d’Arenberg vs Penfolds

By Fergal Gleeson

ali liston statsIn 1962 Sonny Liston was the most feared man on the planet. He was the Heavyweight Champion of the World at the time when that meant something. Liston won the Title by beating up the previous champ, Floyd Patterson in 2 minutes. In the rematch Liston knocked him out again in the first round. Described as a gorilla, a big bear, a jungle beast he had the biggest fists of any champion, they were described as being as large as cannon balls. He was powerful and menacing. After demolishing Patterson he was widely regarded as unbeatable. When Muhammad Ali (then known as Cassius Clay) got a title shot at Liston 43 of 46 sportswriters tipped Liston to win by knockout.

This week I’m facing off two South Australian heavyweights d’Arenberg vs Penfolds 2009; specifically their Grenache Shiraz Mouvedre wines (GSM). In the red corner we have the Sonny Liston of GSM’s weighing in at $70 a bottle, d’Arenberg’s top of the range GSM, The Ironstone Pressings, from McLaren Vale. The bottle is heavy. The notes on the back label are encyclopaedic. d’Arenberg are one of the pioneers of Grenache in Australia- so expectation are high.

In the blue corner Penfolds Bin 138 GSM from the Barossa Valley. This not the best known of the Bins but Penfolds are always well made. It retails at around $45. This is the Ali of the wine tasting.

The difference in style between two South Australian GSMs of the same vintage is amazing. Penfolds has bright silky fruit- red cherries and plums. Some chocolate flavours emerging given it’s six years old but still really fresh. It goes down so well, you have to stop yourself from glugging and has a long finish.

d’Arenberg is duller and the fruit is not as bright. It’s earthy, dense and alcoholic. The lighter notes typical of Grenache are not as prevalent. More a brooding introvert. It’s powerful but lacking the charisma of the Penfolds which bobby dazzles. It’s a little disappointing for the money.

Students of the Ring won’t need me to tell what happened in the Liston v Ali fight. But for those who don’t Ali shocked the world and perhaps himself by beating Liston. He made the Champ look slow and awkward with his quick hands and footwork. Liston didn’t come out for the seventh round.

Some expensive marquee wines can be heavy and ponderous. Sometimes a more nimble footed, lighter wine  can give a lot more enjoyment. Get your gloves on a bottle of Penfolds 138 2009, the GSM champion!

d’Arenberg Ironstone Pressing Rating: 3.5/5. Price: c$70. Penfolds Bin 138. Rating: 4/5. Price: c$40

For more Wine Reviews read and follow www.greatwineblog.wordpress.com  Drink and be merry!

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