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Penfold Grange 2011 dethroned as Top Oz Wine

Posted: Thursday, 24 September 2015 15:43

 

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Penfold Grange 2011 dethroned as Top Oz Wine

Sep 24: Australia’s most popular and top-rated brand Penfold Grange has taken the backseat for its 2011 vintage due to the poor climatic conditions during the grape growing period, but managed to keep the vertical for vintages uninterrupted since the conception in 1951 but fortunately their top white wines have come to the fore instead with the senior white winemaker helping to win the white winemaker of the year award at the International Wine Challenge 2015, writes Subhash Arora

Aubert Villaine is a celebrity winemaker and the iconic producerof Domaine de la Romanée Conti      (DRC), one of the top Burgundy wine estates. I meet him during the first week of November every year at Villa d’Este Wine Symposium.  He has enough clout to become snobbish and snooty but has always been very humble though reserved. I have talked with him in an informal atmosphere since 2009 and attended his Premier Tastings which was sold out for €2000 a seat last year. I couldn’t resist asking him then how he could remain so humble and modest with the whole world looking up to him, His answer, ‘I am just a caretaker of the vineyards and land. No matter what and who we are, we can be humbled any time by nature which shows its prowess at every vintage, and in the process giving us challenges and wines with different character year after year,’ showed his humility.

VDEWS 2014 : Tasting Beats the others Cold, When DRC Pours it ON

The words rang true in my ears as I learnt that the iconic Penfolds Grange is suffering the pangs of mediocrity for its soon-to-be released 2011 vintage, despite the rock star red winemaker Peter Gago who has kept the legacy of Max Schubert who created it in 1951 and today it is considered the First Growth of Australia with really no wines overtaking it in terms of the pricing and quality.

The new 2011 vintage of Australia’s most famous wine is reportedly, a little out of sorts for this release, according to the chief winemaker Peter Gago. Industry has been eagerly awaiting the release to see if the iconic winemaker could change the characteristics of the wine as 2011 South Australian vintage had been a nightmare because of cold and wet season, according to most experts who felt that most of the state’s top grape crop was below par.

He conceded that it was a wine ‘with nowhere to hide’ but stressing it was one of the finest, if not the finest red wines from South Australia in 2011. Even releasing a 2011 Grange from such a challenging vintage has been questioned by many critics, but Gago said they were always sure it was going to be released and that it was a major achievement in a year when there were not many top wines would be released.

It might sound like it was a necessity for them to release the vintage at any cost to maintain the continuity of the vintage for the collectible wine-it has been released consistently every year since its first vintage 1951. There are many wine lovers who stock verticals of this wine and it appears the decision might have been taken to satisfy the demand of such people.

The angst at Penfolds and the release of tension is marked in the statement of Gago when he said, “we’re very pleased that there is now an uninterrupted line back to the first 1951 Grange vintage, which is just wonderful,” Mr Gago said, even if it was about half the usual volume which he did not divulge.

It may sound unfair to the collectors that the vintage with lower quality was being priced at A $785, same as the last year but if one looks at the supply and demand elasticity, all the cases are expected to be sold out due to much lesser supply and almost the same demand as last year from the collectors and fans.

The fiasco due to weather has been a blessing in disguise for the senior white wine maker Kym Schroeter who has been catapulted to a superstar status with four high-class whites, a Riesling and three Chardonnays, stealing the attention from its usual leading red lights such as Penfolds Grange, St Henri and Bin 389. In fact, the winery was awarded ‘International White Winemaker of the Year’ at London’s prestigious International Wine Challenge earlier this year. Unfortunately such high quality, expensive white wines do not have much market in India.

Confirming that the price for Grange 2011 will be the same as 2010, Yodi Mootooswamy, Treasury Estate’s Regional Business Manager- his area includes India, informs delWine that the wine will be officially released on October 15 simultaneously tor the trade, collectors and consumers and would also be available online.

Rohit Mehra, owner of Mohan Bros. who has been distributing Penfolds wines in India, says they will not be affected much by the quality or the Principal’s decision not to reduce the price. ‘As it is, we hardly get a case or two for India of this wine on allocation and it gets sold fast to our regulars. So there will be enough requirements for this vintage at the old (high) prices,’ he opines.

It would be interesting to know when and at what price the earlier online retailer slurp.asia.com in Hong Kong, now a part of the worldwide Cru group will sell it for. Last year, the 100- pointer Grange 2008 was listed at HK $4200 ($540). Currently their website lists the 2007 at HK $3255. A magnum of the 99-pointer2010 is expected in stock on 6 October and will be listed at HK$ 10,500. If one can wait till 9 November and pool in with friends, the 6-bottle case will be sold at much more reasonable price of HK $18,300 (HK $3050 a bottle-equivalent of A$562-a far cry from the release price of A$785).

Of course, Grange remains one of the most revered wines of the world and the label will bounce back with the next good vintage. Interestingly, the announcement by Penfolds and Peter Gago comes in the wake of the Grange 1971 being declared as the World’s Best Wine     this month by the European luxury magazine publisher FINE and website tastingbook.com which commissioned a study of top wines of 1970s at a special event. Penfolds 1971 Grange topped the list, scoring 98.5 out of a possible 100 points, to narrowly beat Chateau Y'quem 1975 from Sauternes, which scored 98 points. Rhone red Guigal La Mouline 1976 came third with a score of 97.5 points.

Though it has been getting 95+ points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, it was only in 1976 and 2008 that it was awarded 100 points-the later getting the perfect score also from Wine Spectator, obliging it to increase the prices by about 15%, an increase that would remain for the more plebeian vintage 2011 as well.

The difficult vintage has been a boon for the white wines of Penfolds, which have been always in the shadow of their globally acclaimed red rock star. The senior white winemaker Kym Schroeter is hogging the limelight with enough whites winning Awards at the International Wine Challenge in London to get them the Honour of White Winemaker of the Year Award.

For earlier related Articles visit

Treasury looking for Treasure in the Unites States of India
We Recommend: Grange from Penfolds at Hyatt

Subhash Arora

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