g4 ($3,500, cork, 14.5%). A couple of years ago, Penfold's released a wine from their intermittent Special Bin series called ‘g3’. It was a non-vintage blend, in the tradition we have seen in the past from wineries such as Vega Sicilia with their ‘Único Reserva Especial’ and Chapoutier, as they once did with ‘le Pavillon’. It was a blend of varying, though undisclosed, percentages of the 2008, 2012 and 2014 Grange (obviously the older vintages were transferred from bottle). 1,200 bottles were made, at a release price of A$3,000 (which very quickly went up to A$5,000 on the secondary market).
Now we have ‘g4’. A blend of four of the greatest vintages of Grange from this century – 2002, 2004, 2008 and 2016. Again, the first three were transferred from bottle. 2,500 bottles have been released, with a price tag of A$3,500. Each bottles comes in its own beautifully presented wooden box. As good as the ‘g3’ was, for me, ‘g4’ is a significant step up in quality. Under cork it might be, but the corks are covered in wax. Always looks great but they are messy and difficult. Mind you, if that is the biggest criticism thrown at this wine then I suspect Penfold's won’t be too upset.
What was interesting was that this time, Gago was happy to acknowledge that this was the second in a ‘g’ trilogy, with ‘g5’ to come at an unspecified date in the future (supposedly sometime in 2021). Again, percentages are not released. One can assume that the 2016 forms the base. Peter would confirm that there were double-digit contributions from each of the other vintages.
My thoughts on ‘g5’ are speculation only, but with 2018 such a spectacular vintage for Penfold's, hard to imagine that it will not form the basis of ‘g5’. As for other vintages, just a guess but Peter’s love of 2010 is well known and it has not featured as yet? The production will be marginally greater than for ‘g4’.
‘g4’ is a brilliant wine. Wonderfully complex, with the benefit of some age here. Chocolate, tobacco leaves, coffee grinds, roast meat notes, dry herbs and cigar box characters. Gorgeously silky tannins. More subtle than the 2016 Grange, it is fabulous to drink now, though surely has time ahead of it. I wavered between 99 and 100. The following day, I was no longer hesitant. 100 points. That astonishing extra level of finesse was now apparent. A truly superb wine