New Grange vintage hits shelves

Winemaker Matt Woo. Picture: Ben Crabtree/The West Australian

Penfolds Grange 2010, which today hits liquor stores that can afford to carry it, is one of the most eagerly anticipated releases of this iconic Australian red wine.

And it is without doubt one of the greatest, a fitting statement for the 60th vintage of the wine created by Max Schubert in the 1950s.

Even the winemakers at the release of the 2009 vintage this year were talking about the 2010.

The guys at Treasury Wines Estates, which owns Penfolds, could not wait to get it out and decided to have two Grange releases in the one year.

I got a sneak preview of the new Grange this week at Vince Salpietro's Grand Cru Wine Shop. The obvious question is whether it is worth the hype and expectation.

For quality, it will be ranked with the greatest of all releases of what I still maintain is Australia's greatest wine - not necessarily the best but the greatest for its track record, ageing potential, image and global presence.

I have been fortunate to taste on release great vintages of Grange, such as the legendary 86, 90, 91 and 96 - plus the mighty 06 and 08 - and I have to say that none is better than the 2010. So Australia's greatest wine might also be Australia's best this year.

And compared with Bordeaux wines from good years that can sell for three and four times the price, it makes it a positive steal.

It is also one of the most drinkable of any Grange I can recall, rivalling the pretty 2004.

Penfolds chief winemaker Peter Gago says its peak drinking is from 2018 to 2060. I think I'll probably drink it earlier rather than risk dribbling it on my letter from the Queen as it nears 2060 and I push through 100.

But don't expect to be risking life and limb entering a wine shop to get a bottle. Greatness like this comes at a price - a cool $785, which puts it beyond the reach of the humble punter.

Score: 99/100 Cellar: 40-plus years