Penfolds: 2013 Bin Release

Perth: 18 February 2013

The Trustee Bar & Bistro

The title of this event is a little confusing, as there was no wines from 2013 on show. The releases were from 2010 – 2012 and represent the latest installment of these iconic Penfolds red wines.

It was with some excitement that I approached this event, as several of the wines being shown were from the 2010 vintage. This has proven to be a superb vintage in all the main wine-growing regions in South Australia. Andrew Baldwin, red winemaker at Penfolds was in Perth for the event, to talk us through the wines.

Firstly, as you would expect, the wines from 2010 were outstanding. Whilst still trademark Penfolds in style, the finesse and balance of the wines were a highlight. Secondly, the tasting highlighted to me how important it is to serve wine at an appropriate temperature.

Summer in Perth is a challenging time to serve red wines as room temperature is often too warm to really appreciate fine red wine. It is often quoted that 18 – 20 degrees is the ideal temperature to serve red wines which is a lot cooler than my house for example.

I leave my red wines in the cellar for as long as possible and will pop them in to the fridge from time to time during dinner, just to drop the temperature a few degrees. When a red gets a bit warm, it loses its finesse and balance, and the alcohol tends to become a bit obvious.

And so it was with the wines at this tasting. Transporting wines on a hot Perth afternoon is a challenge. When the wines were served they were a little warm which flattened their perfume and elegance. Fortunately the air conditioner in the restaurant was working a treat, which dropped the temperature quite quickly. It was however, my good friend John Jens, who chilled a few bottles in ice-buckets to give me wines to taste at an optimal temperature.

This tasting comes with a few caveats. The usual one applies about this not being a blind tasting, so my points are best used as a guide. Secondly, this was a dinner, so my note-taking was a little impaired. Finally, Andrew was an excellent host, making it difficult to disagree with what he was saying 🙂

Seriously though, the wines and food were excellent and I am grateful to Penfolds and The Trustee for hosting the event.

Reviewed

Penfolds — Riesling – Bin 51 – 2012 (18). From a superb year in the Eden Valley, this is lovely wine. Lime juice and lemon zest are the dominant fruit characters, with a steely minerality providing the structure and cut-through. Seamless, delicious and very age-worthy.

Penfolds – Pinot Noir – Bin 23 – 2012 (17.5). This wine probably suffered the most from being a touch warm. On the nose, this was earthy and dense, with almost chocolate like aromas of strawberry fruit. On the palate this is quite earthy, with forest floor and dark cherry characters. From the Adelaide Hills, the wine gets deluxe treatment (Hand picked, refrigerated transit, cold soaking with extended maturation and 9 months on lees). Hand made by Peter Gago, this is more Central Otago in style than Burgundy for example.

Penfolds – Shiraz/Grenache/Mataro – Bin 138 – 2011 (17.5 – 18). Fresh, succulent fruit with red berries over plum and fragrant spice.The fruit is leaner than the 2010’s but there is lovely structure and excellent length. There is a higher percentage of shiraz (65%) this year due to the difficulty of fully ripening the Grenache and Mataro. This is an elegant expression of Barossa fruit, and is a lovely wine. (Drink now – 2020).

Penfolds – Shiraz – Bin 128 – 2011 (17). Trademark Penfolds nose combining succulent fruit and sweet (though subtle) oak. The palate is also trademark Penfolds, but in a lighter, more elegant style. With air, this develops lovely spicy notes that carry through to the palate. Whilst this will probably age well for a few years, my preference would be to drink it over the next 2- 3 years. (Coonawara).

Penfolds – Shiraz – Bin 28 – 2010 (18). Fragrant sweet fruit over complex tobacco aromas and hints of coconut from the oak. The palate is dense, tight, structured and long. The fruit here is initially bright and fresh, with red berries, plum, cinnamon, spice and chocolate highlights. The polished tannins are a real highlight. (Drink: Now to 2030).

Penfolds – Cabernet Sauvignon – Bin 407 – 2011 (18). Excellent quality fruit on display that is quite dense and opulent. There is obvious blackcurrant aromas over chocolate and cedar. Whist the length is excellent the fine tannins are plentiful and shut the fruit down somewhat on the finish. Primarily from Coonawara, Wrattonbully, Robe, McLaren Vale and Padthway, this sees some new French and American oak as well as first and second use barrels. A riper style, yet beautifully balanced.(Drink to 2030+).

Penfolds – Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz – Bin 389 – 2010 (18.5). This is a superb wine! Lovely sweet fruit that shows fragrant perfume from the cabernet, over rich red fruit from the shiraz. The palate is long, supple and savoury, with the oak seamlessly integrating into the fruit. Textured and structured, the tannins are very fine and add depth to the finish. A delicious wine that is beautiful now, but will age superbly. (Drink 2025 – 2035).

Penfolds – Shiraz – Bin 150 – 2010 (18.5). From a single sub-region in the Barossa, this is another superb wine. A big, bold shiraz that is structured and has excellent texture. Still, this retains a degree of elegance and the balance is a highlight. This was served with a smoky beef rib and the flavour match was inspired. This is probably the best wine in the range and with time, I am sure that the fruit characters will more fully express themselves. One for the patient! (Drink 2025 – 2035).