An illustrious South Australia house, deeply rooted in tradition, Penfolds is one of the iconic producers of Shiraz in the world. Initially founded as a fortified wine house in 1844, Penfolds was founded by Christopher and Mary Penfold who arrived to Australia from Sussex, England and founded the 500 acre Penfolds estate in Adelaide. Upon Christopher’s tragic death, Mary began initial blending wines that were two to three years of age, moving away from fortified wines. For many years Penfolds remained the largest wine producer in South Australia. Then in the 1940s famed Penfolds winemaker Max Shubert crafted their first iconic ‘Grange Hermitage’ wine which was later simply named ‘Grange.’ In 1960s the company introduced a series of red wines: Bin 389, Bin 707, Bin 28 and Bin 128, that became the highlights of the Penfolds brand.
Visiting this famed lineup today, I was overwhelmed with the overall quality of the wines. One of the great wines that I tried was the 2016 Penfolds ‘Bin 389’ Cabernet-Shiraz (WWB, 93) which showed a wonderful mouthfeel and was already quite evolved. This wine was a serious value. The 2016 Penfolds ‘St. Henri’ Shiraz (WWB, 95) was also showing signs of beautiful evolution, with copious dark fruits and an incredible texture. What probably impressed most in this tasting was the iconic 2016 Penfolds ‘Bin 707’ Cabernet Sauvignon (WWB, 97) which showed insanely good weight and a deep core. This fabulous effort is one for the cellar. Even better, although considerably more expensive, the 2014 Penfolds ‘Grange’ Shiraz (WWB, 98) has just a tiny portion of Cabernet Sauvignon blended in. This Shiraz is silky, sexy and a downright treat to savor. Learn more about this iconic Australian producer at penfolds.com Here are the amazing new wines by Penfolds.
2018 Penfolds ‘Bin 51 Eden Valley’ Riesling- This takes on petrol, green apple and green papaya aromas. The freshness and verve to this dry Riesling is exceedingly good. Loaded with mouth-watering acidity, the Riesling shows wonderful citrus and pitted fruit flavors. Fresh and light on its feet, enjoy this in the short-term. Drink 2019-2022- 91
2017 Penfolds ‘Max’s’ Chardonnay- Sourced from the Adelaide Hills, this wine shows toasty brioche with butterscotch and Pink Lady apple aromatics that build in the glass. On the palate this shows nice acidity and weight, as citrus rind, melon and ripe apple flavors connect wit the freshness. This is seriously good for the price. Drink 2019-2022- 90
2017 Penfolds ‘Bin 311’ Chardonnay-Sourced from Tumbarumba, he 2017 ‘Bin 311’ Chardonnay shows lemon cream and kumquat with hints of wild mushroom on the nose. Highly refreshing and satisfying, this shows a beautiful astringency. White peach, lemon cream and green apple flavors all combine nicely in the glass. This takes on a very Burgundian feel with its freshness and intensity. Drink 2019-2024- 91
2016 Penfolds ‘Max’s’ Cabernet Sauvignon- The 2016 ‘Max’s’ Cabernet Sauvignon shows off an inky core. The wine shows a good degree of stewed dark fruit on the nose with coffee accents. The palate is jammy and rich but shows good acidity. Forward and rich, blackberry and cherry pie flavors with blueberry compote all combine nicely. This is extremely well-done for an entry level Shiraz. Drink 2019-2022- 90
2016 Penfolds ‘Bin 28 Kalimna’ Shiraz- The ‘Kalimna’ was first made by Penfolds in 1959 and is sourced from a warm South Australia site. This excellent value Shiraz takes on toasty oak on the nose with black tea, blackberry pie and coffee grounds. The mouthfeel is plush as the wine shows nice citrus tones that accompany copious dark fruits and coffee grounds. This is delicious now but will continue to cellar well for another decade Drink 2019-2028- 91
