Penfolds Grange 1984, patience rewarded.
A wine I will remember for a very long time.
Talk with anyone who's been in the wine business for more than a few decades and they'll tell you a great wine is one you'll remember for the rest of your life. And, you'll only get a handful in your lifetime. They're right.
I've drunk many fine wines but this is the first wine that I could truly taste for days - if not weeks after drinking.
Selecting and cellaring fine wine:
There's no two ways about it, buying older wines on the secondary market, direct from the winery or cellaring for decades yourself - if they're bottled under cork, it's a lottery.
A key indicator of preservation:
Ullage. The distance between the cork and the remaining wine. As wine ages in a bottle under cork, oxygen will make its way in and wine will escape via evaporation.
Any wine that has an ullage below the neck is at high risk of oxidation. Many quality cork bottling producers will offer complimentary rebottling clinics to secure your investment. See below for an example used by Penfolds as a recommendation to those cellaring their wines.
Planning ahead for maximum enjoyment:
Thinking of opening that special bottle at the dinner table in a cinematic, instagrammable showcase of your #sommskills to your lucky guests? Unless it's a prized bottle of Champagne - don't.
Plan your lunch or dinner red wines the night before:
Firstly, you'll need to double decant the wine anyway. Unless you're a Master Somm you won't want to do this after a few aperitifs.
Secondly, if your prized bottle is a dud you'll have a few hours to (get over it and) find something else suitable.
Back to the wine. Remove the entire capsule. This will give you a sneak peak at what you're in for. If the cork looks a bit damp tread, with caution - possibly opt for a 'Butlers Thief', if you like to drink older wine, buy one.
Double decanting; decant the bottle into a decanter, then back into the bottle. Be gentle not to disturb the sediment. Pay attention as you come to the last 50ml of wine. Once you start to see the sediment travelling with the wine, stop. That last 20-30ml can be poured out. Before decanting back into the now empty-clean bottle taste it. Is it good? It's only going to get better.
Simply store in a cool, dry place with the cork (or a stopper) in the top - ideally not above 18 degrees. When service says "room temperature" it means "draughty old English house with the fire on in the middle of winter, temperature" - around 16-18°. If it's a hot day - place the bottle in a wine fridge or in the door of a refrigerator to bring it down to that temp.
Tasting Notes: Penfolds Grange 1984
As soon as the cork (gingerly) came out of this bottle I was hit with an elegant aroma of rich baked berry dishes and crumbly pastry crust. This bottle was double-decanted 5 hours ahead of service.
Baked Black Fruit, crumbly crust pastry, cedar, cigar, Black Forest chocolate.
Tannin and acid med+ and in perfect balance.
Baked black fruit, crumbly crust pastry, cedar, cigar, Black Forest chocolate.
Spice, black olive, black pepper, vanilla and nutmeg.
Long finish (days)
Vivino Rating: 5-Stars