Some current releases from Aussie star producer Penfolds


Some current releases from Aussie star producer Penfolds

These are some of the current releases from Penfolds, possibly Australia’s most famous producer. When I first got into wine in the early 1990s, Penfolds was a company I fell in love with, for their flavoursome reds – the Bin Series. There was the famous Bin 95 Grange (this was £35 a bottle and a little spendy for me), then the brilliant baby Grange, Bin 389 (about £12), then the Bin 28 and Bin 128 Shiraz wines for around a tenner. Bin 2 appeared on the market a bit cheaper, and sealed with a plastic cork (if I recall correctly)! And there was Koonunga Hill, which at that stage was a bargain and was agreeable (the grapes came from proper wine regions). Then, a few years later, things changed, and the top wines suddenly leapt up in price, and I started looking elsewhere.

Here’s a review of their wines from 2001, and another from 2015 (one of the benefits of having one of the first wine websites is this historical continuity).

This is a selection from the current range.

Penfolds Koonunga Hill Autumn Riesling 2017  Eden Valley, Australia
12.5% alcohol, pH 2.87. This is really quite serious, with some richer tangerine notes alongside the powerful limey fruit. It’s quite seamless with hints of honey and toast, finishing a bit spicy with a twist of marmalade. A lovely wine. 92/100

Penfolds Koonunga Hill Chardonnay 2017 Southeast Australia
13% alcohol. This is sweetly fruited and generous with a hint of coconut and vanilla supporting the ripe peach and pineapple fruit. Has a hint of honeycomb, too. 85/100

Penfolds Max’s Chardonnay 2017 Adelaide Hills, Australia
12.5% alcohol. 20% new oak, 80% seasoned. This is powerful yet really fresh, with a brisk lemony edge to the bold pineapple and peach fruit on the palate. Quite seamless with some support from the spicy oak. Fresh, linear finish. Compact and finishes a bit austere. Well made. 90/100

Penfolds Bin 311 Chardonnay 2017 Australia
Used to be single region Tumbarumba; this vintage it’s Tumbarumba, Adelaide Hills and Tasmania. 12.5% alcohol, 8 months in French oak, 25% new. This is very fresh and linear with a bright citrus core and some supporting notes of flint, minerals, toast and spice. There’s some linearity and austerity here: a fresh, structured style that should age beautifully. Bold, concentrated and linear. 94/100

Penfolds Reserve Bin 17A Chardonnay 2017 Adelaide Hills, Australia
12.5% alcohol. 40% new oak. This is lovely. Made in a focused, linear style it has amazing freshness and intensity with lovely lemony fruit, and delicate spiciness, as well as some mineral notes. There’s a hint of struck match, some subtle almond and cashew nuttiness, and a long finish with well integrated acidity. Quite profound, and a benchmark example of the new style of Australian Chardonnay. 96/100

Penfolds Bin 144 Yattarna Chardonnay 2016 Australia
First vintage, 1995, was launched in 1998. This is the 22nd release, and it’s a blend of Tasmania, Henty, Adelaide Hills and Tumbarumba. 13.5% alcohol, 8 months in French oak, 35% new. Concentrated and quite dense, combining peach and spice richness with some lemony freshness. There’s some cashew nuttiness, a bit of brioche breadiness, and bold peach and nectarine richness. This is stylish wine, currently showing a bit of oak, with something going on at all points in the flavour spectrum. Needs time to integrate and develop some individuality. Lots of potential. 93/100

Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet 2017 South Australia
14.5% alcohol. 12 months in seasoned oak. Barossa, McLaren Vale, Padthaway, Langhorne Creek, Coonawarra. Lovely nose of aromatic blackcurrant and blackberry fruit with some cherry notes and a pleasant green twist. Lovely balance on the palate, with some sweet fruit, nice juiciness, some green notes and a hint of chocolate and olive. 89/100

