Spit Happens #40 – The Rewards of Patience

Earlier in this blog I referenced Penfolds wines . I think it’s time to dig a little deeper into it’s history and in particular a unique product they publish for collectors. Penfolds winery is inextricably linked to the wine making history of Australia. It was established in 1844 and mainly made fortified wines through much of its early history. In 1951 Penfolds winemaker Max Schubert started experimental production of the Iconic Grange Hermitage. It was made in secret for the first few years and members of the Penfolds board of directors characterized it as tasting of crushed ants. He continued to make it in secret after he was told to cease making Grange. Eventually the wines were re-tasted and the true genius of Max Schubert was revealed. To many Australians and collectors around the world Grange ( as it now called) is the ultimate expression of Australian wine. Some might argue that it doesn’t express a sense of place as much as other single vineyard terroir driven wines from Australia , but to my mind it is undeniably OZ through and through. They also make a huge range of wines like RWT ( red wine trials), Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon, Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz ( often the source of the bulk of the fruit for Grange) Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz and a range of excellent whites from Adelaide Hills. They still make a lovely range of fortified wines , Club Port , Grandfather and Great Grandfather Port increasing in age and price.

One of the things that sets Penfolds apart from many other wineries is it’s ability to be completely transparent when it comes to assessing wines in the portfolio going back many decades. Years ago they committed to a process of self examination and decided to publish the results in a document called The Rewards of Patience the 7th edition is available form Amazon here.

The Rewards of Patience is a remarkable book. Penfolds has a vast library of older wines stored in properly and in very good condition. They hire a number of very good tasters/writers/wine professionals to taste, write notes and generally review all the wines they have made since inception. The notes are brutally honest and  ( I think) accurately reflect the current condition of the wines. This a supremely comprehensive and doesn’t white wash the quality of the wines. If the wine is a dud they say so.  Often wineries will omit notes on wines that show poorly . Not these guys, it’s all there. If you want some insight into how the Penfolds wines are progressing or advice on which ones to add to your cellar this is the premiere word on Penfolds.

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David Lancelot