Grapevine Archive for Penfolds
So my second week as a part of the buying department came to a rather spectacular end the Friday before last, as I was lucky enough to taste the new-vintage Penfolds wines with buyer Sarah Knowles MW.
Penfolds ambassador Sam Stephens brought all of the new releases with him (mostly 2013 reds, and 2014 whites) along with a number of older examples of similar vintages so we could see how ageing changed the wine.A standout for me was the £20-per-bottle Bin 28, which was shown in both the 2013 and 2001 vintages. The opportunity to show the two side by side really highlighted how unbelievably well this wine can age. The 2013 was packed with intense cassis and was as fruit-forward as you would expect a young wine to be. The 2001, however was just stunning, still with incredibly fresh blackberry fruit but now showing hints of leather and a touch of pepper. The ability to age this well at the £20 mark is something so rarely seen in the modern wine world.
A little further on and equally stunning, was the Bin 389 Cabernet-Shiraz, from both 2013 and 1999. The herbaceous, fresh and spicy 2013 was good but the 1999 was better. Still surprisingly fresh for the age, it had the most luscious nose of milk chocolate, spice and red fruit and a super smooth texture to match.
What does this all mean?
Well, for me, it just goes to show how much you can get from these wines if you invest a bit of time. If you aren’t patient enough though, you can browse our Penfolds offer, which is now available online. Here you can find the wines that I have written about (although not quite the same vintages), plus a number of others. This is selling well and some wines have sold out already, but do have a look and see if there are wines which take your fancy.
Perhaps it was a ‘fruit day’ or simply a Friday, but I honestly couldn’t pick a disappointing one out of the bunch.
Sam kindly talked to camera for a minute or two about the wines so please have a look at the video here:
Trainee Wine Buyer
Unlike the classic European wine regions (Bordeaux, Rioja etc), Australia has a fairly limited track record when it comes to long-term ageing of its wines. It’s not often that you get the opportunity to see mature Australian wines, even if you visit producers directly.
So I was immensely grateful when I was invited to join Michelin Star chef and self-confessed Australian wine specialist Roger Jones for a tasting of some top-notch bottles from his own cellar. The tasting was held in his delightful restaurant, The Harrow at Little Bedwyn.
Here are my shorthand notes. All wines were tasted blind.
Katnook Estate Chardonnay Brut, 1995: creamy, caramel, still fruity – lovely delicate mousse and texture. Mature yet still lively. 8/10
Plantagenet Riesling, 1998: zingy, floral, discreetly toasty, very fine nose. Gentle, juicy palate, à point. 9/10
Jasper Hill Riesling, 1998: serious riesling nose, creamy, focussed; amazing lift and intensity. Perfection. 10/10
Lenswood Semillon, 1998: nutty, evolved nose, developed palate, good structure, drink up. 6.5/10
Moss Wood Semillon, 1995: unusual aromatics, brioche-like, smooth palate; esoteric. 5.5/10
Moss Wood Chardonnay, 2000: pungent, smoky flavours. Full, opulent and slightly alcoholic. Not entirely clean. Disappointing. 5/10
Mount Mary Chardonnay, 1996: classic, mature chardonnay: nutty, harmonious and classy. 6.5/10
Lakes Folly, 1999: vibrant, high-toned, restrained, beautiful texture and length. 8.5/10
Barossa Valley Estate “E & E” Black Pepper Shiraz, 1998: layered, sensuous, chocolaty Barossa shiraz, smooth and delicious. Lovely now. 9/10
Penfolds Grange, 1990: exotic, complex, fragrant nose; savoury yet full of vitality; incredible ripeness and depth. A showstopper. Drink now or hold for another 20 years. 10/10
Penfolds St Henri Shiraz 1990: attractively evolved, spice/vegetal notes, refined, classy, only 13.5% alcohol, enormously appetising. Now or hold for 10+ years. 9/10