Yattarna, (Bin 144), which derives from an indigenous word meaning ‘little by little; gradually’ captures the Penfolds culture and winemaking philosophy. Over the years the wine has undergone a distinct evolution in style. Yattarna is now a refined, precise cool-climate wine with apple/white peach notes and ‘minerality, texture, layering and longevity’ key characteristics. Whole-bunch pressing, barrel-fermentation including use of wild yeasts, malolactic fermentation and lees-stirring (battonage) are important elements. Fine-boned and restrained Yattarna is a convincing example of Australia’s Chardonnay revolution.
"From the Coal and Derwent Valleys (Tas) and the Adelaide Hills, hand-picked and pressed to French barriques (62% new, 38% 1yo) for 8 months. The wine is so precise and tightly wound it is hard to imagine it went through 100% mlf, but at the same time, the decision to limit the amount of new oak falls neatly into place. It is developing at such a leisurely pace it is hard to visualise an end point. Gun flint, wet stone, green apple and grapefruit are among the contributors to the seamless flavour stream."
96 points, James Halliday (September 2015)
"Over 50% of the fruit in this 2013 Chardonnay Yattarna comes from Tasmania, Australia’s relatively recent hotbed of cool climate fruit. Aged in 62% new oak and employing 100% malo-lactic, the nose is closed, revealing subtle chalk dust and steel notes over a core of toast and grapefruit peel plus a touch of lemon zest. Tightly-knit and austere, the light-bodied palate is remarkably creamy and it finishes long and minerally."
95 points, Wine Advocate (September 2015)
"A classic wine with some shrouded aromatics for now, the reduction has not quite played out on the nose so you'll need to decant this to lift the wine out of submission or wait a couple of years. Waxy dried yellow flowers, straw and stony aromas, mineral-flecked crushed rocks, sweet and biscuity, some almond-scented oak and a core of poached nectarine fruit and lime juice. The palate has attractive smooth-wrapped fruit texture and a tight-coiled core of nectarine and grapefruit, chalky texture here, smooth-groomed phenolics to close."
95 points, Nick Stock (January 2016)
South Australia is the driest state on the world’s driest continent. Covering almost 1 million (984 377km) square kilomteres, it represents 12.8% of the Australian land mass. Sweeping plains are intersected by a spine of relatively low lying ranges, the Mount Lofty/Flinders Ranges which extend through the heart of the State. Over 50% of the state is elevated at under 150 metres. The Great Artesian basin covers almost one-third of the State. The major river is the River Murray which lethargically makes its way into the Southern Ocean. This water mass has a moderating effect on climate, particularly in the southern regions of South Australia where most vines are planted.
Summers are generally hot and dry with relatively mild nights. Winters are cool. Rainfall occurs mostly during late autumn/winter (May, June, July, August). Drought and salinity are major concerns.
The principle wine regions in South Australia are; the Adelaide Hills, Barossa (comprising the Barossa and Eden Valleys), Clare Valley, Langhorne Creek, McLaren Vale, Padthaway, Coonawarra and the Riverland. Vineyard expansion has also extended to Wrattonbully, Mount Benson, Bordertown, Robe, Southern Fleurieu and the Flinders Ranges.
It is a tradition for many wine companies to make multi-district blends from South Australian fruit – the idea of house style taking precedence over regional definition. Penfolds pioneered this concept. The vagaries of vintage variation can be evened out by fruit selection, ensuring quality at a high level. However there is debate that this concept comes at the expense of the ‘soul’ of the wine. Penfolds Grange is probably the most famous multi-district blend and is an excellent counter-argument.Andrew Caillard MW, Langton's
Penfolds is probably the most extraordinary of the world’s wine brands with an enviable reputation for quality at every price level. The original Penfold was an English doctor who, in 1844, planted grapes at Magill, now a suburb of Adelaide. However, it was not until the late 1940s that Penfolds began to forge a reputation for red wine.
The Penfolds house style emerged from a fortified wine producing culture and evolved as a winemaking philosophy which has had a profound effect on the entire Australian wine industry. Many of the techniques initially adopted to make Penfolds Grange would become part of the wider Penfolds winemaking culture. The number of techniques employed in the research and development of Penfolds wines is astonishing. Max Schubert and his team pioneered: major advances in yeast technology and paper chromatography; the understanding and use of pH in controlling bacterial spoilage; the use of headed down/submerged cap fermentation and the technique of rack and return; cold fermentation practices; the use of American oak as a maturation vessel and perhaps most critically, partial barrel fermentation. Nowadays, the use of American oak and barrel fermentation for instance is considered traditional Barossa winemaking practice!
Today, Penfolds house style embraces the concept of multi-regional blending, optimum fruit quality, the use of fine-grained American or French oak, barrel fermentation and maturation. Overall, the Penfolds style is about highly-defined fruit aromas, fruit sweetness, ripe tannins, richness, power and concentration. The number of iconic wines that have emerged from the Penfolds stable over the years is remarkable. Bin 389 a Cabernet Shiraz blend released in 1960 is now considered the quintessential Australian wine blend. Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz and Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz released in 1962 pre-empted the contemporary enthusiasm for regional definition by about 25 years. Improved vineyard management, site selection and winemaking brought about subsequent releases of Bin 707 and Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon. The Penfolds Wine Making Philosophy is the accumulation of more than half-a-century of knowledge and winemaking practice initiated by Max Schubert and subsequently refined by Don Ditter, John Duval and Peter Gago. Their collective commitment to multi-regional and vineyard blending contributed to a consistency of style and quality that has cemented Penfolds reputation as the foremost producer of premium age-worthy red wines in Australia.