Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Penfolds 1987 Magill Estate Shiraz and NV Great Grandfather Rare Tawny at the Wine Watch Collectors Wine Dinner

Attendees were in high spirits as we concluded the Penfolds Vertical phase of the Collectors tasting and transitioned to dinner. Penfolds 1987 Magill Estate Shiraz and NV Penfolds Great Grandfather Rare Tawny were two of the intriguing wines accompanying the dinner. I cover these wines in this post.

1987 Penfolds Magill Estate
Magill Estate is a 5.24 ha monopole located in the foothills of the Mounty Lofty Ranges, a 15-minute drive from the Adelaide City Business District. This is the original Penfolds vineyard, in continuous operation since 1844.

The vineyard is dedicated to Shiraz vines, providing fruit to its namesake Shiraz label and, in selected vintages, to Penfolds Grange.

The Magill Estate Shiraz was first produced in 1983. The fruit is hand-harvested, basket-pressed, and then vinified in open, wax-lined, concrete tanks. The wine is aged between 12 and 15 months in a combination of new French and seasoned French and American oak

According to Decanter, 1987 was a challenging vintage in Australia for red wines produced in regions not named Hunter Valley or Margaret River. Most South Australia regions experienced difficulty in achieving full ripeness in the reds and "most of the top Penfolds reds were leaner and meaner than their usual standard."

The 1987 Magill Estate Shiraz that we tasted did not set off any fireworks. Granny's attic, dried plums, leather, and baking spices on the nose. Plum, tobacco, tea, spice, and forest floor on the palate. Lacking intensity. Uninspiring finish. Its best years have come and gone.

NV Penfolds Great Grandfather Rare Tawny
Port is buried deep with the Penfolds DNA. Doctor Christopher Ransom Penfold, a firm believer in the medicinal value of wine, planted some French vines around his home in Magill in 1844 and used the harvested fruit to produce port and sherry for dispensation to his patients.

The NV Penfolds Great Grandfather Port was introduced in 1994 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Penfolds. The port is a multi-vineyard blend of 13 varieties, with Mataro, Shiraz, Cabernet, and Grenache forming the core. The wine is fortified with a low-strength spirit which "accentuates primary fruit character" as well as facilitating "additional complexity and seamless integration."

The production process for this port is illustrated in the figure below.

On the nose this wine showed honey, toffee, fruitcake, burnt orange, menthol, and spice. Full-bodied on the palate with raisins, caramel, stewed apricots, and fruitcake. Good acid levels. Thick mouthfeel with a long finish. This wine paired extremely well with the Dark Chocolate Cremè Brulée.


Dark Chocolate Crème Brulée

Andrew Lampasone's wife prepares the dishes for these tastings and I have generally found the meals acceptable. She hit it out of the park for this event. One of the issues that I have had with her dishes is the serving sizes, falling more into the comfort range. For this tasting the dishes were reasonably sized, pleasing to the eye, and flavor-packed.

Baby Carpaccio with Grilled Shallot and
Elderflower Aioli

Venison Shu Mai with Porcini Veal
demi reduction

Australian Lamb Chops with Jalapeno Mint Jam
and Crème Fraiche Mash

I attended a number of Penfolds tastings during Dlynn Proctor's tenure as Penfolds Wine Ambassador and admired his detailed discussion of each of the wines; before, during, and after we tasted it. Dlynn had done this particular Wine Watch event for eight successive years prior to moving on to his new position and he left big shoes for the guys down south to fill.

©Wine -- Mise en abyme

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Penfolds Grange vertical tasting at Wine Watch

Wine Watch (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) consistently offers interesting wine tasting events to its customer base and the recent Penfolds Grange Collectors Tasting was in keeping with that tradition. The event was divided into two components:
  1. A Penfolds Grange vertical tasting
  2. A five-course dinner accompanied by non-Grange Penfolds wines
This was a limited-attendee event with the wines on offer sourced from the cellars of the attendees, no duplicate vintages allowed. The vintages included in the tasting were 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2013, and 2014.

