Anthony Rose: What makes a wine iconic?


If you call your own wine an icon, then it's probably not one. An icon is a wine that's earned its stripes with a proven track record of quality and longevity, recognition factor and investment value. Bordeaux's Château Lafite and d'Yquem, Burgundy's Domaine de la Romanée Conti, and Champagne's Krug are all bona fide icons.

With an enviable track record spanning 60 years, Penfolds 2008 Grange, recently rated 100 points by both The Wine Advocate and the Wine Spectator, is about as iconic as it gets. How about Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz though? First made in 1960 by Max Schubert, it's come to be known as "baby Grange" or "poor man's Grange". It epitomises all that's best about Penfolds and the generously flavoured Australian cross-regional blend of cabernet sauvignon and shiraz. It may not have quite the stature of Grange itself but the fact that is so well-established makes it, in my view, an icon.

The magnificently aromatic, richly spiced and intensely blackcurranty 2010 Penfolds Bin 389 (£42-49.99, Edgmond Wines, 01952 811951, Nickolls & Perks 01384 394518, Cadman Fine Wines, 0845 1214011) has just won the trophy for Australian Red Blend over £15 at this year's Decanter World Wine Awards. To call De Bortoli's seductively peachy 2009 Noble One Semillon (around £19.99, Majestic, Waitrose, Harrods), the Château d'Yquem of Australia may be overegging the pudding, but this luscious sweetie justifiably won the trophy for Australian sweet wine over £15. Demonstrating its pudding wine credentials, De Bortoli's 2008 Deen de Bortoli Vat 5 Botrytis Semillon (around £8.99, Jascots, 020-8965 2000, Cambridge Wine Merchants, 01223 568989) won the under £15 sweet wine trophy.

Maybe Sainsbury's should claim icon status for its undervalued herb and lemongrass-zesty 2006 Taste the Difference Semillon, £9.99, one of the few under £10 wines to be awarded a gold medal at the DWWA. Australians would almost certainly award Peter Lehmann's Margaret Semillon icon status and not just because the man largely responsible for saving the Barossa Valley died last month. His Margaret Semillon (around £13.99, Noel Young Wines 01223 566744, Invinity Wines, 01905 23770) is consistently fabulous, gaining, as the 2007 does, richness, weight and honey-on-toast characters as it matures.

The gold-medal winning 2012 Dandelion Wonderland Riesling (around £12.99, Cambridge Wine Merchants, Corks Out, 01925 267700, Invinity Wines), is definitely not an icon. But who cares? It's a gorgeous young, fragrant and zesty riesling you want to drink– and plenty of it.

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