Tag Archives: Penfolds

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.


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).

Penfolds 2011 Bin Release

Perth Town Hall

Reviewed – 10 February 2011

When I heard that Peter Gago and the team from Penfolds were coming to town to launch the new release of their famous “Bin” range of wines, I was keen to get a seat. The seat that they saved for me was, however, not one that I had in mind.

I found myself on stage as part of a three man panel to provide commentary on the wines during the evening. So much for sitting at the back of the room quietly sipping my wines. Not all was lost though because there were several significant points to come from the evening.

  • Penfolds are back – The evening was one of the best industry functions that I have seen. This was a professionally run event. From the slick event management team to the charismatic Master of Ceremony, nothing was left to chance. If only the panel on stage got to eat some of the numerous courses of food that, by all accounts, were delicious!
  • The people involved are passionate – Peter Gago is 100% committed to producing the best wines possible. David Phillips and the marketing team are also keen to re-establish Penfolds as the pre-eminent wine brand in the Australian market! They understand the heritage that they have inherited and are looking to build on it.
  • Grape quality is the key – If Paul Georgiadis, one of the suppliers of fruit to Penfolds, is anything to go by, then the numerous suppliers of premium grapes are focused on quality as the number one goals.

The wines are good – seriously good. The key here is the consistency right across the Bin range. From the riesling to the 389 and everything in between, these wines speak quality. It became immediately obvious that the 2008 wines are very classy. (Apparently, most of their fruit was picked before the heat wave). The wines from 2009 were also first rate and the Bin 128 was one of the highlights for the evening.

This tasting was not conducted blind, so it was hard to maintain objectivity when allocating points. Fortunately, I was able to review all the wines prior to the event to write my tasting notes. I have decided to give a point spread to many of the wines to try and get around any bias.


Penfolds – Riesling – Bin 51 – 2010 (17.8). Floral nose, with lime and lemon rind to start. Opened to show musk and lavender and a touch of sherbet. The palate starts off round and generous, with lovely lime acidity to keep the finish tight, then develops very floral fruit characters. Drink now or later.

Penfolds – Chardonnay – Bin 311 – 2010 (17.5+). A serious wine. The whole spectrum of wine-makers’ inputs are on show here. Barrel ferment, lees stirring and partial malo-lactic fermentation are all probably employed. Peaches and cream on the nose evolves into a mealy/nutty nose. The mouth-feel is spot on and there is lemony acid to close. A very modern cool climate wine that will improve for several years.

Penfolds – Pinot Noir – Bin 23 – 2010 (17.5). Solid colour in the glass, with dense fruit on the nose. Closed initially, but develops a lovely perfume with fruitcake spice and a touch of strawberry. The palate is an amalgam of cherry, spice, cedar and cinnamon, with a touch of leather to close. Sappy, savoury notes open up to bright red fruits to close.

Penfolds – Grenache/Shiraz/Mouvedre – Bin 138 – 2009 (17.3 – 17.7). Very attractive purple hue courtesy of the grenache. Whilst there are attractive red fruits and supple tannins, the density of fruit is the key to this wine. Only medium weight in the mouth, the palate is fine and silky. The lack of any obvious oak flavours makes this a great match for food like a plate of antipasto.

Penfolds – Shiraz – Bin 128 – 2009 (18 – 18.5). Classic Penfolds nose. The high quality concentrated fruit is very dense. Cinnamon, cedar, plum, licorice and black pepper. This is a very complex wine. Although the fine grained French oak is apparent, the balance of the Bin 128 is the key to its appeal. A seductive wine that will last for many years.

Penfolds – Shiraz – Bin 28 – 2008. (18 – 18.5). Whilst the family resemblance is immediately obvious, the Bin 28 is more opulent than the Bin 128. The fruit is deliciously ripe, yet there is elegance to this wine. There are fresh plum aromas along with spice, Christmas cake and trademark Penfolds oak handling. This wine is dense and textured, though the finish is a touch grippy right now. An excellent Bin 28 and one that is sure to last for 20 years if cellared properly.

Penfolds – Cabernet Sauvignon – Bin 407 – 2008 (18 – 18.5). Traditionally a favourite of mine in the Penfolds line up, the Bin 407 has been gradually repositioned in price and now sits just below the Bin 389. The key to this wine is that the fruit is ripe rather than jammy. There is a touch of peppermint, blackcurrant and cigar box to the nose with a savouriness running across the top. The palate is superb, though very tight. The line and length are spot on. A balanced wine that needs 5 years to open up.

Penfolds – Shiraz – Bin 150 – 2008 (17.7 – 18.5). Quite a different style to the other Bin wines, 2008 is the first vintage of this wine. Sourced specifically from the Marananga sub-region of the Barossa, the fruit is more lifted and perfumed than the Bin 28. Licorice, earthy notes and even hints of Sunday roast appear on the nose. The palate is very silky with prodigious tannins that are very fine. Hints of mocha and tar to close. An excellent wine, though this was harder to taste as the fruit and structural components are still integrating. One for the long term.

Penfolds – Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz – Bin 389 – 2008 (18.3 – 18.7). This is wine! If anything, even more complex than the rest of the line up. This is full of subtleties and evolves in the glass. Cedar, plum, cherry, blackcurrant, chocolate, leather and coffee are all expressed. The palate is seamless, yet develops a chewy texture to close. The structure is outstanding and the wine is a meal in itself.


A superb line up of wines. The value wines are the Bin 128 and the Bin 28. Every cellar should have some. The pick for me though was the Bin 389. A formidable wine that Peter Gago and the team must be very proud of.