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.
Ned Goodwin MW and Langton’s Head of Domestic Buying Ramon Gunasekara discuss the newly released whites, including Yattarna Chardonnay, from the Penfolds Collection 2020.
"From Tasmania and the Adelaide Hills, matured for 8 months in French barriques (65% new). A perfect example of the original aim of finding a white wine partner to Grange. Power and stealth are an unlikely combination, but endeavouring to unpick the multitude of flavours isn't useful. The heart of this great chardonnay is its balance, and the extreme length built on its bracing acidity."
97 points, Wine Companion (August 2017)
"Voluminous chardonnay. Strikingly rich, sweet of fruit, powerful to start and powerful to close. You see figs and honeysuckle, stonefruits and juicy pears. There’s a suggestion of creaminess, of white chocolate, but it never quite lands, it’s just there, a voice on your shoulder. It’s a masterful wine; it eschews fashion; it just is. From the first sip it sweeps you along. So beautifully groomed."
95 points, Wine Front (October 2017)
"The 2015 Chardonnay Yattarna has a lot of puppy fat on the nose at this youthful stage, showing exuberant notes of baked peaches, apple pie, guava and pineapple paste over yeasty/savory notions and a waft of crushed stones. The palate is typically tightly wound, revealing great tension and minerality, yet it also has a lot of fruit and and a lovely silken texture, finishing long and invigorating. Forget it for two to three years and drink it over the next 10+."
95+ points, Wine Advocate (November 2017)
"A much-anticipated vintage for Yattarna and it does not disappoint, showing very impressive depth and sheer fruit power. It has devoured the oak, there's a deep citrusy core to the palate that really hinges on yellow grapefruit. It teases with subtle bitterness in a way that a great chef fine tunes a great dish, sapid, dense and very very assertive."
98 points, JamesSuckling.com (October 2017)
Light to medium yellow colour, with a superbly intense, fruit-driven aroma; lots of toasted nut flavours, oak derived, and very complex. A hint of pineapple. It needs time as the oak is quite apparent on the day. Richness with finesse, and generosity with restraint. Long, long carry. A very good Yattarna. (8 months in 65% new barriques; full malolactic fermentation)
96 points, Huon Hooke (September 2017)
Molten, really quite buttery nose. Then salty. And dense with a dry end. Ambitious and reserved. Stone fruit. Far from flamboyant. But very vibrant finish. Really resonates on the end. Appetising and accessible already. Very clean and fresh.
17 points, Jancis Robinson (September 2017)
Honeyed pears, yeast, apple, lime, toast and a salty streak are all at the fore on the nose of this wine. The palate is chalky in texture, with bright, crunchy acidity and a wet stone minerality. Orange rind and apple characters mark the close.
94 points, Christina Pickard, Wine Enthusiast (April 2019)
Offers impressive purity, with succulent pear, tangerine and Meyer lemon flavors that are juicy and vibrant, showing plenty of intensity balanced on a delicate frame. The details point to more complexity, featuring lingering hints of roasted hazelnut, orange zest and lemon verbena.
93 points, MaryAnn Worobiec, Wine Spectator (January 2018)
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.