1986 Penfolds "Grange" Hermitage (Shiraz) South Australia

SKU #980086 98 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 One of my favorite wines from Penfolds, the 1986 (a blend of 87% Shiraz and 13% Cabernet Sauvignon) is one of the most powerful Granges produced (14+% alcohol). At age 23, it reminds me of the way it tasted around 9 years of age. Inky/purple to the rim with an extraordinary perfume of sweet licorice, crushed pepper, blackberry liqueur, camphor, and barbecue spices, this sensationally full-bodied, concentrated, layered 1986 is still an infant in terms of its ultimate potential. It is remarkable how this wine has aged, and it’s hard to believe how certain wine geeks will subscribe to the aging ability of the Grange, but don’t believe the same is true for other old vine Shiraz wines from the Barossa and McLaren Vale. It just doesn’t make any sense. The 1986 is one of the greatest Granges for my palate, and it appears to still have 25-30 years of upside. 98+  (7/2009)

98 points Wine Spectator

 Approaching full maturity, this has developed into a huge mouthful of cherry, raspberry, plum, prune, anise and mineral flavors that keep expanding on the palate. Sensational now, but still has room to grow...(HS)  (1/1997)

Jancis Robinson

 Delicate leathery sweetness and some earthy notes and eucalyptus Chewy thick tannins, sweet and plummy and a little warm on the finish. Fresh aftertaste but just that thickness which seems to me to lack elegance. Long and dense and chewy. (JH)  (9/2009)

K&L Notes

Penfolds Grange has been Australia's premier wine offering for decades, and has won numerous accolades. Highly sought-after by collectors, their vintages go back to the 1950s. It's even listed as a "Heritage Icon of South Australia." In June 2009, Robert Parker revisited the 1986, and commented on its evolution up to that point: "One of my favorite wines from Penfolds, the 1986 (a blend of 87% Shiraz and 13% Cabernet Sauvignon) is one of the most powerful Granges produced (14+% alcohol). At age 23, it reminds me of the way it tasted around 9 years of age. Inky/purple to the rim with an extraordinary perfume of sweet licorice, crushed pepper, blackberry liqueur, camphor, and barbecue spices, this sensationally full-bodied, concentrated, layered 1986 is still an infant in terms of its ultimate potential. It is remarkable how this wine has aged, and it’s hard to believe how certain wine geeks will subscribe to the aging ability of the Grange, but don’t believe the same is true for other old vine Shiraz wines from the Barossa and McLaren Vale. It just doesn’t make any sense. The 1986 is one of the greatest Granges for my palate, and it appears to still have 25-30 years of upside. 98+ points." (Wine Advocate)

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Varietal:

Shiraz/Syrah

- One of France's noblest black grape varieties, Syrah is known for its intense and distinctive perfume reminiscent of briar fruit, tar, spice and black pepper and its firm structure. One of few black grape varietals frequently vinified on its own, the best examples of Syrah come from the Northern Rhône, particularly Hermitage, but also Côte-Rôtie, Cornas, Crozes-Hermitage and St-Joseph. These wines are very astringent in their youth, though some Crozes-Hermitage and St-Joseph can be enjoyed young, relatively speaking. Given the requisite patience, though, these wines can reveal amazing complexity and secondary fruit characteristics like plum and blackcurrant as well as subtle hints of smoke and flowers. In the Southern Rhône, Syrah is used to add structure and complexity to wines dominated by Grenache and complemented by Mourvèdre, like the more immediately drinkable Côte du Rhônes, as well as the long-lived wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. In recent years, plantings of Syrah have spread throughout the Languedoc-Roussillon where it is produced on its own or blended with other varietals. Outside of France, the most important Syrah growing country is easily Australia, where it is called Shiraz. Quality levels here depend greatly on yields and geography, and the wines range from bold, fruity and easy-drinking to intense and ageable, like the famed Penfolds Grange. Often bottled on its own, in Australia Syrah is also can be blended with Grenache and Mourvèdre, as in the Southern Rhône, and is increasingly combined with Cabernet Sauvignon. Syrah has also been steadily increasing in popularity in California, thanks to a group of advocates called the Rhône Rangers. Its most successful iterations come from the Central and Sonoma Coasts, where winemakers are pushing boundaries and creating some incredible wines. In recent years Syrah has also found a number of proponents in Washington State, which is definitely a region to watch for this variety.
Country:

Australia

- While it is true that the greatest strides in Australian winemaking have come in the last 30 years or so, commercial viticulture began as early as the 1820s and has developed uninterrupted ever since. The majority of the great wine regions are in the southeastern area of the continent, including Barossa Valley, Clare Valley, McLaren Vale, and Coonawarra in South Australia; Yarra Yarra Valley and Pyrenees in Victoria; and the Upper and Lower Hunter Valleys in New South Wales. Many of the wines from Southeastern Australia are based on Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon and various blends including Grenache and Mourvedre. In Western Australia, along the Margaret River, great strides are being made with Pinot Noir as well as Bordeaux-styled reds. There are also many world-class releases of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc from the land Down Under, where Riesling also enjoys international acclaim. While many equate Aussie wines with “value,” there are more than a few extremely rare and pricey options, which never fail to earn the highest ratings from wine publications and critics throughout the world. View a list of bestselling items from Australia.
Sub-Region:

South Australia