Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.
Dear Dr. Vinny,
I have some old bottles of Penfolds Grange, from 1973 and 1970, but I don’t think they're any good. Would a collector be interested in the wines even if they aren't drinkable?
—Elizabeth, Melbourne, Australia
I’m pretty cautious about long-forgotten bottles, but you’ve got some potentially really amazing wines there. I checked in with Penfolds chief winemaker Peter Gago for his take, and he said, “These old Penfolds Grange gems are becoming increasingly rare to find on the global secondary market. At almost 50 years old, the primary fruit has well and truly faded and been surpassed by the tertiary characters of cedar, wood and spice."
Then Gago did what I hoped he would, and mentioned the recorking clinics that Penfolds does. “To confirm whether the wine is truly drinkable, we recommend taking your Penfolds aged wines, 15 years or older, to a Penfolds Recorking Clinic,” explains Gago. “Now an institution, the service was inspired by Grange creator Max Schubert, who would recork older vintages of Grange for his friends.”
At the clinic, a winemaking team member inspects the wine, assesses the quality, tops off the missing wine and certifies and recapsules the wine. It’s pretty awesome that you get to check on how the wine is aging as well as give it a new lease in your cellar. As for the two vintages of Grange you have, Gago says they're best consumed now. “Drinkable? That’s a matter of personal taste/choice,” he says. “Sellable? If stored correctly, absolutely.”