Monday, January 20, 2014

To Buy or Not To: Penfolds Grange 2008: Not Champgne but 100-Pointer Shiraz (BOTH WA & WS)

In the new series of posts called to buy or not to ( #ToBuyOrNotTo ), I would share with my readers on what is interesting and available in Malaysia, other than fine Champagnes.


Personally, I have been looking at Penfolds Grange for a month or two until I was shown this magnum few days back. At above RM4,000 for a magnum (1,500 ml), it is cheaper than the high-score Bordeaux First Growths but very pricey vs and other Australian wine.


Moreover, at above RM4,000 a bottle of magnum, I can basically get 3 bottles of magnum for Dom Perignon (ask me at on how to get DP magnum in Malaysia).


Nevertheless, I have put together some news for your reading, just in case, you are keen to kick start your knowledge on Penfolds Grange 2008. Not much personal interpretation, but the info is definitely useful most most wine snobs.



Article #1: Hefty price tag for latest Grange, but it's still expected to sell out.

By Rebecca Gibb | Posted Wednesday, 03-Apr-2013

Australian wine brand Penfolds has raised the price of the upcoming release of its icon wine, Grange, by more than 25 percent, citing rising global demand and a “significant” increase in interest following its 100-point Wine Advocate score.

The 2008 Penfolds Grange will be released on May 2 with a recommended retail price of 785 Australian dollars ($820). The 2007 vintage, released in May 2012, had a price tag of 625 Australian dollars ($653).

Ildi Ireland, global PR manager for Penfolds, told Wine-Searcher the rise in price had been dictated by the market: “This is truly a case of supply and demand. It’s that simple. We have seen such a tremendous rise in global demand for our product.”

The new wine has been given a boost by its 100–point score from Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, the new editor of The Wine Advocate. Ireland said the rise in demand, which has led to the price increase, could be partly attributed to the perfect score.

“The Wine Advocate has had something to do with it. We have noticed a significant interest following the 100-point score.”

Indeed, Angus Hughson, national sales manager of Sydney-based online retailer Cracka Wines, believes it is a major factor.

“In the Australian context, 100 points from Perrotti-Brown will be a strong kick for the market. I would imagine it will bring out Grange’s traditional trophy hunters," Hughson said.

“There are certainly consumers who value Grange and I think 100 points on a global scale will mean that it will sell out very quickly. I would be surprised if in two months there was still stock on shelves. Even though it is $800, up against the prices of first growths and grand cru Burgundies, the market can sustain it."

While the recommended retail price is set at 785 Australian dollars ($820), in previous years the prices charged by retailers have been significantly lower than the stated release price. Last year, the recommended price was 625 Australian dollars ($653). However, Australian supermarket discount chain Costco launched the 2007 Grange at 489.99 Australian dollars, the same as wine retailer Coles. Rival Dan Murphy’s dropped the price further, to 479.99 Australian dollars on release day.

“The recommended retail price of Grange has not been the sell price for some time,” said Hughson. “The supermarkets, in particular, discount Penfolds products to a point where no independent can compete with them."

The 2008 Grange is a blend of 98 percent shiraz and 2 percent cabernet sauvignon sourced from the Barossa and Clare Valleys, as well as from the brand’s Magill Estate. The 14.5 percent alcohol wine was aged for 19 months in new American oak hogsheads.

The current prices are a far-cry from the first-ever commercial release of Grange. The inaugural 1952 vintage sold for around 15 shillings ($1.50).


Article #2: Top honors for Australian winery

By AFP | Posted Tuesday, 05-Mar-2013

The influential Wine Advocate has awarded Australia's 2008 Penfolds Grange shiraz an unsurpassable 100 points – a score that chief winemaker Peter Gago said on Tuesday was like winning an Academy Award.

The US-based journal, which is considered the pinnacle of wine reviewing and rarely hands out a perfect score, described the Grange shiraz as "clearly a wonderfully opulent and a magic vintage for this label."

"The 2008 Grange puts forward a very complex nose packed with aromas of mulberries, layers of baking spices, cloves and cinnamon with nuances of minced meat, anise, potpourri and whiffs of dried mint and chocolate," said the Advocate.

Gago's own notes on the wine state: "Somewhat intimidating? Yes. Brazen? Never. Power & density naturally respectful of balance & structure ... Ration carefully. Resist temptation. Or, failing that, forget the budget and buy accordingly!"

While Grange wines have consistently rated highly, it is the first time for 32 years that a vintage has been deemed perfect. In 1981, the 1976 Grange received a 100-point score on its release.

"In terms of ratings in the world of wine it really doesn't come any better than such a score in The Wine Advocate," Gago told reporters.

"It's a bit like the Academy Awards or the BAFTA [British Academy of Film and Television Arts] awards."

The wine will be released to the public in May, selling at around $701 a bottle.


Article #3: FAQs for Investment, Cellaring and Drinking

Where can I sell Penfolds Grange
It is illegal to sell wine in Australia without an appropriate licence. Wine auction houses, such as Wickman's, offer regular specialised market places where Penfolds Grange collectors come each month to buy and sell. Wickman's keep in regular contact with known enthusiasts around the world and is an ideal place to start looking for bottles to add or trade from your collection. Signing up for our auction alert is a great way to keep informed when new wine collections and sets become available to trade.

