Oct 20: A new variant of the famous Grange, labelled as g3 and made from a blend of 2008, 2012 and 2014 vintages, was released as a limited Edition wine from Penfolds at the famous Liang Yi Museum in Hong Kong with the release price of a whopping A$3000, raising a controversy not as much as on the price as the way it has been made as a blend
This is the super- math equation, as elicited by the newly released limited edition of only 100 cases of Super Grange ‘g3’. No- the g in the label is not supposed to stand for Gimmicky but simply Grange while the 3 represents it as a blend of the 3 vintages-2008, 2012 and 2014, assembled and matured together in the barrel. Each of the 3 variants individually priced at around A$800 each, costs almost 4 times after blending at the release price of A$3000 (Rs. 152,000), making it the most expensive Australian wine- not because of its special packaging but the liquid inside.
In 2012 Penfolds had released the rare 2004 Kalimna Cabernet Sauvignon Block 42, in 12 limited- edition ampoules completely encased in glass, at US $168,000, making it a piece of collectible art and the most expensive wine in the world sold from a winery. It had created only 12 ampoules; one for its library, one to be auctioned for charity, and 10 for sale (2 in North America, 2 in Europe, 3 in Asia, and 3 in Australia and New Zealand).
In the new marketing style in recent years for unusual, rare, gimmicky and expensive Australian wines, the release took place on Wednesday, October 16 in Liang Yi Museum in Hong Kong, which by itself might be controversial in Australia. Chief winemaker Peter Gago said he expects g3 will attract controversy, not so much because of its high price but also because of the unusual way it was made. It seems to be a radical development for the iconic Australian wine, the style for which has remained basically the same since Penfolds winemaker Max Schubert crafted it in 1951.
The wine has been developed secretly-from start to finish."For many people, particularly in Australia, Grange is sacrosanct," said Gago. "Because this is a whole new concept it may be challenging for them to appreciate-which is why we developed it in secret, from start to finish."
The release of Penfolds g3 is in contrast to the current trends in fine wine production which showcase the terroir and thus are generally single-varietal, single-vineyard single- vintage wines, even though the practice of blending across vintages is not unusual. An example of a multi-vintage luxury champagnes is Krug Grande Cuvée- a famous blend of 120 wines across 12 vintages. The trend is very prevalent in Ports also- Penfolds' 50 Year Old Rare Tawny includes parcels of wine resting in the barrel for up to a century and fetching over 3500 Euros.
In many ways ,Penfolds g3 is a return to an old Australian tradition. In the 1950s, when Max Schubert created Grange, it was common to blend wine not just from across vineyards and regions – something that has been a hallmark of the Grange style ever since – but also across years.
"But I still wanted g3 to be controversial," Mr Gago said. "Grange should be about controversy. It always has been.," he agrees.
Art of Blending
Though it is still a Shiraz varietal but the wine is a natural result of the revered art of blending. Gago says, "it wasn't about selecting the biggest or the best Grange vintages. It was about making something different, but not just to be different." It seems to be apparent that for the first such blend ever, iconic 2008 and 2012 were chosen along with 2014 which has not even been relased yet and had the mystical touch. the 2008 Grange had achieved a perfect score of 100 points from the two most influential wine magazines- Wine Spectator and Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate.
Peter Gago says the g3 is a natural result of the revered art of blending. Each vintage selected for the blend brings something different to the final product- the 2008 is big and bold, the 2012 is elegant and sophisticated while the yet-to-be-released 2014 is young and fresh.
TWE says Penfolds will not release the blended Grange every year, but may consider it if the right wines were available and the end result results in an elevated Grange. There's always an interest from collectors and consumers of Penfolds or these experimental, new innovations and the company hopes to make it a big success..
Though the rare 1200 bottles available are to be sold across the globe, it is doubtful that the iconic wine will be imported by Brindco, the Indian distributor for Penfolds. With the applicable duties, the wine would theoretically cost around Rs. 750,000 a bottle- taxes paid in India! The g3 is otherwise available by application and through Penfolds' cellar doors in the Barossa Valley and at Magill Estate in South Australia. It may then be hand- carried duty-free by individuals without the payment of duties, quasi-legally.
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