Koonunga Hill Seventy Six Shiraz Cabernet 2017
85% Shiraz, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. 14.5% alcohol. Dense with rich, structured blackcurrant and blackberry fruit. Has some structure, a hint of mint, some rich tarry, spiciness and an acid bite on the finish. Very classic in style and should age nicely in the mid term. 90/100

Penfolds Max’s Shiraz Cabernet 2016 South Australia
McClaren Vale, Wrattonbully, Padthaway, Langhorne Creek, Barossa Valley. 14.5% alcohol. Aged in French and American oak with a very small proportion new. Juicy and generous with rich, sweet blackcurrant and black cherry fruit. Generous, rounded and smooth with subtle tar and mint notes alongside the lush fruit. 90/100

Penfolds Kalimna Bin 28 Shiraz 2016 South Australia
Named after the famous Barossa vineyard, this is now a multiregional blend. 14.5% alcohol. This is ripe but beautifully defined. There’s some black olive and cured meat savouriness here, alongside raspberry jam and black cherry, as well as a touch of blackberry. It’s fully ripe, but there’s also some nice savoury tension and a lovely grainy structure under the fruit. Very stylish expression of warm-climate Shiraz. 93/100

Penfolds Bin 150 Marananga Shiraz 2016 Barossa Valley, Australia
This is aged in a mix of French and American oak, with a bit of new. 14.5% alcohol. It’s very fresh with good grippy structure under the focused but extremely ripe blackberry fruit. There’s some clove and juniper spiciness, and a twist of tar and wild herb, but the super-ripe fruit is the main theme here. Finishes quite tannic with a little bit of sour cherry and tar. A fairly serious, ageworthy, ripe Barossa Shiraz. 93/100

Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 2016 South Australia
This has now overtaken Grange as the most cellared wine in Australia. 14.5% alcohol. 12 months in American oak Hogsheads, 37% new. Barossa, Coonawarra, McLaren Vale, Padthaway, Wrattonbully. Concentrated and dense with lovely integrated ripe blackcurrant and blackberry fruit merging well with the spicy oak characters. Warm, fresh and concentrated, and already showing some generosity with the oak melting into the sweet fruit, but there’s clearly enough structure here – and this wine has a track record for this – to age very well. Satisfying and dense, and only really hinting at what this is capable of right now. 94/100

Penfolds St Henri Shiraz 2015 South Australia
First commercial release of this was 1957. Matured in large French oak vats. 14.5% alcohol. This is very ripe and exuberant, but with lovely freshness and structure. Dense blackcurrant and blackberry fruit with some hints of tar. No oak in the way, just lots of lush, layered black fruits, with a slight saltiness. This is really structured, but you can miss the structure because of the lushness of the fruit. It will age really well, even though it’s quite seductive right now. 95/100

Penfolds Bin 798 RWT Shiraz 2016 Barossa Valley, Australia
14.5% alcohol. 12 months in French oak, 72% new. This is a dense, ripe, seductive wine with sweet blackberry and black cherry fruit, supported by refined, spicy oak, and with some grippy tannins lurking in the background. This is a modern, polished, ripe expression of Shiraz which will develop very nicely. Perhaps pushing ripeness a little far, but it gets away with it, and the result is accessible and seductive, but also quite serious. Grippy, grainy finish. 93/100

Penfolds Bin 169 Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 Coonawarra, Australia
14.5% alcohol, 13 months in new French oak. Sweetly fruited and showing good concentration and freshness, this blends together refined blackcurrant fruit with spicy, cedary French oak. It’s seductive and appealing. Very ripe, but not over-ripe, this is certainly aiming at those who love lush fruit in their wine, but it has the substance to age well. Lovely stuff. 95/100

Penfolds Father Grand Tawny 10 Year Old
18.5% alcohol. Orange red in colour. Complex, very sweet and quite delicious with raisins, spice and notes of cherry, marmalade and fudge. This has a lovely sweet, seamless character, and it’s probably best served chilled. Long finish. 90/100

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