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Penfolds Grange 1971 best wine in world award will turn world on to Australia’s finest wines
THE naming of Penfolds’ 1971 Grange as the world’s greatest wine of the 1970s will have immediate impact on Australia’s reputation in international fine wine circles.
Current Chief Penfolds winemaker Peter Gago, still in shock over the announcement that one of the finest vintages of Australia’s most famous red wine has beaten the greatest French estates to such an accolade, believes the win means just as much for Australia’s wine industry as it does for his employer Penfolds.
“It’s really amazing for Australia,” Mr Gago said.
“This will alter the perception that we are only good for critter and basic commodity wines,” he said.
The half-million dollar, internationally judged tasting of hundreds of famed labels from France, Spain, Germany, Italy and new world producers like Australia and the US placed Penfolds 1971 Grange at the top of an astounding collection of luxury global wines.
Included in the judging, held by European luxury magazine FINE, were the greatest French wines from Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne and the Rhone.
Top of the Grange: the 1971 vintage has been named the best wine of the ‘70s.
The 1971 Grange tipped out the legendary Chateau d’Yquem 1975 Sauternes, considered the world’s best sweet wine, in a 98.5 points to 98 points showdown, while other Granges from the 1970, 1972 and 1976 vintages also made it into the top 100 listings. The results of the tasting will reverberate around the fine wine world, Mr Gago said after being told of the judges’ decision.
“Grange always gets benchmarked against similar wines, but the fantastic thing was this was the best of the best across the whole decade,” he said.
“It’s a whole new level of seriousness and will be noticed by the elite wine connoisseurs of France, the UK and US and Germany.”
The 1971 vintage of Grange has long been considered one of the great years of the famed lineage of Australia’s most famous red wine, made mostly from shiraz but in this outing also including 13 per cent of cabernet sauvignon.
Along with the 1955 and 1990 vintages, it has convinced prominent overseas wine judges and critics to name Penfolds Grange as a global icon.
Its fame has led to many other South Australian shiraz being lauded as one of the continent’s leading gifts to the wine world. Wines such as Henschke Hill of Grace Shiraz are also revered by collectors around the globe.
Australia also is renowned in international circles for its extraordinary history of aged fortified wines from the Victoria’s northeast Rutherglen region, and its capacity for Hunter Valley Semillon to age for many years to deliver one of the most unique white wine styles.
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.
This wine is a blend of 87 per cent Shiraz and 13 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon and created a sensation when it won gold and topped its class at the Gault-Millau Wine Olympiad in Paris in 1979, beating the best Rhone Valley wines.
It also won a trophy, four gold, four silver and five bronze medals at Australian wine shows between 1971 and 1982.
'If you had to point to a wine which fulfilled all the ambitions of Grange, it would have to be 1971,' said Max Schubert in 1993. 'It
was a great wine from a vintage that was great throughout South
VINEYARD REGION Barossa Valley (including Kalimna Vineyard), Magill Estate (Adelaide), Clare Valley,Coonawarra.
VINTAGE CONDITIONS An excellent year in South Australia with ideal, generally warm conditions throughout both growing season and vintage. The result was an abundance of grapes of very high quality.
GRAPE VARIETY Shiraz (87%), Cabernet Sauvignon (13%)
MATURATION Eighteen months in new American oak
WINE ANALYSIS Alc/Vol: 12.30%
Winemaker comments by
COLOUR Medium brick red.
NOSE An astonishing wine with intensely sweet, lifted,
complex and perfumed prune/apricot/truffle
aromas with hints of violet and fig.
PALATE Silken, opulent with fleshy apricot/prune fruit and
truffly, earthy, demi-glace undertones balanced
by fine, sweet tannins and an extremely long
finish. A superb wine.