Wine review — Penfolds

Penfolds new release reds $23–$34

  • Bin 138 Barossa Valley Grenache Mourvedre Shiraz 2007
  • Penfolds Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz 2007 
  • Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz 2006 

This year’s release of Penfolds reds has been a demure affair. The customary retail price wars seem to have given way to stock pictures, tasting invitations and nary a price in press ads. We’ve not yet seen the $15.75 slash-and-burn of just two years ago. But prices tumbled from a recommended retail of $33.99 to around $23 (by the case) – at present – at which they offer seriously good value. The quality’s exciting. And time-proven cellaring potential across the range is even more reliable now that they’re all under screw cap. There’s a Penfolds thumbprint to each wine; but there’s individuality as well, starting with the juicy Bin 138 blend.

There’s a base of lovely, fleshy grenache in Bin 138. But mourvedre (aka mataro) and shiraz add a spicy, earthy note and the fine, ripe, persistent tannins that mark the Penfolds style. It’s delicious to drink now but should alter enjoyably over at least another decade in bottle. Bin 128 shows cooler fruit origins in its elegant structure and underlying peppery/spicy shiraz flavours. But there’s a tannic austerity, too, and a pleasing savouriness that seems to come from both the fruit and the French oak. The fruit versus tannin tension in this too-young (but superb) wine will resolve with a few years’ bottle age.

Bin 28 is the deepest coloured of the three wines, reflecting the origin of its fruit from the warm Barossa Valley, Langhorne Creek and McLaren Vale regions. It was named for the Kalimna Vineyard, in the northwestern Barossa, original source of Bin 28 and still source of much Grange material. There’s a juicy, chewy, ripe-black-cherry richness to the fruit and it’s layered with firm, grippy tannins, in the Penfolds mould – like a matrix of fruit and tannin. It’s big, solid, harmonious and built to enjoy across the decades. Like Bin 138 and Bin 128 it’s a wine of unusual dimension and pedigree for $23.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2009