Penfolds Collection 2014: The Bins
As slated back in June, Treasury Wines are officially bringing the release date of the Penfolds Bin Series and the Icon & Luxury Collection forward to the 16th October this year, effectively combining what used to be two releases (in March and May respectively) into one super collection.
What that means is that, for the first time ever, the famed Penfoldstravaganza has happened twice this year.
Twice us scribes have experienced what Campbell Mattinson cheerfully calls the ‘Gago show’*. Twice everyone will witness an avalanche of huge points heading in a Penfolds direction. Twice phrases like ‘Grange allocation’ and ‘where can I buy more 707’ will be uttered in liquor stores around the nation.
And you know what? Penfolds couldn’t of picked a better release to be doing it…
To be honest, it makes absolute sense to move the Penfolds release date to October. For one, it doesn’t interrupt harvest, so winemakers can actually get out and sell the wines. Two, it means that new Penfolds wines will hit stores in time for Christmas, Thanksgiving, Chinese New Year and the rest. Three, it means that the wines are released in the cooler spring (compared to March at least). Four, it means 8 months until the end of the financial year to sell everything and five, it’s great for cash flow to sell two releases this year!
In all seriousness, there is much to like amongst this slightly unusual Penfolds Collection. Much of the release comes from the 2012 South Australian vintage, which Penfolds winemaker Steve Lienert believes shares much similarities with the even, near perfect 1996 vintage (which was an epic Penfolds year). Further, while some wines remains stuck in a style (like 707), the subtle evolutions of oak and tannin management seem very positive. Most importantly there are no price increases this year, which is probably a smart move.
I went through all of these new release Penfolds Collection wines in a huge, meticulously planned press masterclass last week. A masterclass that, interestingly, had less Gago and much more time for introspection, with most of the nations wine press all sat at individual tables in exam-like silence.
It’s serious business tasting Penfolds.
Anyway, onto the wines. All of these were tasted non-blind, in good tasting conditions, but still rather quickly. Background notes are in italics, RRP in Australian dollars. All wines available 16th October (in Australia at least).
*(Peter Gago, Penfolds chief winemaker, is one of the the most engaging winemakers I know of, though the man can talk. The Gago show is good value regardless, particularly as he is surprisingly frank, honest and quite entertaining).
Peach and melon fruit – there’s that typical Penfolds ripeness kicking in here and definitely a full vintage. Almost candied in its lime and lemon grass/melon fullness with unquestioning bracing, almost bitter acidity. Ready to go and full of power. 17.7/20, 92/100
Penfolds Reserve Bin A Chardonnay 2013 (Adelaide Hills)
Nutty and mealy, there is no escaping the classic Penfolds rambunctiousness, the flavours more ripe yellow peach this year, on a full and rounded palate. Despite the acidity this feels very full and ready to go immediately – it’s going to fill out quite quickly. Good, if not quite superstar length or finesse. Looked lesser compared to the Yattarna. 17.5/20, 91/100
Penfolds Yattarna Chardonnay 2012
Shows some sulphide funk on the nose – winemakers at play. There’s real body underneath though and real layers of fruit. Starts off with cool white flowers, white peach and a distinct absence of obvious oak. The palate is excellent, successfully straddling the bracing acidity and milky lees and oak inferences. The acid is a little forceful perhaps, but there is shape there, I spent some time with this and think it’s really impressive – one of the best Yattarna releases in many years. Yes please. 18.7/20, 95/100
Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz 2012
Classic Bin 28 – all mocha berry flavours, drying Penfolds tannins and thick richness. There’s a whole lot oF plum choc richness in a very Penfolds style, if perhaps a little lifted up by oak and tannin richness. This will satisfy many Bin 28 fans with its richness of berry fruit and oak, tannic grip and texture, but perhaps not a superhero in quality – it’s a bit short and ‘made’ for that. 17.5/20, 91/100
Penfolds Bin 150 Marananga Shiraz 2012
Open and genuinely varietal. There’s some spearmint and leaf about this, the tannins driving what is an utterly varietal Penfolds Cabernet style. The mintiness is divisive, but I like that this speaks in a Cabernet tongue first, Penfolds second. There’s chocolatey richness that drives the middle too. The problem is the finish – it is abrasive, resinous and hard, looking astringent and brutal. Good start, but not the greatest of congruency to finish. I came back to this after the 707 and it looked genuinely awkward. 17/20, 90/100
Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 2012
A formidable wine – it’s every bit the 389 classic, a huge wall of chocolate and tannins. licorice, blue fruits, even some mint, the oak really firm and full. It feels like a barrel sample with that sweetness of mid palate that Penfolds is known for. My only gripe is that its a firm and raw wine now, the oak and Penfolds brand tannins really protruding out. A hard wine to drink immediately, but will make exceptional old bones. 18.3/20, 93/100+
Penfolds St Henri Shiraz 2011
Very dark for an 11. Immediately it smells of the cool year, with leaf litter and black pepper in abundance. Already quite secondary, the flavours and gentle, supple and the acidity is really noticeable before a faintly bitter finish. You’d be hard pressed picking this as a typical St Henri, but it is distinctive in a leafy, mushrooms way. Decent tannins finish things off. By no means a bad wine, but such a departure from the normal St Henri mode! Much to chew on, but not a truly great wine. 17/20, 90/100
Penfolds Magill Estate Shiraz 2012
Sexy oak. The oak is just a little resinous but the fruit at the core is delicious! What a Magill! Stand up and applause for Magill. You can almost feel the sunny Adelaide sun and the heart of the wine is this beautiful black fruit pastille flavour, the oak rather well integrated on the finish. Really bloody good. 18.7/20, 95/100
Penfolds RWT Shiraz 2012
Very dark red colour. There’s a quintessential Barossa valley-ness to this, the fruit and flavours quite gentle and open and inviting. There’s a hint of confection in this though and some smoky over ripeness too, a raspberry ripple line through the middle which is pretty, the tannins excellent, but perhaps you want something more? A little more oomph. It seduces, but almost mid weight compared to some of the RWTs before it. Still a pretty special wine.18.5/20, 94/100
Penfolds 707 Cabernet Sauvignon 2012