Wine review – the Penfolds collection 2018


Bin 51 Eden Valley Riesling 2018 $40
Maturation:Three months, stainless steel.
Pale, green-tinted straw colour; pure, citrus-like riesling aroma, precisely mirrored on an intense, powerful but very finely-textured palate, backed by assertive acid. An invigorating drink now in its fruity youth, Bin 51 also has potential to gain rich secondary flavours and texture with cellaring.

Bin 311 Chardonnay 2017 $50
Regions:Adelaide Hills (South Australia), Tasmania, Tumbarumba (New South Wales).
Maturation:Eight months, French oak, 25% new.
Previously sourced from Tumbarumba, NSW, a reborn Bin 311 now contains fruit from three regions from three states. The wine combines spicy oak and barrel-ferment character with varietal grapefruit- and nectarine-like flavours. If you were a fan of the old Bin 311, be aware this is a more restrained, delicate style than the punchier old all-Tumbarumba version.

Reserve Bin A Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2017 $125
Maturation:Eight months, French oak, 40% new.
Since when does a white upstage Penfolds’ reds? Reserve Bin A Chardonnay grabbed my attention more than any other wine at this year’s release tasting. Though it’s not better than the best reds in an absolute sense, it offers amazing richness and dimension, albeit in far more robust style the Bin 311 and Yattarna chardonnays flanking it: pale straw-lemon colour; funky aroma combining barrel-ferment characters in amalgam with nectarine-like varietal fruit aroma; delicious palate featuring fruit, barrel-ferment and nutty barrel-maturation flavour. It’s a very big, generous style but still elegant and refined. It’s a wonder to drink now and I suspect will evolve well for another ten years or so. This is very special indeed. Wow. We note its cellar mate, the Cellar Door Reserve 2017 won several trophies at the recent National Wine Show of Australia.

Bin 144 Yattarna Chardonnay 2016 $175
Regions:Tasmania, Henty (Victoria), Adelaide Hills (South Australia), Tumbarumba (New South Wales).

Maturation:Eight months, French oak barriques, 35% new.
It’s a leap of faith to buy Yattarna at $175. Right now it’s supple, elegant, restrained and harmonious – all good and rare qualities. However, the fine fruit doesn’t leap out at present, certainly not in a fleeting tasting, and like other vintages its best drinking probably lies a few years ahead. Put this on your watch list and buy through auction.


Bin 2 Shiraz Mataro 2017 $40
Regions: McLaren Vale, Barossa Valley, Padthaway, Wrattonbully.
Maturation: Eight months, French oak (10% new) and American oak hogsheads.

Deep red–black colour with crimson rim; the aroma and flavour combine the round, ripe character of shiraz with the distinctive jube-like flavour of mataro (ak mourvedre or monastrell). Where shiraz on its own finishes with soft tannins, this blend shows the pronounced, grippy tannins and savour of mataro, creating an assertive, firm blend.

Bin 8 Shiraz Cabernet 2017 $50
Regions:Barossa Valley, Padthaway, Wrattonbully
Maturation:10 months, French and American oak hogsheads
Bin 8 provides a subtle, elegant and earlier drinking expression of the shiraz–cabernet blend than the far more assertive Bin 389 reviewed below. Ripe, round shiraz provides the first impression before the cabernet makes its presence felt in flavour and elegant structure, underpinned by delicious, supple fruit.

Bin 23 Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir 2017 $50
Maturation:Nine months, French oak barriques, 30% new.
A fully priced, good if not leading Aussie pinot noir, Bin 23 provides sweet aromas and voluminous sweet fruit, overlaid with herbal and savoury characters. Part of the savour comes from the inclusion of whole bunches in the ferment. Fine tannins give grip and structure to a wine best drunk within a few years of vintage.

Kalimna Bin 28 Shiraz 2016 $50
Regions:Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Padthaway, Upper Adelaide, Wrattonbully.
Maturation:12 months, seasoned American oak hogsheads.
Deep colour, vividly crimson at the rim; black-cherry-like fruit with black-olive savour in the aroma and also raspberry-like fruit on a palate cut by firm tannins and accompanied by alcoholic heat. A generous warm-climate shiraz with savour as well as fruit. Fully priced.

Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz 2016 $60
Maturation:12 months, French oak, 30% new.
Where Bin 28 shows the power and grip of warm climate shiraz, Bin 128 shows the fresh berry character and elegance of Coonawarra’s comparatively cool climate. The colour’s a shade lighter than Bin 28’s, though no less vivid and youthful; sweet, ripe berry flavours fill an enticing aroma; the same pure berry flavours flow to the supple palate, accompanied by spicy oak and subtle herbal characters. This is a sound regional varietal marred ever so slightly by alcoholic heat – which may have been a function of serving temperature on the day. Fully priced.

Bin 138 Barossa Valley Shiraz Grenache Mataro 2016 $60
Grape varieties:72% shiraz, 16% grenache, 12% mataro (also known in Australia as mourvedre).
12 months, seasoned French and American oak.
Dense colour with purple rim; ripe but spicy fruit aroma, with a notable lift from the grenache; juicy, soft, generous palate, round and rich with earthy, spicy and savoury character as well as plum- and cherry-like varietal flavour. The dry finish emphasise the spicy character of these varieties. What a lovely expression of this classic warm-climate regional blend.

