x
  • Country ranking ?

    392
  • Producer ranking ?

    117
  • Decanting time

    45min
  • When to drink

    2020-2025
  • Food Pairing

    Lamb

The Story

Grange is arguably Australia’s most celebrated wine and is officially listed as a Heritage Icon of South Australia. Grange boasts an unbroken line of vintages from the experimental 1951 and clearly demonstrates the synergy between Shiraz and the soils and climates of South Australia. Grange utilises fully-ripe, intensely-flavoured and textured Shiraz grapes. The result is a unique Australian style that is now recognised as one of the most consistent of the world’s great wines. The Grange style is the original and most powerful expression of Penfolds multi-vineyard, multi-district, blending philosophy.

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Vintage 2003

Penfolds Grange Hermitage


It took 10 years from the time the first experimental Grange was made before the wine gained general acceptance and the prejudices were overcome.

In 1949 a young Australian wine maker from Penfolds, Max Schubert, was sent to Jerez, Spain to learn the art of making sherry. At the time the voyage between continents was made without haste by ocean liners. On his way back home, as the ship stopped in the harbor of Bordeaux, Max decided to take advantage of the opportunity and take a short holiday in the most famous wine area of France. With the help of his recommendations and eagerness the young man got a chance to acquaint with the local wine production through the mighty Cruse wine family. Christian Cruse took Max under his wings and presented him with the secrets of wine production by means of the splendid vintage 1949.
Max Schubert returned to Australia and Penfolds favorably impressed and determined to produce an Australian red wine that would last for decades and would in quality be comparable to the famous Bordeaux wines.
The task was not easy since the classic Bordeaux was in France produced by mixing Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. In Australia those refined grapes did not exist, so Max had to settle for the local Shiraz which was usually used only in the production of the regional, fortified port wine. There were also no French oak casks at hand, but having managed to purchase some American ones Max Schubert decided to use them. In them he matured the first, experimental 1951 vintage of Grange for 18 months before bottling.
In 1959 came the time to introduce that first vintage of Grange into the market. To honor the occasion Penfolds arranged a tasting where authoritative local wine connoisseurs had the opportunity to taste all five first vintages (1951-1956). The event ended in disaster; no one liked the wine nor was willing to pay for it. The criticism was mordant and one of the best known and appreciated wine experts present came to congratulate Max sarcastically: “Schubert, I congratulate you. This is very good, dry port that nobody in his right mind will not buy, let alone drink."
Although public opinion did not differ much from that singular one, Max did not lose his courage and arranged several tastings with Grange around the country. Though the results were somewhat better, they were still quite depressing. The Penfolds management decided to shut down the rather costly production of Grange the next year. Luckily one of the owners still saw some possibilities with Grange and gave Max permission to continue the production in small scale, and in secret from the others.
After many years of silence in 1962 Penfolds took part in the grand wine show in Sydney with the 1955 Grange and won the gold medal. From that moment started the rewriting of Australian wine history.

Grange has won over 120 gold medals in wine shows, a fact that has made it the most awarded in the whole wine world, and in 1995 for example Wine Spectator chose it as the best wine of the world. A few years later in the same publication Grange 1955 was picked as one of the best wines of all time. Parker has stated that “Penfolds Grange takes opulence and decadence to the limits, and for that reason it has replaced Bordeaux´s Pétrus as the world´s most exotic and concentrated wine", so the triumphal march has but continued.

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Latest Pro-tasting notes

<10 tasting notes

Tasting note

color

Deep, Ruby red and Clear

ending

Long, Smooth and Round

flavors

Blackcurrant, Blueberry, Vanilla, Toasty, Tobacco and New-oak

nose

Youthful, Complex and Ripe

taste

Average in Acidity, Warming, Medium tannin, Concentrated, Youthful, Medium-bodied, Round, Rich, Fresh and Dry

Written Notes

Deep purple crimson. Intense rhubarb/ elderberry/ vanillin aniseed aromas with hint of tobacco leaf. The palate is sweet and fleshy with generous elderberry/ black cherry/ liquorice flavours, underlying malty oak and fine slinky dry tannins. Finishes grippy firm. 96.5% Shiraz 3.5% Cabernet Sauvignon Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Langhorne Creek, Coonawarra and Magill fruit. A season of extremes. Drought conditions prevailed over spring and summer. The hot dry weather was interrupted by heavy rainfall in February. A difficult vintage relying strongly on multi-district fruit selection.
  • 85p
Captivating, complex, complete. Unravelling aromatics unfurl with air - blue fruit notes entwined with barrel ferment and maturation elements; nothing singular, always in tandem. Sweet soy, cola and quince paste high notes escape from an ethereal layer (aniseed, fennel and fresh treacle ginger pudding) wafting above. Dark and liqueur chocolate, laced with Moroccan spices. An underlying tar/graphite blackness is lifted by derived fruit/quince pie flavours - a few years earlier they may have been more brashly varietal and elemental. Pronounced tannins sweep across the palate, although they are certainly part of the wine, never obtrusive. Long, layered and compelling, this wine is at the spicier end of the Grange spectrum.
Deep ruby. Liquorice, vanilla, pepper, leather, rich and complex nose. Fresh acidity, ripe tannins, fruity, somewhat leaner style for Grange, still rich and fruity. Layered and long. 93
  • 93p

