I tasted through the 2009 Penfolds releases tonight – a 7 wine lineup spanning the Bin 51 Eden Valley through to Bin 389. Its always an interesting exercise this, tasting wines that have such a huge amount of marketplace love & presence, even if recent releases haven’t always hit the same heights.
The wines themselves will be released on the 27th February this year as opposed to the normal March 1st release date (as it’s a Sunday).
At the tasting itself the assembled throng of Fosters reps talked the wines up, in the washup though I thought this was quite a variable release, particularly the 07 reds, from a vintage which is shaping up to be a challenging one in SA.
Now an important caveat here to consider before reading these notes is that I cut my teeth on 90’s Wynns Cabernet and Seppelt Chalambar, so I never really got the Penfolds bin bug. I still don’t appreciate the rich, oaky Penfolds style like so many other drinkers (though I dig St Henri) and it shows in my tasting notes and scores. So my advice is that if your a Pennies fan, add another point or so.
Penfolds Bin 51 Eden Valley Riesling 2008
Bright green, very pale yellow colour. The nose is floral, fleshy and ripe with melon and just the teensiest edge of toast. The palate has excellent sherbety acidity, yet it also feels fat and quite developed already – the fruit intensity is there, but it tastes a little broad and ripe. No questioning the power, but this is only an average wine for the vintage. 16.8
Penfolds Bin 311 Tumbarumba Chardonnay 2008
Very light green/yellow in colour and looking youthful. The nose is absolutely dominated by oak: high quality, buttered Sao & popcorn oak. There are some banana esters in there too that give away the absolute youth. Underneath that oak is lovely melon fruit, but its locked up tight. The palate is similarly oaky & toasty but backed by real cool climate acidity on the tail. The score here is for this wine, at this very moment, & it will improve with time.
For my money however this is being released far too early. 16.9++
Penfolds Bin 138 Grenache Mourvedre Shiraz 2007
Light, bright, cherry red in colour. The nose has sweet cranberry juice Grenache flavours that are pretty and juicy. Some vanilla oak creeps in over time. Its a lovely Grenachey, simple, juicy pulpy nose. There is a bit of meat too. The palate is sweet, ripe and simply, with some lightly confected, spicy fruit and noticeable alcohol. Minimal tannins. Its very drinkable and if this had seen even less oak I think it would be better still. Not a bad wine, though I think that the Kalleske Clarrys (for just one example) is an even better version of this style (and its cheaper). Good drink nonetheless. 16.5
Penfolds Bin 28 Shiraz 2006
Its a goodun (personally its not my sort of wine, but I can see the attraction). The colour is immediately denser, richer and darker red. Deep nose with some formic, spice, vanilla oak, dark black fruit. Grunty, rich palate that has Penfolds written all over. Rich, meaty, South Australian Shiraz that teeters on the brink of caricature, but its Bin 28 – what do you expect. Fine, Penfoldian tannins. Approachable already and will get better. 17.5
(one point of note – Kalimna is now a registered trademark and noted on the label and in the notes. Another winery trademarking a Barossa subregion. Poor form Fosters.)
Penfolds Bin 128 Shiraz 2007
Red with red/purple edges and quite light in colour density. The nose has cabbage, pepper & rhubarb unripe fruit characters, the palate follows this with heat and stretched fruit in a ripe/underrripe mould. Full of holes. Dud. 15.0
Penfolds Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
Mid red & quite dense in colour. The nose has pencil shavings oak, a little dustiness, dark chocolate and firm red berries The palate is firm, round, chocolatey red fruit laden & full bodied – a big, richly fruited wine that for my money is just a little broad & lacking in definition. Its actually quite a typical and good quality Penfolds Bin 407, but it could be just about any full bodied red from nearly anywhere. 17.0+
Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 2006
Another goodun. Its Bin 389 and its from a good vintage – fans can buy with confidence. Personally I think this sits behind the 04 & 05 in quality, but its not far behind.
Bright, medium red colour, though its not ‘black red’ like some really rich SA reds can be. Interestingly this shows quite a whack of Eucalypt on the nose – something I haven’t noticed before in this wine. After that the palate is dark, sweet red fruited and powerful. The secret here though is the texture – its chewy & sweetly oaky, with the sort of density that many people associate with wine quality in Australia. Good, strong Penfolds chocolate tannins to boot – noticeably more tannic than the rest of the range. Will only improve with cellar time. 18.3+