Once again this year we were privileged to take part in the annual Penfolds Grange Growers Lunch at Magill Estate Restaurant in early December. This lunch is a tradition that was started back in 1996, when the Penfolds Grange Growers group was formed. Previous to that, growers often didn’t know where the Shiraz fruit that they sold to Penfolds ended up each year. The Grange Growers group was formed to begin to celebrate the achievements of the growers whose fruit was making up part of Penfolds Grange, arguably Australia’s most famous wine.
This year was a milestone year for Don Oliver and the Oliver’s Taranga Vineyard- we celebrated 10 vintages contributing to Penfolds Grange and received the much sought after “Triple Crown” Perpetual Trophy, awarded to those who have contributed fruit to Grange 3 years in a row. This is an extremely exciting achievement for Don and our vineyard, and one that goes to show that our efforts to always supply the highest quality of grapes- whether going to our own wines, or to that of our grape customers- are being rewarded. Our winemaker Corrina and her husband Dan also contribute to Penfolds Grange from their patch of the Taranga Vineyard known as Rayments Block, The Oliver’s Taranga Vineyard is often the only vineyard in McLaren Vale that contributes Shiraz to Penfolds Grange and we are very proud of this.
Anyway, enough of the back story! What this day is really about is celebrating with great food and wines- so for those who may get food and wine envy- stop reading now!! The food and service at Magill Estate Restaurant is really outstanding and it was such a treat to be spoilt for the day!
We were met with some lovely NV Dampierre Brut Premier Cru Champagne, and some delicious starters- including some gorgeous smoked salmon tiny bagels. Once seated the first course was served- and believe me the flavour was even better than the beautiful presentation. Kingfish, Ponzu, Turnip served with the 2006 Yattarna Chardonnay. The wine was singing and the kingfish delicious- Corrina’s favourite dish of the day.
This delicious dish was followed by the 2006 St Henri Shiraz matched with Quail, Ginger Beer, Coriander. Delicious again. The 06 St Henri was really in a great spot, showing lots of elegant flavour and depth, and was a great match to the dish.
Next up was a 2001 Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon, matched with Venison and Hay smoked beetroots. Again, very difficult to fault the wine or the food.
Then the big guns came out- the 1990 and the 2010 Grange were poured as a pair. There has been much hype about the 2010 Grange, receiving 100 points from many an esteemed wine writer all over the world. It was paired with quite possibly the most succulent and mouthwatering, as well as flavoursome, piece of Wagyu – no meat in general- ever! It even had Don wondering if he could change the small flock of Dorper lambs that we have on the property over to Wagyu cows!! Sometimes simple is the best- Mayura Wagyu, Asparagus, Sesame. It almost out-shadowed the Grange vertical!! Both of the Granges had plenty of life in them- maybe too early for the 2010. Delicious again. Only wished that there were 10 more pieces of the Wagyu spare…..
And for dessert we had some Great Grandfather Rare Tawny matched with Cherry, Anise, Roasted Barley.
Throughout the day we were entertained by Chief Winemaker Peter Gago, telling us tales of his trips all around the world. Also, we were addressed by Milton Wordley the photographer and author of the renowned “A Year in the Life of Grange” Photo-essay. It was great hear from the photographer himself, and see some of the lovely images of our vineyard and fruit in ferment up for all to see. Milton presented the Penfolds winemaking team with a great photograph, signed by all of the grange growers, including each of the Penfolds Chief Winemakers over the ages: Max Schubert, Don Ditter, JohnDuval and Peter Gago.
A delicious day indeed, and wonderful to be spoilt and feel an important part of what is an iconic Australian wine. We even managed to get a new cocktail recipe from Head Sommelier Ewan using our Banished Grenache Fortified- so will share that soon!