A mate of mine often drops around for a drink. For years, when I would ask what would he like, he’d pick Pinot Noir. He considered himself a pinotphile. Problem was, every single time, no matter how good the Pinot (and I served him some crackers), he’d declare it not up to scratch and want another. I quickly learnt to serve him a Shiraz. The response would always be that this was more like it. This was the sort of Pinot he liked. I have a strong suspicion that this year’s Bin 23 would be a Pinot he’d love.
Penfold’s use a mix of Pinot clones and source the fruit from Tasmania, Henty and the Adelaide Hills. Seven months in French oak barriques, 24% new. 20% whole bunch. Pale red with notes of purple. Some spicy oak here – a fraction too much at the moment but give it time. Florals, spices, chocolate, black cherries, dry herbs. This is a big and full-flavoured style of Pinot. Nothing wrong with that. One gets the feeling that this wine might be fighting the vintage conditions and has ceded elegance for power and force, which is perhaps not the ideal scenario for Pinot. A very fleshy style. A burly style of the heartbreak grape. Grippy tannins, real concentration, firm with decent length. If you like this style then your score would be very high indeed; if you prefer more grace and elegance, then perhaps not so much. So for me, I went midway which probably leaves no one happy.