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 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 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
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