edited by Sue Courtney
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The Rewards of Patience
This is a book that anyone, who has ever tasted and enjoyed any of the Penfolds wines, should have. It reviews in detail not just the world famous and keenly sought after "Grange", but every vintage of just about every Penfolds wine ever produced, including the whites, the bottom of the range Rawsons Retreat and Koonunga Hill labels and the special one-off Bin reds.
The wines, tasted over a four day period, included a senior Penfolds staff, John Duval - Chief Winemaker, Peter Gago - Red Wine Oenologist, Peter Taylor - a Penfolds senior red winemaker and Don Ditter - the previous Chief Winemaker, now retired. They were joined by invited panellists Andrew Caillard MW, winewriters James Halliday and Tim White, Anthony Rose from London and Andrea Immer, a Master Sommelier from New York.
All of the wines came from the Penfolds Museum, and the Grange covered the vintage 1953 to 1995 inclusive. "It is a waste of time looking at the first Grange ever made, the rare 1951, which is more of a curio than a drinkable wine", says tasting coordinator, Peter Gago. "The overall focus is on wines that have a future, not curios from the past", he says.
And so to the book. Each of the guest panellists writes an introduction and then follows a chapter on the Penfolds philosophy.
In the reviews, each wine has a series of facts which includes the first vintage, origin of fruit, the grape varieties in the wine, wine making style, maturation times and where the wine is available on the world-wide scene. An introduction to the assessments discusses the quality and potential of each product, as a whole. This, the assessments, the drinking windows of the wines and comments against the wines are by consensus of the panel and are an actual factual account of how the wines looked, warts and all. Preferred vintages are denoted by a star.
After the pages of reviews of all the wines is completed a commentary, compiled by Andrew Caillard, includes panellists actual comments on some of the wines.
The book finishes with 'The Story of Grange', which is the original story written by Max Schubert, the creator of the phenomenomal "Grange".
Until you see the whole list of the wines that have been reviewed it is hard to comprehend just how extensive the range of Penfolds wines is, as you can see in this list here.
The Penfolds Whites (with first vintage in brackets) are
The Penfolds Reds are
What a massive undertaking it must have been to organise the tasting. Tasting coordinator, Peter Gago, likened it to a military operation, arranging different venues over the four days, from the sterile tasting laboratory at the Barossa Valley winery, to the Southcorp Boardroom in Adelaide's tallest building, to the restaurant at Magill Estate, to the Media room in the Bradman stand at the Adelaide Oval. And sumptious dinners were held each evening.
This book is indeed an invaluable reference and it is pleasing to see it has a spiral bounding so it folds right out and can lie opened, flat on the table. The last book fell apart so quickly so this ensures the longevity of this valuable reference text.
Expect to see the book retailing for about $39.95, possibly more. Look for it at your fine wine shop. If they sell Penfolds wines and they don't have a copy, ask them to get one in for you.
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