Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Penfolds The Max Schubert Cabernet/Shiraz

 The overall Penfolds offering is not that easy to understand. Sure, there are the well established brands such as Bin 389, Bin 28, Bin 707, St. Henri. But then, there are other offerings. First, the cellar reserve wines. These are experimental wines, with grapes not common in the key brands, such as Pinot Noir and Sangiovese. They are offered on an irregular basis. Then there are wines which are special one offs in years where there is an abundance of great fruit, not all required for the traditional blends. This has been taken to an obscene level lately, where extreme scarcity has driven prices to  the stratosphere. And then we have the Napa wines, and white wines, of course.

The wine I am reviewing today is the 2012 Penfolds The Max Schubert Cabernet/Shiraz. This is a new creation before the frivolity set in, although it is quite pricey as well. The idea here is to honour Max Schubert with a blend which tries to copy the 1962 Bin 60A, Max Schubert's and probably Australia's greatest wine. 2012 was the inaugural release, with less than 500 cases made. This wine should not be confused with the Max series, a cheap quaffer, which should never have carried Max Schubert's name.

The blend in this wine is 48% Coonawarra Cabernet, 13% Barossa Cabernet, 39% Barossa Shiraz. This compares with a 66/34 split of the 1962 wine. The Max Schubert was matured for 15 months in 100% new American hogsheads.

Pouring the wine, a dark purple colour emerges, slightly 'dirty' - a bit surprising. I experience blackcurrants and vanilla oak are on the nose.

On the palate, there is blackcurrant, ripe plum, mocca, charcoaled meat, and vanilla. Coarse tannins hit the palate early, then concentrated, sweet fruit hits like a bomb. This is quite a chewy wine, yet the acidity is quite high, too. No doubt, this wine has high quality fruit, but it has not come together for me at this point. It definitely needs protein, and is basically too early to drink. But will it be harmonious, ever? The wine opens up in the glass with increased elegance, but it feels only half the race is done at this point, and a 1962 Bin 60A it is not (says me who has never tasted the 62). 

Unmistakably Australian, typical Penfolds!

Score: 96/+  


1 comment:

Tyrone said...

Although I do have quite a few Penfolds bottles I had not heard of this wine prior to reading the review. At first glance I did think it was the commonplace Penfolds 'Max' then, but having looked it up this wine I see the price is many multiples of the common 'Max' - and totally agree the name is inappropriate for a low-mid range wine, especially using a name that means "the greatest". Sounds like a very good wine, but like many other Penfolds from vintages such as 2010 and 2012, still years away from prime drinking.