My offering was the 2004. As advised by Wine Watch, I took the bottle out of the rack on the evening before the tasting and stood it up to allow the sediment to go to the bottom. I had to travel from Orlando to Ft Lauderdale, so I double-decanted the wine prior to the start of my journey.

Unlike recent tastings that I have attended at Wine Watch, this one was held in the retail space rather than the wine bar. Pre-tasting socializing was facilitated bottles of 2015 Penfolds Bin 51 Riesling and the 2017 Penfolds Chardonnay Max's Cuvée South Australia.

The Bin 51 was originally introduced in 1990 and is made from fruit sourced from Eden Valley. I was so taken by this wine that I brought some home with me that night. This wine was all about lemon, lime, and minerality to begin with. With residence in the glass, petrol and green herb notes began to emerge. Dry and weighty with citrus flavors and a long mineral finish.

The Chardonnay is a tribute to Max Schubert, the "legendary" Penfolds wine maker, and is made with fruit sourced from Adelaide Hills in South Australia. Herby funk on the nose along with mint. Bright on the palate with lime and dried herb flavors and minerality. Weighty. Drying finish.

Suitably lubricated, we were shown to our seats where Andrew introduced the event, the wines, and the Penfolds Brand Ambassador.

The 1997 Grange was 96% Shiraz and 4% Cabernet Sauvignon, made with fruit drawn from Kalimna, Barossa Valley, McLaren-Vale, and Bordertown. This wine was aged for 20 months in new French oak. A somewhat challenging vintage combining a cool start to the season with high heat in the summer.

A elegant nose with dark fruit, baking spices,  and rust. Open on the palate with tar, orange liqueur, herbs and spices. Long creamy finish. Great acid level in this wine. This turned out to be my WOTN.

The 1999 Grange was made from Shiraz grapes grown in Kalimna, Barossa, Magill Estate, Mclaren-Vale, and Padthaway. This was the first 100% Shiraz Grange since 1963. This wine was aged for 17 months in new French oak.

Elegant and restrained. Baking spices, herbs and red fruit on the nose. Broader-based on the palate with red fruit, licorice, dried herbs, and a long, creamy finish.

The 2000 Grange was another 100% Shiraz and, together with the 2001, the only vintages made with grapes only from Kalimna and the Barossa Valley. Some rain between Christmas and New Years but very dry and very hot until March.

Eucalyptus, green herbs, black fruit, baking spices, leather and licorice on the nose. Black fruit, black olives, mint, chocolate on the palate. Smooth tannins. Finish not as long as the preceding wines.

The 2001 Grange was 99% Shiraz and 1% Cabernet Sauvignon from Kalimna and Barossa Valley. Aged for 17 months in New American oak. Good red wine vintage conditions.

Core of black fruit surrounded by eucalyptus, mint, tobacco, and cassis. Rich on the palate with sweet fruit, tobacco, and dark chocolate. Great acidity. I liked this wine.

The 2003 vintage was initially warm and dry, becoming milder later in the season. The wine was 97% Shiraz with the remainder Cabernet Sauvignon. Matured for 15 months in new American oak.

Florality accompanying dark fruit, herbs, mint and baking spices. Mint, black cherries, cassis, and black olives on the palate. Medium-bodied with medium acid levels.

Two thousand and four was an almost perfect growing season and, as such, delivered near-perfect fruit from Kalimna, Barossa Valley, McLaren-Vale, and Magill Estate. 96% Shiraz matured for 16 months in 100% new American oak .

Hint of oxidative character, orange skin, anise, black cherries, black tea, tar, herbs, and spices on the nose. Nose carries through to the palate. Balanced with long finish. One of the classic Grange's in my estimation.

The 2013 and 2014 were still way too young for my style and for this wine. These wines were 96% and 98% Shiraz, respectively, and spent 20 months in new American oak. Massive powerful, primary with Eucalyptus and dark fruit. Thick, rich with bright, fruity finishes.

The wines on offer showed well but it would have been nice to have seen some older vintages. My favorite Granges of the night were the 1997, 1999 and 2004. I will cover the dinner phase of the evening in a subsequent post.

©Wine -- Mise en abyme