What is the most famous wine in the Barossa Valley?

Have you ever heard of that famous red wine from Australia called Penfolds Grange? If not, get ready to learn all about this super amazing red that comes from a place called the Barossa Valley. Grange is considered the very best, longest-lasting, and most collectible Aussie red wine out there. Even if you don’t know much about wines, Grange is one bottle you need to know about. But what makes it so darn special? Why does everyone including Barossa Valley wineries go crazy over this red wine? I’ll tell you all the details on this legendary wine.

The Barossa Valley: The Perfect Place for Grapes

Before we talk about Grange, let me tell you about where it’s from – the wonderful Barossa Valley in South Australia. This small area is the perfect place on Earth for growing grapes to make incredible wines.

The Hot, Dry Weather  

It gets really hot and sunny during the days in the Barossa, but the nights are cooler. This helps the grapes ripen slowly and evenly while keeping their fresh, zippy taste. This daily warm-to-cool temperature swing is super important.

The Amazing Vineyards  

The Barossa has around 13,500 acres of vineyards planted in all sorts of different soils like the famous red-brown terra rossa soil, as well as sandier and clay soils. Many vineyards are on sloping hills to get ideal sunlight. The vines also get that nice, cooling afternoon breeze from the ocean.

Those Crazy Old Vines

One signature of Barossa reds is their intense, bold flavors, which come from having tons of old vines, however, some are literally over 100 years old! These twisted, gnarly old-timers give the wines incredible structure and crazy concentrated flavors.  

Old-School Winemaking 

Europeans first planted vines in the Barossa way back in the 1840s, and today’s growers still use lots of old-fashioned winemaking techniques that have been passed down for generations. Old methods like foot-stomping the grapes and aging the wines in seasoned oak barrels help give Barossa reds their rich, long-lasting flavors.

How Grange Was Born

How did this famous Aussie red called Grange first get started? The story begins in 1951 with an experiment made by a maverick winemaker named Max Schubert at the famous Penfolds winery.

Breaking the Rules

At that time, it was considered an absolute no-no to blend the big, bold Shiraz (Syrah) grape with the more refined, elegant Cabernet Sauvignon grape. However, Schubert’s crazy goal was to create an Australian version of the legendary blended red wines from the famous Bordeaux region in France.

The Game-Changing 1951

Schubert’s rule-breaking experimental blend of Shiraz and Cabernet from the outstanding 1951 vintage immediately caused a huge commotion. A respected British wine writer named Ron Sambrook was blown away by its “delicious sweet smell of inky blackberry, licorice, and crushed mint…insanely intense and rich.”  

The Rejected Blend (That Came Back)

However, the bosses at Penfolds weren’t convinced and shelved Schubert’s first Grange blend, thinking it wasn’t very good. It wasn’t until an American writer named Paddy Broadbent raved about its “heavyweight” age-ability in 1962, saying it could age for 25-35 years, that Penfolds finally gave Grange the green light. By then, the beautifully aged 1951s proved Schubert’s vision of an Aussie version of Bordeaux’s finest could be real.

What Makes Grange So Good?  

What’s the secret that makes Penfolds Grange such an insanely great, world-class red wine? It all comes down to using the most outstanding grapes, crazy-detailed winemaking, and an uncompromising blending process.

Top-Notch, Perfect Grapes

The winemakers are super picky about which grapes they use for Grange. Only the most concentrated, perfectly ripe Shiraz and Cabernet grapes from respected Barossa vineyards (and sometimes other Aussie regions) are cut. Quality over quantity is everything.

New American Oak Barrels

After crushing and fermenting, the separate Shiraz and Cabernet components get long aging for 18-20 months. But not just any old barrels – it is aged in brand new and slightly used American oak barrels. This gives it awesome vanilla, spice, smoke and toasty flavors.

Brilliant Master Blending

It takes true blending genius from the talented Penfolds team to take the best oak-aged wine batches and combine them into one harmonious Grange blend.

Super Long-Lasting

Grange gets better and better when aged for a nice long time in the bottle for many years. Aging it for 10-20 years or more allows those cedar, and tobacco flavors to fully develop.  

The Mind-Blowing Tasting Experience

When you’re lucky enough to taste one of those beautifully aged, older vintage Granges during our Wine Tours Barossa Valley, be prepared to have your mind blown:  

That Inky Dark Color

As soon as you pour it, you’ll be struck by Grange’s dark purple, almost black, glossy color coating the glass. Basically, signaling just how intense it is.

The Crazy Aroma  

When you get it out of the bottle then you will have a smell of ripe blackberry, vanilla bean, cedar, eucalyptus, a smoky campfire, and a savory meatiness.

The Ridiculously Rich Taste

Take a sip and WHAM – an eruption of powerful blackcurrant, blueberry jam, and dark chocolate flavors completely flood your mouth. But it’s not just sweet fruit you get those savory notes of black olive, salami, and crushed mint giving it fantastic complexity. The velvety but brawny tannins and zingy acidity provide an awesome backbone. 

The Neverending Finish

And the finish? It just goes on and on, echoing all those rich berries, tobacco leaves, and baking spice notes forever.

Grange’s Cult Collectibility & Legacy

Those groundbreaking 1955 and 1962 Grange vintages from the very start showed this daring Shiraz-Cabernet blend could age for absolutely ridiculous lengths of time, getting better over decades. Recent “Legendary” classics like 1986, 2008, 2010, and the super-hyped 2016 are destined for that long-aging greatness too.

Each new release sparks an intense worldwide scramble as collectors fight to get their hands on it. Obsessed “Grange maniacs” will hunt down and cellar prized older bottles, with the rarest vintages like the first 1951 going for absolutely insane prices up to $80,000 at auction! 

But beyond just being an incredible wine to drink and collect, Grange’s greatest achievement is showing the whole world just how phenomenal Australian wines can really be. This iconic red puts top Aussie wines on an equal level with the most famous French Bordeaux and Burgundy classics.  

Conclusion

For those who stick it out and actually experience Grange at its mature stage honestly gets a mind-blowing moment. In this distant, sun-baked corner of Australia, one person’s sheer genius combined with generations of hard-earned expertise somehow created something as legendary and world-class as the most famous Old World wines from France and everywhere else. An Aussie champion for the ages!

Where to Get the Grange Wine?

Get to know South Australia’s best wine regions with TrailHopper, Adelaide’s only hop-on, hop-off tour service. Starting from Adelaide CBD, our tours take you to the Barossa Valley Wine Tour, McLaren Vale, and Hahndorf & Adelaide Hills. Enjoy the freedom to visit top wineries and stunning landscapes at your own pace with our Wine Tours. Join us for a fantastic wine-tasting experience!

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