2016 Penfolds ‘Bin 389’ Cabernet Shiraz- The ‘Bin 389’ by Penfolds is comprised of near equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. The nose takes on wonderful blue fruit aromas with black tea and Asian spice. The mouthfeel and texture to this wine is wonderfully plush, delivering dark berry, roasted fig and coffee ground flavors. Showing good acidity and briightness, this wine is gorgeous in its youth but will cellar well for the next decade or more. Drink 2019-2030- 93
2016 Penfolds ‘Bin 407’ Cabernet Sauvignon- The ‘Bin 407’ Cabernet Sauvignon was first made in 1990. The wine is sourced from a host of AVAs including Coonawarra, McLaren Vale, Barossa Valley, Wrattonbully and Padthaway. The Cabernet Sauvignon was aged for 12 months in French oak prior to bottling. The nose is deliciously seductive, with blackberry cobbler, brandy soaked black cherry and cigar ash notes. There is very good freshness to this rich wine that reveals a wonderfully soft mouthfeel. The acidity combines with rich dark fruits nicely. A long-ager, this will cellar well for the next ten to fifteen years. Drink 2019-2030- 92
2015 Penfolds ‘St. Henri’ Shiraz- The ‘St. Henri’ Shiraz was aged in extremely large vats prior to bottling. They have elected to blend in a tiny portion of Cabernet Sauvignon to this Shiraz. The wine starts off with deep and wonderfully perfumed aromatics reminiscent of blueberry compote, black tea, mocha, and anise. The wine takes on a seamless texture. Loganberry preserves, blueberry compote, mocha and crushed mint flavors all wonderfully combine. Decadent and layered, this is a stunning wine by Penfolds that shows both wonderful weight and tension. Enjoy this incredible Shiraz over the next two decades. Drink 2019-2035- 95
2016 Penfolds ‘RWT’ Shiraz- The “RWT’ or ‘Red Winemaking Trial’ was named after a new project wine in which Penfolds sourced fruit from the Barossa Valley. The wine was aged in French oak puncheons for 12 months prior to bottling. The oaky undertones are a really good complement to the deep dark and blue fruits and chocolate aromatics that mingle beautifully in the glass. The texture of thew wine is sinfully good as the wine glides through the mid-palate. Black tea, blueberry compote, blackberry cobbler, cigar ash and boysenberry cordial flavors all delight the senses. While delicious now, this massive monster of a wine needs some more time to fully hit its stride. Drink 2020-2040- 96
2016 Penfolds ‘Bin 707’ Cabernet Sauvignon- The ‘Bin 707’ Cabernet Sauvignon by Penfolds is a massive beast that needs considerable time to develop. The wine saw considerable time (20 months) in new American oak prior to bottling. Following a three hour decant the wine slowly unveils toasty oak with black tea, anise, creme de cassis and cigar box aromas. The palate takes on a seamless quality as this effortlessly glides through the mid-palate. The wine is has a silky smooth texture. Moderately tannic, this gives off creosote, mocha, cigar ash and creme de cassis flavors. Rich and decadent, this great wine needs two or more years to fully express itself. Drink 2020-2045- 97
2014 Penfolds ‘Grange’ Shiraz- The 2014 Penfolds ‘Grange’ Shiraz is an absolutely stunning new wine that embodies precision, power and finesse. They have elected to blend in just a small portion of Cabernet Sauvignon (2%) into this magnificent wine. An ultra-ripe dense core, this 2014 Shiraz opens with intense tar, Turkish coffee, blueberry pie and sandalwood accents that round out this seductive nose. The palate is plush and inviting, showing off a downright sexy mouthfeel. This wine seamlessly glides across the mid-palate, delivering blackberry cordial, sweet pipe tobacco, anise and creme de cassis flavors that connect with the wonderfully refined tannins. Massive, yet showing a beautiful sense of elegance and place, this incredible new release will cellar marvelously for decades. Drink 2020-2045- 98