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Penfolds

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Penfolds

See main Penfolds entry in Adelaide Super-Zone

nurioopta
The main Penfolds wine-making complex at Nurioopta. There is also a small cellar door tucked away at the front (photo genxywines)

Penfolds has its historic home and flagship cellar door/restaurant in the Adelaide suburb of Magill.

However, most of the facilities are located at Nurioopta and 618 ha of vineyards are also located in the Barossa Valley.

The most important is the Kalimna (‘pleasant view’ in the indigenous tongue) that provides much of the fruit for the super-premiums such as the Grange, RWT, and St.Henri. The vineyard was planted by George Swan Fowler in 1888 and purchased by Penfolds in 1945. It includes some of the original (Block 42) Cabernet vines established in 1888.

Penfolds has the Koonunga Hill, Waltons, Stonewell vineyards in the region plus the Partalunga vineyard in the Barossa Ranges.

Most of the modern Penfolds super-premiums are multi-region blends and so are reviewed under the Penfolds Adelaide Super-Zone entry.

Avenmore Tastings
The famous northern Barossa Kalimna vineyard that produces much of the source fruit for the Grange and other Penfolds super-premiums (photo genxywines)
Tasting Notes

There are three types of Tasting notes:

(W) Notes from the winery (blurbs from bottle)

(GXY) Notes from a GenXY wine reviewer

(G) Notes from GenXY's Tasting events (collective opinions)

Penfolds Grange 2013

Purchased: Not ($850)

Drink: 2037+

(GXY) Tasting: Oct 2017, Barossa, McLaren Vale, Coonawarra, Magill, the usual 4% Cabernet, generous. floral black cherry, blackberry essence and dark plums with soy, tar, asian space, and liquorice notes, deep set with orange peel nuanced acidity and chocolate/malt American oak hogsheads, firm chalky tannins (*****)

Penfolds St. Henri 2014

Purchased: Not ($95)

Drink: 2034+

(GXY) Tasting:Oct 2017,  Barossa, Adelaide Hills, Southern Fleurieu, Wrattonbully, McLaren Vale, 4% Cabernet Sauvignon, aromatic black cherry, raspberry and blueberry jube with liquorice, fig and dried herb notes, medium-full bodied with charred mocha/almond from seasoned oak vats (****1/2)

Penfolds Bin 138 Shiraz Grenache Mourvedre 2013

Purchased: Not ($35)

Drink: 2020

(GXY) Tasting: Mar 2015, from a dry and hot vintage with a reduced fruit set, rather ripe and muscular blackberry, raisens and cranberry with white pepper, iris, anise and leather notes, intense and medium-full bodied palate, earthy finish with malt and cinnamon oak aspects on the finish, firmish dusty tannin grip (***1/2)

Penfolds RWT Shiraz 2011

Purchased: Not ($170+)

Drink: 2022+

(GXY) Tasting: May 2014, 51% in new oak, this is a less muscular but more aromatic RWT reflecting the challenging cold, wet vintage but this isn’t a wimp, supple core of blueberry, cranberry and plum with cola, anise and moroccan spice notes, bright violet florals and a touch of sulfide, just medium-full bodied, some spicy charcuteries contrasts, integrated toasty cedar/cinnamon oak (****1/2)

Penfolds Grandfather Old Liqueur Tawny NV

Purchased: Not ($100)

Drink: 2014 but will last for ages

(GXY) Tasting: Feb 2014, made from various varieties, average age of solera is 20 years, fragrant, viscous and complex showing raisen-cake, malt, toffee, toasted walnuts and exotic spices, some vanilla oak on the slightly drier, spirity finish, outstanding persistence, 19.5% alcohol (*****)

Penfolds Grange 2008

Purchased: Not ($785 but have seen it for retail at $640)

Drink: 2028+

(GXY) Tasting: May 2013, rising international demand (notably China) and a perfect 100 point score in the Wine Advocate (the first time since the 1976 vintage) has seen Penfolds increase the price this vintage by a cheeky 25%, the wine has a 2% Cabernet input, mainly Barossa fruit with 9% from the Clare Valley and 2% from Magill,  concentrated and firmly structured blackberry pastille, black cherry and mulberry with anise, mint,  cola and five spice notes, tightly wound with chewy but finely powdered tannins, rich sandalwood/mocha/malt oak, no doubt through careful selection The Grange has managed to dodge the impact of the prolonged vintage heatwave that baked much of the Barossa fruit, while the attention to detail is evident in this wine the price more reflects the behaviour of investors who will probably never open the wine,  despite the hype it is essentially an old school big Barossa Shiraz with a splash of Cabernet and lashings of American oak,  a style that those of us who grew up near the Barossa have been drinking for decades, there’s a lot more contemporary and interesting premium Australian Shiraz that should be sharing in the limelight (if not the prices) that the Grange gets on the world wine stage (*****)

