Wine critics dilemma: to Grange or not to Grange?

The 2008 Penfolds Grange scored a perfect 100 points from US magazine <i>Wine Advocate<i/>.
The 2008 Penfolds Grange scored a perfect 100 points from US magazine Wine AdvocatePhoto: Eddie Jim

Jeni Port, Fairfax Media wine writer

Yes, I do have Grange in my cellar but will I buy the 2008 vintage? No.

Yes, I like Grange but only in the better years and while the 2008 falls into that category I do not see value in paying this year's asking price of $785 a bottle.

The cynic in me chafes at two price rises for the wine in the lead-up to the May 2 release, the latest reportedly following a 100 point score from The Wine Advocate. No doubt the score will fuel excitement in Asian markets for the wine. Maybe an $888 price tag isn't too far away?

But I digress.

With my $785 I'm going to buy a wine I have been lusting over since I tasted it in March, Luciano Sandrone 2002 Barolo Le Vigne and at $202 a bottle retail, I'll score three bottles and still have change left over to snatch a few of Luciano's 2010 Valmaggiore Nebbiolo d'Alba ($71). Both wines were part of the March tasting to welcome Luciano to Australia for his very first visit here and sported the kind of fleshy, earthy generosity that Barolo so effortlessly unleashes in a glass. Honest and totally accessible too.

NB: If it's to be only one bottle of '08 Grange can I make mine the imperial (eight bottles), recently auctioned at the Rare and Distinguished Barossa Wine Auction, which fetched $59,570? That's a lot of Luciano Sandrone's Barolo Le Vigne!

*Luciano Sandrone wines are imported by Bibendum Wine Co.

Nick Stock, editor, The Age/Sydney Morning Herald Good Wine Guide 2013

I'm looking for guaranteed pleasure when spending up big on wine and, in keeping with the luxury theme, I'd head straight to the most satisfying and consistently great name in Champagne, Champagne Krug.

For the same money as just one bottle of '08 Grange ($785) I'd buy three bottles of NV (or multi-vintage, as they prefer to call it) Krug Grande Cuvee and chill one down ready to celebrate Mother's Day.


Like Grange, Krug Grande Cuvee is an amalgam of many superior individual vineyard parcels (199 of them in the 2012-based blend) and it shares the same ability to age magnificently.

Having made mum feel every bit as special as she deserves, it's straight to the cellar for the other two bottles. Not all Champagne is made for the long haul, but Krug is not just any Champagne. I'm a huge fan of Krug Grande Cuvee that's been carefully cellared and I reckon it is at its best given a good 15 years from the time of release.

And if you add to that the seven years it spends ageing in the cellars at Krug before release, you're actually drinking a Champagne with a base of more than 20 years of age, plus the reserve wines in the blend (as much as 40 per cent) that are much, much older again!

Ralph Kyte Powell, Fairfax Media wine critic

One bottle of Grange at $785? Six bottles of Giaconda Shiraz? Maybe a dozen bottles of By Farr Shiraz? An easy decision to make.

What wine or wines would you spend $785 on? The 2008 Grange or something else? Tell us in the comments below.