Penfolds Grange

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Penfolds Grange 1999

Penfolds Grange (until the 1989 vintage labelled Penfolds Grange Hermitage) is an Australian wine, made predominantly from the Shiraz (Syrah) grape and usually a small percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon. It is widely considered one of Australia's "first growth" and its most collectable wine.[1] The term "Hermitage", the name of a French wine appellation, was commonly used in Australia as another synonym for Shiraz or Syrah. Penfolds is owned by Treasury Wine Estates.


The first vintage of Penfolds Grange was made on an experimental basis in 1951 by Penfolds winemaker Max Schubert and were largely given away at the time.[2] Having toured Europe in 1950, Schubert implemented wine-making techniques observed in Bordeaux upon his return, aiming to create a red wine able to rival the finest Bordeaux wines both in terms of quality and ageing potential.[3]

Individual bottles of the 1951 vintage are still held by collectors; one sold at auction in 2004 for just over $50,000 AUD.[4] The first vintage to be commercially released was the 1952. Penfolds Grange was styled as a powerful still wine in an age when fortified wines were in fashion. Negative reviews by wine critics and poor commercial prospects for the wine led Penfolds management in 1957 to forbid Schubert from producing Penfolds Grange, but Schubert persisted in secret through 1959.[1][3] As the initial vintages aged, however, their true value came to be appreciated, and in 1960 the management instructed Schubert to restart production, oblivious to the fact that Schubert had never stopped production and had not missed a vintage.

The great 1955 vintage was submitted to competitions beginning in 1962, and over the years has won more than 50 gold medals. The vintage of 1971 won first prize in Shiraz at the Wine Olympics in Paris. The 1990 vintage was named 'Wine of the Year' by the Wine Spectator magazine in 1995, which later rated the 1998 vintage 99 points out of a possible 100.

Penfolds Grange also carries a "Bin" designation, referring to its storage location in Penfolds cellars while aging. 1951 was Bin 1, 1952 was Bin 4, and later vintages carried various designations. By 1964 the designation was standardised as "Bin 95".


The 1971 vintage received the top score against other renowned international wines of the 1970s in a blind tasting with an international panel of judges in 2015.[5] Originally released for around AUD $10 in 1976[6] the 1971 sells at auction between AUD $700 and AUD $1,100.[7]

Schubert retired in 1975, passing the custodianship of Grange to Don Ditter. Ditter had been working at Penfolds since 1950 after graduating from Roseworthy Agricultural College.[8]

Ditter retired as Penfolds' Chief Winemaker in 1986. During his time as Chief Winemaker several highly regarded Grange vintages were released, including 1976 and 1986. 1976 was awarded 100 points by American critic Robert Parker Jr.[9] 1986, Ditter's last vintage, has been labeled as the 'defining vintage of the 1980s' as well as an 'important and very successful vintage'.[10]

John Duval assumed the mantle of Penfolds Chief Winemaker from Ditter in 1986 until resigning in 2002. He was named International Winemaker of the Year in 1989 by the UK's International Wine & Spirit Competition.


The 1990 vintage of Grange attracted a great amount of interest after Wine Spectator Magazine named it their 'Wine of the Year' in 1995.[11] The name "Hermitage" was dropped from the label with the 1990 vintage, following objections by the European Union authorities to the use of a French place-name; no third-country wine entering EU may carry a geographical name recognized by European wine officials.[1][12]

In 1991 and in 2000, Duval was named Red Winemaker of the Year at the International Wine Challenge in London.[13] Each of these awards were conferred during Duval's period as custodian of Grange.

Duval also oversaw the 'White Grange' project at Penfolds. This project was intended to produce a white wine that would equal the quality and reputation of Grange. The resultant wine, Penfolds Yattarna, was first released with the 1995 vintage.[14]


In 2002, Peter Gago assumed custodianship of Penfolds Grange as the replacement Chief Winemaker for the outgoing John Duval.[15] During the ensuing years Gago has overseen a number of highly acclaimed Grange vintages, including 2008.

