When I was in Tasmania in the late 1970s, a mate’s father died and left him a case of 1976 Penfolds Grange Hermitage. At about the same time, Grange won some prize at a wine show, which I seem to remember was in Paris. Almost overnight, the price of the wine shot up on the strength of that prize. Apparently, the 1976 vintage is considered “one of the most awesome wines ever made at Grange”, and is a blend of 89% shiraz and 11% cabernet sauvignon grapes1. After my sojourn in Tasmania, I got a job as a mug geologist in Alice Springs in 1981. I initially went to Alice with my father; the last time he has been there was in 1942 on his way to fight the Japanese during the Second World War, some 39 year before. I spent most of a couple of years in Alice Springs, and after getting married, my partner and I moved into a unit which was quite nice, although we could only afford to have bedsheets as curtains.
During one of our trips to the local Coles supermarket, my partner went into the wine section of the supermarket (the Northern Territory allowed that in those days), and in a dark, back corner of the wine section, discovered a slot with 6 bottles of 1976 Grange Hermitage, and bought the lot. They were at the astronomical price of $10 per bottle (I seem to remember the real market price in those days was about $80 a bottle). Over the next few weeks we drank them all. Given that the 1976 vintage is not supposed to have reached maturity until 2004 to 2020, I feel guilty at having knocked them over in 1982. If we had kept all six bottles and looked after them, now they would be worth well over $1,000 per bottle1. However, they were lovely to drink, despite being so immature!