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Penfolds 2023 – ‘The Aussies’

There is no release more anticipated by winelovers in Australia than the annual Penfold’s Collection and of course, most especially the new Grange. Where will it sit in comparison to other vintages? Will it be one of the greats? Does it warrant a perfect score? This does tend to mean that a lot of great wine does not receive the attention due to them. 

And that is most especially true with this release. As a majority of the wines hail from the glorious 2021 vintage, this is the time to explore other options and fill your cellars with your favourites, heaps from which to choose. 

As with all Collection releases, the wines come from an array of vintages, but also, these days, from France and California, including some international blends. Today, we are looking at the Aussies. 

The Chardonnays:
Bin 311 2022 
$50 – 92 Points

A multi-regional blend, this vintage being from Tasmania, Tumbarumba and the Adelaide Hills. Eight months in French oak barriques, 34% new. Pale lemon in colour, with aromas dominated at this early stage by a fine citrussy character with a flinty line, a touch of oak, spices, white peaches and grapefruit pith, and a minerally backing, fine acidity runs the length. The wine is well focused and balanced, but does expand across the palate to a mid-length finish which lingers pleasantly. Drink over the next five to six years.

PEN Bin Chard FB SC


Reserve Bin A 2022 
$125 – 96 Points

Sourced from the Adelaide Hills, whole bunched pressed, the juice sees a mix of wild fermentation and inoculation in both new and seasoned French oak barriques. 100% malo and maturation for 8 months in French oak barriques, 75% new. Pale straw hue, a real step up in complexity and intensity. Oak is evident at this early stage, but integration is underway. Lemon/lime notes, minerals, florals, a walnut character, the texture is seamless, reminiscent of crème brulee. There is really impressive length and an intensity which never waivers. A Chardonnay with punch. Love it – drink now for a decade.

PEN ResBinA Chard AUS FB SC


Yattarna 2021 
$175 – 98 Points now but every chance it might sneak even higher with time.

For me, this is the best Yattarna to date. It has the advantage of hailing from a great vintage. An immaculate Chardonnay, world class. As with Bin 311, a blend of Tasmania, Tumbarumba and the Adelaide Hills. Nine months in French oak barriques, 70% new. This is a beautifully elegant Chardonnay, with a very pale lemon colour, wonderfully refined. Pristine, exquisitely structured, impeccable balance and finesse. Notes of citrus, especially fresh lemons. A hint of woodsmoke and wet stones with fine minerally backing, and gentle nuts and toast. Hints of oatmeal on the palate, and a whiff of honey with a gorgeous texture, so seductive. Juicy acidity and incredible length, the complexity already evident, this is a brilliant wine, with a future of at least ten to fifteen years. There is serious intensity on such a long finish.

PEN Yatt Chard AUS FB SC


The Reds:
Bin 23 Pinot Noir 2022 
$50 – 93 Points

Not certain that Penfolds have decided on just what style this wine will eventually follow. Never less than enjoyable, it does seem a wine which plays a little fast and loose with style. This year, the fruit is from Tasmania. Maturation was in French oak barriques (35% of which were new). The 2022 vintage here was one of lower yields but exceptional quality. Pale crimson hue, the aromatics weave through florals, spices, a hint of an undergrowth character and brambles with strawberries to the fore. A supple and silky texture with impressive balance and still very young. Satiny tannins, a fine line of acidity and suggestions that some whole berries are involved. Fresh and delicious, with the potential to step up even further. Enjoy over the next six to eight years.

PEN Bin PNoir AUS FB SC (with crest)


Bin 21 Grenache 2022 
$60 – 93 Points

Penfolds have now included Grenache as part of the Bin series, Bin 21, and not before time. Barossa Valley fruit, this was matured in French oak, 6% new and 5% one-year-old. A vibrant if slightly lighter purple colour, there are notes of raspberries, bergamot, bay leaves, spices, cranberries and florals. Young, poised, beautifully balanced with gentle persistence, this is for drinking over the next eight years. Much to like here and room to improve.

