The Penfolds Collection 2018 Top 5
Sunday, October 7, 2018 in News
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The annual Penfolds release is all about the big red, Grange.
The annual Penfolds release is all about the big red, Grange. Not to do a disservice to the other wines in the portfolio (there are few looking to steal the show in the 2018 release) but all of the Penfolds wines are seen, judged (at least by the wine buying public) and priced in the context of Grange. What did Grange score? Did anything score higher? How much does it cost? 707, 389, RWT and Yattarna, to name but a few, are quite often great wines by themselves. But they’re not the big one. Flagship doesn’t quite cover it. Grange is Australia’s state-of-the-nation fine wine. Here’s a look at our Top 5 picks from Penfolds Collection 2018 and the first reviews on release.
Penfolds Grange Bin 95 2014
No.1 Penfolds Grange Bin 95 Shiraz 2014
After that intro, we had to start with Grange or, to give it its full name, Penfolds Grange Bin 95 Shiraz 2014. Would an AO be out of place? The reviews have made for interesting reading and all very positive. Critics tend to save their best lines for the headline wines, and nothing grabs a headline like Grange. Campbell Mattinson, writing for the Wine Front, said of the 2014 in his 96 point review ”There you go. It’s archetypal Grange, smooth, svelte, aristocratic, bright and dense at once, the pride of South Australia and the entire Penfolds red wine line-up all rolled and synergised into one.” UK wine critic Matthew Jukes gave it a perfect 20/20 score calling the 2014 “a phenomenal wine.”
Penfolds Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
No.2 Penfolds Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
Grange Cabernet! It’s not just a status (or a price) comparison, the Bin 707 is made just like Grange only the grape choice is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon rather than (98% or so) Shiraz and it’s released a little earlier. Multi-regional, new American oak and unapologetically Penfolds, the 2016 Bin 707 has jumbo jet presence and not a little swagger. Matthew Jukes offered the 2016 Bin 707 a 20+/20 perfect score – the first time he has awarded two perfect scores in any single winery release, saying of the wine that it is “Insanely serious and awesomely long, this is a stupendous Bin 707.”
No.3 Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 2016
Ah, ‘Baby Grange.’ Why do we call the 389 Baby Grange? Probably because someone in a marketing department thought it was a good idea. But it’s a Cab-Shiraz! The barrels used, of course, were formerly Grange and 707 wood and, when the fruit is not quite there, the declassified Grange and 707 grapes find their way into the Bin 389. There’s plenty of reflected glory but also pedigree and standalone quality. The 389 is very much its own wine. With the 2016 Bin 389 vintage, Penfolds winemakers must have been rubbing their hands together when the fruit came in. They wrung every drop of potential from the fruit and showed why they are the masters of blending. Matthew Jukes praised the winemakers calling 2016 Bin 389 “seamless” and “perfectly joined” in his 18.5+/20 review. Campbell Mattinson let the review writing dog off the chain in this 96 point judgment, saying “It’s not a John Holmes wine; it’s not overdone. It’s a wine to slip through your defences, is what it is. It’s a cracker. This is why you blend Cabernet with Shiraz.”
No.4 Penfolds RWT Bin 789 Barossa Valley Shiraz 2016
The 2016 RTW is a single region, Barossa Valley Shiraz made using (mostly) new French oak. Definitely not Grange. The abbreviated chalk markings that denoted the ‘Red Winemaking Trial’ in the mid-nineties on the barrel where kept after what can safely be called a success and later the Bin 789 was added. 2016 was very strong vintage across much of South Australia, the Barossa and the Barossa Valley in particular. Tyson Stelzer calls the wine "One of the greats in the twenty-year history of RWT."
No.5 Penfolds Yattarna Bin 144 Chardonnay 2016
The 2016 Yattarna. This is the Penfolds flagship white wine and a multi-regional blend from Tasmania, Henty, Adelaide Hills and Tumbarumba. White Grange? A little bit. In the mid-nineties, there was a lot of conventional wisdom that said Penfolds should play it safe, stick to the familiar and do what they did best, making dry red table wines. The counter-argument that Penfolds should be experimenting and growing (presumably made by someone standing next to a picture of Max Schubert while holding a bottle of Grange and incredulously pointing back and forth between the two) won the day and, 20 something years later, Yattarna is well and truly established. Matthew Jukes describes the vintage as "Structured, hugely powerful and statesmanlike, this is a Yattarna which grips the palate and doesn’t let go." These days we expect a little greatness from Yattarna but don’t expect to be able to access too much of the wine, the 2016 allocation is very limited.
These are just the five wines we’ve selected from the Penfolds Collection 2018. If you want to access the latest from Penfolds, rare and back vintage wines or large format and special bottles contact a broker.