Christopher Rawson Penfold would have been proud. Little could he have imagined, when he established his vineyard from cuttings in 1844 on the slopes of Magill, South Australia, that Penfolds would become the most recognised wine label in the world.
Sipping the 2002 Grange Hermitage as we dine on an exceptional meal, it’s hard to imagine the path of Penfolds wines through the centuries, from those colonial days when Penfold and his wife Mary peddled fortified wines as ‘heal all’ tonics from the back of a cart, to the wine’s wide popularity in South Australia, and then the world. The turning point arrived when winemaker Max Schubert followed his dream to make a truly exceptional wine, the Grange Hermitage in 1951, which ‘lead to a remarkable dynasty of wines that would bring Penfolds wines worldwide recognition for their signature style, consistency and longevity’. (Langtons)
The Penfolds Dinner at the Intercontinental Sanctuary Cove Resort provided a unique opportunity to wine and dine, marrying the best to the best: Penfolds wines chosen by the resort’s award-winning sommelier, David Stevens-Castro, explained by Penfolds’ brand ambassador Adrian Marchioro, (recognised as one of The Age’s Top 100 Most Influential Victorians), paired with a three-course degustation menu prepared by Executive Chef Parasharam Pathak of The Fireplace Restaurant.
With each dish accompanied by two wines, it’s interesting to observe the pairings. The entrée of Cured Tasmanian trout with macadamia and citrus is accompanied by 2015 Bin 51 Riesling from the Eden Valley. (A gorgeous perfumed floral wine with lemony notes on the nose and elegant fruit on the palate, this is a revelation about the strength of Penfolds’ whites). The second wine, a 2014 Bin 311 Chardonnay from Tumbarumba, one of the best wine-growing regions of NSW, carries the biscuity hazelnut shades of French oak, its elegant texture and complexity pairing well with the aioli and almond accompaniments to the salmon.
Our Main Course of Grass-fed striploin, presented with celeriac, smoked tomato and marrow jus, is paired with the 2013 Bin 9 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2012 Bin 138 Shiraz Grenache Mataro (aka Mourvèdre) from Barossa.
The Bin 9 is a young, very drinkable wine with sour cherry and blackcurrant notes. Cabernet Sauvignon, Adrian tells us, is a cornerstone of the Penfolds stable, as important as Shiraz, of which this wine is a fine example. The Bin 138’s gorgeous lush berry with restrained oak is a savoury wine which is an absolute delight! Thankfully, there’s none of the burnt rubber bouquet of some other ‘Rhône blends’, with the raspberry grenache palate shining through (an under-rated varietal, according to Adrian). Adrian continues his wine commentary, telling us that the bin numbers were used to denote which vineyard’s grapes were sourced for each wine.
Then to dessert: Chocolate marble cheesecake with raisin jam, walnuts and a parmesan tuille, paired well with the jammy Grandfather ‘Rare’ Tawny Port from Seppeltsfield, part of the Penfolds stable, made by the master maker of fortified wine, James Godfrey.
The night has led up to the final wine and, in a first for the resort, we experience the 2002 Grange Shiraz. One of the top vintages from one of the world’s most prestigious, critically acclaimed and iconic wines, the Grange is decanted from a magnum and allowed to breathe.
“It is a privilege and great excitement to present this rare opportunity to our guests,” says David Stevens-Castro, Resort Sommelier. “The Grange is arguably Australia’s most celebrated wine and proudly listed as a Heritage Icon of South Australia. As a vintage found only in specialty off-licence, auction houses and collector cellars, it is something profound to present.”
Those vines planted by Christopher Penfold so long ago yield some of the best shiraz fruit in the world, leading to this rich, robust wine, best enjoyed from 2018 onwards. Tasting notes describe the 2002 Grange’s inky blackberry aromas and silky texture, a palate of dark chocolate and dark berried flavours. It is cigar smooth, gliding gracefully across the palate, so different to each of the wines we’ve experienced during the evening; a perfect conclusion to a night of exceptional food and wine.
Coffee and petit fours? No, we’d rather take pleasure in the lingering smoky rich notes of one of the world’s greatest wines. It’s ‘tonic’ enough!
Intercontinental Sanctuary Cove Resort, Manor Circle, Sanctuary Cove, Hope Island
Ph: 07 5530 1234 Open: Mon – Sun 6pm – 10pm
NOTE: Good Food Gold Coast dined as guests of the Intercontinental Sanctuary Cove Resort.