Information

Origin

Magill, South Australia

Other wines from this producer

Bin 128 Shiraz

Bin 150 Marananga Shiraz

Bin 23 Pinot Noir

Bin 2 Shiraz Mourvedre

Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz

Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon

Bin 62

Bin 620

Bin 798 RWT Shiraz

Bin 7 Coonawarra Cabernet Kalimna Shiraz

Bin 8 Cabernet Shiraz

Bin 90 A

Bin 920 Coonawarra Cabernet Shiraz

Bin 9 Cabernet Sauvignon

Block 42 Kalimna Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Cellar Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz

Cellar Reserve Pinot Noir

Cellar Reserve Sangiovese

Cellar Reserve Tempranillo

Koonunga Hill Cabernet Shiraz

Koonunga Hill Chardonnay

Magill Estate Shiraz

Penfolds Bin 138 GMS

Penfolds Bin 138 Grenache Mourvèdre Shiraz

Penfolds Bin 169

Penfolds Bin 23 Pinot Noir

Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz

Penfolds Bin 311

Penfolds Bin 407

Penfolds Bin 51 Riesling

Penfolds Bin 60A Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz

Penfolds Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon

Penfolds Bluestone Grand Tawny

Penfolds Grandfather's Tawny

Penfolds Great Grandfather's Tawny

Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon

Penfolds Reserve Bin 09A Chardonnay

Penfolds RWT

QoN

Rawson's Retreat

Rawson's Retreat Bin 202 Riesling

Rawson's Retreat Riesling

Rawson's Retreat Shiraz Cabernet

Reserve Bin A Adelaide Hills Chardonnay

RWT Shiraz

St Henri Shiraz

Thomas Hyland Adelaide Hills Chardonnay

Thomas Hyland Sauvignon Blanc

Yattarna Chardonnay

Highlights

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Wine Moments

Here you can see wine moments from tastingbook users. or to see wine moments from your world.

85p
 Andrew Caillard MW, Wine Writer (Australia)  tasted  Grange Hermitage 2003  ( Penfolds  )

"Deep purple crimson. Intense rhubarb/ elderberry/ vanillin aniseed aromas with hint of tobacco leaf. The palate is sweet and fleshy with generous elderberry/ black cherry/ liquorice flavours, underlying malty oak and fine slinky dry tannins. Finishes grippy firm. 96.5% Shiraz 3.5% Cabernet Sauvignon
Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Langhorne Creek, Coonawarra and Magill fruit. A season of extremes. Drought conditions prevailed over spring and summer. The hot dry weather was interrupted by heavy rainfall in February. A difficult vintage relying strongly on multi-district fruit selection.
"

1y 2m ago

 Peter Gago / Penfolds, Wine Maker (Australia)  tasted  Grange Hermitage 2003  ( Penfolds  )

"Captivating, complex, complete. Unravelling aromatics unfurl with air - blue fruit notes entwined with barrel ferment and maturation elements; nothing singular, always in tandem. Sweet soy, cola and quince paste high notes escape from an ethereal layer (aniseed, fennel and fresh treacle ginger pudding) wafting above. Dark and liqueur chocolate, laced with Moroccan spices. An underlying tar/graphite blackness is lifted by derived fruit/quince pie flavours - a few years earlier they may have been more brashly varietal and elemental. Pronounced tannins sweep across the palate, although they are certainly part of the wine, never obtrusive. Long, layered and compelling, this wine is at the spicier end of the Grange spectrum."

1y 7m ago

93p
 Christer Byklum / Leading Scandinavian wine blogger, Wine Writer (Norway)  tasted  Grange Hermitage 2003  ( Penfolds  )

"Deep ruby. Liquorice, vanilla, pepper, leather, rich and complex nose. Fresh acidity, ripe tannins, fruity, somewhat leaner style for Grange, still rich and fruity. Layered and long. 93"

1y 9m ago

89p
 Juha Lihtonen, Sommelier (Finland)  tasted  Grange Hermitage 2003  ( Penfolds  )

"Dark chocolate, toasty, gently supistuvat tanniinit! Kaakao. 3,5% CS"

4y 11m ago

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