1994 Penfolds Grange and 1975 Bin 95 Grange Hermitage


During my time in Bordeaux tasting barrel samples, I spend most evenings essentially harvesting tasting notes for my annual “Centuries Of…” article that will appear in due course. Ironically, perhaps the best bottle of wine with a vintage ending in four was not from either the Left or Right Bank but from Australia.

Proprietor of Château Séraphin, Martin Krajewski, opened two bottles of 1994 Penfolds Grange from his cellar. I must admit, I was completely entranced. Perhaps, having marinated my palate in prenatal claret over the previous week, my senses exaggerated its virtues, but I don’t think so. This was a blend of 89% Shiraz and 11% Cabernet Sauvignon with fruit sourced from Barossa (Kalimna Vineyard), McClaren Vale and Coonawarra. Lucid ruby in hue, it offers red plum, kirsch and fresh fig, touches of sandalwood and light marmalade scents. So sensual and yet beautifully delineated. The palate has a viscous texture on the entry, perfectly balanced. This is a wine that convinces upon the first sip that it has reached its apex. It’s deep and caressing, with layers of slightly confit-like red fruit with allspice and subtle tertiary and mocha notes on the finish. Every drop is savored. I am no expert on Australian wine, but the Coonawarra component seems to be the most expressive. This is, frankly, one of the best vintages of Australia’s iconic wine that I have ever tasted. 98/Drink 2024-2044.

Last year, I was also fortunate to taste two mature vintages of Grange at Hawksmoor restaurant in London. Unfortunately, the 1968 was corked. The 1975 Bin 95 Grange Hermitage (as it was then known) is a blend of 90% Shiraz and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. It is delightful. There’s plenty of red fruit on the nose laced with cooked meats, sandalwood, black truffle and iris flower. It becomes more tertiary in the glass and perhaps gains delineation. The palate is beautifully balanced with firm but fine tannins, almost like a hybrid of Bordeaux and the Rhône yet unmistakably Antipodean. It has a graceful finish that seems fully mature. Well-kept bottles will still give pleasure. 94/Drink 2024-2032.

© 2024, Vinous. No portion of this article may be copied, shared or re-distributed without prior consent from Vinous. Doing so is not only a violation of our copyright, but also threatens the survival of independent wine criticism.