Penfolds' 2008 vintage wins perfect score from US magazine but winemaker insists otherwise.
Is the 2008 Penfolds Grange shiraz the perfect wine? After the wine scored an unsurpassable 100 points in a review last week in one of the world's most influential wine journals, The Wine Advocate in the US, one might say yes. But Penfolds chief winemaker Peter Gago says no.
"The subjective nature of scoring and accolades is exactly that," Mr Gago said this week. "But in terms of ratings in the world of wine, it really doesn't come any better than such a score (100) in The Wine Advocate.
"It's a bit like the Academy Awards or the BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) awards."
The last time a bottle of Grange scored 100 points in The Wine Advocate was in 1981, when the 1976 vintage was released.
Mr Gago said there had been wines over the years from Australia and overseas that had scored 100 in The Wine Advocate, but such a score was rare, especially recently. "If critics give high scores willy-nilly, they lose their credibility," he said.
Wine enthusiasts around the world would take note of The Wine Advocate's score for the 2008 Grange. Mr Gago had received congratulations from people in Canada, Japan the United Kingdom and elsewhere within an hour of the review in The Wine Advocate being published.
The latest vintage of Grange will be released to the public in May, selling from around $685 per bottle.But an "Imperial", the equivalent of eight bottles and one of only six of its type to be released, will be auctioned at the Barossa Valley Vintage Festival in April.
Mr Gago said the 2008 Grange shiraz was created mostly from grapes picked from low-yielding old vines in the Barossa Valley, ahead of a heatwave that hit South Australia in early March 2008.
The 1976 vintage of Grange can still be bought at auction for around $1000 a bottle. Mr Gago said the 1976 vintage had improved with age. A great test for highly-scored wines was to have them re-assessed decades after their release. "Wines are living things," Mr Gago said.