Further information on selling your Penfolds Grange Collection with Wickman's

What is a hidden Grange ?
[Vintages 1957, 1958 and 1959]
During the late 50's when production of Grange was ordered to cease, a small core of devotees risked their careers and continued to make Grange in secret, hiding its production away from senior management.

Why is Grange famous, what's all the fuss ?
It has a interesting history, an unbroken line of production since the very first vintage, consistent quality in each vintage, worldwide acclaim, longevity and limited production.

How long should I cellar Grange for ?
It is generally accepted that Penfolds Grange does not drink at its best until at least 12 to 15 years after vintage. The best vintages can age for 20 to 50 years.

The Grange annual release date ?
Penfolds Grange is released 5 years after vintage around April/May.
So this year (2013) the 2008 vintage is due to be released on May the 2nd.

Where to buy the latest release Grange ?
You can find bottles of the latest release at fine wine retailers throughout Australia. They usually take 1 or 2 years before they appear at specialist wine auctions like Wickman's.

When is the best time to buy Penfolds Grange ?
If you can wait a year or two after it has been released, you can usually get the latest release at specialist wine auctions like Wickmans at least 20% to 40% cheaper than retail. See Wine Auctions in Australia (a directory of leading Australian wine auctions)

What's Grange Hermitage ?
It is still Penfolds Grange, just an earlier bottle. Penfolds shortened the name from Grange Hermitage to Penfolds Grange with the 1990 vintage.

Where to store your Grange ?
It is recommended that you store it in a dark, vibration free environment at a constant temperature. The best place would be at a professional, secure wine storage facility like Kennard's Wine Storage, located in most capital cities.

How can I find out if an earlier vintage of Grange is any good ?
You can ask the members of specialist wine forums like Auswine, post an enquiry to our Facebook page or obtain the Rewards of Patience book from Penfolds.

Is there a problem buying Penfolds Grange with an export label ?
No, not normally. But as always check the provenance (A specialist wine auction house will have a provenance policy) as wine with an export label may have travelled extensively overseas and back again.

Is Penfolds Grange a good investment ?
Do your research. Good vintages, exceptional publicity and a supply shortage always do well in the short term, but on average there have not been any vintages in the last decade or so that have enabled a consistent positive return on investment in the short, medium or long term.

What should I look out for when buying older bottles of Penfolds Grange ?
The most important aspect is being able to prove or discover your bottles purchase history and how it has been stored over time (its provenance). This can be extremely difficult to accomplish unless you are buying it from an auction house such as Wickman’s who document such factors. The next thing to check is the ullage of the bottle and make sure that the level is the correct level for its age or if there are any signs of weeping (Guide on bottle terms and estimating risk at auction). Minor soiled, scratched or torn labels have only a small effect on the bottles value.

What are the 'rewards of patience' ?
It is a book produced by Penfolds containing the results and tasting notes of one of their iconic, comprehensive tasting panels where they open a bottle of every wine they have ever produced (where practical).

What is a cliniced or recorked bottle of Penfolds Grange ?
Privately owned, older bottles of Grange are opened & tested during one of the many recorking clinics that Penfolds hold around the world. If they pass then they are topped up, recorked and labelled as still being drinkable. This can increase the value of the bottle in most circumstances.

The Penfolds Re-corking clinic dates and locations in Australia for 2012 were:

  • SYDNEY 7–9th August: Intercontinental Hotel
  • MELBOURNE 14–16th August: Crown Melbourne
  • ADELAIDE 22–23rd August: Magill Estate Winery
  • PERTH 29–30th August: Burswood Entertainment Complex
  • BRISBANE 4–5th September: Hilton Brisbane

You can register at

How long should I decant Penfolds Grange for ?
The younger the wine the more air it may need. How long really depends on the age of the wine and its provenance. If you decant for too long it can die on you before you get a chance to drink it but if you don't give it enough time it can be closed and mute when you come to drink it. If in doubt ask those with practical experience on one of the wine forums such as Auswine.

What year is my Penfolds Grange ?
There are two years on the front label, the vintage and the bottling year. It is the vintage (the year in which the grapes were picked, usually on the left side of the label) that is used in quality charts and valuations of Penfolds Grange.

Is a signed bottle of Grange worth any more money ?
Yes, the bottles signed by the late creator of Grange (Max Scubert) may sometimes add 10% to 15% onto the final hammer price.

Is Penfolds Grange an investment grade wine ?
Certainly. It has an extraordinary history, consistency and acknowledged quality on par if not exceeding the likes of the top tier investment wines from France. On the world stage it is an unrivalled bargain at $300 for average vintages and $500+ for exceptional vintages and $160,000 for a complete set is unheard of given the quality and history of this wine. Unfortunately it does not have the international demand of its foreign peers and its retail price is bloated by Australian government taxes.

Where can I get further information about Penfolds Grange ?
Your best bet is to ask people who cellar and drink it on a regular basis. You can find a number of those people, happy to share their knowledge, on specialist wine forums such as the Auswine forum or post an enquiry to our Facebook page and if we don't know we will try to find out for you.

Where can I see images of Penfolds Grange?
We have a gallery of various images collected over the years, please help yourself, just remember to attribute the image to Wickmans with an active link.




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