Such a bottle, well preserved (cellared) fetches about AU $750 if you can find it. Aussie Wine Guy had held this bottle since mid-2005 when it was won at auction for AU $550 ($430 USD at the time). It was purchased specifically to mark the occasion of the wedding of Aussie Wine Guy and Mrs Aussie Wine Guy, although the bottle was not consumed until the following year (2006). It’s a shame we went and looked up the appreciation in value, but it wasn’t going to stop us from opening it. We can’t stand good wine going to waste.
First things: the cork. AWG was able to remove the cork (expertly), but in two stages since it broke apart during the initial stage. I’m very pleased to report that we were able to remove the remaining part without corking the wine – a careful operation. You can imagine we were pretty nervous throughout the entire process.
The good news: the wine was not past its prime (and had remained in excellent condition) – it was still vibrant. We decanted the Grange and left it overnight (to breathe). We initially found it hard to believe that Grange could (should?) be aired for a whole day, although this turned out to be sage advice (especially a 30 year old Grange) as it is very pungent coming out of the bottle. The smell of oak and tannins flew through the house and even combated the smell of prawns, which were being peeled at the time.
The rich aroma clung to the bookshelf upon which the decanter had been carefully placed, and the beautiful bouquet remained lingering in the area for almost a full week after the wine had been consumed. The next day following the decanting (Christmas Day, 2006) we all enjoyed a glass of the ’76 Grange. AWG bought, specifically for this tasting, four brand new Riedel vinum glasses (Shiraz/Syrah) to enhance the drinking experience.
We observed that the wine had a great nose, you could practically inhale the whole glass – perfect. Initial drink from the glass was remarkably smooth and tasty, but unassuming. The wine was very complex and full bodied but unlike any other wine we’ve ever tasted. The aftertaste was where the real action occurred, and the mouth filled with the previously mentioned tannins and oak flavours.
It is hard to really put into words exactly how amazing this wine truly is. Compared to more recent releases (including the blockbuster 1998 release), it is simply an amazing experience in a glass. The benefit of over thirty years in the bottle created an iconic wine experience, and one which can rarely be matched. Australian Shiraz at peak performance, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more competitive quality of Shiraz anywhere in the world. Period.
This is a wine that impacts the head – it’s so rich and fine that it’s pure intoxication. Try to survive a bottle by yourself – you’ll find it very hard (or, at the least, expensive). Highly recommended, although we can’t stress enough how important cellaring factors into the overall quality and life of this remarkable wine. Under ideal conditions, a 1976 Grange could be drinking well into the 2010s and beyond.