PEN Bin Gren AUS FB SC


Bin 138 Barossa Valley Grenache Shiraz Mataro 2021 
$60 – 96 Points

Always a favourite and what is especially exciting is that, for me, this is the finest 138 yet made. Grenache (50%), Shiraz (44%) and Mataro (6%), it is entirely sourced from the Barossa Valley. A year maturing in a mix of French (10% new) and American (2% new) oak. The colour is a vibrant deep purple and there is an utterly gorgeous nose with depth and early complexity. Blackcurrants, black cherries, warm earth, mocha, new leather, violets and spices, this is taut, balanced, seamless and seductive. Arabica coffee bean notes emerge on the palate, along with a hint of a bitter almond character on the finish. Exemplary structure, very fine tannins and great length, this is a brilliant wine with fifteen to twenty years ahead. It may go even higher. A great 138.

PEN Bin GSM AUS FB SC(with crest)


Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz 2021 
$65 – 94 Points

This wine sees a year in French oak hogsheads, 21% new and 22% one-year-old. Dark magenta in colour, the nose provides us with notes of coffee beans, tobacco leaves, dry herbs, axle grease, cassis and dense black fruits. Fine tannins, excellent length, exemplary balance and poise, this is medium bodied. It does not have the overwhelming intensity of some wines in the Collection, which does it no harm. A superb wine to drink it over the next ten to twelve years.

PEN CWA Bin Shz AUS FB SC(with crest)


Bin 28 Shiraz 2021 
$50 – 92 Points

Once, the Kalimna Bin 28 (fruit sourced from that famous vineyard), these days, ‘Kalimna’ has been dropped and the wine hails from a range of regions – McLaren Vale, the Barossa Valley, Padthaway, Wrattonbully and the Clare Valley. Twelve months maturing in American oak hogsheads, 7% new. The colour is an inky opaque maroon, while the nose is redolent of chocolate. There is a whiff of oak but integration is well apace. There are notes of blackfruits, mocha, boot polish, leather, dry herbs and mulberries, with a bright line of acidity, fine tannins, good balance and medium length. Early days here but this will drink well over the next eight to twelve years.

PEN Bin Kal Shz AUS FB SC


Bin 150 Marananga Shiraz 2021 
$100 – 96 Points

A sub-regional red here, with Marananga being quintessential Barossa for many. A blend of Shiraz which saw eighteen months in French (29% new) and American oak (also 29% new), from a mix of hogsheads and large puncheons. Equals any Bin 150 yet released. Dark purple/maroon hue, there is a wonderful nose here – intense, concentrated and yet immaculately balanced. Notes of plums, quality dark chocolate, black fruits, blueberries, leather, cocoa powder, warm earth, tobacco leaves and bergamot – amazing early complexity. Silky tannins and great length, there is a fine acid/tannin balance with the intensity never wavering. Celler for twenty years in good cellars.

PEN Bin Shz Mara FB SC AUS


Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon 2021 
$120 – 89 Points

This vintage is a blend of Coonawarra, Wrattonbully, McLaren Vale, Padthaway, Barossa Valley and the Adelaide Hills. The wine sees twelve months in a mix of French (25% new) and American (12%) oak hogsheads, the rest being one-year-old. Not a bad wine, but I’d put my money towards Bin 389 or 138. Dark purple hue, there is some oak evident. The wine is tight, still a little reticent, with hints of chocolate, blackberries and earth. The palate has soy, cold tea and tobacco leaf and the wine is of medium length without any great intensity plus a touch of bitter coffee on the very end. As seems to happen every year, 407 is one of my least inspiring wines in an otherwise stellar array.

PEN Bin CabSauv FB SC


Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 2021 
$110 – 97 Points

This is a truly great 389, perhaps the best ever. The Cabernet (53%) just dominates the Shiraz (47%). A blend of McLaren Vale, Coonawarra, Barossa Valley, Wrattonbully and Padthaway, the wine spends a year in American oak hogsheads, 37% new. Dark maroon in colour, the aromas include plums, mulberries, mocha, leather, tobacco leaves, dry herbs and hints of a freshly rolled cigar plus a touch of blueberries. There is finesse yet intensity, focus and direction, and balance. Great length and silky tannins. Notes of chocolate, licorice and blueberries emerge on the palate. A wine which lingers with intent suggesting ageing potential of twenty years plus. Wonderful stuff, the score that has every chance of going even higher. A cracker!

