This is an exceptionally strong release for Penfolds and that is certainly the view of the winemakers. The 2018 vintage is considered a great one in South Australia and warmer than usual, but while the summer heat has slowed down the ripening the onset of mild and dry conditions in early Autumn for the harvest has given the wines delightful freshness and elegance on the finish. They have more of the typical dark fruit tone than the 2017s had last year but these wines are now impeccably balanced when young, and despite their ageing potential many of them could be enjoyed almost upon release.
This is the 60th anniversary release of Bin 389 and its an absolute benchmark standard this year. It continues to benefit from the Grange components that don’t quite make the grade. Other highlights for me include the Bin 150 Marananga Shiraz which improves its stylistic clarity year-by-year and is a strong little brother to RWT Shiraz. The Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz continues to shine with bright purpose too and as always makes a beautiful contrast the friendly generosity of Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz. If you are interested in any of these wines please let me know.
We are delighted to be able to offer Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon again this year, after there was no release of the 2017 last year. It’s on a par with Grange in terms of overall quality and tannic texture and its small production make it one of the most highly sought after wines in the release. It continues to be a darling of collectors in Asia thanks to its quality and scant supply.
Finally, 2016 Grange is a sensational wine and continues the epic run of great ‘6s’ vintages – joining ’66, ’76, ’86, ’96 and ’06 in the pantheon of legendary Granges. Again a warmer growing season than normal has delivered trademark power and intensity but the superb acid freshness in the wine is a feature. Remarkably this is an extraordinarily consistent feature of many 2016 reds from all around the world.
Penfolds first hundred years is as a fortified winemaker, where they mastered the art of blending across grape variety and across region to refine a clear and purposeful house style. The table wines that have dominated production since the 1950s, reflect those first hundred years of experience thus the portfolio is widely known for its skill with multi-regional blending for its most iconic wines including Grange, Bin 389 and St Henri. Interspersed are a series of single region, sub-region and even single vineyard wines that complement this approach. The use of American and French oak in varying degrees adds nuance to the total picture. The result is a range of outstanding wines as comprehensive as anywhere in the world.
The 'Family Tree' outlined below is a summary of my own thoughts about the wines from Penfolds, built up over three decades of working with and tasting them. Grange and St Henri are the clear parents of the range, and everything else can falls within the orbit of one or the other. Enjoy.
Justin Knock MW
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