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Comparison Tasting: Penfolds Grange 2000 and Henschke Hill of Grace 2001

When we were in Australia a couple of years ago we had the opportunity to visit several vineyards and shop at a great many wine stores. While we were there we also tasted a huge number of fantastic wines from small producers with brand names we simply never see in the United States. But, everywhere we went in Australia there was always one underlining subject that came up…Which was better, Penfolds Grange or Henschke Hill of Grace? It appeared to us that these two wines were intertwined in the Australian heritage and everybody, whether you were a wine drinker or not, had an opinion. This drama about two such well known wines was like waving the red flag in front of the bull and we brought a bottle of Grange home with us (see our May 2, 2016 review: Penfolds Grange Bin 95 2005).

Not long ago I had the chance to purchase both Penfolds Grange and Henschke Hill of Grace at prices that were much less than the going rate in Australia. I just couldn’t resist buying the two of them so we could do a side-by-side comparison to see how we would answer the proverbial question of which wine was better. We set the stage by opening and decanting the wines three hours before drinking, there were four tasters and the wine was very well paired with venison fondue.

Here’s what we thought…

Right from the start there was a pronounced difference between the two. Both were inky dark purple\red color, but the Grange had a muddy brown tint to it that visually identified the wines as a distinctly different color in the glass. Each had similar powerful fruit and leather aromas, but again there were clear differences. The Hill of Grace had brighter and fresher fruit aromas while the Grange had more dusty, earthy and smoky fruit aromas that were a crystal clear prelude to what was to come. The Hill of Grace had the rich fruity Shiraz taste, slightly lighter body, considerably more acidity and supple flavors that went on and on. The Grange on the other hand had a complex earthy character that was simply memorable. With every sip new flavors could be found and the mouth-watering tastes really made the wine special.

Penfolds Kalimna Vineyard located in Northern Barossa, South Australia is one source of Grange grapes

In the end all four tasters easily agreed that the Penfolds Grange was the one they liked best. The rich Grange simply smelled and tasted more complex and it was very IMPRESSIVE wine!!! With that said I’m sure if we were drinking either of these alone every taster would just as quickly said they had just tasted a VERY MEMORABLE “New World” Shiraz. Neither of these wines can be called anything but expensive (in BOLD CAPS); however, they are very special and really do make a wine tasting event unforgetable!!!

Comments: Learn more about Grange and the other Penfolds wines.

Photo from Penfolds.