Penfolds ‘Bin’ Releases 2011

Many could argue convincingly that Penfolds ‘Bin' and ‘Icon' annual releases are the most significant in the southern hemisphere. Certainly no other wine producer has the pedigree across such a broad range of wines, which serves as a marker for an all-important majority of the fuller-bodied red wines styles that emanate from Australia. While the ‘Icon' wines such as ‘Grange', ‘Bin 707', ‘RWT' and ‘St Henri' show the quality and style of their vintages at the very pinnacle, it is the accessible ‘Bin' wines that are the most meaningful for the ‘man on the street', and the ‘Bin' wines thus serve as the benchmarks and pointers to the general quality and character of the various vintages and regions in South Australia and beyond.

The 2011 release may be the strongest in the last decade according to Peter Gago, Penfolds chief winemaker. The ‘Bin' wines are based on the 2008 and 2009 vintages. In general terms, 2008 was a vintage effected by a heat-wave at the end of picking, and 2009 seen as a drought year. Penfolds viticultural strength, access to available fermentation space, along with a high proportion of older vine material which perform well in dry conditions, enabled an outstanding result in both vintages. Many critics are already comparing the wines, especially from 2008 as being similar to the outstanding 1996s and 1998s from Penfolds. 2010 saw a return to more regular conditions in South Australia.

This release features a new ‘Bin' wine, the ‘Bin 150 Marananga' Shiraz, a sub-regional Barossa expression, the 50th commercial release of ‘Bin 28 Kalimna' Shiraz, and the second release of the Adelaide Hills-sourced ‘Bin 23' Pinot Noir. These as well as the classic ‘Bins' 138, 128, 407 and 389. My notes on the wines follow. To say that I was impressed is an understatement. Judging from this ‘Bin' release, the ‘Icon' release in May should be spectacular. www.penfolds.com

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