Penfolds RWT Barossa Shiraz 2010

Purchased: Not ($150+)

Drink: 2025+

(GXY) Tasting: May 2013, inky black colour, fragrant, muscular, spicy and tarry blackberry pastille, boysenberry and blackcurrant with liquorice, incense and  moroccan spice notes,  glycerolly  smooth mid-palate with rich dark chocolate/vanilla/cedar/char/cinnamon on the back end, chewy extractive chassis of tightly wound, grainy tannins, has avoided the baked fruit aspects of post 2007 drought vintages  (*****)

Penfolds RWT Shiraz 2009

Purchased: Not ($145)

Drink: 2025+

(GXY) Tasting: May 2012, sourced from Kalimna, Moppa and Ebenezer sub-regions on the north-west of the Barossa, intense, muscular and tarry blackberry, blueberry and prune with liquorice, leather and moroccan spiced meat notes, unlike the Grange this is matured in French oak which brings smooth but rich dark chocolate/vanilla/cedar/char to the back end, there is a firm, extractive chassis of grainy tannins (****1/2)

Penfolds Barossa Bin 138 Grenache Mourvedre Shiraz 2010

Purchased: Not ($28)

Drink: 2017

(GXY) Tasting: Mar 2012, 50% Grenache, 27% Shiraz, 23% Mourvedre, sweet and essency but with better depth and less stressed fruit than the 2009, raspberry, cranberry and blueberry with some beetroot earthiness and toasty paprika and cinnamon spice, medium bodied with slightly dusty tannins and a light touch of cocoa/cedar from the seasoned US oak (***1/2)

Penfolds Grange 2006

Purchased: Not ($495+)

Drink: 2025+

(GXY) Tasting: May 2011, tasted on day of release with Penfolds chief winemaker Peter Gago doing the pouring, mainly Barossa fruit with a small input of intense Shiraz from Penfold’s original home at Magill and a 2% Cabenet input from the Coonawarra, return to form without the varnishy oak that dominated the nose of the 2005 on its release, perfumed, deep and sumptuous without going over the top, silky blueberry, redcurrant and blackberry with liquorice, iodine and savoury olive and bay leaf notes, creamy nutmeg/clove/vanilla from the US oak, very long and minerally with firm but tightly structured tannins, close in style to the classic 2004 vintage (*****)

Penfolds RWT Barossa Shiraz 2008

Purchased: Not ($175)

Drink: 2021+

(GXY) Tasting: May 2011, more intense and muscular than the 2006 Grange I tasted alongside this, heady aromatics, blueberry and blackberry with leather, liquorice, musk and violet notes, tarry and concentrated palate with silky and glycerolly mid-palate, long and firm grainy tannins bring tea-like aspects to finish, the new French oak brings ample malt/chocolate/cedar to match the intensity of the fruit, really needs at least a decade in the cellar (****1/2)

Penfolds Bin 150 Maranaga Shiraz 2008

Purchased: Not ($65)

Drink: 2016

(GXY) Tasting: Mar 2011, inaugural release from Marananga sub-region in the west of the Barossa, powerful with a plump glycerolly entry and some underlying minerality, ripe multi-layered blackberry and liquorice with toasty warm oak spice and dark chocolate, very much in the contemporary western Barossa style missing from the Penfolds portfolio but a lot of others in the area are already doing it at a lesser price (***1/2)

Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz 2008

Purchased: Not ($28)

Drink: 2015

(GXY) Tasting: Mar 2011, this is the 50th anniversary release of the Kalimna, named after the northern Barossa vineyard purchased by Penfolds in 1945 although it has been a multi-region blend for a long time, Barossa, Langhorne Creek and McLaren Vale this time, I reckon Penfolds have put a bit more of the good stuff from the Barossa vineyard in this one to mark the anniversary, juicy but firm blackberry and redcurrant with a touch of plum cake and liquorice, sweet and lightly charred mocha-chocolate-vanilla from 12 months in seasoned US oak, finishes with some drying dusty oak tannins (***1/2)

Penfolds Bin 138 Barossa Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre 2009

Purchased: Not ($28)

Drink: 2012

(GXY) Tasting: Mar 2011, 68% Grenache, 21% Shiraz, 10% Mourvedre, one of the more disappointing recent releases since the spicy Rhone-style blend was improved through making the Grenache more dominant, leathery and heat stressed cranberry jam, prune and plum with a touch of balancing sour cherry and plenty of pepper and warm spice, fairly forward and loose palate with firm grainy tannins and seasoned US oak, a drink soon proposition (***)