The 2008 vintage of Grange was awarded 'perfect' 100-point ratings from two influential American wine reviewers, "Wine Spectator".[16] and "Wine Advocate".[17] With these accolades this vintage became the first 'New World' wine to receive 100 points from both reviewers.[18]


By the end of the 1980s the wine came to be regarded as a collectors' item.[19] The first vintage, 1951, is now considered highly collectable with one sold at auction in 2004 for just over $50,000 AUD.[4] Collections of Grange have been sold at auction in Australia for AUD $431,000.[20]

Listed in the 4th edition of Langton’s Classification of Australian Wine at the "Exceptional" level,[21][22][23] Grange has been in the top Langton classification since 1991.[24][25]

Penfolds Grange is the only wine to be heritage listed by the South Australian National Trust.[2]

Production style[edit]

Unlike most expensive cult wines from the Old World which are from single vineyards or even small plots (called blocks) within vineyards, Grange is made from grapes harvested over a wide area. This means that the precise composition of the wine changes from year to year; it is the expertise of the winemakers which purchasers value, rather than the qualities of the specific places where the grapes are grown, or the particular vines. The quantity of Penfolds Grange produced varies from year to year, with 1,800 bottles of the original 1951 vintage produced.[26] Gago states that 7,000 to 9,000 cases are made each vintage as of 2013.[27] Despite the vagaries of grape sourcing and vintage variation due to growing conditions, some[who?] believe that there is a consistent and recognisable "Penfolds Grange" style.[citation needed]


In the 1980s, Tooth & Co. (who were then part of the Adelaide Steamship Group) purchased a number of wineries, including Penfolds. AdSteam sold its wineries to SA Brewing Holdings in 1990, who then amalgamated all of its wine holdings into "The Penfolds Wines Group". In 1994 SA Brewing Holdings split into three companies: brewing into SA Brewing Company, wine in Southcorp Wines, and other activities into Southcorp. Upon its acquisition of Southcorp Wines in May 2005, ownership of the Penfolds brand, along with its museum collection of Penfolds Grange, passed to the Foster's Group.

In May 2011 Penfolds, along with the rest of Foster's wine brands, were spun off into Treasury Wine Estates, a separate company listed on the Australian Securities Exchange.[28]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c Pitcher, Steve, The Wine News (February–March 2002). "Proprietary Shiraz -Australia's Best of Show". Archived from the original on 23 April 2008.
  2. ^ a b "The Definitive Penfolds Grange Guide: Langtons" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 March 2015. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
  3. ^ a b The Oxford Companion to Wine. "Penfolds". Archived from the original on 28 September 2011.
  4. ^ a b ABC News (17 June 2004). "Grange fetches record price".
  5. ^ "Penfolds Grange tops global challenge to find greatest wine of the 1970s". 8 September 2015.
  6. ^ "When is Penfolds Grange released ?". Penfolds Grange Guide and Information. Wickmans Fine Wine Auctions. Retrieved 6 October 2015.
  7. ^ "Current and historical values paid at auction in Australia". Penfolds Grange Prices. Wickmans Fine Wine Auctions. Retrieved 6 October 2015.
  8. ^ "Don Ditter". Penfolds Wines. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
  9. ^ "20 Australian Wines with a perfect 100-point Robert Parker Score". CellarIt. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
  10. ^ Shanahan, Chris (7 May 1995). "Release of Penfolds 1992 Bin reds and 1991 St Henri". Retrieved 11 July 2015.
  11. ^ "Issue Archive - In the Dec. 31, 1995 Issue". Wine Spectator. Wine Spectator Magazine. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
  12. ^ The Oxford Companion to Wine. "generic". Archived from the original on 28 January 2012.
  13. ^ "John Duval". Penfolds Wines. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
  14. ^ "Penfolds Grange & Super Premium Wines". Rare Australian Wines. Rare Australian Wines. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
  15. ^ "Peter Gago". Penfolds Wines. Archived from the original on 19 August 2014. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
  16. ^ "2008 Penfolds Grange Scores 100 Points In Wine Spectator".
  17. ^ "2008 Penfolds Grange Shiraz Scores 100 Points In Robert Parker's Wine Advocate".
  18. ^ "Geoffrey Dean reveals his 12 wine discoveries at "best ever" ProWein". 28 March 2014. Retrieved 16 April 2017.
  19. ^ Snow, Chris, (23 July 2008). "Complete sets of Grange up for auction".
  20. ^ "Grange set sells for $150,000 - Decanter". 24 July 2008. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
  21. ^ Langton’s Classification of Australian Wine
  22. ^ Langton's Classification of Australian Wine IV, Jancis Robinson
  23. ^ "Appellation Australia, An exploration of Australian wine". Archived from the original on 27 December 2014. Retrieved 11 October 2009.
  24. ^ Andrew, Caillard. "Classification of Australian Wine, Introduction". Langtons.
  25. ^ "Penfold Grange, a definitive guide" (PDF). Langton. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 February 2011. Retrieved 3 January 2011.
  26. ^ "Grange". Penfolds. Retrieved 15 August 2014.
  27. ^ "GrangeCorker". The Australian. Retrieved 31 July 2015.
  28. ^ Demerger,


External links[edit]