Friday, December 14, 2018

Penfolds 2018 Release Tasting

Penfolds is known as a red wine company in the wider world. However, it has chipped away at becoming a major force in quality white wine for over 20 years, since the release of the first Yattarna Chardonnay.

Yesterday, I just tasted four wines of the recent spring release.

First was the 2018 Bin 51 Riesling. This is a 100% Eden Valley wine, and I expected a floral bouquet. However, this wine is about lime, lime, and lime. The wine is very dry, with good linearity and balanced acidity. The minerality on the back palate reminded me more of Clare than Eden Valley. This is a very fresh, modern Riesling (92 points).

The 2017 Bin 311 Chardonnay has three main fruit sources; Coal River, Tasmania, Adelaide Hills, and Tumbarumba. The main flavours are citrus and rock melon, but there is also a green tinge on the palate. The wine is dry and quite acidic, yet balanced (90 points).

Of the four wines, the 2016 Bin 138 GSM was the least impressive. It is actually a bit of a misnomer, as 72% of the wine is Shiraz. The wine is quite fruity, well supplemented by used French oak. The finish is a bit harsh. I would call it a barbecue wine, but in fairness, the ambition does not go beyond that (89 points).

This was a good year for the 2016 Bin 389 Cabernet/Shiraz. This brand will never lose the image of 'baby Grange', but the reasons are different from what is generally believed. Most people think the name stems from the fact that the wine is matured in one year old American oak, previously used by Grange. However, the main reason is that the grapes for Bin 389 come from a Grange and Bin 707 selection, but which ultimately don't make it into the flagship wines. Those grapes can't go into RWT (French oak) or Bin 169 (Coonawarra only). The 2016 Bin 389 is a dark coloured, big, full-bodied wine. The wine hits you like a brick on the palate with blackberry and black currant flavours. The fruit is very concentrated and the flavours are long. The firm tannins need some time to soften (94 points).


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