Bin 150 Marananga Shiraz 2016 $100
Region:Marananga, north-western Barossa Valley.
Maturation:12 months, American (25% new) and French (7% new) hogsheads and puncheons.
Dense with crimson rim; great volumes of ripe, black-cherry-like aroma, with an exotic spicy-herbal overlay; exciting, buoyant palate with vivacious fruit, deliciously integrated with oak and tannin. A complete, generous and complex Barossa shiraz. Wow.

Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 $100
Regions:Coonawarra, McLaren Vale, Barossa Valley, Wrattonbully, Padthaway.
Maturation:12 months, French oak (25% new) and American oak hogsheads (9% new).
Deep with purple rim; a subtle but clearly cabernet aroma suggests a wine of modest body; but the powerful palate belies the aroma and combines sweet, supple fruit with chewy, sweet oak flavours, backed by ripe, firm tannins. Bin 407’s proven cellaring ability makes it a sound buy, albeit fully priced.

Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 2016 $100
Grape varieties:51% cabernet sauvignon, 49% shiraz.
Regions:Barossa Valley, Coonawarra, McLaren Vale, Padthaway, Wrattonbully.
Maturation:12 months, American oak hogsheads, 37% new.
Deep with purple rim; a striking and appealing aroma combining ripe fruit, soy-like and earthy characters; the initially generous, rounded shiraz-driven palate reflects the aroma and although supple and smooth, strong cabernet tannins assert themselves in the finish. This is a potentially long-lived Bin 389.

St Henri Shiraz 2015 $135
Grape varieties:93% shiraz, 7% cabernet sauvignon.
McLaren Vale, Robe, The Peninsulas, Barossa Valley, Wrattonbully, Adelaide Hills, Mt Benson.
Maturation:12 months, large oak vats, more than 50-years old.
Ah St Henri, the shy, elegant Penfolds red never sees a small oak barrel – a mainstay of the general Penfolds style – yet ages for decades and drinks beautifully. It’s a favourite at Chateau Shanahan because it’s always exciting. I rated the 2015 vintage among the top few wines of this year’s release tasting: Deep with crimson rim; pure aroma of ripe, dark berries with a savoury overlay; juicy, fruit-packed palate, supple, sweet and intense; it’s seductive but too young to drink yet with its deep fruit, savour and fine, firm structural tannins. Wow.

Magill Estate Shiraz 2016 $150
Maturation:13 months, new French and American oak.
When Max Schubert designed Magill Estate Shiraz in late 1982, ahead of the first vintage in 1983, he specified the inclusion of fruit from other areas to bolster the estate’s more elegant style. However, it quickly became a single-vineyard wine of medium body. Today’s Magill, however, is a more substantial wine than the earlier vintages and this year’s release is particularly impressive: Deep with crimson rim; spicy, sweet scented and subtle in the Magill style but with Penfolds’ distinctive soy-like overlay; oak and fruit combine pleasingly on the palate, lifted by another Schubert thumbprint, volatile acidity. This is a distinctive wine showing the medium body of fruit from Magill overlaid with skilfully applied winemaker inputs.

Bin 169 Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 $360
Maturation:13 months, new French oak hogsheads.
Bin 169 is to Penfolds cabernet what RWT is to Penfolds shiraz. The wines contrast with the sheer power of Bin 707 and Grange respectively. Elegant, regional fruit and subtle French oak, rather than American oak, play key roles in Bin 169 and RWT. Bin 169 2016 expresses the perfectly ripe varietal flavour of Coonawarra cabernet sauvignon, cloaked in a cedar-like character derived from barrel maturation. Firm tannins underpin the fruit and together they form a strong but elegant palate with considerable cellaring potential.

Bin 798 RWT Barossa Valley Shiraz 2016 $200
Maturation:12 months, French oak hogsheads, 72% new.
Another great highlight of this year’s release: deep with vivid purple rim; glorious, perfumed Barossa shiraz aroma – bright, buoyant and ripe with generous, supple, sweet, pure, cherry-like varietal flavour. The fruit simply ate all the oak, though it subtly adds depth, structure and spice to a remarkable palate. Wow.

Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 $600
Regions:Coonawarra, McLaren Vale, Barossa Valley, Adelaide Hills.
Maturation:20 months, new American oak hogsheads.
We can personally vouch for Bin 707’s very long term cellaring potential. It starts life brooding and tannic. Over decades its aroma develops greater dimension and the palate transforms from sheer power to an elegantly structured unity of oak, fruit and mellow aged flavours. The 2016 vintage: dense colour with purple rim; brooding and deep aroma, revealing ripe varietal flavours mingled with oak and Penfolds’ soy-like savoury character; the palate soars with deep, ripe, varietal fruit, lifted by the sympathetic oak – a wine of substance, power, elegance and with very long-term cellaring potential. Wow.

Grange 2014 $900
Varieties:98% shiraz, 2% cabernet sauvignon.
Regions:Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Wrattonbully, Coonawarra, Clare Valley, Magill Estate.
Maturation:20 months in new American oak hogsheads
Dense colour with crimson rim; savoury, complex aroma combing earth, oak, vanilla, soy and spice with a deep, ripe pulse of fruit; powerful palate reflecting the aroma, but with an exotic spicy oak character hovering over the opulent, tannin-packed palate. The spicy oak and inclusion of fruit from the cooler adjoining regions of Coonawarra and Wrattonbully make this slightly different stylistically from earlier warm-climate Granges. It’s a subtle change, as power, firmness and longevity remain the main theme.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2018