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How Barry Drank The Wrong Wine

If you haven’t heard about the #grangegate saga that resulted in the resignation of NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell last week, you’ve either been deep in the cone of silence, or you’ve been paying way too much attention to what Kate’s wearing, and whether another kid is going to steal George’s toy and cause a royal dummy spit.

In a wine glass: Mr O’Farrell denied at a corruption inquiry that he had received a $3000 bottle of 1959 Penfold’s Grange Hermitage as a gift only a month after becoming premier.

Now, being the Beanie Queen and living on the other side of the country, that’s about all I care to know or understand about what happened. And as this is a wine column and not a political piece, I’m more interested in what Mr O’Farrell drank than whether he remembered it later, or lied about forgetting it, or whatever. 

Lord knows I am the last person to cast stones about being a little memory-challenged when drunk as a skunk, tipsy.

But I must say, personally, I think Mr O’Farrell got ripped off!

You see, I have had in my lifetime one, and one only, bottle of Grange. It was the 1971 and I drank it at a restaurant in a little town called Witchcliffe about 20 years ago with a bloke who later told me it was to celebrate his divorce coming through. Ahem, yes, he might have forgotten to mention that fact to me earlier, but at least we remember the wine!

So I went looking around to compare Mr O’Farrell’s Grange with my Grange.

Sure, his 1959 cost more, but you tell me if this sounds like your cup of tea (metaphorically speaking): “fine grained chalky—almost stemmy—tannins. Finishes oily dry but it still has great flavour length. It's starting to lose freshness.” 

My 1971, in contrast, is described at Dan Murphy’s as: “A silky smooth, richly flavoured palate with dark chocolate/espresso coffee/tobacco/cedar fruit, underlying vanillin nuances and fine, lacy satin tannins. Finishes sinuous, long and bittersweet.” And: “One of the great Grange vintages. For many years this vintage set the standard.” 

If I was Mr O’Farrell, I’d far rather get me a piece of those “lacy, satin tannins” than “chalky—almost stemmy—tannins”, even if my bottle was only worth a paltry $1228 (average from The Wine Searcher).

Now on that note, I’d better run. I’m off to pen a little post-it of thanks to my #grangegate partner, as I can’t remember if I thanked him properly then and there...

For a little added silky, tannin value, take a look at some of my favourite tweets from #grangegate

David Stratton @DavidStratton9

Right now Barry is Googling 'how to get red wine stains out of your résumé'.



Baz, you're doing it wrong... You drink the booze first and THEN you forget. #grangegate #barryofarrell


Elle Hardy @ellehardytweets

Remember guys the real crime here is that he drunk the grange with sausages


Amy Cooper @CocktailAmy

Anyone who can forget a bottle of 1959 Grange should be sacked anyways, for crimes against wine . #memoryfail


Patrick Ashforth @SporadicRager

Stick to beer, keep your career. #grangegate #auspol


Benji Pez @bennymurray

ICAC'ed myself with delight at this mornings news regarding @barryofarrell #grangegate


Chris O'Neill @sticksdrums

@LozVox I'm sure he's drawing a blanc about the whole situation