Penfold's Koonunga Hill used to be a reasonably serious, ageworthy wine. When I first started drinking wine back in the early 1990s it was an affordable, spicy, chunky red - and one with a reputation for improving in bottle. I remember a tasting of Penfold's high end wines a few years back where some museum vintages of this wine were brought out to show. Since then, however, I suspect the wine has changed. Current release, 2004, is not something I'd advise readers to cellar. I don't think I'd advise them to buy it, either - it's not a bad wine, but for the price (£6.99) there are plenty I'd try first.
I'm getting dark fruits with a hint of bonfire and rubber. On the palate there's overtly sweet fruit with a green herbal edge, some jamminess and rather a bitter finish. It tastes a bit like a cheap Aussie brand, and I notice this is no longer South Australia in appellation, but South Eastern Australia (which takes in the serious volume, low quality irrigated regions of Victoria and New South Wales). What is there to distinguish this from the likes of Hardys, or Jacobs Creek (actually, I prefer the Jacobs Creek Shiraz Grenache to this)? Sorry to be so negative, but given my good associations with this brand, I wanted it to be good.
In pursuit of a good wine experience, I've opened something completely different.
Clos Baudoin Aigle Blanc Vin Tris 1989 Vouvray, Loire (from half bottle)
17 years on, this wine is beginning to sing, albeit it an unusual voice. But that's Chenin for you. Lovely, intense, savoury perfumed nose of damp meadow hay, herbs and fresh bread. Cut apple, too. Quite complex. The palate is quite rich and full, with the residual sugar offset by the acidity and a herbal streak, which is dominated by warm notes of straw and cheese. It finishes with the sweetness and acidity in a nice, chunky, savoury sort of tension. A thought provoking wine with enough oomph to make a good food match for richer dishes. Nothing quite like Loire Chenin, is there? Very good/excellent 90/100 (From Grand Cru Wines, remarkably cheaply a few weeks back)