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edited by Sue Courtney

Penfolds 2006 Bin Release Tasting
© Sue Courtney
27 Feb 2006

The Penfolds 2006 'Bin' Release tasting was not for the 2006 vintage wines - they hadnít been released, nor even made, at the time of the tasting. The date refers to the release date rather than the vintage year. Thus wines from 2003 and 2004 were put on the table for review. This year there were six new releases and four older wines to try. Prices are not quoted as many of the wines will attract 'special' prices as promotions get into full swing. Historically speaking, the Bin Numbers on the wines referred to the bins in the underground tunnels where the wines were stored for maturation in bottle before their commercial release. When released, the number of the Bin was stated on the bottle. Now the Bin Number relates to a style that has evolved over time.

Here are my notes for the new release wines, most of which will be released on February 27th in New Zealand.

Penfolds Yattarna Chardonnay 2003 - new release
Star bright, radiant straw gold. Refined, toasty, butterscotch aromas with a lovely mealy, lactic influence. A tight, lean, mealy, citrussy style with oak quite dominant at first in the mouth, a strong, spicy, leesy influence and hints of apricot with melon and tropical fruit building to a creamy, lemon finish with a full-bodied, mouthfilling aftertaste. A focussed wine that needs time. To be released May 1st at approx. NZ$80 per bottle.

Penfolds Bin 138 Old Vine Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre 2004 new release
The first Penfolds 'Bin' wine under screwcap to this market. Made from 49% Grenache, 40% Shiraz and 11% Mourvedre, there's a violet-hued edge to the core of rich, deep, red-purple/black colour. Concentrated purple fruits with hints of liquorice and tobacco come through on the nose - the fruit is pure with nuances of rose petals and little influence of oak. In the palate the fruit is lifted, forward, sweet and ripe, harmonising with the spicy, peppery, liquorice (fennel) infused backbone where creamy oak and fine grained tannins strum away in the background. Violets linger on the finish. With swirling the nose opens up even more to reveal hints of bitter chocolate with liquorice and savoury herbs. With fruit sourced solely from the Barossa Valley, the wine was matured for 17 months in older French and American oak and carries 14.5% alcohol.

Penfolds Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz 2003 - new release
Black cherry red, dense to the core, with crimson red rims. Fragrantly scented with hints of rose petal and rose pepper over spicy, mellow, cedary French oak. Vanillin oak to the fore in the palate with dark roasted spices, mocha and black pepper, a touch of cigar and savoury herbs de Provence, fairly robust grainy tannins and a full-bodied dry finish. The fruit sweetness from the purple berries and cherries linger on the aftertaste. Fairly tight with good acidity - a food style.
Made from 100% Coonawarra fruit, the wine was matured for 12 months in 20% new and 80% older French oak and carried 14% alcohol.

Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz 2003 - new release
A little denser in colour than the 128. Fruitcake and chocolate abound on the nose and there's an opulence to the creamy American oak, liquorice, pepper and luscious black cherry and red berry fruit in the palate that is supported by a tight, firm, fine, silky tannin structure. There's a spicy, cedar note to the persistent, lifted, rose-petal infused finish with a touch of chocolate emerging as it lingers. Love the aromas - seductive as always. Followers of this style might be disappointed in the paring back of new oak, as it is now matured in a combination of one, two and three-years old. However, it has the potential to shine with a little more age.
With fruit sourced from McLaren Vale, Langhorne Creek and the Barossa Valley, it carries 14.5% alcohol.

Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz 1983
Still deep in colour at the core of the bowl, but browning at the edge. Mellow, slightly meaty aromas, a touch of barnyard adds intrigue together with roasted rosemary which carries through to the palate giving a slightly salty nuance. The tannins are starting to dry but by no means have dried out. In summary this is a gorgeous, mellow, creamy wine with the vanillin of American oak together with spiced orange peel and mulled wine spices lingering on the long, persistent finish.

Penfolds Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 - new release
Deep shiny red-black with crimson hues. Fragrant, mint-infused spicy oak and chocolate berries impart a classically varietal nose. The lifted cassis and cherry fruit in the palate is supported by firm, slightly grainy tannins and good acidity with tobacco and cedar and the opulence of the creamy American oak coming through to linger. A distinctively Australian Cabernet Sauvignon with excellent length.
The fruit was sourced from Coonawarra, Langhorne Creek, McLaren Vale, and Bordertown. The wine was matured for 12 months in new (27%) and older American oak, and carries 14.5% alcohol.

Penfolds Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon 1991
Deep red-black garnet core with fading red at the edges. A mellow, slightly gamey character to the nose, the mellow notes continuing through to the palate. The tannins are dry, chunky and somewhat disintegrated, with a meaty backbone no fruit at all to speak of. I thought the wine past it, fading to its death bed, although the soft, creamy, slightly nutty aftertaste reveals a little of what it once had to offer.

Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 2003 - new release
Made from 52% Cabernet Sauvignon and 48% Shiraz, this shows a dense black-red colour in the glass, opaque almost to the vibrant crimson-violet edges. After seducing the eyes, the biscuity, violet-infused, mocha and chocolate-covered berries and creamy vanillin oak seduce the nose. It's a deep fragrance that reveals a gorgeous fruit purity and that purity is not lost in the mouth. It's a big wine, a grunter, with chocolate, blackberry, cassis, nutmeg, liquorice, mocha and pepper, gorgeous finely structured tannins that make it seem more approachable than it is and perfectly balanced acidity to keep it focused throughout. 'Cherry Ripe' chocolate bars with hints of stonefruit (apricot) emerge to on the creamy finish and the persistent aftertaste has a peppery, spicy layer. Beautiful.
The fruit was sourced from McLaren Vale, Barossa Valley, Padthaway, Langhorne Creek and Bordertown. The wine was matured for 12 months in new (27%) and older American oak, and carries 14.5% alcohol.

Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 1984
Mocha coloured, opaque in the core of the glass but fading to orange-red on the edges. Aromatic, fragrant, herbal aroma and deep flavours of mulled berry fruits, anise and throaty lollies with an earthy, old wine character. It's mellow, clean, silky and long with a gracefully-aged opulence. The wine still has good acidity and life ahead of it though the texture is a little grainy, as if it is starting to disintegrate. Unfortunately - for me - a slightly medicinal note mars the finish.

Penfolds Bin 95 Grange 1998
The new release 2001 Penfolds Grange was meant to be served, but it did not arrive in time for the tasting. Poor us. We had to make do with the 1998 - tasted from a magnum, no less.
Made from 96% Shiraz and 4% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from Barossa, Padthaway and Magill, the wine matured for 18 months in 100% American oak before it was bottled and put aside for further maturation before release. Now 8 years, old, this is a wine that epitomises the elegance and power that Grange is legendary for. It's deep black cherry coloured, similar to the current release Bin 128 (2003 vintage) but with much more density and a violet translucency to the edges. There's a slight gamey character to the aroma, mocha, cedar and herbal nuances on the nose (the faintest of mint) together with biscuit and berries. In the palate, violets are to the fore, the tannins are pretty much perfection with their sultry structure, and the flavours - there is so much and so beautifully balanced - almost perfection. There's fruitcake, currants, cherries, crushed blackberries and mulberries, vanillin and cedar, a smoky character that adds to the charm with nutmeg and red liquorice spices and a touch of bitter chocolate that lingers on the deep, sweet fruited, earthy finish. It seems so youthful, with oak still very dominant, yet has a complexity that can only come with bottle age. A super wine with years of life ahead of it. 14.5% alc.

These wines were tasted on 21st February 2006

Copyright Sue Courtney
27 Feb 2006

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