New Penfolds Max’s Range | The Story Of Max Schubert
Whether you’re knowledgeable about wines or not, you’ve probably heard of Penfolds. The winemaker was established in 1844, just eight years after the foundation of South Australia, which is where most of their vineyards are located. Being one of the country’s oldest wine makers, they boast a wide and varied portfolio of styles and tastes which have been very carefully honed over the years. The most popular of their expressions is the Grange, a wine which almost never came to be but which has ultimately become one of Australia’s favourite wines.
The Story of Max Schubert
Max Schubert was the Chief Winemaker for Penfolds between 1948 to 1975. The story of how he changed the course of the brand forever is a huge lesson in the value of perseverance and not giving up on what you believe in.
The story goes that in 1950, Max went on a research trip to Spain to find out more about sherry, which was the preferred tipple in Australia at the time. Being the renegade and visionary that he was, he decided to go up to Bordeaux instead to find new and different techniques he could use to create a whole new product for the changing Aussie tastes. Upon his return to the Magill Estate in Adelaide, he spent the next seven years perfecting his new concoction. When head office at Penfolds decided it was time to try it, to Max’s horror, they hated it and they told him to cease all production immediately. Not one to give up hope, Max continued to work on his creation in secret for the next couple of years and had friends and associates try them out. Word spread of this clandestine new wine, which at the time was named Grange Hermitage, and head office decided to once again give it a go. This time it was a huge hit, and the 1960’s saw Penfold’s Grange cement its position as Australia’s most distinguished wine.
A tribute to Max Schubert with the new Max’s range
To celebrate Max’s enormous legacy and contribution to the brand, Penfolds are releasing a new range of wines as a tribute to the great winemaker. The eponymous offerings are designed to bypass the cellar; they can be drunk straight away. They embody the spirit of what Max has brought to Penfolds and to Australian wine at large.
We were recently invited to the Penfolds Magill Estate for a tour of the winery and also to taste the new range of Penfolds Max’s. There are currently 3 reds available and a 2015 Chardonnay will be available in July 2016. As a tribute to the former Chief Winemaker, you know that these wines are going to be special but they’re also reasonably priced so that they can be enjoyed on any night of the week. One exception is the limited release special bottle; “The Max Schubert Cabernet Shiraz”, with the 2012 bottle retailing for $450.
This medium-bodied offering pays tribute to Max in the year he would have turned 100. It’s an approachable style, matured 12 months in American oak, and is in peak consumption period from now until 2018.
With all the hallmarks of a classic Shiraz, this offering also provides a contemporary taste with a generous flavour. It has hints of florals on the nose and a subtle oak taste. Perfect to drink any time in the next four years.
A deep crimson coloured variety, this Cabernet Sauvignon is rich, dark and full. It has an interesting toffee-apple scent on the nose with hints of black olive too, giving it a nice savoury taste. The peak drinking period for this is between now and 2020.
One to bring out for special occasions, this limited release Cabernet Shiraz is matured for 15 months and like the iconic Grange, it’s done in 100% new American hogsheads. This highly complex offering is a true testament to what Max brought to Penfolds over 50 years ago, with hints of stewed mulberry, freshly tanned leather and icing sugar across the nose. While it takes time for the flavours to unravel, this one can be consumed anytime over the next 30 years.
To round out the range, Penfolds will be releasing Max’s Chardonnay 2015 this July.