Remember when I mentioned I had tried a truly legendary wine? I wasn't messing around.A couple of weeks ago I was fortunate to taste through a collection of Penfolds wines - many are availble on the market in Manitoba, and a couple were wines produced in limited quality and highly allocated.One such wine is the Penfolds Grange. It's the flagship luxury wine from this extremely consistent Aussie producer, and is next to impossible to find in the local market. For this tasting, I was lucky enough to try the 1998 vintage. Scores from wine critics don't make it or break it for me, but when influential wine writer Robert Parker gives a wine a 99 out of 100, I pay attention. This particular bottle was added to the tasting from a private cellar. Here goes:Penfolds 1998 Grange
(Australia - $ hundreds or so, not available)The nose on the Grange (97 per cent Shiraz, 3 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon) is subtle but complex, with aromas of leather, black cherry, cinnamon, and a hint of ash. The fruit component on the nose is bright and concentrated. It's ultra-soft and velvety on the palate, with tannins that are still fairly pronounced but quite supple. There's some great up-front juiciness to this wine, with beautiful cherry and plum flavours. It's an extremely elegant wine - some wine geeks would call this a 'feminine' style, but I've never liked the feminine/masculine descriptors - and the finish is extremely long and smooth. Penfolds' tasting notes suggest drinking between 2010 and 2040, but it didn't seem like this bottled was opened too early. Not as big as some of the other wines we tried from more recent vintages, but a wine loaded with character and finesse. Were I to score it out of 100, I'd probably lean in the direction of about 97-98. It is the complete package.For more thoughts on the '98 Grange, check out these reviews
. I'll try and think of some more legendary wines I've been lucky enough to try, if people are interested in hearing about 'em. I'll also try and compile some notes on all the 2007 Rieslings I tried in Germany.Oh yes - I've almost finished writing up a review of Neil Rosenthal's book, Reflections of a Wine Merchant
. It's been a somewhat onerous task, not unlike writing book reports in grade school. I hope I pass.