Reserve Bin A has evolved into a distinctive, modern, single-region (Adelaide Hills) Chardonnay, second only to Yattarna in the Penfolds white wine hierarchy. Each year the wine is made it is labelled according to the last two digits of the vintage -- hence Reserve Bin 10A, 12A, 13A and so on. Fruit is hand-picked to small bins and whole-bunch pressed. A portion of the juice is incrementally filled to barrel directly from the press and allowed to undergo a natural fermentation. Thus…
Enhanced mouthfeel and complexity is achieved by maturation (typically for eight months) on solids, with intermittent yeast lees stirring. The 100% malolactic fermentation is also natural. Reserve Bin A has established a strong following since it was first made in 1994. It is a fresh, minerally style that occupies a place in the vanguard of modern Australian Chardonnay. With its distinctive, flinty aromatics, creamy texture and razor-sharp acidity, it perfectly articulates the fruit complexity and mouth-watering attributes of cool-climate Adelaide Hills fruit from Chardonnay vineyards across the region.
Pale colour. Intense grapefruit, nectarine aromas with flinty grilled nut complexity. Well concentrated and classical with grapefruit, nectarine, lemon curd flavours, fine loose knit chalky textures, fine marzipan flinty, herb notes, savoury oak complexity and fresh linear striking acidity. Generously concentrated and creamy with lovely mineral length.
95 points, Andrew Caillard MW
This delves into a very rich and attractive place with such intense lemon and ripe-peach character on offer. The palate has a taut, composed and very linear feel with super intense and seamless texture. Acidity wraps the finish tight. Pithy resolve here.
96 points, jamessuckling.com (August 2019)
Light to very light yellow hue. Smoky sulfides and toasty oak-derived aromas, the wine is intense and fresh in the mouth, dry and long on the finish, with attractive balance and good fruit as well as balanced oak. It just needs time to come forward a little and develop more character. A very restrained, delicate style of Bin A. I'm sure it will build in the bottle, but it does seem more pared-back this year.
92 points, The Real Review (July 2019)
This is a fine-fingered wine. A flavoursome one. It feels complete. It pumps texture and fruit through satin and silk. It throws smoke, white peach, cedar-infused cream, mineral. It’s so fine, so seamless, so in command. A superb white wine. No doubting it.
95 points, The Wine Front (August 2019)
The Adelaide Hills 2018 Reserve Bin 18A Chardonnay is plump and round on the palate, yet it shows a delicacy and litheness that's remarkably appealing. Pear and melon notes are accented by wood spice, hints of cinnamon and nutmeg (40% new oak), then finish soft and easy. It's the Meursault of the Penfolds Chardonnay lineup, ripe and lush, without the crisp, cool-climate acids that mark the Yattarna.
92 points, Wine Advocate (August 2019)
"Barrel-fermented in French oak barriques, 40% new, this is instantly fine and complex in aroma, mingling light vanilla oak smokiness and a touch of nuttiness with fresh lemon and lime. The enticing aromatics are followed by a finely textured, richly composed dry white with a creamy complexity, driven by that new French oak component together with lees solids contact and complemented by a tapering lime-streaked finish with just a touch of mineral saltiness. Enjoy with tuna (seared, tartare or sashimi)."
92 points, Decanter (July 2019)
ADELAIDE HILLSLocated to the east of Adelaide,the Adelaide Hills is part of the Mount Lofty Ranges. Considered a cool-climate region, most vineyards are situated at elevations between 450 to 550 metres. Rainfall is relatively high and spring frosts often pose problems. Hot northerly winds also make bush fires a real threat in the region. Adelaide Hills is a jigsaw of meso-climates, with the best vineyards centred around Piccadilly Valley and Lenswood in protected sites facing north or north-east. Soils are derived from schistic and sedimentary rock; typically well-drained sandy loams over red clay interspersed with schistic gravels. A premium wine-growing region, Adelaide Hills is best known for crisp, lively Sauvignon Blanc and elegant cool climates styles of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Shiraz.
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.