I need to join the positive chorus about this bottle. Very tasty, clearly a cab/shiraz blend that catches the high points of both. Penfolds make great wines for the money. Sometimes, they make me wonder why I spend so (and sooo) much more for wine. Just not that smart I guess. Don't know if any further aging will help. Probably will not hurt.
Nice nose, lots of berries. Jammy, firm mid palate nice structure. finish with enough spice to last long enough. Very smooth and well made. Time to drink up but should be able to hold it for another 2-3 years at least.
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1976 was an important year for a number of reasons, not the least of which brings us to the brink of patriotism. The Bicentennial was a monumental line to cross back in the 1970s and it was before blogs, a pervasive internet and the immediacy of information we face today. Most of us could sit on the backyard terrace and wile away the afternoon, conversing with our neighbors on the left and right of our divide (with actual spoken words, not key strokes) simply to gloat in the accomplishments of our young country. We didn't miss anything, didn't have to run to upload CNN, podcasts, E-Trade ETF's or other. Somehow, we were quite happy with a lack of urgency in our daily digestion of information - the 6:00 news was immediate enough.
As far as wine is concerned, 1976 was also a monumental year but few in the western world knew this until the mid 1980s (or even early 1990s) when a little visited, but often dreamed of continent began to take center stage. 1976 was a vintage for the ages but it was not in most of Europe (Germany aside) or the US...
1976 was a legend in Australia.
6-8 years ago, I wandered around around the US with a traveling road show of one (me) and a car full of old and rare wine from Down Under. The tasting/dinner series was called "The Classic Wines of Australia" and the events have never been repeated (as far as I know) anywhere else in the world. I opened a cavalcade of rarities from around Australia (all original bottles from the winery cellars) to prove how exotic and incredible the wines were with age. They spanned from the early 1960s-1980s and the entire series proved that winemaking was different back then - lower alcohol, less manipulation and more, well, less urgency - just like on the backyard terrace.
The 1976 Penfolds Grange was a star at the tastings for good reason. It is often considered one of the top examples of red wine produced during the last century (on par with 1961 Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle, 1961 Latour et al) and our bottles did not disappoint. Those who have been fortunate to taste a bottle usually have few words as words are unnecessary. The same can be said for many of the great old vintages at Penfolds (1962, 1966, 1970, etc) but Grange was not the only wine produced in those years. At the Classic Wines of Australia series we tasted 15-20 different examples from Penfolds (from the greatest vintages) and many of them were the equal of Grange. One of the wines remains a legend and today's offer commemorates its brilliance.
The 1976 Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz/Cabernet was an experiment. Max Schubert knew the winery could not live on the laurels of Grange, 707 or 389 forever - he needed a different legacy, one that was less expensive with higher production but still delivered the impact and exoticism of Grange. After a number of trials, the Koonunga Hill was born - never intended to be a "bargain" wine but a serious example for a low price. It was in instant success. It was not until years later that Penfolds destroyed the luster of the Koonunga Hill, turning it into a certain swill of commercialism. A few years ago, they reconsidered that stance and upgraded the wine to a far more successful level - I, for one, am "moved" by this move as the 1976 Koonunga Hill has always deserved a better legacy.
Now it has one.
To commemorate the 30th anniversary of a true legend (and one of my "a ha" moment wines), Penfolds has re-created the 1976 with a 2006 limited run example - 2006 Koonunga Hill "Seventy Six". As a matter of course, everyone should cellar a few bottles of this wine to see if the magic of that original legend remains - I would be surprised it it didn't last for at least 15-20 years in a cold cellar.
Here is the review of the regular 2006 Koonunga Hill bottling, the "Seventy Six" is akin to a limited reserve bottling of this wine, from hand-selected fruit and finishing normally held for their flagship wines - it is not overblown in any way and the alcohol is definitely within check, on par with the original 1976 bottling. In today's dollar, the new release is potentially an ever greater value than the original:
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED as a welcome sip of nostalgia when our modern days are filled with a complex and often nonsensical overload of information with few places left to put it.
ONE SHIPMENT ONLY at this price:
2006 Penfolds "Seventy Six" (Koonunga Hill - Shiraz/Cabernet) (this is not the Koonunga Hill found at every grocery store in the US)
Jon Rimmerman Garagiste Seattle, WA Aus7855
NOTE: Some content is property of James Halliday Australian Wine Companion and Garagiste.