Winelander – December 18, 2020

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The San Francisco International Wine Competition is the largest wine show in The United States and is one of the most prestigious shows worldwide and this year Pinnacle Drinks won the ‘Best in Class’ trophy for their Cat Amongst the Pigeons Eden Valley Riesling 2020 vintage and received a Double Gold Medal which normally retails for $21. In total Pinnacle Drinks were awarded 31 medals at the show including three double gold medals and aside from the Riesling the Champagne Duperrey and The Advocate Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon also took out this award. The Double Gold is awarded to the very few entries that receive Gold Medal ratings from all members of the judging panel.

You will be familiar with wine companies such as Penfolds, Yalumba, DeBortoli and Orlando but who are Pinnacle Drinks? Pinnacle Drinks is the supplier arm of The Endeavour Group which sources and supplies wines to the Woolworths Group stores BWS and Dan Murphy’s so to enjoy these products this is where you can find them and they are often discounted. Another part of the Woolworths empire is the auction house Langton’s and their online Penfolds ‘Rewards of Patience’ auction has launched with the jewel in the crown a rare vertical set of Penfolds Grange, a Shiraz that was initially known as Grange Hermitage, including all the existing vintages of Australia’s most famous wine from 1951 to 2015 in total 64 bottles including 19 that were signed by Max Schubert the creator of the wine.

For a wine that was initially confined to history after the first couple of vintages were given a big thumbs down by the wine critics and some skulduggery by Max where instead of stopping making the wine as instructed he continued making the wine and hid the resulting wine at the back of the warehouse undercover. Several years later the original vintage was again released to the critics who acclaimed it to be the finest ever produced and when the board approached Max he confessed to having stock hidden out of sight and became the hero of the hour.

Ever since that moment, Penfolds Grange is always released five years after vintage a tradition that follows Max Schubert’s original making of this truly remarkable wine. Although many of the original vineyards that provided grapes to Grange have left The Penfolds Company some now being buried under housing estates around Adelaide the current head winemaker Peter Gago has access to many great vineyards around South Australia to maintain the traditions of Max.

Now for the bad news, there are estimated to be only 30 sets of the complete set of Grange in existence and the price has increased by over 40% in the last three years. A complete set sold for $214,000 in March 2017, $372,800 in 2019 and this year is expected to break $500,000 so time to break the pig. More than 2100 individual bottles and 1500 lots of back vintages valued at over $1.5 million are going under the hammer in Langton’s Penfolds rewards of Patience Auction which is currently under way and is the world’s largest auction devoted exclusively to Penfolds. Wines included are 114 magnum bottles including 1990, 1996 and 1998 vintages of Bin 707, Grange, Magill Estate and Bin 389. A Penfolds Bin 60A, named by the wine publication “Decanter” as one of the top ten wines to ‘try before you die’ has a reserve price of $14,000. If you miss out on this auction Langton’s repeat the Rewards of Patience every six months so be patient.

Now that this strange year is coming to an end and here in Australia unless something untoward happens we shall be one of the few countries to have the freedom to mix with friends and relatives we should probably celebrate in style. Champagne could be the order of the day and with prices starting around $25 for private labels at BWS, Liquorland, Dan Murphy’s, Vintage Cellars and First Choice Liquor, and the Independent stores such as Bottlemart will also be offering top labels at discounted prices so it doesn’t have to cost the earth to celebrate living in Australia.

Look for French brands such as Mumm, Veuve Clicquot, Moet and Chandon, Tattinger and Pol Roger to name but a few, if you are looking at the best from our land check out the range from The House of Arras made in Tasmania by Ed Carr and is now rated in the same bracket as French Champagne and is made using the traditional method in the vintage collection and are crafted with exceptional time in tirage ranging from 30 months to 15 years. Have a happy Christmas and let’s hope the New Year is another to remember but in a positive way as the planet tries to get back to normal. Cheers.