A much awaited tasting after the disappointing 1999 and 2000 vintages, I was looking forward to finding some Penfolds wines that delighted the tastebuds as they had done a long time before. I was not disappointed.
Penfolds Thomas Hyland Chardonnay 2003
Youthful oak aroma, quite creamy and nutty with a fresh peachy scent. Nutty in the plate with smooth lemony oak and a spicy lift to the creamy finish. A smooth, well-made wine, quite bright in its profile. I would recommend this to my readers. Evidently Penfolds only make two Chardonnays now, the Yattarna and this, so as the second tier wine in their portfolio, it reflects good value for money. 17/20.
Primarily from Adelaide Hills. Six months in 23% new and 77% one and two year old French oak.
Penfolds Thomas Hyland Shiraz 2001
Medium dense colour. A little edgy on the first mouthful. Bright fruit, juicy berries, a touch of leather and a hint of mocha in the oak. Savoury finish. Dry. Good medium weight style. Earthy leathery notes linger and sweet flavours try to push through. Just a touch of eucalypt too. 16/20.
Selected regions - McLaren Vale, Padthaway, Barossa, Robe. 11 months in 15% new and 85% used French and American oak.
Penfolds Thomas Hyland Cabernet Sauvignon 2002
Good dense colour. Quite a full aroma of blackcurrant and violet promises much but the palate fails to deliver. Rather edgy with a stalky note, lots of acidity, leather, nugget and earthy oak dominate the finish with raspberry and blackcurrant. Shows its youth. 15/20.
Selected regions - Coonawarra (64%) plus Robe and McLaren Vale. 11 months in 15% new and 85% used French and American oak.
Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz 2001
Lovely brightness to the purple-red hue of this densely coloured wine. Immediately appealing to me on the nose with its creamy American oak mingling with spices and succulent ripe berry fruits. Hints of violet too. Lovely sweet ripe berry fruit in the palate carries the blockbuster tannins, very harmonious, lovely balance, everything you want in a Shiraz - creamy oak, liquorice spices, ripe burst of black berried fruits with a touch of mint and a long chocolatey finish. An excellent wine that lives up to expectations. Back to its very best. 19/20. *****
Selected regions though mainly McLaren Vale and Barossa. 12 months in used American oak.
Penfolds Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz 2001
Densely coloured., this smells rather opulent with creamy dark oak and black cherry.
A big wine with firm dense, mouth coating tannins and lots of ripe berry fruit hiding behind the oak structure and a good signature of pepper and spice that lingers on the finish. A richly concentrated wine with excellent potential. French oak suits this wine very well. 18/20. ****1/2
Coonawarra. 12 months in 21% new and used French oak hogsheads.
Penfolds Bin 138 Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre 2002
A fragrant wine, red berries, spices and lifted cedar. A burst of fruit in the palate, purple fruits sweet and ripe with the subtle oak harmoniously integrating into the background. Good tannin structure and a meaty, savoury, slightly earthy, long dry finish where the tannins become more obvious. This meatiness is the 'muscular' contribution of Mourvedre, which reminds me a little of Malbec. An excellent style for earthy food, mushroom, lamb, game meats and the like, a wine for someone who doesn't like overpowering oak. Very different in style from all the other Penfolds Bin reds. 17/20. ****
Barossa. Aged for 15 months in older French and American oak.
Penfolds Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz 2001
Deep red black, almost opaque. Cassis and subtle, slightly meaty vanillin oak on the nose. Question whether there was a slightly oxidative winemaking style. Bright berry fruit, more acidity than the shirazes, firm tannin structure leading into concentrated blackcurrant / blackberry fruit on the finish with creamy oak lingering. A little drying in the tannins, needs time to evolve. It is dark and savoury as it lingers with the smoky creamy oak with just a touch of oak spice also a strap of leather. Full-bodied, should evolve well, though I find it hard to get enthused about this wine. 16.5/20. ***1/2
Regions: Bordertown, Coonawarra, McLaren Vale, Robe and Kalimna. 12 months in 23% new and used French and American oak hogsheads.
Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 2001
Good dense, deep dark colour. Creamy vanillin oak on the nose. A full ripe wine, shows it class from the outset. Laden with tannins they meld into the wine. Classy oak and lovely fruit. Very harmonious. Nice leather, spice, a touch of chocolate, hard to define the fruit, ripe dark red and black fruits supporting the wine as a whole. Long finish. Quite savoury in a way. Very good wine, excellent long term potential. It can only get better. Recommended. 18.5/20. *****
Padthaway Bordertown, McLaren Vale with smaller contributions from Barossa, Kalimna and Robe. 13 months in 22% new and older American oak.
Penfolds St Henri 2000
Quite dense, good red colour for an 00 not showing any development or loss at all. A little tight on the nose. Does not have the oomph that I expected from this label, perhaps a reflection of the vintage. But as the wine lingers it shows it is a wine of good finesse and elegance. Red berry fruits, perhaps a touch of cherry, plum and blueberry. Good acidity, warm grainy tannins and a lovely array of spices on the finish. It's a little meaty too. A wine that needs food. Overall the wine is a little lighter than I expected , but still delivers. However if it is retailing for about $49.95, it is not value for money. 18/20. ****1/2.
Penfolds Grandfather Port
Tawny colour with a rancio edge. Yum aromas, full of liquorice, it is salty on the palate with lots of rancio character and a smoky finish. A dry Port, quite fulfilling, but not really my style. Not rated.
These wines are on commercial release from March 1, 2004.
Copyright Sue Courtney