This year’s collection is as captivating as any Penfolds has released in the past 20 years.
Even if you are not in a position to part with a lazy large for a bottle of Grange ($1,000), the annual release of the Penfolds Collection is always highly anticipated.
So, let’s cut to the chase. Grange. Yep, it’s a good ’un, but you expect that.
Not quite in the same rarefied air of the great 2018, but a wine that nonetheless carries all the Grange attributes and will comfortably outlast most of us before it turns up its toes, so to speak.
The 2019 is the 69th consecutive release of the wine created as an experimental product in 1951 by the legendary Max Schubert.
Current winemaker Peter Gago says the question after the great run with the 2010, 2012, 2016 and 2018 is: how will the 2019 fare?
Mr Gago believes that, like the 1989, 1999 and 2009 vintages, the 2019 might well be a sleeper vintage.
For me, the 2019 is one of the most elegant and stylish releases of the past 30 years; although that can always be a little misleading because you know there is the trademark power, structure and concentration within its stylish frame that will slowly release over many years.
This year’s collection is as captivating as any of the past 20 years because a number of wines that make their debut surprise, reach lofty levels of some previous legendary vintages, or have moved up a notch or two.
This week I have not featured the Grange tasting notes (but for your interest I have scored it at 97/100) and have chosen to highlight three wines I thought captured so much about this thoroughly engaging collection.
One of my favourites has always been the Penfolds Bin 128 shiraz 2021, which in great Coonawarra years can be stunning.
This year’s rivals the legendary ’91. The idiosyncratic Bin 707 cabernet sauvignon is as good as any since this famous wine was reintroduced in 1976 and, because it’s only released in good years, the first since 2019.
Similarly, the Bin 169 Coonawarra cabernet 2021 is a fabulous wine capturing all that is good about Coonawarra cabernet in an outstanding year.
I can’t recall a better one than this.
Here are a few other highlights.
- The Yattarna 2021 (98/100) is yet another step up, showing the continuing evolution of a wine that is now firmly ensconced in the highest echelon of Aussie chardonnay.
- The Bin 21 Barossa grenache 2022 (95/100) makes its debut, capturing much of what Barossa grenache is all about.
- The Bin 23 pinot noir 2022 (95/100) is the best Penfolds pinot yet released, showing a more subtle refined style.
- The Magill Estate shiraz 2021 (97/100) is a hypnotic statement of this wonderful wine, grown and made within sight of Adelaide’s capital. The collection becomes available on Thursday August 3.
Penfolds Bin 128 Coonawarra shiraz 2021 ($65)
I was immediately transported back to the great 128 vintages of 1986, 1990 and 1991. This is the best I have tasted since those stellar examples of this wonderful Coonawarra shiraz. A thoroughly beautiful example of this great Aussie shiraz. Gets 12 months in French oak, 21 per cent of which was new. Has a creamy, rich, dark fruit character, with lifted savoury and cracked peppery notes. The palate is very long with a limestone-like tannin influence. Has that distinctive fine and focused Coonawarra acidity, which promotes a long finish. Brimming with smooth deeply intense fruit concentration.
Cellar: 12 years
Penfolds Bin 169 Coonawarra cabernet sauvignon 2021 ($300)
A classically defined Coonawarra cabernet sauvignon. There is a red earthy, slightly wet cement character evident immediately on the nose. The palate displays lovely blackberry and chocolate with a cherry edge to the finish. There’s even a little savoury black olive influence adding further complexity. It’s seamlessly integrated and precisely structured with a persistent and very long palate. One of the best and most elegant examples of this bin.
Cellar: 30 years
Penfolds Bin 707 cabernet sauvignon 2021 ($800)
Great to see this famous wine back. The fruit comes from Coonawarra, the Barossa and Wrattonbully, so there is quite a deal of cooler climate fruit influence in here. It gets 100 per cent new American oak for 16 months, making it one of the most idiosyncratic Australian cabernets. An engaging mix of mulberry and raspberry underpinned by deeper blackcurrant notes. The tannins have an almost-glistening character, adding brightness and energy through the very long palate. But then there is a creamy spicy-roasted meat character adding further to the complex weave of flavours. One of the very best I can recall since this great wine was reintroduced from 1976. Plush, opulent and powerful.
Cellar: 25 years
- Ray Jordan is one of Australia’s most experienced and respected wine journalists, contributing to newspapers and magazines over more than 40 years. In 2017 he co-authored The Way it Was: The History of the early years of the Margaret River Wine Region