Bin 389 is the quintessential expression of the Penfolds red wine style. Typically it is fresh, generous and buoyant with ripe dark chocolate, dark berry fruit, beautifully extracted flavours, fine-grained tannins and underlying new oak characters. First produced in 1960, Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz is nicknamed “Poor Man’s Grange” or “Baby Grange” and is one of Australia’s great cellaring red wines. Bin 389 is matured in a combination of new and one and two year old American "ex Grange and Bin 707" hogsheads for 18 months. The best vintages can develop and improve for decades.
Ned Goodwin MW and Langton’s Head of Domestic Buying Ramon Gunasekara discuss the newly released Icons, including Grange and St. Henri, from the Penfolds Collection 2020.
"Bin 389 cracks the ton, in asking price terms. The rich (wo)man’s, poor (wo)man’s drink. Grapes sourced from Barossa Valley, Coonawarra, McLaren Vale, Padthaway and Wrattonbully. You don’t hear so much of Padthaway, that salty old dog, nowadays but it’s still important to the Penfolds red wine stable. 51% cabernet sauvignon, 49% Shiraz. All American oak.
Ah, now you’ve done it. Stop it, just stop it. You look at the Bin 407 release from this vintage and think: that’s how it’s done. And then you add Shiraz and call it Bin 389, and the palate is boosted, the length is still there, the tobacco notes still light up, and with vanilla and cherry-plum notes tickling the cassis into a riot it suddenly feels irrepressible, like the premiership’s a cakewalk. It’s not a John Holmes wine; it’s not overdone. It’ a wine to slip through your defences, is what it is. It’s a cracker. This is why you blend cabernet with Shiraz."
96 points, Campbell Mattinson, October 2018.
"Deep, dense red/purple colour, with a bouquet of rich spice and chocolate and dark fruit aromas all well-balanced in the mix. The berries of cabernet and the earthy/spice of Shiraz are both identifiable. It's a very full-bodied, rich, dense, concentrated wine, with lashings of tannins which are firm and gripping on the finish. A very long carry. A very big wine, massively structured and impressive, with great power and ageing potential. A wine that manages to tread the fine line between big structure and softness and accessibility. Still, I would cellar it a few years before broaching. (51% cabernet sauvignon, 49% Shiraz). Drink 2021-2046."
96 points, Huon Hooke, October 2018.
"A Bin 389 that calls for considerable time to uncoil and fan out, it’s currently reticent and shy, with a deep core of spicy, dark blackberry shiraz uniting seamlessly with the blackcurrant depth of cabernet, lingering with impressive line and length. A super fine yet consummately enduring core of tannins promise great staying power. This is no showstopper Bin 389 on release, but don’t let this hold you back. Give it time and it will slowly, assuredly and most certainly come into its own. Drink 2031-2041."
95 points, Tyson Stelzer, October 2018.
"Fruit from Barossa Valley, Coonawarra, McLaren Vale, Padthaway, Wrattonbully. 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 49% Shiraz. Shiraz harvested earlier than usual due to a warmer vintage. TA 6.9 g/l, pH 3.64. 12 months in American oak hogsheads, 37% new – a tiny bit more than usual. Interesting blend with richness and saltiness. Very sweet and round and flattering. Dry end. Tough. Very drying.14.5% Drink 2021-2032."
16.5 points, Jancis Robinson MW, October 2018.
"Seamlessly welded together, which is becoming an increasingly common trait of Bin 389 in recent years, this is a wine which passes from Cabernet to Shiraz on the palate and there is no crossover whatsoever. The first half, fifty-point-something-per cent Cabernet, steps into the second half with no return. It is like an unshaken bottle of vinaigrette with the oil and vinegar beautifully laying one on the other, in no need of agitation because they are perfectly joined along a common boundary. 18.5+/20 (2022 – 2040)."
18.5+ points, Matthew Jukes, October 2018.
"The 2016 Cabernet / Shiraz Bin 389 is a blend of 51% Cabernet and 49% Shiraz, the least amount of Cabernet you'll ever see in this bottling. It's dark and stolid, with notes of cassis and blackberry along with touches of vanilla and cedar. Full-bodied and dense, it's firmly in the Penfolds style and the style of this particular bottling, which always ages well, even if it's not the flashiest or most flamboyant offering from Penfolds. At more than 14,000 cases for the United States, it should be relatively easy to find. Drink 2020-2035."
91 points, Joe Czerwinski for robertparker.com, October 2018.
"Medium-deep colour. Classical Bin 389 with fresh blackcurrant, blackberry, dark chocolate aromas and roasted chestnut, mocha notes. Deep set dark chocolate, elderberry, blackcurrant fruits, plentiful fine chocolatey textures, lovely mid-palate buoyancy and mocha, roasted coconut oak complexity. Finishes long and fruit sweet with a bitter firm chocolatey plume. 95 points – 14.5% alcohol - Drink 2020-2040."
95 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.