I was very fortunate to taste these two wines. Supply was not limited either. The first is the legendary 1990 Grange which US wine magazine Wine Spectator awarded wine of the year (in 1995), and I am told set Grange off on its current, as yet unceasing, northward price trajectory. The second is the 2008 Grange which created a scene of its own by being awarded 100 points in US wine magazine The Wine Advocate. Both wines were tasted blind.
The 1990 Grange is an unquestionably glorious wine. A blend of 95% shiraz and 5% cabernet sauvignon, its fruit is sourced from the Kalimna vineyard (Barossa Valley), Clare Valley and Coonawarra. Its aromatics are mature and remind of ripe black cherries and black fruit compote. The palate has astoundingly long length with vanilla, black plum, crushed ants (yes), and sweet velvety black fruit overtones. This wine is delicious and worthy of its benchmark status.
The 2008 Grange is a wine that I have encountered previously, albeit at an enormous trade like consumer tasting back in 2013 (see my notes here). This time, I had my own glass and as much time as I liked to contemplate it. Yet my notes are quite similar. The 2008 Grange is a blend of 98% shiraz and 2% cabernet sauvignon, with fruit sourced from the Barossa Valley, Clare Valley and Magill Estate. The wine is a little monolithical at this point in its development, reminding of vanilla, licorice, pure fruited plum liqueur and currants. The palate has long length and primary fruit driven plum characters and is supplemented by generous dollops of vanilla. In style, it reminded me of a Greenock Creek Barossa shiraz.
Both wines are outstanding.
See www.penfolds.com for more.