A Very Special Private Tasting: 1996 Penfolds Grange [Wow! Alert]

By Kori ~ February 3rd, 2010.

One family tradition that has emerged in recent years is to make Bananas Foster, which just happens to be my favorite dessert, after our Christmas Eve dinner. Mom (LaGayle) decided to shake things up a bit this year, and we enjoyed a different Christmas Eve meal than we normally do. However, not wanting to forego Bananas Foster for a whole year, we decided to have a special post-holiday family dinner. Nothing like extending the holidays, right?

Recently, Mom prepared a fabulous meal of mixed green salad, prime rib, baked sweet potato, and seasoned green beans. Unbeknownst to the rest of us, Dad selected a wine from his bucket list that he had in his cellar. He decanted it for three hours prior to dinner. When I sat down and took my first sip, I was immediately blown away. Wow! When he unveiled the bottle, we found that we had been enjoying the 1996 Penfolds Grange. This was only the second time I’ve ever had the pleasure of drinking a Grange, Australia’s most famous wine and one of the most sought after wines in the world. You may remember that the other, the 1976 Penfolds Grange, was the best wine I’ve ever had. And I must say that this 1996 Grange certainly makes my top 10.

I was excited to learn that one of my favorite winemakers, John Duval, was the winemaker for this 1996 Penfolds Grange. John Duval is one of the most famous winemakers in Australia and around the world. He spent 16 years as the chief winemaker for Penfolds and is best known for his work with Penfolds Grange. In 2002, he left Penfolds to establish John Duval Wines. Now he is also one of the Long Shadows winemaker-partners making Sequel Syrah here in Washington State. I have been fortunate enough to taste a number of his wines, and they are all fabulous.

What a special family dinner this was, a great meal, a “Wow!” wine, and Bananas Foster. For me, it doesn’t get much better than this.

1996 Penfolds Grange (South Australia, Australia): Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. Dark, dense, almost opaque garnet in color. Gorgeous nose with blackberry, black cherry, sage, cinnamon, and caramel aromas. Blackberry liqueur, spice, and chocolate come through on the palate. Full-bodied and lively with high tannins and a very long finish. Big, bold, chewy, smooth, and extremely well-balanced. Wow!
Quality: 5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 3 bang for your buck (out of 5)
Where we purchased it: The Wine Center (Illinois), $175; Available elsewhere, $220 to $400

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

Reader's Comments

  1. Tim @wklywinejournal | February 3rd, 2010 at 7:42 am

    WOW! You are so lucky! I guess the only way to try these wines is to star a bucket list, I better get on that!

  2. Kori | February 4th, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    You are absolutely right, I’m very fortunate that I get to enjoy some of the wines on Dad’s bucket list along with him. I need to start my own list, too. Cheers!