What is the Best Wine You’ve Ever Had? My Answer: 1976 Penfolds Grange

By Kori ~ January 12th, 2010.

1976 Penfolds GrangeIn 2005, we took the trip of a lifetime to Australia. We fell in love with the country, the people, and the wine. We especially enjoyed the time we spent in Sydney and in the Barossa Valley. While we were there, we visited Penfolds and really liked their entire lineup of wines. However, we did not have an opportunity to taste Penfolds Grange on that trip. Penfolds Grange is Australia’s most famous wine and one of the most sought after wines in the world.

Shortly after we returned home, unbeknownst to me, Mom and Dad decided that they would like to buy a bottle of Penfolds Grange from the 1976 vintage (my birth year) to give to me on my 30th birthday in January 2006.

Dad began searching for the wine, starting with domestic sources. When he didn’t have any luck, he decided to call a wine shop in Sydney that we frequented on our trip, Australian Wine Centre, to see if they could help him locate a bottle. The good news was that they did have a bottle, but the bad news was that it was going to cost a fortune to ship it to Seattle. I have to give them credit for having excellent customer service. They worked out a deal with an importer to send along this one bottle for Dad with their next shipment to the U.S. When it arrived in California, the importer then forwarded it to Dad.

Dad knew that he was taking a big chance on a 30 year old bottle of wine. Who knows how it had been stored over those years? And would it still be good at that age anyway?

I was absolutely ecstatic when I opened my present from Mom and Dad at my birthday party and found this bottle of 1976 Penfolds Grange. What a fabulous surprise!

I decided not to drink it immediately but to hold onto it for another special occasion. A couple of months after my daughter Sydney was born in early 2007, I decided that it was time to pull out my prized bottle to enjoy with a family dinner. Mom cooked one of her fabulous meals, and we opened the wine. The good news is that after all of the hype, the effort to find it, and the expense, the 1976 Penfolds Grange was well worth it. It lived up to and exceeded our expectations. Hands down, this was the best wine that I’ve ever had.

Since I drank this wine before we started Wine Peeps, I did not take detailed tasting notes. However, I do remember it being very dark, inky, full-bodied, extremely well-balanced, and it had great fruit for a 30 year old wine. And it did not taste like it was anywhere near the end of its life. The bad news is that we don’t have another bottle.

1976 Penfolds Grange (South Australia, Australia): 89% Shiraz, 11% Cabernet Sauvignon.
Quality: 5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 1 bang for your buck (out of 5)
Where we purchased it: Australian Wine Centre (Sydney, Australia), $613

What is the best wine you’ve ever had? Please share your memories of the wine and any stories that go along with it in the comments.


Filed under: Australian Wine, Five-Star Quality Wines, Red Wine, Shiraz/Syrah, Wines Over $25

Reader's Comments

  1. The Local Cook | January 12th, 2010 at 8:32 am

    The best wine I ever had was Black Star’s ice wine. The husband and I stayed there on our honeymoon and splurged on the $100 bottle. It was SO sweet, delicious.

  2. Mike Gee | January 12th, 2010 at 9:20 am

    The best wine for me is BOLD. I love the 2007 Vina Cobos Cabernet Sauvignon Bramare.


  3. Timothy Lusk | January 12th, 2010 at 9:31 am

    Even though I’d consider Amie and I young for experience, our favorite and best one we’ve had is a 2004 New Zealand Pinot Noir Hawkes Bay Red Square. I can only describe it as what a Pinot Noir should be. 😉 Highly recommend it if you can ever uncover a bottle.

  4. Kori | January 12th, 2010 at 10:35 am

    Ice wine is a weakness of mine, too. Thanks for sharing your story.

    That Cab sounds great. I’ll have to check it out.

    The great thing about wine is that it doesn’t matter how much experience you have. Enjoy what you like and then keep trying new things.


  5. Chris | January 12th, 2010 at 11:04 am

    Great story, Kori.

    A minor quibble. The QPR ratio as listed cannot take into account the memories of your Australia trip and what hoops your folks went through to give you this gift. Sometimes price doesn’t matter.

    Happy January Birthday, BTW.

  6. WinewithMatt | January 12th, 2010 at 11:13 am

    I find it difficult to narrow my favorites down to just one. I definitely have clear memories pertaining to several wines I have be fortunate enough to consume.

    The Latour Blanche Sauterne I consumed on my first trip to Bordeaux was incredible and really opened my mind and interest in these special wines.

    More recently, I had the opportunity to do some barrel sampling at Alpha Omega Winery in Napa and was truly struck by the incredible flavors of the To Kalon vineyard cabernet. Alpha Omega blends the To Kalon wine with wine from other vineyards to create their own wines. If I could have brought the barrel of cabernet from the To Kalon vineyard home with me that day, I would have.

  7. Kori | January 12th, 2010 at 11:37 am

    I completely agree with you that sometimes price does not matter. To be consistent, we calculated the QPR on this wine using the same formula that we always use. However, in this case, the experience was well worth it even though the QPR rating was low. Thanks for the birthday wishes.

    Thanks for sharing your favorites. Wines consumed on special trips and experiences at wineries lead to great memories.


  8. Jared | January 12th, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    For me, the only wine I’ve scored a hundy was the 2005 Cayuse Wallah Wallah Cailloux Vineyard Syrah (out of magnum). So I guess that would have to be the best wine I’ve ever had. For whites, the 04 Fevre Chablis Les Clos and the 06 Dauvissat Chablis Preuses were pretty darn good.

  9. Kori | January 13th, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    I had a feeling a Cayuse wine would be your fav. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your white wine choices too. I don’t believe I’ve had either of those. Cheers!

  10. Jared | January 14th, 2010 at 10:03 am

    I know, I’m a bit predictable! Do you guys drink much white wine? If you enjoy unoaked chardonnay laced with minerality, give Chablis a go!!

  11. Kori | January 14th, 2010 at 11:18 am

    We love white wine, too. Thanks for the Chablis recommendation. We do prefer unoaked Chardonnay to oaked and plan to explore more Old World Chard this year. Cheers!

  12. The Barrel Room Representative | March 1st, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    I too find it hard to narrow the field to one favorite. I’m a big fan of Chardonnays myself, especially when I can find a few different appellations to compare and contrast. We have a handful over at thebarrelroom.com, which I write for, that are also on sale at the moment (TBR20) 20% off a case purchase.