Grange and St Henri once were equals. But as Grange's fame grew, St Henri was eclipsed. Now St Henri is again re–emerging from the shadow of Grange. Matured in large, old vats that impart little or no oak character, St Henri is Shiraz au naturel. '…a wine of effortless, refined persistence', says Tyson Stelzer, '…with a silky, supple mouth feel and yet somehow still firm and enduring'. Says James Halliday: 'A great St Henri that will come into its own in a bare minimum of 10 years, and live long thereafter'.
This is a much-anticipated vintage for St. Henri, and it does not disappoint. The complexity of fruit here is stunning, together with a very complex and playfully fragrant, spicy edge with graphite, roasted coffee and woody spices, framing a core of very fresh blackberries, red and dark cherries and blueberries. So fresh and brimming with fruit aromas. The palate has a stunning array of deeply fleshy fruit flavours with a superb sense of length and powerful, ripe tannin, underpinning vibrant, fleshy fruit that is beautifully assembled in a refined, elegant and impressively pure mode. So long and pure. Silky and elegant. A real masterpiece, taking its place among the finest vintages like 2010, 1990 and 1971. 95% Shiraz and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon.
98 points, James Suckling, jamessuckling.com, August 2019.
Medium deep colour. Lovely fragrant claret style wine with exuberant fresh red cherry redcurrant, mulberry cassis aromas and roasted walnut complexity. Well concentrated and generous with inky cassis mulberry fruits, smooth velvety tannins, attractive viscosity and richness on the mid-palate and fine integrated acidity. Finishes powdery firm with superb mineral length. A hugely evocative wine; true to the original blueprint, spirit of style and the classic Penfolds multi-regional template. Delicious to drink now but should age beautifully.
98 points, Andrew Caillard MW.
Very deep, brooding red/purple colour, with a bouquet of ironstone, earth, smoke and bloody, sanguine overtones. It's youthful, bold and bright; fruit drives the wine, and it's almost lean it's so elegant; very long and refined on the follow-through, with very soft, fine-grained tannins throughout the palate. The tannins have an oaky taste but it's said not to see any small oak. This is all about finesse. Lovely wine.
95 points, Huon Hooke, The Real Review, July 2019.
Immediately we see blueberries, we see violets, we see plums, we see a long, elegant finish. There’s no ra-ra here, it’s all composure and calm. You can see this singing for a good long time. The tannin here feels teased; almost sinewy; it will hold the wine in good stead. It was/is an anticipated release and it hasn’t missed the boat.
95 points, Campbell Mattinson, The Wine Front, August 2019.
The 2016 St Henri Shiraz is one of the finest St Henris I've ever tasted, rivalling the likes of the 1986 or 1976. It's concentrated and rich, the essence of South Australia Shiraz (although it's been lightened by the addition of 5% Cabernet Sauvignon), unleavened by any new oak. Dark and tarry, it delivers notes of espresso and black olive, plummy fruit and roasted meat. Full-bodied and dense on the palate, it ends long, dark and savoury.
96 points, Joe Czerwinski, Wine Advocate, August 2019.
The St. Henri cuvée is always brought up all in neutral oak casks, and the 2016 is a blend of 95% Shiraz and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, with just 690 cases produced. This was a great vintage for South Australia, and this blockbuster sports a deep purple colour as well as a dense, powerful, meaty bouquet of smoked black fruits, chocolate, bouquet garni, bay leaf, mint, and plenty of earthy minerality. Reminding me of an Hermitage from the likes of Delas Frères, it’s full-bodied and incredibly concentrated, with a stacked mid-palate and loads of ripe tannins. Backward and mostly potential at this point, it’s nevertheless a thrilling Shiraz readers should give 4-5 years of bottle age and it will knock your socks off over the coming two decades.
97+ points, Jeb Dunnuck, jebdunnuck.com, November 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.