empire, each is blind tasted removing all vineyard bias, letting the wine itself do the talking. As such it is a multi-vineyard, multi-district wine. It is noteworthy at this point to say that the grapes from the leading plots that do not make it into Grange, are selected for Baby Grange, Bin 389. After this selection, one of the most exacting of any wine, anywhere, Grange gets the full treatment, with Penfolds and Peter Gago throwing all of their skills and vast resources into creating something special. It undergoes nearly two years in 100% new American oak hogshead. It is hardly surprising therefore, that it forms one of the pillars of the pantheon of the world’s finest wines. The 2012 is multidimensional and extremely complex, worthy and capable of decades of ageing, yet wonderfully fulfilling now. Its flavour profile combines vibrant and intense fruit, ultra-ripe tannin, with elegant acidity and a compelling balance that distinguishes it. The finish continues for minutes, the experience memorable, which is universally true when drinking Grange.
The Barossa Valley is famous for Shiraz; home to Penfolds Grange, the greatest New World Shiraz. The story of how it rose to such acclaim is noteworthy. In 1951 Max Schubert created an experimental wine by bottling Shiraz after fermenting in American oak, he called it Grange Hermitage. In 1956 he unveiled this polemic new wine but was immediately instructed to stop making it, fortunately, he continued in secret. In 1962, after realising its then clandestine quality Penfolds entered their Grange Hermitage into international competitions and since then it has won 50 Gold medals: today it is just known as Grange. Penfolds Grange is hugely popular in Asia which is its biggest market, benefiting from geographical proximity. In fact, Grange boasts 51 unbroken vintages and is officially listed as a Heritage Icon of South Australia. It displays extraordinary complexity, concentration and the potential to age for 40 years. It is considered among the very best wine in the world and it is the First Growth of Australia, where it reigns head and shoulders above its peers.
Penfold’s Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz is better known or described as ‘Baby Grange’. It was also created by Max Schubert and is matured in the same barrels that held the previous vintage of Grange. It was first created in 1960 and helped to shape the reputation of Penfold’s prestige wines amongst drinkers. It is a magnificent blend that integrates the richness of Shiraz (around 45%), deriving suppleness and intensity, with the structure of Cabernet Sauvignon (approximately 55%). It represents a classic Penfold’s Grange style and identity, beautifully balancing fruit and oak.
The 2014 ‘Baby Grange’, displays the lovely high notes of cassis, rosemary, dark chocolate, sweet spice, white pepper and cinnamon, along with black olives and fig. It even displays Pauillac-esque pencil-shavings on the nose, along with delicate cedar. For collectors that want to own Penfolds Grange but not pay £300 per bottle, ‘Baby Grange’ offers a wonderful tonic at £30 a bottle. Peter Gago, Penfolds eminent winemaker, is quoted as saying, “Through thick and thin, across all vintages, Bin 389 always delivers – benefitting from over half a century of practice!” Its other remarkable quality, considering the price point, is its ability to age, offering two decades of pleasure. It is released for £169 but rises quickly, the 2010 already costs £300 and after only two years since release the 2012 costs £280, so don’t miss out at this price. This is one of the world’s most compelling wines and collectors should buy this in droves, stocking up every year, it comes with our highest recommendation.
If you do not own any Penfolds or have not tried them we have selected what we think to be the greatest they have to offer at three different price points. These are great wines and available in limited quantities so do not miss out.
Penfolds Grange 2012, 6x75cl, £1,825 IB
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! 99 points, Lisa Perrotti-Brown, The Wine Advocate
Penfolds Bin 389 2014, 6x75cl, £169 IB
A blend of 53% Cabernet Sauvignon and 47% Shiraz, the 2014 Cabernet / Shiraz Bin 389 sports a youthful, deep garnet-purple color. Its Cabernet component dominates the nose, bursting with cassis, menthol and violets with anise and mocha in the background. Rich, full, soft and velvety, the palate packs a punch and it finishes long and uncomplicated. 89 points, Lisa Perrotti-Brown, The Wine Advocate
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