Penfolds RWT Shiraz 2007

Purchased: Not ($175)

Drink: 2018

(GXY) Tasting: May 2010, perfumed, powerful and tarry blackberry, plum and red cherry with liquourice, toasted brown spices with a streak of iodine minerality and savoury mid-palate features, long chassis of grippy gravelly tannins, some sour edged acidity is in there with the handsome mocha-chocolate from the French oak, fairly open structure but has great depth and needs some medium term cellaring to show its best (****1/2)

Penfolds Grange 2005

Purchased: Not ($549)

Drink: 2020+

(GXY) Tasting: May 2010, 88% sourced from the Barossa with some McLaren Vale and Coonawarra fruit, there is a dash of 4% Cabernet, the Penfolds Luxury and Icon Wines release is always a highlight of the year, I had high hopes for the 2005 vintage coming on the back of the outstanding 2004 vintage and hearing that Jeremy Oliver (one of the tougher wine reviewers) had just given the 2005 the same 98/100 score as the 2004 vintage, I found the nose was rather reductive with only some raw varnished oak coming to the fore (in contrast to the perfumed nose of the 2004 at its release), the palate is more convincing with intense and tight fisted blackberry and satsuma plum with bay leaf, flat cola, rhubarb and liquorice notes, infused with briny Barossa iodine minerality and chewy tannins, the creamy and savoury US oak brings chocolate, malt and nutmeg notes, the nose might improve as the wine unlocks over the next couple of decades cellaring but there must be some bottle variation which itself is an issue at this price as I couldn’t put this in the top rank of Grange vintages (****)

Penfolds Bin 138 Barossa Valley Shiraz Mourvedre Grenache 2008

Purchased: Not ($34)

Drink: 2016

(GXY) Tasting: Mar 2010, bright and spicy blend of 42% Shiraz, 30% Mourvedre, 28% Grenache showing blueberry, glazed cherry and mid-palate blackberry, rich array of pepper, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and liquorice with the American oak bringing cedary dark chocolate on the finish, some slight confectionary aspects but is generally savoury and minerally with dusty tannins (****)

Penfolds Cellar Reserve Barossa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

Purchased: Not ($200)

Drink: 2025

(GXY) Tasting: Oct 2009, the difference from the (slightly cheaper) super-premium Bin 707 is that this uses French oak rather than American oak, perfumed, incredibly dense and concentrated blackcurrant, blueberry and mulberry fruit with fruitcake, aniseed, violet and cinnamon notes, meaty with considerable length, minerally with powdery savoury tannins, seamlessly integrated new French oak brings spicy cedar/chocolate/vanilla inputs to the plummy finish, the biggest problem is the time it will take for this to show its best (*****)

Penfolds Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

Purchased: Not ($50)

Drink: 2014

(GXY) Tasting: Oct 2009, dense blackcurrant, redcurrant and prune with white pepper, menthol and herbaceous notes, earthy with lingering chalky tannins and a touch of cedar/dark chocolate, good length but a little more subdued than normal with signs of uneven ripening (***1/2)

Penfolds RWT Barossa Shiraz 2006

Purchased: Not ($170)

Drink: 2021

(GXY) Tasting: May 2009, sourced exclusively from the Barossa Valley, lush, intense and tarry blackberry and blueberry with liquorice, green olive, incense and dried thyme notes, ample French oak beings mocha-coffee and vanilla features, silky web of tannins (****1/2)

Penfolds Grange 2002

Purchased: Not ($400+)

Drink: 2022+

(GXY) Tasting: June 2007, Australia’s most famous Shiraz, rich and elegant showing the benefits of the cool vintage, powerful bouquet showing black cherry, cassis and dark plum, the brooding and spicy palate seamlessly unfolds through a cascade of anise, black olive, clove and cinnamon notes, charry oak shows cedar, vanilla and dark chocolate features, finely structured powdery tannins, still quite tight although a decent decanting will help open it up for those who can’t wait 15 years to drink it (*****)

Penfolds Bin 138 Old Vine Barossa Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre 2005

Purchased: Cellar Door ($29)

Drink: 2011

(GXY) Tasting: June 2007, Rhone blend with sweet raspberry, savoury plum and sour black cherry aromas packed with spice, the palate is drier than the nose promises which is a good thing, the medium bodied palate is quite earthy with plenty of black pepper, cinnamon and dried herbs, there is a touch of anise, it is a bit too blocky too be in the very top rank but is well rounded with the American and French oak (****)