In 1951, the venerable Australian winemaker Penfolds began bottling a wine that was first called Grange Hermitage, and later just Grange. It was an attempt to emulate the great Syrah based wines of the northern Rhone, and in particular Hermitage. The effort was spectacularly successful. It’s price in the early fifties was $1.50, give or take, but these days a bottle goes for about $700 (inflation sure, but still). It became essentially the first New World ‘First Growth’ as well as the iconic wine of Australia.
What we present today is the Second Growth to Grange, the Penfolds RWT 2017. Unlike Grange, RWT focuses on the terroir of Barossa, whereas the sourcing of the grapes for Grange is multi-regional and comes from various Penfold vineyards in southern Australia. RWT stands for “Red Winemaking Trial” and it was first bottled in the mid-1990s. Although the name has stuck, the wine is definitely no longer a trial or experiment and it has won many accolades since its inception.
The RWT style is opulent and fleshy, contrasting with Grange, which is more muscular and assertive. It is made from fruit primarily selected for its aromatic qualities and potential for silky and supple texture. The RWT 2017 is very good now but has the precision, concentration, persistency and balance to age well for the next 20 years. And, if you’re interested, we also have a few Grange 2010.
Wine Spectator, 96 pts. – “Offers a lush, juicy mix of blackberry, blueberry and black cherry flavors that appears seamless, integrating with notes of amaretto, clove and lavender. Plush, juicy and very generous on the long, expressive finish. Drink now through 2034.”
James Suckling, 96 pts. – “Stunning blueberries and mulberries here with a wealth of baking spices and red berries, as well as tarry notes and blackberries. It is all here. The palate has a super plush, rich and quite compressed tannin feel. Some firm and powerful moments, as the palate builds with plentiful spiced summer berries. Red plums and blackberries to close. Try from 2025.”
Decanter, 96 pts. - “A deep, dark, brooding ruby in colour, this RWT 2017 (from 'Red Winemaking Trial' originally developed in 1995) displays an intense yet subtly peppery and tarry fragrance with an added veneer of vanilla from its 15 months in new French oak. That intensity splashes onto the tongue in a profusion of flavours mingling opulently ripe black cherry with pepper, vanilla, tarry spice and herbs in a polished Barossa red that, thanks to the cooler growing season, shows an elegance of texture and balance through all the richness. At the same time, it has a seriously tongue-coating, chocolatey firmness in Barossa-meets-Côte Rôtie style. Chicken and game are great food options here.”
Wine Advocate, 95 pts. – “Red raspberries abound on the nose of the 2017 RWT Shiraz, which—as usual—is all Barossa fruit aged in French oak (70% new). It's full-bodied and velvety, with appealing notes of dried spices, beef and plenty of red fruit. There's a cedary veneer to this vintage, which looks as if it will need a couple of years to come together, then drink well for up to two decades.”