Penfolds 2014 Bin Series Release
Under the Treasury Wine Estates umbrella, Penfolds has not only maintained its identity and position as Australia’s premier premium red wine producer, but has flourished. This is evident in the exciting and ever-increasing portfolio, and the enthusiasm and growth of the personnel. One just needs to read the florid and evocative tasting notes written by chief winemaker Peter Gago on the 2014 Penfolds Bin releases. The 2014 release marks the company’s 170th anniversary, having been established in 1844. This is a wonderful milestone that is to be applauded. The Bin wines also share a great lineage, first created in 1951 by Max Schubert, to showcase classic styles of wines, while still displaying a family or house style. It’s a philosophy that has stood Penfolds in good stead, allowing the consolidation of the company’s different wines and overall brand for decades where consistency was arguably one of the wine industry’s greatest issues. Penfolds continue this approach of consistency today, and can be seen as masters of the art, and achieve this through sophisticated multi-regional blending. That’s why ‘Bin 128’, with 50 years of production is a classic, and why ‘Bin 138’ with 20 years behind it can be called one now.
The contemporary wine world has now championed expression of site and terroir, and this is at odds with the concept of blending, where a sense of place is mixed into the pot to even everything out. The question that can be asked is: Are consumers today more interested in how a site or region differs every vintage in a wine, rather than having a dependable wine that shows the same character and quality year-in, year-out? The ultimate way to put this to the test is to compare Australia’s greatest two red wines. Henschke ‘Hill of Grace’ with Penfolds ‘Grange’. The best wine will be whatever you prefer at the time. The reality is that there is a place for both paths, and an open-minded drinker can indeed accept and enjoy both.
Penfolds have not stood still with their Bin wines, and have always strived to at least keep up with consumer trends if not work ahead. The modern wines are more refined and elegant, with accessibility, showcasing their ripe fruit and style without being rustic or overly robust, structured or oaky. They certainly express what they’ve been designed to do, and retain the Penfolds house style. Looking critically at them, they do express vintage variation, but not as marked as in wines that don’t have the benefit of being blended for a more complete profile.
Over recent years, the Bin range has been extended. The releases nowadays encompass more than one vintage. If there is a more challenging vintage represented, then there is the benefit of having wines from a better year. This is the case with this 2014 Bin release which has wines from the excellent 2012 vintage along with those from the challenging 2011 harvest. In the 2014 collection sees the recall of ‘Bin 2’ in the form of a Shiraz/Mourvedre blend, and the introduction of a ‘Bin 9’ Cabernet Sauvignon. I’m sure these will become classics in due time.
Here, I review the new 2014 Penfolds Bin wines, noting the line-up does not include the ‘Bin 8’ Cabernet/Shiraz, not yet available in New Zealand. It is a good release, the 2012s generally showing sweet fruit. It is the remarkable standard of the 2011s which make their mark. While they may not have the ‘even year’ brilliance, they still show their intended style very well. www.penfolds.com
FEATURED WINES IN THIS REVIEW
Penfolds ‘Bin 2’ South Australia Shiraz/Mourvedre 2012Syrah from Australia - South AustraliaReview Date : 16-Apr-2014‘Bin 2’ was first released in 1960, and represented an ‘Australian Burgundy’ style, but discontinued in the 1970s. Recalled, ‘Bin 2’ recognises the Mourvedre variety, which is also known as Mataro or Monastrell. 89% Shiraz and 11% Mourvedre from Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale and Padthaway, fermented to 14.5% alc., the wine aged 10 months in seasoned French and American oak. Full, near impenetrable black-red colour with youthful purple hues. The nose is soft and full with aromas of ripe raspberry fruits and savoury black fruits, quite primary in expression, with some confectionary and jammy elements providing lift. With aeration, some blackberry, undergrowth and game nuances emerge. Medium-full bodied, bright and ripe flavours of raspberry and black plums are entwined with herb, undergrowth and gamey notes, forming a rich and lusciously juicy core. Light, grainy tannins carry the flavours with some acid energy and alcoholic power driving the palate to a light, plummy finish. This is a full, sweetly ripe Shiraz-based red with undergrowth nuances and a light, grainy structure. Match with pasta, barbecued fare and Middle Eastern cuisine over the next 5-6 years. 17.5/20 Apr 2014 RRP $24.99