PEN Bin CabShir AUS FB SC(with crest)


St Henri Shiraz 2020 
$135 – 94 Points

While this is a very fine wine, it is not, for me, a great St Henri. 100% Shiraz from McLaren Vale, Barossa and Clare Valley, it spent twelve months in large seasoned oak vats. The colour is a dark deep red. There are notes of florals, rose petals, raspberries, dry herbs, warm earth and violets. Finely balanced with decent length, a pleasing flick of acidity runs the length. We have hints of smoked delicatessen meats on the palate with satiny tannins that provide some serious grip. Drink for ten to fifteen years. A very good, not great St Henri.

Penfolds St Henri SC


Magill Estate Shiraz 2021 
$165 – 97 Points

The single vineyard star of the Collection, the fruit is placed in open fermenters before basket pressing and transfer to barrels to finish fermentation. Maturation is then for 19 months in French oak, 90% new, and American, 10% new. Dark magenta hue, this is concentrated with a structure perhaps a little more formal than some. There are notes of blackcurrants, new leather, florals, bay leaves, soy and licorice. Early days but the youth of this wine is apparent. A silky palate with force, real underlying power with oak integrating superbly. Impressively balanced with excellent length, the intensity is maintained for the full journey. A wonderful Magill, but it really does need time. Enjoy over the next fifteen to thirty years.

PEN Magill Estate Cork


Bin 169 Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2021 
$300 – 97 Points

Bin 169 is all Coonawarra fruit and spends 16 months in French oak hogsheads, 51% new, the remainder one-year-old. Inky dark maroon colour here, with a stunning nose, alluring notes of licorice, soy, chocolate, spices, cocoa powder, cigar box, leather and mint plus hints of graphite. There is oak but well integrated and remains in balance. There is a supple texture and silky, though abundant, tannins. Great length, but the flavours, the balance and the intensity are the highlights. A twenty year proposition for the cellar. A truly superb example of how good so many of the 2021 wines are.

PEN Bin CabSauv CWA FB Cork


RWT Bin 798 Barossa Valley Shiraz 2021 
$200 – 98 Points

Sourced from the Barossa, this wine matures in French hogsheads for 14 months, 80% of them new and 20% one-year-old. A cracking red. Dark, almost opaque maroon in colour, there is finesse here. Red fruits, notably raspberries, with florals, cold tea, milk chocolate, hints of cloves and red cherry notes all combine to provide wonderful aromatics. Saturated flavours here, and the wine has elegance. The texture is seductive and layered, ensuring a more refined, more graceful, wine. Bright acidity runs the length, which is seriously impressive. Everything in total harmony. A superb RWT.

PEN Bin RWT Shz AUS FB SC


Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon 2021 
$800 – 98 Points

This stellar Cabernet sources its fruit from Coonawarra, Barossa and Wrattonbully. It spent 16 months in new American oak hogsheads. An opaque maroon colour, there are notes of dusty red earth here. Chocolate and tobacco leaves, soy, dried herbs, florals and aniseed. Hints of animal skins add to the complexity. There is serious intensity and focus, exemplary balance. With time in the glass, notes of both red and black fruits become ever more dominant, primarily blackcurrants and raspberries, backed by a slippery texture and satiny tannins with real persistence on a very long finish. Finesse and power. The nose is gorgeous, the palate even better. A twenty year proposition.

PEN Bin CabSauv EUR FB Cork


Grange 2019 
$1000 – 98 Points

Tough for this wine, coming on the heels of one of the greatest Granges of all time, the 2018, but it is perhaps a more classic Grange than was the ’18. It will certainly need more time before opening. It is, however, a superb, world class wine. 97% Shiraz and 3% Cabernet, from the Barossa, McLaren Vale, Coonawarra and Clare Valley. 19 months in 100% new American hogsheads. A traditional Grange, if ever there was one. Quite a dark maroon hue. Chocolate, florals, violets, spices, blackfruits, vanillin notes. Walnuts, graphite, bacon scrapings and more. An alluring and rather beautiful nose. There is balance at every stage and complexity is already evident. Ripe, open and with immense length, it does give the impression of a wine that will be more comfortable in three to four years and then drink impressively for the next 30 or 40. Knife-edge balance and serious length with cassis and soy notes emerging on the palate with fine tannins but serious grip. A return to the classic Grange style, but be in no rush.

Penfolds Grange Cork

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