MartenAscenzo Penfolds PenfoldsMediaPreview D

The Penfolds Collection 2023 Release – 20.07.23

MartenAscenzo Penfolds PenfoldsMediaPreview D

The theme for this year’s Penfolds Collection 2023 release is the ongoing search for diversity of style. Hence, the Australians were joined in the annual release tasting by the growing contingent of Penfolds’ Californian, Champagne and Bordeaux wines. The inaugural release of a Chinese red – the 2021 CWT 521 Cabernet Sauvignon Marselan blend at AU$150 – was not tasted ahead of its release in China this month.

The message from Penfolds chief winemaker, Peter Gago, could not be clearer. Penfolds is no longer merely exploring an international winemaking profile, it is embracing it with gusto. The trick is to traverse nations, hemispheres, winemaking and cultural traditions, terroir and still be consistently Penfolds in style while being different. Ambitious, yes, but the results can be hit and miss.

Less hit and miss were the Penfolds Australian 2021 releases from an outstanding South Australian vintage, and the utter deliciousness of the 2022 wines (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Grenache). Grange 2019, as always, will trigger hearty debate but it must be considered a strong follow up to the marvellous 2018. Enjoyable drinking all round and some cellar-worthy additions – as always – to put aside.

Penfolds Grange Cork

Grange 2019
98pts | Bottle Price: $1000

Not the easiest of vintages with low winter rainfall in 2019 leading into high summer temperatures. South Australians will no doubt like to forget the 31 days of 35C+ temperatures. Against that backdrop, it is quite the winemaking feat to see a wine of such inviting beauty. An impressive Grange statement with aromas contrasting perfumed spice, earth, sage and vanillin oak with a deep concentration of fruit. Reflects the warmer vintage conditions with power and richness, but it’s not a galumphing statement. Far from it. There’s a surprising fineness, lifted and free flowing engulfed in a world of flavours from spice, licorice, chocolate and creamy mocha vanillin oak to black fruits, blueberries and plum – layer upon layer – fed by polished oak tannins. The role of just what three per cent of Cabernet Sauvignon brings to the 2019 Grange can be debated, but in warmer years there has to be some benefit in the form of Cabernet tannin structure. The four regions nominated for sourcing were – Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Coonawarra, Clare Valley – with 19 months maturation in 100% new American oak hogsheads. A good follow up to the outstanding 2018. Drink: 2023-2052

PEN Bin CabSauv EUR FB Cork

Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon 2021
97pts | Bottle Price: $800

There was no Bin 707 produced from the 2020 vintage. This leaves a lot of eyes on the ’21, and what an outstanding South Australian red wine vintage to come back to. The stalwarts, Coonawarra and the Barossa are joined by Wrattonbully (not a usual suspect) in a well-tempered, well-balanced 707 with a touch of unusual restraint. A solid core of Barossa-led sweet berry plum compote and gentle spice is joined by a living large Coonawarra component of briar, sage, thyme, dusty cacao and red earthiness. Complex and nuanced, you could linger long over a glass and enjoy an ever-changing set of moods from the aromatic to the savoury, the firm and fine tannin-ed to the open and warm. Pitches 707 as a chameleon, and I have to say it fits the descriptor perfectly. Drink: 2023-2047

PEN Yatt Chard AUS FB SC

Yattarna Chardonnay 2021
96pts | Bottle Price: $175

There is a celebration of impressive fruit purity on this superlative Chardonnay. Opens with a full spectrum of woodsy spice and brioche aromas with notes of papaya, grapefruit, white peach and thyme. Some classy French nutty oak helps drive the palate through to a long finish, indicating along the way the wine’s capacity for further ageing in the cellar. The decision on ageing rests with the buyer, of course, but any decision to drink soon is perfectly valid. The delicious factor is already high. It’s early days all right, but already there is some textural development on show. Citrus, stone fruits, mango skin, papaya, grilled grapefruit, roasted hazelnuts reveal a sophisticated and powerful fruit base underpinned by coiled, taut acidity. Drink: 2023-2036

PEN Bin RWT Shz AUS FB SC

RWT Bin 798 Barossa Valley Shiraz 2021
95pts | Bottle Price: $200

Oak is never backward in coming forward in the RWT.  It has been a feature of the wine from the beginning, a strong signature, but an evocative and stylish one. Heady perfume of vanillin charry oak, almond skin and hazelnut with lifted black fruits, currant, anise and five spice aromatics. Generous Barossa shiraz, dense in deep, dark fruit, anise, dark chocolate, woodsy spice, savoury leather, is framed beautifully, potently, in fine-grained tannins and classy oak. Overall, exudes a polished refinement, an elegance. Drink: 2023-2047

PEN Bin CabSauv CWA FB Cork

Bin 169 Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2021
95pts | Bottle Price: $300

