On Christmas Day, 2006, my family and I opened a bottle of 1976 Penfold’s Grange Hermitage.
Such a bottle, well preserved (cellared) fetches about AU $750 (or $590 USD). I’ve held this bottle since mid-2005 when I won it at auction for AU $550 ($430 USD). It’s a shame I went and looked up the appreciation, but it wasn’t going to stop me from opening it. I can’t stand good wine going to waste.
Now, for the record, this was my first Grange. I’ve not had one before so I was not sure what to expect. I’ve had other premium labels (admittedly, nothing over AU $200). So this was a very new event for me.
First things: the cork. Was able to remove the cork, but in two stages since it broke apart during the initial stage. I’m very pleased to report that I was able to remove the remaining part without corking the wine. You can imagine I was pretty nervous throughout the entire process.
The good news: The wine was not past it’s prime (and remained in excellent condition). I decanted the Grange and left it overnight (to air). I believe that Grange should be aired for at least a day (especially a 30 year old Grange) as it is very pungent coming out of the bottle. The smell of oak and tannins flew through the house and even combatted the smell of prawns (which were being peeled).
The next day (Christmas Day) we all enjoyed a glass of the ’76. I had bought, specifically, four Riedel glasses (Shiraz/Syrah) to enhance the drinking experience.
Observed that the wine had a great nose, you could practically inhale the whole glass – perfect. Initial drink from the glass was remarkably smooth and tasty, but unassuming. The wine was very complex and full bodied but unlike any other wine I’ve ever tasted. The aftertaste was where the real action occurred, and the mouth filled with the previously mentioned tannins and oak flavours.
This is a wine that impacts the head – it’s so rich and fine that it’s pure intoxication. Try to survive a bottle by oneself – you’ll find it very hard (or, at the least, expensive).
Highly recommended, although if you wish to sample the ’76 do it fairly quickly, I can’t see it being in it’s prime for much longer.