Wine review — Penfolds, Shelmerdine, Chapel Hill and Katnook

Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz 2008 $25–$30
Penfolds St Henri Shiraz 2006 $80–$90

Bin 28 and St Henri are contrasting, cellarable examples of warm climate shiraz. Bin 28 is the fuller, rounder and softer of the two. It’s robust and comes with the Penfolds signature – ripe, meaty fruit flavours intermingled with robust but soft tannins, with proven cellaring potential. St Henri, a blend of shiraz with 11% cabernet is beautifully fragrant and medium bodied – deeply and deliciously fruity. But taut, assertive tannins woven through the fruit suggests a long, long life ahead. Typically for St Henri, this could mean peak drinking from about 15 years’ age. For exampel, a still-vibrant 1983 tasted recently had years, perhaps decades, of life in it.

Shelmerdine Heathcote Shiraz 2007 $29–$32
Shelmerdine Merindoc Vineyard Heathcote Shiraz 2007 $59–$65

These are exciting reds from two vineyards owned by Stephen Shelmerdine. The first is a blend from the Merindoc and Willoughby Bridge vineyards at the southern and northern ends of the district respectively.  It contains a tiny drop of viognier, co-fermented with the shiraz, and it’s in the taut, savoury style with quite firm, fine tannins. It really captures the unique deep, dark-fruit, savoury Heathcote style without going over the top on alcohol. Also modestly alcoholic and savoury is the stunning, smooth textured, fine-boned Merindoc, sourced entirely from this cool southern vineyard. It’s extraordinary – made by Sergio Carlei.

Chapel Hill The Parson’s Nose McLaren Vale Shiraz 2009 $14–$16
Katnook Founder’s Block Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 $18–$20

In the great discount mill these true regional varietals might fall even further in price. Chapel Hill Parson’s Nose, made by Michael Fragos, captures the ripe, vibrant, plummy richness of McLaren Vale shiraz – and even offers a little savoury bite in the finish. It’s a straightforward wine, made for current drinking, with the accent on fresh varietal flavours. A couple of hundred kilometres further south in Coonawarra, Wayne Stehbens, captured cabernet’s cassis-like varietal flavour and firm finish in Founder’s Block. Like the Chapel Hill wine, the focus is on bright fruit flavours for current drinking.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010