Bin 169, we are told, was created to reflect a “more contemporary winemaking approach.” At the same time, it is intended as a “classic reflection” of the Coonawarra region. It sounds a little confusing on paper but in the glass, it works remarkably well. Bright, fresh blackberry, plum, mint and classy, dusty fine-grained French oak puts this well and truly in the Coonawarra camp. Moves into some intriguing “contemporary” winemaking territory if you will with a flurry of amaro bitter herbs, leafy notes, earth and black fruits with just a splash of spice. It remains throughout quite tight and focused, a wine of hidden depths. Everything is well placed for a long life which could definitely be interpreted as a classic approach for Coonawarra Cabernet. Drink: 2023-2046

PEN Magill Estate Cork

Magill Estate Shiraz 2021
94pts | Bottle Price: $165

Last year, I questioned whether Magill Estate was changing in style. A little more sophisticated? More obvious vitality and aromatic lift? This vintage confirms it. The replanting of vines on the estate some years back now appears to be playing out in a wine of greater poise and style. This vintage also sees more time in oak and more obvious new French oak: 19 months in French (90% new) and American oak hogsheads (10% new). The result is fresh, lively and harmonious, the palate swathed in flavour with dark ripe berries, plum compote, sweet vanillin spice and notably smart oak working alongside some splashes of savouriness through to a lingering finish. Each vintage seems to bring new added lustre to the Magill name. May it continue. Drink: 2023-2042

Penfolds St Henri SC

St. Henri Shiraz 2020
95pts | Bottle Price: $135

Where the 2019 St. Henri was a quiet starter, the ’20 is straight out of the blocks, back to its usual and immediate warm, comforting embrace. The sourcing – McLaren Vale, Barossa Valley, Clare Valley – bears witness to generous, ripe fruit in blackberry, black cherry, earth, undergrowth, Aussie bush and a delightful spiciness. St. Henri is always a fruit-driven style enhanced in texture and mouthfeel by time spent in large seasoned oak vats (12 months in ’20) which brings with it, savoury cured meats, leather, a thread of dried herbs and plush choc-cocoa. The ’20 opens up easily, invitingly, with tannins drawing in nicely to close. Drink: 2023-2043

PEN ResBinA Chard AUS FB SC

Reserve Bin A Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2022
93pts | Bottle Price: $125

A long growing season leading into vintage in the Adelaide Hills in turn has produced a quality Chardonnay, one clean, bright eyed and particularly taut. Thus, it’s going to take some time to do a full reveal. Eight months in French barriques (75% new) has elevated the flavour profile and intensity level. Almond meal, nougat aromas mix with citrus, green apple and white peach. Good depth of flavour concentration noted as pear tart, citrus, grapefruit pith and white peach join with gentle oak nuance across the palate, enlivened by tart, lemony acidity. A top example of Adelaide Hills Chardonnay style, closing with a gently chalky finish Drink: 2023-2034

PEN Bin CabShir AUS FB SC(with crest)

Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 2021
96pts | Bottle Price: $110

Aromas to lose yourself in. The excellent 2021 vintage accentuates the moment to an almost overflowing of tobacco leaf, black fruits, and Australian bush scents with leaf, earth, briar, bramble and earth. And what spice: menthol, pepper, anise. The blend is Cabernet Sauvignon (53%) and Shiraz (47%). The result is a harmonious work in progress. Strike that, as with most Bin 389 you could – should you wish – immediately open and indulge. All the groundwork has been done. What a lovely generous mouthful of flavour, a mix of the sweet fruited and the savoury, the fine tannin-ed and the firm in structure. The wine’s remarkable run of consistency continues. Drink: 2023-2045

PEN Bin CabSauv FB SC

Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon 2021
94pts | Bottle Price: $120

Adelaide Hills makes a surprise appearance in this five-part blend of South Australian Cabernet. Penfolds considered the ’21 vintage outstanding for South Australian Cabernet, hence, the usual regional suspects were joined by one of the state’s coolest districts. Bin 407 arrives a little muted and restrained, indeed quite taut in structure, and will reward further time in bottle before broaching. This seems to be the new shape of 407. It is long past the days of 100% new oak and powerful intent. That power is now far more nuanced, controlled, bringing more poise and supple effect to the surface. Black berry fruits, emerging dried herbs of thyme, leaf and sage, of redcurrant and spiced oak amid firm tannins to close. The effect is tight and coiled. With all ingredients in readiness, this 407 is bidding its time. Drink: 2025-2044

