Penfolds' Bin Series wines

penfolds bin series

So, some tasting notes of the Bin Series wines from celebrity Australian producer Penfolds. Penfolds is a great wine brand, and lately they’ve been managing it with the focus and skill of a top Champagne house. Normally, it’s just the Champagne guys who get marketing and brand building in the wine world, but Penfolds clearly understand how to make it work.

The principles? Aim to make yours a luxury brand. Target high net worth individuals. Make your wine desirable and expensive: if you get it right it becomes a Veblen good and increasing the price then increases demand. Rely on blending – across vineyards, across regions, across varieties: this makes your brand scaleable.

Present your products to journalists and gatekeepers in controlled conditions, preferably where you have your brand ambassador, who ideally is a winemaker, present to talk people through the tasting. The product must always be sampled in controlled conditions, and keep the brand sceptics away. Give preferential treatment to journalists who are favourable to your brand and they will become brand champions.

When I was starting out in the wine world, I used to love these wines. I still admire them, but now they’re just too expensive for what they are, and as you’ll see from my notes I rate some of these wines quite highly, so you can deduce from this something about the Penfolds pricing strategy.

Penfolds Bin 138 2011
A blend of Shiraz, Grenache and Mataro. Ripe, sweet black fruits with some spiciness. Nice structure. Smooth and sweet, and a bit grainy. 90/100

Penfolds Bin 138 2012
Sweet, ripe, spicy blackberry and black cherry fruit with a hint of tar. The palate is ripe and supple with some creamy, spicy underpinnings and a bit of grippy tannin. Ripe but still has definition. Currently a little one-dimensional but nicely balanced and may develop. 91/100

Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz 2010
Sweet, war, spicy black fruits nose. Supple and lush, yet well defined black cherry and blackberry fruit. Very attractive with lovely balance. 92/100

Penfolds Bin 150 Marananga Shiraz 2010
Very rich, sweet blackberry fruit nose with some spice and tar notes. Ripe and intense. Smooth, dense, sleek palate is lush but not jammy with lovely balance. Smooth textured and welldefined with great concentration, finishing spicy. 94/100

Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 2010
Lovely intense blackcurrant fruit nose. Gravelly, rich and intense with lovely aromatics. The palate has great definition and good structure. Ripe with lovely density and fine-grained but firm tannins. A really lovely wine. 95/100

penfolds bin 707

Penfolds Bin 707 2010
Wonderfully intense blackcurrant and spice nose. The palate has great concentration and density with sweet blackcurrant fruit and a warm spiciness. Very ripe and intense but with good structure, too. Such a lovely wine. 96/100

penfolds grange

Penfolds Grange 2008
Very ripe, sweet, intense blackberry and blackcurrant fruit nose. Sweet, brooding and with great definition. The palate is super-concentrated with bold, sweet fruit – it’s really full and intense. Superbly structured with warm, spicy, woody notes under the ripe dark fruits. Lovely structure and complexity. It’s really fine but needs time to shed its primary fruit state. 96/100

Penfolds Magill Estate 2010
Ripe, sweet, intense nose of blackcurrant, spice and hints of tar. The palate is dense and structured with a savoury, spicy edge to the sweet, ripe, black fruits. Nice fresh fruit but it’s a bit angular and oaky at the moment. 92/100

Penfolds St Henri Shiraz 2009
Very open with sweet black cherry and plum fruit. Lush, fine and fresh with some blackcurrant notes too. Supple fruit dominated palate with nice blackcurrant and plum notes. Fine and fresh. 93/100

Find these wines with wine-searcher.com

7 comments to Penfolds’ Bin Series wines

  • I’m not sure about keeping sceptical journalists away. I’ve repeatedly mocked Penfolds corporate guff and yet they keep inviting me to things and sending me samples. I agree with you on the prices though. Absurd. I like the wines though.

  • Stu

    Now Jamie, I now you’ve been critical of the high points awarded by ‘Australian Wine Critics’ (paraphrasing you there somewhat) – so its good to see you are pretty much on par with the points awarded the same wines by the only review site that I subscribe too.

    Not a criticism – well if there were one, it would only be for lumping all Aussie wine critics together.

  • Ben

    Interesting article, would’ve been instructive to know the prices you’re talking about.

  • Millicent Terry

    You give much higher scores when you know what the wine is.
    At blind tastings you have scored Grange 2002 at 89 and Grange 2004 at 93.
    Looks like you are a poor blind taster and score known wines at least 5% higher.
    Is Grange 2002 really worse than all five Cotes du Rhone scored above?

  • Kwispedoor

    @ Millicent: I will take just 50 random sighted wine scores from anyone, including yourself, and then give that same person the same wines (not that they are actually really the same if poured from a different bottle on a different occasion), without him/her knowing which ones I have picked. Nobody in the universe will score them exactly the same, barring a few wines here and there, perhaps.
    You’ve made your point to a degree, but unnecessarily antagonistically so.

  • There was a time where I hoped to one day buy a bottle of Grange for a special occasion. I’ve enjoyed many other bottles from Penfolds but I think I’m officially priced out on the Grange. As you point out their other wines are probably very close in quality so I’m likely one of the victims of their effective marketing campaign.

  • Your article about specific Penfolds wines is informative. I would like to draw your attention to another blog where the history of how the BIN wines of Penfolds began its journey. You and other readers of your blog will also find it interesting. It is at http://justwines.com.au/blog/penfolds-bin-wines-numbers-that-changed-australian-winemaking-scenario/

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