Reviews for the Penfolds Grange 2007 are starting to trickle in. As you may recall, the 2006 Grange was a stellar vintage. Andrew Caillard MW of Langton’s gave the wine a perfect score of 100 points, rating the 2006 Grange as the best vintage since 2004.
2006 was always going to be a hard act to follow, especially since the 2007 vintage was plagued by drought, high summer temperatures and severe frosts early in the growing season. Of course, only the best quality fruit is used for the Grange, and Penfolds has the luxury of being able to source prime material from different sites and regions. The 2007 is a blend of 97 per cent shiraz and 3 per cent cabernet sauvignon.
Grange is definitely not a wine designed to be imbibed upon release, and early reviews and scores are often revised as the wine ages. As the influential American wine critic Robert Parker commented, Grange is a wine that ages at a “glacial pace.” His Wine Advocate regularly re-tastes the wine at 3-7 year intervals, updating reviews and, most importantly, the crucial point scores.
Usually point scores and reviews for Grange tend to improve as the wine ages, but sometimes they dip and then come up again. Like a great Bordeaux, some vintages of Grange have a propensity to ‘close down’ and then ‘re-emerge’ after several more years of cellaring.
The Wine Advocate’s reviews of the celebrated 1990 Grange, for example, are a case in point. (Incidentally, this was the vintage that was named ‘Red Wine of the Year’ by the Wine Spectator magazine in 1995 – the first time it chose a wine outside of France or California!)
In his 1995 review of the 1990 vintage, Parker remarked that “The 1990 is the greatest, most complete and richest Grange since the monumental 1986. It rivals the 1986, 1982, 1981, and 1980 as the finest ‘young’ Grange.” Seven years later, the wine was described as “uncharacteristically compressed” and “very dumb and closed.” But by 2009 the wine was showing better. “It is certainly outstanding, displaying full body along with a classic smoky, blackberry, cassis, pepper, and forest floor-scented bouquet. Of all these wines, it appears to be the most evolved.” (1990 Penfolds Grange, Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate)
Early reviews and scores for the 2007 vintage are certainly not as good as the 2006, but they are nevertheless impressive. The Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perrotti-Brown scored the 2007 95 points: “…The full bodied palate is richly fruited with pure black berry and baking spice flavors offset by crisp acidity and a firm level of velvety tannins, finishing long. This is quite an opulent, forward Grange, which is very tempting to drink now, though of course will reward at least 5-10 years of cellaring and should keep to 2030+. (Penfolds Grange Vertical & New Releases by Lisa Perrotti-Brown, May 2012, eRobertParker.com).
The Sydney Morning Herald’s wine critic Huon Hooke was less impressed with how the wine is drinking now, but his review speaks of the wine’s inherent potential to develop over time:
Deep red colour, purple tints and rim. Almost shockingly chocolaty aroma, not detailed or complex, dense and rustic, concentrated and chewy, thick and mouth-coating. Loads of oak, cleverly infused into the wine, which is massive, tannic and thick. Typical Grange density and solidity. A biggie and not terribly subtle, but no doubt will mellow out nicely in time. A mid-ranking Grange, but a few rungs below the 2006. 93/100 (HuonHooke.com, 28 March 2012)
As they say, only time will tell whether the 2007 joins the pantheon of famous vintages, but Grange is a remarkably well-made wine and Australia’s undisputed first-growth. Even less acclaimed vintages rarely disappoint!
Photo Credit: Cover of the Wine Spectator magazine, 31 December 1995