Friday, November 9, 2012

Penfolds Grange 1996

A beautiful fall evening led to a rack of lamb on the grill, seared over direct heat then painted with Dijon mustard and sprinkled with chopped fresh thyme and rosemary. The rack moved to indirect heat and finished cooking slowly. That in itself made for a wonderful evening, but add a wonderful bottle of wine that one gets to drink all too rarely and it became (with apologies to Walter Lord and his book about the sinking of the Titanic) a night to remember.

I had planned on a modest California syrah, but if a friend pulls out a properly aged Penfolds Grange the choice is easy. We decanted the wine an hour before the the grill was lit, and with the exception of one small sip each we left the wine alone for the next two hours.

Beautiful, medium garnet color in the glass and there was just a suggestion of orange at the very edge. Aromas of dark, earthy fruit, a bit of mint, a hint of chocolate, and some gaminess were anything but subtle. Ripe flavors of cherries and dark fruit filled the mouth. The acid was correct and the tannins were firm but soft and the finish was long with a touch of the mint and chocolate at the very end.

There was nothing extreme about this wine or out of balance. Nothing was exaggerated, it just all flowed together into a beautiful whole. It was a perfect foil for the lamb and the herbs. It accented the rosemary and thyme from the lamb, and the meat brought out the mint and gaminess in the wine. As good as the wine was, it was better with the food. It took us a long evening to kill the bottle and over the course of the evening the wine just seemed to get better. Remarkable stuff.

Penfolds Grange. 14.2% alcohol. Internet price if replacing the bottle - around $325.

No comments: