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.
Medium deep colour. Fresh dark cherry, blackberry, herb garden violet aromas with praline notes. Inky textured and velvety smooth with attractive dark cherry, cassis, blackberry fruits, underlying mocha dark chocolate roasted chestnut notes, loose knit slinky/ grainy textures, integrated mineral acidity and a long inky tannin plume. Text book 389 showing the balance between power and elegance. Will develop well.
96 points, Andrew Caillard MW
This sits in the typical, just cabernet-dominant style (54%) and marries cassis, blueberries, leaves and cedary-dominant aromas with more substantial blackberries and dark cherries, as well as redder tones at the finish. The regional sourcing here is cleverly played and delivers a fleshy, soft and smooth wine in 2017. Long, vanilla-laced after-trail.
94 points, jamessuckling.com (August 2019)
Deep, intense red/purple colour with a fresh, clean aroma of spices, blackcurrant and blackberry, the latter indicating the cabernet is more pungently varietal than usual. The tannins are slightly sappy and grippy, the wine has good intensity and length, balance and the oak is background. This is a sotto voce Bin 389 vintage.
92 points, The Real Review (July 2019)
So here we are again. In the 175thyear of Penfolds. A new edition of Bin 389 in the glass there. The pitch, it’s perfect. Scrunch gum leaves and super ripe blackcurrant, vanilla cream and red licorice all together and then snap them fresh, and strap them tight. There’s tobacco here, there are violets, there’s kirsch. It’s bold, it’s not without elegance, and it’s hard not to conclude that it’s pretty much bang on.
94 points, The Wine Front (August 2019)
The 2017 Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz is only 54-46 in favor of Cabernet Sauvignon, yet it shows pronounced mint and cassis aromas. The Shiraz is more apparent in the mouth, where it fills out the full-bodied palate with velvety richness and plush tannins before fading a bit quickly on the finish. This vintage includes fruit from McLaren Vale, Barossa Valley, Padthaway and Wrattonbully.
92 points, Wine Advocate (August 2019)
First made in 1960 and nicknamed Poor Man’s Grange. It’s complex and compelling, the bouquet setting the scene, and the palate filling it. Black fruits, gently vanillan oak, superfine but persistent tannins are but the start.
97 points, The Australian (August 2019)
A blend of fruit from McLaren Vale, Barossa Valley, Padthaway and Wrattonbully, this so-called ‘Baby Grange’ is matured for 12 months in American oak, partly in previous-vintage Grange casks. It has a very special quality on the nose, combining as it does both the cassis of Cabernet (54%) and liquorice-spiced dark fruit of Shiraz (46%), with a note of mint.and the veneer of vanilla oak. An Australian classic (dare I mention 'icon'...), it has a seductive sweetness and richness of spice-infused dark fruit on the palate, supported by a touch of mint and sweet vanillin oak, all silky-textured in this vintage. It's almost forward, suggesting early approachability and yet, deceptively, with a structure of firm tannins and a fine spine of acidity for good ageing potential. One for spiced duck breast or oxtail.
93 points, Decanter (July 2019)
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.