Wine review — Penfolds Bin 128, Bin 28, Bin 389 & Bin 407

Penfolds Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz 2004 & 2005 $15.75-$27
With prices spiralling to new lows – as little as $15.75 for Bins 128, 138 and 28 — the new-vintage Penfolds reds present a great buying opportunity. A personal favourite from the release is the 2004 Bin 128, a French-oak-matured shiraz from the Coonawarra region. The sample bottle blossomed for days after opening – revealing rich, delicious cool-climate berry flavours with typical Penfolds’ layered texture, of which fine, grippy tannins are a major component. The wine has an elegance, too, and I suspect that this will become more apparent as the years roll by. The co-released plumper, more tannic 2005 needs time and is upstaged by the better 2004 wine.

Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz 2004 $15.75-$27
Penfolds’ decision to screw cap seal Bin 28 2004 but not all of the other Bin reds sends a confusing message to drinkers. If, as we’re told, it’s the best seal for sturdy reds with long cellaring potential, why pussy foot around with a gradual roll out, culminating, one of the winemakers tells me, with Grange from the 2006 vintage? Fortunately Bin 28 2004 rises above the equivocal marketing stance and delivers big on traditional Penfolds’ values: flavour, harmony, cellarability and complexity. It offers the bigger flavour and structure of warm-grown shiraz with the unique Penfolds tannin thumbprint. This is a very good vintage.

Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 2004 $32.45-$45, Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 $22.45-$35
Since the first vintage in 1990 Bin 407 has been textbook cabernet sauvignon – a wine that smells, tastes and feels (in its assertive, slightly austere, tannic structure) like nothing but cabernet. The 2004 maintains this variety-defining style. It’s the ideal steak wine. Bin 389, too, leads with cabernet aroma and structure – a wine of immense power and depth. Tasted alongside the pure-cabernet Bin 407, the role of shiraz in the Bin 389 blend becomes apparent, providing an earthy note to the nose and fullness to the palate. The combination is striking in a wine built, unequivocally, for the cellar.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2007

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