Penfolds Bin 169 is a single region wine made to showcase pure Coonawarra characters of cassis and eucalypt. The wine typically shows ripe black fruit characters with vanilla oak, ripe fine-grained tannins framed in a classical structure. Bin 169 is matured in 100% new French oak for approximately 14 months.
A great Bin 169 and while the ticket price is vertiginous this wine has a masterful flavour and, once again, it is the control and infinitesimal flavour delivery which makes it so gripping. The tannins are delicious, lip-smacking and finely wrought and I love the size and shape of the fruit not least because it is fitter and more tailored than most Super-Tuscans and nearly all Californian Cabs. Brilliant.
19++ points, Matthew Jukes (October 2018)
Alongside Bin 407, here’s evidence that 2016 was a cabernet vintage more than a shiraz season. A short growing season accelerated by a warm December was moderated by mild January and February, creating a cabernet that unites concentration and depth with fragrance and precision. Crunchy, exact blackcurrant, cassis and mulberry fruit of impressive concentration are intricately woven with well-poised acidity and enduring Penfolds tannins of fine, confident structure. In line, length and sheer, all-consuming glory, this is one of the greats. A Bin 169 that flatters from the outset yet will only win more hearts as the decades unravel. Drink 2036-2046.
97 points, Tyson Stelzer (October 2018)
Leafy cassis notes mark the nose of the 2016 Bin 169 Cabernet Sauvignon. It's also floral yet dense and concentrated. Full-bodied and rich on the palate, it exudes class and balance at the same time. It's a super expression of Cabernet Sauvignon from one of Australia's premier regions for the grape variety, ending on lingering notes of cocoa, cassis and pencil shavings.
97 points, Joe Czerwinski (October 2018)
Deep red colour with a tinge of purple, the bouquet spicy and reserved, with cassis notes peeping through. The wine is savoury and dry, with fine but persistent tannins lending substantial grip. Mulberry, as well as blackberry and cassis, then a tinge of bitterness seemingly from oak tannins on the finish. A superb cabernet, showing more oak and concentration than Bin 407.
96 points, Huon Hooke (October 2018)
I’m a Penfolds expert; you know this because I just told you. This is a Penfolds wine; you know this because it tastes of creamy vanilla and plum before variety or region come into it. This wine is sweet, neat, perfectly ripened and exquisitely well turned out, in the house uniform. It would make a great CFO. Blackcurrant and cedarwood do just pass by, but I’ll love them to the day I die. Tannin here is like a wink that no one else saw. Keep it for as long as you like, if not for longer, if not just pop it soon-ish and to hell with it; like a well-managed budget, it has what it takes to cater for any need. It even offers elegance. Neatness almost always does.
95 points, Campbell Mattinson (October 2018)
Medium deep crimson. Intense blueberry, dark plum blackcurrant aromas with vanilla, nutmeg notes. Generous, supple and inky with plush blueberry cassis dark cherry flavours and fine grained slightly sinewy tannins balanced with overt vanilla, roasted nut nuances. A chocolaty firm finish with a trail of new oak. Still in parts but will develop more integration and richness with time. 94 points – 14.5% alcohol – Drink 2020-2040.
94 points, Andrew Caillard MW (October 2018)
CoonawarraThe first vines were planted in Coonawarra by John Riddoch in 1890, however it was not until the renewed interest in table wine production in the 1950's that Coonawarra was brought into the limelight. Located almost 380 km southeast of Adelaide, Coonawarra is today one of the most famous red wine regions in Australia. Its weathered limestone terra rossa soils, avaibility of water and relatively cool maritime climate make it a unique viticultural region. Extremely flat and unprotected, Coonawarra is exposed both to the swinging influences of the cool Great Southern Ocean and hot, dry northerly winds. Spring frosts also pose a major threat with the potential to wipe out entire crops. Mechanical harvesting is widely employed in the region although smaller producers prefer to tend their vines by hand. Coonawarra is best known for classically-styled Cabernet Sauvignon, although in good years, Shiraz from the region is also very compelling.
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.