Penfolds ‘Bin 9’ South Australia Cabernet Sauvignon 2012Cabernet Sauvignon from Australia - South AustraliaReview Date : 16-Apr-2014The first release of a ‘Bin 9’ in a contemporary style. Fruit from McLaren Vale, Langhorne Creek, Wrattonbully, Barossa, Padthaway and Coonawarra, fermented to 14.5% alc., the wine aged 12 months in oak hogsheads, 12% new French and 14% new American. Full, even, near saturated black-red colour with purple hues. The nose is restrained and somewhat shy, but shows a softly concentrated core of ripe, primary blackcurrant fruit with a subtle black floral lift, unfolding liquorice, chocolate and pencilly oak. Fullish-bodied, upfront and bold flavours of cassis blackcurrant leaf and liquorice are encased by grainy tannin extraction and enlivened by bright acidity. The mouthfeel is rounded, but robust, with underlying alcoholic power and drive. The flavours are carried to an open, sweet and vigorous finish with good length. This is a full, up-front, sweet-fruited Cabernet Sauvignon with a robust mouthfeel. Match with roast lamb, beef or venison over the next 7-9 years. 17.5+/20 Apr 2014 RRP $24.99
Penfolds ‘Bin 138’ Barossa Valley Shiraz/Grenache/Mataro 2012Syrah from Australia - South AustraliaReview Date : 16-Apr-2014The first vintage of ‘Bin 138’ was in 1998, though the style reflecting the Rhone varieties began as the ‘Old Vine’ Barossa Shiraz/Grenache/Mourvedre in 1992. 66% Shiraz, 23% Grenache and 11% Mataro from old vines in the Barossa Valley, fermented to 14.5%, the wine aged 12 months in seasoned American oak hogsheads. Very full, even, saturated black-red colour. The aromatics are full and voluminous with soft, ripe dark red berry fruits along with fragrant lifted florals and plum jam, all interwoven with harmony and unfolding in waves. Medium-full bodied and tightly held, flavours of spicy black fruits and dark plums grow in succulence, revealing raspberry jam notes and florals. Fine-grained tannins underline the fruit and the palate has elegance, energy and linearity, carrying through to a long, dry and refined finish. This is a smooth flowing and succulent SGM with aromatic fruit and line. Match with Asian duck and pork dishes over the next 6-7 years. 18.0/20 Apr 2014 RRP $32.99
Penfolds ‘Bin 128’ Coonawarra Shiraz 2012Syrah from Australia - South AustraliaReview Date : 16-Apr-2014Created in 1962 to highlight the cool-climate Coonawarra district, employing French oak exclusively from 1980. Shiraz fruit from Coonawarra fermented to 14.5% alc., the wine aged 13 months in 36% new French oak. Full, near impenetrable black-red colour with slight purple hues. This has an elegantly proportioned bouquet with good aromatic intensity and concentrated aromas of vibrant, primary florals, sweet dark-red berry fruits black pepper and mint. Subtle funky meat and game nuances emerge in the glass, providing savoury reduction interest. Medium-full bodied, this has a concentrated heart with weight, depth and mouthfeel presence. The flavours are restrained, showing soft, sweet fruit flavours of dark red berryfruit, black pepper and complexing notes of herbs and game. The tannins are fine and supple, and the extraction leads to a dry finish with bright acidity. Somewhat restrained, this is a soft, sweet fruited Shiraz with elegant structure and some funky reductive notes. Serve with Middle Eastern fare, lamb and casseroles over the next 6-8 years. 17.5-/20 Apr 2014 RRP $32.99
Penfolds ‘Bin 28’ ‘Kalimna’ South Australia Shiraz 2011Syrah from Australia - South AustraliaReview Date : 16-Apr-2014First made in 1959 and named after the ‘Kalimna Vineyard’ in the Barossa Valley, purchased by Penfolds in 1945, the wine showcases the warm climate Shiraz style. Fruit from McLaren Vale, Barossa Valley and Adelaide, fermented to 14.5% alc., the wine aged 12 months in seasoned American oak hogsheads. Vibrant, saturated black-red colour with some purple hues. The bouquet is moderately full with ripe black plum, liquorice and chocolatey fruit infused with waves of spicy, cedary oak. Medium-full bodied, full, mouthfilling and open flavours of ripe and sweet black plums and liquorice show with richness and juiciness. The palate is hearty and accessible with good tannin extraction and structure and background acidity. Fulsome, fruity and with plenty of mouthfeel, some alcohol warmth carries the wine to a grainy, but lush, cedary, oaky finish. This is a hearty and ripe Shiraz with sweet plummy fruit, plenty of mouthfeel and cedary oak. Serve with slow cooked game meat over the next 7-10 years. 18.0+/20 Apr 2014 RRP $32.99