PEN Bin Shz Mara FB SC AUS

Bin 150 Marananga Shiraz 2021
95pts | Bottle Price: $100

Vintage and winemaking variation is apparent in the ’21 Marananga. A cool vintage in the Barossa combined with longer time in oak is noted but the essence, intensity and velvety richness of Marananga remains strong. Vibrant inky purple hues, so dense, so Marananga. Abundant ripe dark and blue berry fruits, briar, blackstrap licorice and spicy oak envelope the senses. A terrific ensemble cast works the palate with great teamwork between fruit and oak. It must be noted that Marananga saw a total of 18 months in American and French oak, six months more than some previous releases, giving rise to a creamy texture and added savoury notes. The usual rounded warmth and richness remains, as ever, a lasting sensation. Drink: 2023-2042

PEN Bin Kal Shz AUS FB SC

Bin 28 Shiraz 2021
92pts | Bottle Price: $50

The wine formerly known as Kalimna Shiraz. Instead of Barossa fruit, we need to start adapting to multi-regional blending with four (’20 vintage release) or five (’21 release) South Australian regions being used for what is now Bin 28. The ’21 works a nice line in refined richness matched with some youthful freshness. Blackberry, plum and blueberry fruits, earth, licorice and tarry aromas. Quite a light winemaking touch on the palate which allows for some super expressive fruit to shine with darker, more savoury flavours building through the finish. Love the guest appearance of spice and pretty florals which reinforces the aromatic attractiveness of this wine. Drink: 2023-2038

PEN CWA Bin Shz AUS FB SC(with crest)

Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz 2021
93pts | Bottle Price: $65

A statement of house style and technique as much as regional varietal imprint. One whiff of that bouquet, that expensive French oak toast, the blackest of plums and blackberry fruits, the integration of aromatic spices running freely, and it’s got Penfolds’ fingerprints all over it, which isn’t a bad thing. Framed in fine tannins, the palate is expressive in well-ripened fruit which brings a plushness, some Aussie-style Shiraz sweetness leading to a generous time in French oak (12 months in French oak hogsheads, 21% new). Plum, blackberry, briar, mineral-flecked earthiness, cacao and vanilla with some blackcurrant pastille notes give full voice to a more generous Coonawarra shiraz. Drink: 2023-2036

PEN Bin GSM AUS FB SC(with crest)

Bin 138 Barossa Valley Grenache Shiraz Mataro 2021
91pts | Bottle Price: $60

Typically ripe and typically – in keeping with more recent releases – impressive. Bin 138 is moving away from bold, country wine into more sophisticated vinous territory. This is a considered take on the Barossa’s trad GSM, one that seamlessly combines all three grapes and with it some elegant, bright black fruits, plum, spice and earth. Attractive purple hues. A good hearted, fruit forward style driven by a fine line of tannin, and while ’21 signals a return to a mix of French and American oak, the oak component remains well in place and integrated. It’s all sweet, ripe fruit and some delightful spice with that tell-tale Barossan sense of place, of Aussie bush notes and earth. Drink: 2023-2032

PEN Bin Gren AUS FB SC

Bin 21 Grenache 2022
93pts | Bottle Price: $60

Grenache is no longer a one size fits all kind of grape in Australia. It can combine both satisfying richness with plenty of red fruit aromatics as seen here. Indeed, Bin 21 could be the poster child for a new look Barossa Valley Grenache. Celebrates the delicate side of the grape in lifted anise, five spice, briar, cherry and dark raspberry fruit aromas. Wide-ranging flavour intrigue here from the raspberry drop, pastille confection notes through to wild herbs, Asian spices and juicy plum and chocolate. Quite engaging and lingeringly ripe with the kind of deep of flavour that comes with 14.5% abv and time in French oak. It wears it well. Drink: 2023-2034

PEN Bin PNoir AUS FB SC (with crest)

Bin 23 Pinot Noir 2022
93pts | Bottle Price: $50

Bin 23 is now firmly inducted into the annual Penfolds Collection release. It would seem that changing sourcing from the Adelaide Hills to Tasmania has sealed the deal. The 2022 is on the lighter, brighter fruit side with red fruits aplenty to start, in aromas of black cherry, morello cherry, strawberry and spice. Delicate and restrained, it brings Tasmanian fine-edged tannins to the fore in league with red berries, amaro bitters, cranberry and pomegranate. Overall, a refined and restrained style with some exotic notes and good detail. That dry amaro bitters finish adds a delightful savoury touch. Drink: 2023-2030

PEN Bin Chard FB SC

Bin 311 Chardonnay 2022
91pts | Bottle Price: $50

Stands naked in the glass with next to no winemaking influence noted. Bin 311 is all about the fruit, or rather the quality of the fruit sourcing from three cool climate regions: Tasmania, Tumbarumba and the Adelaide Hills. Aromatic and fine in citrus blossom, honeysuckle, green apple with lemon zesty spark. That brightness continues with real zip and carry on the palate with fruit firmly in the citrus camp aided by struck match and a cool mineral tang. Some textural development noted but that fresh juiciness is the abiding memory. Drink: 2023-2030

Reviewer:

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