Monday, April 20, 2015

Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet/Shiraz

Over the last few years, we have all branched out to find the latest trendy thing in wine. Some attempts have been exciting, some disappointing. But when it comes to drinking a 17 year old wine, you may want to stick to the old and trusted. I was pretty confident when I opened a bottle of 1998 Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet/Shiraz tonight. When it comes to mature wine, Penfolds is in a class of its own (Wendouree the only challenger) in Australia. This bottle still had a very high shoulder, and the cork came out beautifully.

The colour is still purple, and as it turns out, this bottle is showing off the two varieties at their best. The fruit of the Shiraz and the structure of the Cabernet Sauvignon are seamlessly blended together. This is a full-bodied wine with a beautiful mouthfeel from the front to the back of the palate. The black fruit and the American oak are well integrated. This is a ripe wine, as it should be: ripe, but you are keen to drink a second (or third) glass. The tannins have mellowed, but are still firm and, together with the intense fruit and cocoa flavours, produce a finish which lasts and lasts.

This wine has been a great drinking experience tonight, at a fraction of the cost of other wines reaching this quality level (I paid $28 for this bottle in 2001), and it will, if stored correctly, still have another ten years of drinking pleasure in it.

Score: 97/+++


Anonymous said...

Hello thomas,
The 1998 bin 389 is a thumpingly good red wine from Penfolds, but since that vintage i have found a decline in the overall quality. I may be a loner on this comment but my overall impression is that its difficult to find any consistency since the 1990's.
In many instances since ,my notes say on many occassions "just a red wine" where the bin 389 is concerned.
Other associates have expressed similar thoughts. Are we just a group of whinners or is there some foundation?
Your thoughts?
Regards Colin r

Alontin said...

Hi Colin,

I think you make a very good point. I believe there are two factors contributing to this. Penfolds has lost some top vineyards, as growers have started to make their own wine, for example Kalleske. In response, Penfolds have planted new vineyards, for example the huge Waltons vineyard in the Barossa, but the vines are still young. The second change is that an increasing proportion of the grapes going into this wine is mechanically harvested which can lead to uneven grapes making it into the wine. I do not know if this is rectified through sorting tables, but I doubt it given the large volumes. As a counterbalance, the winemaking team is top class, in my opinion.