Wine review – Penfolds, Andrew Thomas Wines, Tyrrell’s and Sapling Yard

Penfolds Bin 150 Marananga Shiraz 2012 $71.30–$80
Marananga, Barossa Valley, South Australia

Penfolds’ largely undiscovered Bin 150 demonstrates the power of shiraz grown in Marananga – a Barossa sub-region long favoured by Penfolds’ red wine makers and sometimes referred to as “Grange country”. The fifth vintage of Bin 150, from the mild 2012 season, combines rich, ripe black-cherry-like fruit flavours with deep, delicious savoury characters. Firm, fine tannins cut through the fruit, adding a satisfying textural dimension to a big but remarkably harmonious shiraz built for long-term cellaring.

Thomas Wines Elenay Shiraz 2013 $45
Lower Hunter Valley, NSW

On 18 April, Hunter winemaker Andrew Thomas released six Hunter shirazes from the highly rated 2013 vintage. The range includes several single-vineyard wines and this blend, which we tasted alongside a Tyrrell shiraz from the same vintage. Elenay’s power, ripeness and savouriness, with a lick of oak, contrasted with the more restrained Tyrrell style. We enjoyed both styles, slightly favouring the lighter Tyrrell wine, while really savouring the meatier Elenay. Thomas says the blend comprises “a few amazing barrels that are, for various reasons, ultimately left out of the single vineyard wines. “With tongue in cheek, we affectionately refer to these leftover barrels as the ‘lips’ and ‘arseholes’”, he adds.

Tyrrell’s Semillon 2014 $17–$24
Lower Hunter Valley, NSW

Tyrrell’s recently introduced three wines – chardonnay, semillon and shiraz – under a new “Hunter Valley” label. They’re drink-now expressions of its three regional specialties, priced well below the company’s flagship Vat series equivalents (Vat 47 chardonnay, Vat 1 semillon and Vat 9 shiraz). The semillon, at a modest 11.5 per-cent alcohol, displays typical regional–varietal flavours of citrus and lemongrass on a light, bone-dry palate. Where the Vat 1 generally requires years for the flavour to develop, the new release offers its fruit right now. It’s a very good version of an idiosyncratic wine style that grows on you the more you drink it.

Sapling Yard Shiraz 2013 $25
Four Winds vineyard, Murrumbateman, Canberra District, NSW

In 2008 Carla Rodeghiero and husband Andrew Bennett planted Sapling Yard vineyard, 25 kilometres north of Braidwood. By this time, Carla, a clinical research associate, had completed her wine science degree at Charles Sturt University. While the couple wait for their vineyard to mature, Carla sources fruit from other growers and makes wine from a shed at Sapling vineyard. “I’m a garagiste”, she says. Her 2013 shiraz looked good in a masked tasting last September and impressed again recently. It’s a lighter style, with varietal flavours of red berries and pepper. Sweet mid-palate fruit and soft, easy tannins give it great drink-now appeal. Available at, Plonk and Ainslie Cellars.

Sapling Yard Riesling 2014 $20
Ironbark vineyard, Murrumbateman, Canberra District, NSW

Carla Rodeghiero bought riesling grapes from the tiny Ironbark vineyard at Murrumbateman and made the wine at her won vineyard, Sapling Yard, 25 kilometres north of Braidwood. She hopes to introduce wines from Sapling Yard vineyard in the near future, but meanwhile sources fruit for her label from Canberra and Tumbarumba. The riesling shows citrus-like varietal flavours on a fresh, crisp, light-bodied palate. Available at, Plonk and Ainslie Cellars.

Penfolds Bin 51 Riesling 2014 $27.55–$30
Eden Valley, South Australia

Penfolds introduced Bin 51 in 1999, but the company’s riesling-making history stretches back many decades, and interweaves with other companies in the Treasury Wine Estates group. Like so many 2014 rieslings, Bin 51 offers a mouthful of ripe, varietal flavour rather than the austerity often seen in youngsters. A racy backbone of acidity adds even more vivacity to the fruit and provides a fresh, zingy, dry finish. All that freshness and fruit means good drinking now, but the wine now has a good cellaring record.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2015
First published 21 and 22 April 2015 in and the Canberra Times