When you think of Penfolds you think full bodied, rich and fruity red wine. You also probably think of Shiraz. This year Penfolds have broken the mould and added a new wine to their Bin range, a Pinot Noir.
The 2010 Bin 23 Pinot Noir is a barrel selection from the Adelaide Hills. It has been made using some traditional Burgundian(the home of Pinot Noir) methods, but apparently remains very much in the Penfolds style.
I say apparently because, unfortunately, there’s very little of it, so getting to taste the wine is proving tough. I’ll keep trying and keep you posted.
This new inclusion reflects the current popularity of Pinot Noir and recognition of the grapes lighter and elegant qualities. We seem to be moving away from big is better and now looking for wines with delicacy and finesse.
The Bin Release 2011
Penfolds has a long history, established in 1844 by Rawson and Mary Penfold, in Adelaide, Australia. The winery quickly flourished and by the 1950’s Penfolds was at the forefront of the Australian wine industry. At this point, the legendary Max Schubert had taken over as Chief winemaker. It was his decision to move away from the sherry and port styles in fashion and move the company in to producing dry table wines.
By the 1960’s and with the iconic Grange shiraz already entrenched in its prestigious position, Schubert released his next big idea – the Bin range. The wines were to be made in the same vein as Grange, from a range of regions and in the typical Penfolds style. Three of these Bin wines are still produced today, the Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz, Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz and Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz.
So what is the Penfolds style? Well, there’s always lots of ripe, juicy and sweet fruit in the red wines especially. Soft tannins, giving the wines structure and longevity, are a key feature. Oak plays a major part, with use of both French and American barrels.
Penfolds wines are sometimes criticised for being too good, a little ‘over-made’ and lacking character. But maybe their consistency is part of the character. You can always rely on a Penfolds wine.
On tasting the full range, the wines offer great value and are great for long term cellaring. Below are notes on my three picks from the Bin range, with typical pricing and a cellaring guide.
2008 Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz. This is the 50th vintage and an excellent buy. It’s loaded with juicy black berry, blueberry and mocha flavours, vanilla oak and soft tannins. RRP $30 and will get better over 15-20 years.
2009 Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz. Shiraz from a cooler region often displays more spice and pepper notes. This example has white pepper, cinnamon with red cherry and blackcurrant. Overall, the 128 is a touch lighter and leaner than the Kalimna. RRP $30 and will age well over 10-15 years.
2008 Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz. This is the most complete wine of the bunch, full of dark black fruits, blackberry jam, mocha, earth and spice. Built to last. RRP $50 and will improve over 30-40 years.