Penfolds ‘Bin 150’ Marananga Barossa Valley Shiraz 2011Syrah from Australia - South AustraliaReview Date : 16-Apr-2014This inaugural ‘Bin 150' was with the 2008 vintage, and the wine is the sub-regional expression of Shiraz. The fruit is sourced from the hamlet of Marananga, near the centre of the Barossa Valley floor, and fermented to 14.5% alc., and the wine aged 12 months equally in French and American oak hogsheads, 60% of the oak new. Full, even, saturated black-red with youthful purple hues. This has a very smooth and voluminous bouquet with fresh and lively ripe black fruits, liquorice and plums, harmoniously entwined with ethereal, cedar, eucalypt and oak spices. This is aromatic, detailed and exudes finesse, revealing subtle layers of nuance while blossoming in the glass. Medium-full bodied, very fine and elegant flavours of liquorice, plums, spices and cedary oak are seamlessly interwoven and flow across the palate effortlessly. The palate is rich and sweet, but balanced by very fine-grained tannins providing a silky core and line. This is integrated, harmonious and complete, and the flavours lead to a succulent finish with refined textures. This is a refined, elegant, succulent and complete Shiraz to match Asian poultry and pork dishes over the next 8-10 years. 18.5+/20 Apr 2014 RRP $69.99
Penfolds ‘Bin 407’ South Australian Cabernet Sauvignon 2011Cabernet Sauvignon from Australia - South AustraliaReview Date : 16-Apr-2014The first vintage of ‘Bin 407’ was 1990 following the increased availability of quality Cabernet Sauvignon material, the wine designed to have varietal definition. Fruit from McLaren Vale, Barossa Valley, Robe and Coonawarra, fermented to 14.3% alc., the wine aged 12 months in oak, 30% French, all new, ad 70% American of which 20% was new. Full, saturated black-red colour with purple hues. The bouquet is firm and concentrated with intense aromas of ripe blackcurrants and cassis, along with notes of fresh herbs and blackberries, the fruit very primary in expression. Fullish-bodied, a solid, dense and deeply concentrated core of pure varietal blackcurrant fruit flavours is the feature on palate. The fruit is expansive, opening to be accessible, with a fulsome, rounded mouthfeel. The fruit is sweet, but balanced by fresh acidity and fine, grainy tannins that fill the mouth with texture and presence, carrying the palate to a leaf and minty nuanced finish. This is a fulsome and accessible, fruity Cabernet Sauvignon with a good core. Match with herb-marinated lamb and venison dishes over the next 7-10 years. 18.0+/20 Apr 2014 RRP $69.99
Penfolds ‘Bin 389’ South Australia Cabernet/Shiraz 2011Cabernet Sauvignon from Australia - South AustraliaReview Date : 16-Apr-2014First made in 1960, this is the quintessential Australian blend and is dubbed the ‘Poor Man’s Grange’ or ‘Baby Grange’ as components of the wine are matured in barrels which held the previous vintage of ‘Grange’. 51% Cabernet Sauvignon and 49% Shiraz from the McLaren Vale and Barossa Valley, fermented to 14.5% alc., the wine aged 12 months in 30% new American oak hogsheads. Very full, saturated black-red colour with youthful purple hues. This has a full nose of soft, ripe blackcurrant fruit intermixed with black plum, liquorice, spices and cedary oak, and subtle layers of black olive and pepper. The aromatics are lifted and show vitality. Full-bodied, the fruit flavours on palate are a little restrained, but there is density and mouthfilling presence and vinosity. Ripe and sweet cassis flavours meld with liquorice and pepper, with a rich and spicy underlay of oak in support. Grainy extraction provides substantial structure, and combined with some alcoholic drive, carries the wine to a dry, textural finish. This is a full Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz blend with plenty of weight and presence with good structure encasing the fruit. Serve with slow-cooked game meat over the next 9-10+ years. 18.5/20 Apr 2014 RRP $69.99