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COMMENT: I've been fortunate enough over the past 30 years to taste quite a few bottles of Grange, Penfolds' legendary flagship red wine - some of them in the company of the late Max Schubert, who created the style during the 1951 vintage after visiting France and tasting some of the greatest reds from Bordeaux.

While some bottles have been obviously better than others, sniffing and sipping the enormously powerful flavours of Grange has always been a near-religious experience.

That said, I only rate the 1959 vintage as fair-to-middling in the overall Grange spectrum, and not in the stellar class of the ensuing 1960 and 1962 vintages which are among the best wines I have ever tasted.

Would I surreptitiously wink at the auctioneer when the bidding for a bottle of Penfolds 1959 Grange headed towards $3000, even if I did have the readies in my pocket?

Certainly not, but I would still love to wrap my gums around its rich, complex, full-bodied flavours, even if they may be getting a bit tired more than 50 years on, and salute one of the visionaries who did so much to elevate the quality and aspirations of Australian wine.

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