FANS OF PENFOLDS: This is not a drill.
The newest Penfolds vintages are being launched today, and because I’m such a lucky old duck, I was able to try them with prolific Penfolds winemaker, Adam Clay, before they hit the market.
If you just happened upon the blog, you can see some Penfolds primers here and here.
Meanwhile, on to the newest Penfolds vintages:
- Bin 51 Eden Valley Riesling 2016 – Eden Valley has a relatively high elevation, which guarantees a better degree of acidity to the grape (Riesling has a tendency to become, well… Boring without adequate acidity). Another amazing thing to note is this little detail: Penfolds is very particular about Bin 51’s picking season, harvesting the grapes at just the right time to ensure a well-balanced fruit. The 2016 vintage is refreshing and reminiscent of orange peel and lemons… I can easily imagine myself on a beach in Australia with one of these babies.
- Bin 311 Tumbarumba Chardonnay 2015 –As with Eden Valley, Tumbarumba (located near the Australian capital of Canberra) boasts of a fairly high elevation as well… Bonus points for the fact that Tumbarumba has a nice ring to it. This is a properly elegant Chardonnay, whose oak maturation contributed to its creamy texture. It also has a well-balanced acidity, with notes of honey, cashew, and milky nuts, plus a long finish. The production of this wine is about once every four years, so best to grab one (else wait another four years).
- Bin 2 Shiraz Mataro 2014 – I like the harmony of the Shiraz and Mataro in this particular wine: The rich, sweet, plummy flavours of Shiraz compliment the rustic, edgy notes of Mataro, making this a wine that is easily enjoyed by both novice wine drinkers and seasoned winos.
- Bin 8 Cabernet Shiraz 2014 – Yet another masterpiece in blending, the herby notes of the Cabernet Sauvignon starts strong, tapers off in the middle then ends with a strong finish. The Shiraz then balances it out by having plum flavours that start slow, packs a punch in the middle, and drops in the end… Making it one of the most full-flavoured wines I’ve ever tasted, with lovely hints of plums, dried herbs and tomatoes. It can be aged for 10 to 15 years.
- Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 2014 – The philosophy behind the creation of this line is consistency through high quality materials. Bin 389 uses 100% new American oak barrels, and richer, darker, better quality grapes. This is a wine that announces its presence once it enters the palate. Similarly, it’s great for ageing (patience is a virtue for this one, as consuming it too early tends to overwhelm the drinker with its pronounced tannins, but this only promises to get gentler over the next few years and age wonderfully).
- St. Henri Shiraz 2013 – This beauty still uses the original label from its very first vintage in the 50s and makes use of 70 year old oak (still classified as a hogshead, despite the fact that these were the specially made 1500L barrels as opposed to the traditional 300L ones), so drinking the wine is just like drinking a piece of Penfolds history. It’s a softer, gentler, fruit-driven wine with a sweet, liquorice aroma and a touch of peppers, making this “velvet sledgehammer” a wine I can smell all day long. It’s a label that is famous in Australia and is beginning to get a following worldwide.
- RWT Barossa Valley Shiraz 2014 – It’s a Shiraz from the legendary Australian wine region of Barossa, where the grape absolutely thrives… How can one go wrong? RWT is so good that the label has been credited with being instrumental to Barossa’s rise to fame in the wine world. With good reason… The subtle blueberry notes and hint of cloves is wrapped around rich, elegant tannins promises a wine that would only get better with age.
- Penfolds Grange 2012 – Who doesn’t remember their first Grange? I remember mine vividly during my hotel days when I was treated to a bottle (in my former boss’ attempt to educate me on high end wines). Quite frankly, my perspective on (and taste in) Australian wine has been forever changed after that moment. One of the things that Penfolds has discovered in making Grange is that if a wine is exposed to oak early on, the “marriage” of the two tends to be more cohesive, and this has been their practice ever since. The newest vintage, the 2012, has clean mineral notes, a creamy buttery sweetness, and a powerfully explosive mouthfeel.
Readers who couldn’t wait to get their hands on one of these new vintages can, for the meantime, grab a readily available bottle of any Penfolds line in leading supermarkets. Like most people, I am patiently waiting for the line to come to our shores.
Which of the new Penfolds vintages are you looking forward to? Cheers!