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Parker: Production: 2,530 cases Blend: 100% Shiraz
This wine, which I have tasted twice and given approximately the same rating, is drying out, with the astringent tannin taking the upper hand. The color is a garnet/ruby with considerable orange/brown at the edge. The wine exhibits an attractive spicy, herbal sweetness and some jammy fruit, but the acidity and tannin dominate. While still alive, the 1955 Grange Hermitage is largely of academic interest, although there is enough joy and complexity in its aromatics to merit its very good rating.


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.


Wine Information

Penfolds was founded by a young English doctor who migrated to one of his country's most distant colonies over a century and a half ago. Dr Christopher Rawson Penfold was born in 1811, the youngest of 11 children. He studied medicine at St Bartholomew's Hospital, London, graduating in 1838.
In 1844 Dr Penfold and his wife Mary purchased the Mackgill estate, “comprising 500 acres of the choicest land.” By all accounts it was Mary Penfold who was responsible for the management and early winemaking responsibilities of the fledgling wine estate. Initially the wines - made from grenache – were prescribed as tonic wines for anaemic patients and the famous Penfolds slogan ‘1844 to evermore’ harks back to its origins as a prescribed tonic.

By 1870 the Grange vineyard comprised over 60 acres with several different grape varieties including grenache, verdelho, mataro (mourvèdre), frontignac and pedro ximenez. The estate was producing both sweet and dry red wine and white table wines, with a growing market in the eastern Australian colonies of Victoria and New South Wales. A catalogue from 1889 lists wines from the Grange and Magill vineyards as Mataro, Grenache, Constantia, Grange Port, Frontignac, Grange Tawny, Pedro Ximenes, Tokay, Madeira, Grange Sherry and Muscadine. The catalogue adds: “We have also light red and white dinner wines of claret and riesling types, suitable for use in Clubs.”
Penfolds and Co. – the newly formed partnership of Mary Penfold and her son-in-law Thomas Hyland and her cellar manager Joseph Gillard – now claimed to be producing over one-third of South Australia’s wine. Mary Penfold passed away in 1896 after a remarkable contribution to Australia’s wine industry.


Vintage 1955

Australia 1955 VINTAGE REPORT

Growing season rainfall was above average but frosts in late September and early October resulted in crop losses of 10 to 15%. Vintage was warm and dry, providing ideal conditions for ripe grapes and good wines.

In 1955 there were 7,538 hectares of vineyards in Barossa and 28,764 tonnes of wine grapes were crushed in that vintage.


A horizontal Vaslin batch press was used for the first time at Orlando. The company also took their new winemaking technology one step further by undertaking the first controlled pressure refrigerated fermentation of red wines on skins.

Kaiser Stuhl installed the Barossa’s first pasteurisation plant in the quest for cleaner wines.

Meanwhile, industry innovation received a significant boost with the formation of The Australian Wine Research Institute in June 1955, with funding coming from the Australian Wine Board. John Fornachon was appointed the first Director of Research.

Grange Hermitage gained its first industry acknowledgement winning gold medals at major Australian wine shows. Penfolds also invests in an early air-conditioned and insulated cellar – for flor sherry production.

Post-war immigrant Rolf Binder Senior followed a New World dream and opened Veritas Wines at Langmeil.


Tasting note




Long, Smooth, Flavorful and Acidic


Blackcurrant, Coffee, Toasty, Cranberry, Vanilla and Smoky


Intense, Opulent, Complex and Seductive


Low in Acidity, Medium tannin, Multi-dimensional, Balanced, Medium-bodied, Round, Harmonious, Elegant and Dry

Written Notes

Donated by Peter Gago, Penfolds' chief winemaker. Made by Max Schubert, author of the Penfolds' winemaking style (eg multi-region blending, open-top fermenters and finishing fermentation in oak). First commercial vintage of Grange was 1952. This is 90% Shiraz, 10% Cabernet from multiple vineyards. Ray Beckwith (96 last year) was Penfolds' chemist and was instrumental in understanding the importance of a wine's pH for its long-term stability. This bottle had been recorked fairly recently. 

Deeply coloured with a red tinge still showing in the brick colour. Some tomato leaf on the nose and also furniture polish and coffee but much more youthful than the Seppelt on the nose, with a sweeter fruit note. Still has some tannin texture. More volatile acidity evident. A little less silky than the Seppelt, some dryness beginning to show, leaving the acidity more marked. Very very long. With time in glass, slight farmyard smell. Falls away in the glass.

  • 95p

90% Shiraz, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Magill Estate (Adelaide), Morphett Vale (Adelaide), Kalimna Vineyard (Barossa Valley), McLaren Vale blend.
Bottle 1: Acidity dominant. Different source. Fine and sweet but a bit mushroomy.
Bottle 2: Fading nose – rich and medicinal, Tarry note. Definitely fading. Dry finish and much less intense than I remember it from 1981! A gentle farewell… except that after two hours it grew in the glass to a wonderfully gamey, much richer and more winning and voluminous wine – miraculous!

  • 91p
Deep brick red. Coffee/ mocha/ gamy/ grilled meat aromas with some camomile/ leather notes. Sweet meaty/ gamy/ mocha/ dark berry flavours and soft – slightly sappy green tannins. The fruit is beginning to fade now. A famously great vintage. Now quite rare. 90% Shiraz 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Magill Estate (Adelaide) Morphett Vale (Adelaide) Kalimna Vineyard (Barossa Valley) McLaren Vale Blend. The most decorated Grange – winner of 12 trophies and 52 Gold medals on the Australian wine show circuit. Spent only 9 months in oak. A favourite of Max Schubert’s, partly because it won a gold medal in the open claret class at the 1962 Sydney Wine Show – some members of the judging panel had previously been vocally critical of the style. A mild to warm growing conditions – interrupted by above average rainfall. A warm dry vintage followed. Chosen by the US publication - Wine Spectator Magazine – as a “Wine of the Millenium”. Most common but later release (after show success) is Bin 95 (also Bins 13, 14, 53, 54 and 148A)
  • 90p
Penfolds Grange Hermitage 1955 / Deep colour. Lots of eucalyptus on the nose. Very good fruit. Great concentration. Powerful. 96 pts
  • 96p
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Magill, South Australia

Vintage Quality


Value For Money


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Fake factory

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Glass time


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