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.
Deep crimson. Fresh blackcurrant, mulberry, black cherry, dark chocolate aromas with roasted chestnut, cedar, liquorice notes. Full bodied and evenly balanced wine with inky cassis, mulberry black cherry fruits, fine grainy slightly grippy tannins, attractive mid-palate volume and roasted chestnut cedar wood notes. Finishes vigorously firm with plentiful sweet fruit notes. Quite muscular in attack but has the density and the richness to carry the tannins. A dark horse vintage with the shape of Bin 389 and the torque of Bin 707. Seal; cork 2026-2045 14.5% alc
96 points (July 2021)
Seamless release. It draws everything together in the most agreeable of ways. Currants and plums, mint and various fragrant herbs, vanilla, cedar, blood orange and licorice. The sweet core of fruit is extended by the tannin rather than abrupted. It’s in the zone. It feels complete. And that blood orange note, choc-orange almost but not quite, evident on both the nose and in the mouth, is quite mesmerizingly delicious.
95 points, The Wine Front (July 2021)
Deep, dense, glass staining red/purple colour. The bouquet is very savoury mixing earthy, spicy, blackstrap licorice and toasty-barrel nuances, the palate savoury and drying, the more sapid and less fruity aspects typical of of the Bin 389 style. There is a blackberry and cassis cabernet note in there too, when you hunt for it. Great intensity, concentration and focus, elegant, taut and long-lingering. A classic 389, ageworthy and very much in the style groove. (53% cabernet, 47% shiraz. Padthaway, McLaren Vale, Coonawarra, Wrattonbully, Barossa Valley)
96 points, The Real Review (June 2021)
53/47% cabernet sauvignon/shiraz; from Padthaway, McLaren Vale, Coonawarra, Wrattonbully and the Barossa Valley. Matured 12 months in 25% new American oak hogsheads. There is a resolute conviction to Bin 389, a confident assuredness that transcends its seasons like no other wine around it in the Penfolds line-up, its consistency grounded in the almost even marriage of its 2 constituents. The 2019 vintage exemplifies this, a seamless harmony between the tension and fine-boned structure of cabernet and the body and depth of shiraz, yet embraced here in seamlessly interlocked harmony. A sea of glorious Penfolds tannins float a finish that is both expansive and far-reaching. Another grand 389 for the cellar!
96 points, Wine Companion (July 2021)
With its seamless textural slide across the palate, this is a superb example of what is considered a distinctly Australian blend, showing both generosity and serious intent. A magnificent full nose leads to a lively dance of red plums over blue and black fruits, although the strong acid spine results in a rather sharp finish. Time in the cellar will reveal more integrated harmony between the essential elements.
95 points, David Sly, Decanter (June 2021)
Full bottle 1,435 g. 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 47% Shiraz, from Padthaway, McLaren Vale, Coonawarra, Wrattonbully and Barossa Valley. Matured for 12 months in American oak hogsheads (25% new).
Dark, glowing purplish crimson. The Cabernet element is pretty dominant on the nose. Then the palate is full of rich, ripe blackcurrant fruit before finishing with really tight, dry tannins. This is one for the cellar. Do not attempt to open this for quite a while!
16.5++ points, JancisRobinson.com (July 2021)
Shows a very strident, oak-driven nose with cedar and spice that’s overlaid on ripe blackcurrant, red plum and cherry. Pepper and cocoa powder, too. The palate has a sinewy feel with intense summer berries and plums, as well as strong blackcurrant character. Curated to a brazen style with strong tannins. A blend of 53% cabernet sauvignon and 47% shiraz, matured in American-oak hogsheads (300 litres - 25% new). A blend of Padthaway, McLaren Vale, Coonawarra, Wrattonbully and Barossa Valley. Drink over the next decade.
94 points, JamesSuckling.com (July 2021)
Saturated ruby. Expressive, smoke- and spice-accented cherry, blackcurrant and floral oil scents are complemented by suggestions of cured tobacco and licorice. Sweet, seamless and penetrating on the palate, offering intense bitter cherry, dark berry and savory herb flavors that take a sweeter turn with air. Shows excellent focus and a touch of smokiness on the long, gently chewy finish, which features repeating florality and slow-building tannins. Made in all American oak hogsheads, 25% of them new.
94 points, Vinous (July 2021)
Of all the traditional Penfolds Bin reds, 389 is the one that consistently year after year arrives ready to enjoy straight out of the blocks. It’s a winemaking masterclass in balance and integration of cabernet sauvignon and shiraz from multiple South Australian wine regions. In 2019, five regions provide the basic materials led by Padthaway and McLaren Vale. Usually more prominent, Coonawarra and the Barossa Valley come in last, an indication maybe of the summer heat waves that they endured.
If anything, the 389 a la 2019 is a little forward but it nevertheless comes fully formed resplendent in the scent of violets, sage, spiced black berries, licorice and fresh coffee grounds.
The percentage of new American oak has been pulled back a smidge to reveal a mere dusting of pencil shavings, vanillin overlay. It makes for an attractive background to the vibrancy of fruit. Dried herbs, blue fruits, black berries, earth are all tight and focused on a palate drawn tight by fine tannins.
94 points, Wine Pilot
389. Never ever lets you down. Sourced from Padthaway, McLaren Vale, the Barossa, Wrattonbully and Coonawarra, this vintage is 53% Cabernet and 47% Shiraz. 12 months in American hogsheads, a quarter of them new.
Dark magenta with a purple rim. Early days, of course, but this wine is already exhibiting more complexity than most. Warm earth, animal hide, truffles, dark chocolate, beautifully integrated oak, a hint of garden herbs and of a malty chocolate note. Such a gorgeous seductive character. Seamless and supple. Bright acidity in the background. The intensity is maintained on a very long finish. Silky tannins and plenty of them. Good concentration. This wine is so well structured and so impressively balanced. This is a 389 which offers a great deal now but so much more if you can put it away for a decade or two.
96 points, Wine Pilot
A wine for Penfolds’ true believers. “Claret” for the modern era. Stating the case for multi-regional styling. This is fabulous from the first whiff, with so much going on in its complex expression that wafts from cabernet’s aromatic herbal notes then settle into the vintage’s savoury suggestions – some meatiness and charcuterie for instance – then mocha of course, and delicious little pokes of sweet plum bringing the shiraz fruit into focus. The synergy of the blend become singular, wrapped up in a mouthful of integrated tannins. All round excellence.
96 points, Wine Pilot
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.