Some have been lovely, and some have been not. The producers have been notable, but the vintage 1992 isn’t. It really hasn’t mattered, as it’s just fun to think the grapes were harvested and transformed to wine around the same time he made his appearance in the world. To mark the nearing of the end of this year SWMBO and I led an expedition with The Young One and The Youngette (a.k.a. JoLo) to a favourite local eatery with two more 1992 bottles, this time from the Land of Oz.
It’s a case of The Beauty and The Beast, the title not lost on us as we made a comparison with The Youngette and The Young One. The Beauty was a 1992 Henschke ‘Hill of Grace’, made from 130 y.o. Shiraz vines from a single site in the Barossa hills, and The Beast a 1992 Penfolds ‘Grange’, a multi-regional blend of the most flavoursome parcels of Shiraz available to the giant of South Australia. Both are iconic for sure, and the comparison is never fair, and subject to subjectivity.
The 1992 Henschke ‘Hill of Grace’ looking more mature with garnet and brick colour. The nose concentrated and intense, but aromatic and elegant, quite ethereal initially. Savoury red fruits, earth, leather, game and cedar, smelling brown and secondary, if not tertiary. Medium full-bodied now, brown fruits, pepper and brown spices, meat and earth all intermingling. Somewhat leaner, skinnier, and distinctly acid, and still with tannin structure and line, tending to dryness. This changed, evolved and opened up, into seamless waves of secondary flavours and sweetness. Over the evening this epitomised beauty, before the dreaded brett poked it’s head out. Nothing major, but just enough to cause a little concern. For a few minutes, this was glorious.
On opening, the 1992 Penfolds ‘Grange' was a behemoth. All-conquering on nose and palate. A dense and solid, impenetrable colour, bouquet and palate. Ripe black fruits, plums liquorice, black pepper, minerals earth and nearly tar. Hints of some bottle development only. Masses of cedary oak, vanilla and VA too. But sweet with it, lusciously so and almost decadent. Thankfully all held in check by massive extract and structure. It’s a monolithic monster for sure, but the perfect juxtaposition of components and balance gave it accessibility and drinkability. Making a statement is Grange’s game and the monolithic dimension is the ultimate. The unwavering solidness from start to finish and consistency is something to behold. This will live for decades for sure. It may dry out, and will definitely become savoury, but it’ll be remarkable all the way.
The Young One and The Youngette agreed with us. There’s an intriguing fascination with the way The Beauty changed. And the powerhouse nature of The Beast was undeniable. Two different wines and both delicious.