2012 Penfolds Grange, South Australia (750ml)

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Country: Australia
Region: South Australia
Grape Varietal: Syrah
Review Score: 99WA, 99AWC, 98W&S, 98JS, 97WS

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The 2012 Grange comes from just two sub-regions of South Australia this year: Barossa Valley (the majority) and McLaren Vale. This makes a lot of sense since 2012 was a cracking year in both of these areas, producing a number of extraordinary wines. As usual, this Grange contains a splash of Cabernet Sauvignon, just 2%. Very deep purple-black in color, it opens on the nose with complex earthy/meaty/savory notes, soon giving way to baked blackberries, plum preserves, hoisin and Chinese five spice with dabs of sandalwood, licorice, menthol and vanilla. The palate reveals a surprisingly open, rich, full-bodied expression exuding a powerhouse of velvet-lined decadence. Still, it characteristically possesses that rock-solid “Grange” backbone of firm tannins and great freshness expressed in a real lively lift to the finish. And the finish is epically long. There are some stylistic similarities here to the opulent, gregarious 2008 vintage, perhaps just lacking ever so slightly in the same exhilarating abandonment of winemaking protocols for the celebration of the fruit and sites. That said, this is unquestionably a stonking great Grange!

99 points, Wine Advocate (Issue # 227 - Oct 2016)

Bottle no. AV697. This vintage was destined to be one of the greatest Granges. In the flesh it is majestically complex, superbly focused and intense, and wondrously balanced. It has every black fruit flavour known to man or woman, and will become more magical with each passing decade. Oh for a screwcap.

99 points, Halliday Wine Companion (Nov 2016)

This vintage of Grange is 98 percent shiraz, the balance cabernet sauvignon, the sources limited to Barossa and McLaren Vale, where the mild 2012 season and its cool nights sustained even ripening in the grapes, with smaller-than-usual berries and bunch sizes. It’s a succulent vintage of Grange, fresh in its intensity, luscious in its elegance, cool in its lasting sense of incipient complexities. There’s nothing aggressive about the wine as it presents a range of flavors, from anise to blueberry skins and tart, fresh-picked blackberries, held in tension by the structure, which feels more fruit-driven than oak-derived (though if you consider it carefully, you can sense the oak in underlying notes of coffee and the crisp direction of the flavor). The tannins have a silky abrasion that sets this wine apart. Among the best releases of Grange in the modern era—under chief winemaker Peter Gago and his predecessor, John Duval—this is a wine to hold for decades.

98 points, Wine & Spirits (Feb 2017)

A simple split between the Barossa Valley (81%) and McLaren Vale (19%), this has all the hallmarks of a great Grange. Deep and ripe dark- plum and black-cherry aromas lead the nose, and there's plum cake here, too. Really ripe and deeply spicy from the 100% new American oak, which has been thoroughly subsumed under tarry and savory, brooding notes of black liquorice and olive tapenade. The palate's incredibly poised and has richness and composure driven by tightly knit tannins and plenty of ripe dark-plum and cherry-fruit flavors. A neatly crafted, powerful yet contained Grange that's smoothly rendered all the way to the finish. A powerful vintage that has been cleverly polished and tamed in the winery; it will live long. Best from 2025 and for two decades after that.

98 points, James Suckling (Dec 2016)

Powerful and impressive, this seamless expression offers chai tea, sandalwood, dark chocolate, gingerbread and tobacco notes that complement the juicy black cherry fruit flavors at the core. Gains momentum on the finish. Intense but polished, revealing an air of weightlessness that lingers. Drink now through 2035. 357 cases imported.

97 points, Wine Spectator (2016)