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.
"Structured, hugely powerful and statesmanlike, this is a Yattarna which grips the palate and doesn’t let go. The tannins and sour acidity seem thoroughly red wine like and it drinks like a mighty wine, too. Dense and solid and nowhere near drinking, this will take an age to unravel and relax, but this is a very impressive Chardonnay. 19++/20 (2025 – 2035)."
19++/20 points, Matthew Jukes, October 2018.
"Penfolds Yattarna Chardonnay. Bin 144. The Tasmania, Henty, Adelaide Hills and Tumbarumba regions all contributed grapes. 35% new French oak for eight months. The first vintage was from the 1995 vintage; we’ve come a long way with Yattarna. It now stands pre-eminent.
The grandest wines are often the most surly, and this release is. It will come around in its own good time. It’s a tight, powerful, brooding wine; gravity is its middle name. All the screws have been tightened and re-tightened; you get the feeling the winemaking team kept torque wrenches handy. The days will come and go; this wine will stride on. Grapefruit and toast, flint and fig. A show of spice. Majestic."
96 points, Campbell Mattinson, October 2018.
"Light to medium straw-yellow colour, with a pronounced nutty, slightly toasted nut bouquet, showing more oak than the Reserve Bin 17. The palate is rich and concentrated, velvet-smooth and fleshy with great depth and extract. Tremendously long carry. A brilliantly balanced, powerful wine, which is just starting out on its career and will undoubtedly reward cellaring and show much more character and complexity in a few years. Great potential. Drink 2019-2033."
96 points, Huon Hooke, October 2018.
"This is a beautifully distinguished Yattarna that seamlessly marries its three regions to harmonious effect. It leads out with understated grace, effortlessly rising with exacting line and outstanding persistence. Lemon, white peach and fig are masterfully united with understated French oak, with exacting fruit and acid marriage, ever confident yet never dominating. This is no blockbuster Yattarna, rather an eloquent and refined blend, and it’s all the finer for it. Drink 2019-2026."
96 points, Tyson Stelzer, October 2018.
"Fruit is 51% Tasmania, 23% Henty, 14% Adelaide Hills and 12% Tumbarumba. Orange fruit no longer goes in their top bottlings. They now own the Henty vineyards. Growing conditions were close to ideal, with good winter rains, a warm and clear spring and a rain-free harvest. Eight months in French oak, 35% new oak. No wild ferments for Yattarna. Having chosen the best fruit they want the insurance of knowing how the ferments will go. TA 7.1 g/l, pH 3.14. Quite a blend. Complex and well balanced. Chalky crunch and life. Long and a very obvious step up from the other two Chardonnays. Light grip and hint of phenolic bitterness on the end.13.5% Drink 2020-2026."
17 points, Jancis Robinson MW, October 2018.
"Gently toasted almond and subtle pencil shavings give some indication of the 35% new French oak that was used to age the 2016 Chardonnay Yattarna. Ripe peach, pear and melon fruit fills out the medium to full-bodied palate, then really grows in intensity and focus on the long finish. This is the most complete Yattarna I've ever tasted, blending richness and acidity in a seamless fashion. It's a blend of fruit from Tasmania (51%), Henty (23%), Adelaide Hills (14%) and Tumbarumba (12%). Drink 2019-2030."
96 points, Joe Czerwinski, October 2018.
"Pale colour. Fragrant grapefruit, nectarine, white peach grilled nut aromas and superb flinty, mineral complexity. Wonderful palate with lovely grapefruit, nectarine, stone fruits, fine loose-knit chalky/ al-dente textures, underlying savoury oak nuances and long fresh pure quartz-like acidity. Electrically-charged, powerfully expressive and sophisticated wine with a superb balance of fruit, oak and freshness. Demands a few years of cellaring to build further complexity. Pure Australian élan. 97 points – 13.5% - Drink 2020 – 2040."
97 points, Andrew Caillard MW, October 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.