Max Schubert AM (9 February 1915 – 6 March 1994) was a pioneering Australian winemaker who is best known as the creator of Grange Hermitage. Schubert was included in the Sydney Morning Herald's 100 most influential Australians of the century, which was published in 2001.
Life & Career
Schubert was born to Luthern parents in a German community on the fridges of the Barossa Valley, a region renowned for its winemaking. He joined Penfolds in the early 1930s as a messenger boy and became chief winemaker in 1948 through 1975. Max spent his entire working life with Penfolds. He was described as "A true company man, devoted to Penfolds, he was a humble and loyal servant of the Penfold family, and later of the public company."
Over the course of his career, and beyond, Max received many awards, including Member of the Order of Australia (AM) and the inaugural Maurice O'Shea (winemaker) Award for his contribution to the Australian wine industry. He was also named 1988 Man of the Year by the UK's Decanter Magazine.
Schubert died in 1994, aged 79, at his home in Adelaide, South Australia. In his obituary the New York Times noted that his Grange had won more wine show prizes than any other Australian red wine, and was regarded as the flagship of Australia's wine industry.
In 1949 Max was sent to France and Spain to learn more about fortified wine making, fortified wines being the main production focus of Australian wineries during the period. As part of the trip Max also visited the Bordeaux region, including first growth estates Château Lafite Rothschild, Château Latour and Château Margaux. On visiting these estates Max was afforded the opportunity to taste aged Bordeaux wines.
On returning to Australia, Max set about creating a wine for Penfolds that would similarly match the ability to age that he has seen in France. In 1951 the first experimental wine of the project was produced. Schubert named this wine "Grange Hermitage", a combination of the name of the Penfold family cottage "Grange" and the French appellation "Hermitage". Unlike the Bordeaux wines, Grange was comprised not of Cabernet, but almost exclusively of Shiraz. With the French appellation Hermitage being a Shiraz/Syrah growing area the wine was thus named.
1952 saw the first commercial release of Grange. Initially the did not receive a favourable reception. By 1957 Max was ordered by Penfolds management to cease production. However the 1957, 1958 and 1959 vintages of Grange were still made by Schubert despite this direction.
A reprieve was granted for the production of Grange after a latter tasting by the Penfolds board of the early Grange wines met with much more favourable opinions. The 1960 vintage enabled Max to return to using new oak barrels, something he had been unable to do during the 1957-59 vintages.
The 1955 vintage of Grange Hermitage was submitted to wine competitions beginning in 1962 and over the years has won more than 50 gold medals. The 1971 vintage won first prize in Syrah/Shiraz at the Wine Olympics in Paris. The 1990 vintage was named "Red Wine of the Year" by Wine Spectator magazine in 1995, which later rated the 1998 vintage 99 points out of a possible 100.
His other innovations included the use of plastics, refrigeration, pH control, and cold stabilisation of white wines. He received several awards, including Member of the Order of Australia (AM) and the inaugural Maurice O'Shea Award for his contribution to the Australian wine industry. He was also named 1988 "Man of the Year" by the British wine publication Decanter.
- The New York Times (9 March 1994). Max Schubert, Australian wine maker, dies
- The Economist (16 December 1999). "The globe in a glass"
- winepros.com.au. The Oxford Companion to Wine. "Penfolds".
- Stephens, Tony (22 January 2001). "The most influential Australians". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
- Hooke, Huon (1994). Max Schubert Winemaker. Alexandria, NSW, Australia: Kerr Publishing Pty Lts. p. 5. ISBN 1 875703 19 5.
- "Max Schubert". penfolds.com. Penfolds. Retrieved 15 August 2014.
- "Max Schubert, Australia Wine Maker, Dies". www.nytimes.com. The New York Times. Retrieved 15 August 2014.
- "The Story of Grange". penfolds.com. Penfolds. Retrieved 14 August 2014.
- Caillard, Andrew (2013). The Rewards of Patience (7th Edition ed.). Australia: Hardie Grant Books. p. 68. ISBN 9781742706078.
- Caillard, Andrew (2013). The Rewards of Patience (7th Edition ed.). Australia: Hardie Grant Books. pp. 68–71. ISBN 9781742706078.
- Caillard, Andrew (2013). The Rewards of Patience (7th Edition ed.). Australia: Hardie Grant Books. p. 70. ISBN 9781742706078.
- Caillard, Andrew (2013). The Rewards of Patience (7th Edition ed.). Australia: Hardie Grant Books. p. 71. ISBN 9781742706078.
- australianfinewines.com Max Schubert - Penfolds Grange Hermitage Australian Winemaker