If you aspire to drink Grange but don’t have the cash to buy it, fear not, for this release of the “Penfolds Collection” has you covered.
The new 2015 Grange has landed and it is as spectacular as ever, but at a cool $900, you’ll need your tax refund to clear before you can splurge. In the meantime, Penfolds dropped a collection of its “Bin” wines at a more affordable $50 to $60. This means you can impress your less-knowledgable friends with the Penfolds brand and brilliant quality wine without taking your lunch to work.
Most of this year’s Bin reds are from the 2017 vintage, a cooler and somewhat challenging vintage throughout South Australia. For example, Penfolds’ chief winemaker Peter Gaga decided there would be no 2017 Bin 707 Cabernet due to an insufficient quantity of high-quality fruit for the illustrious wine.
Despite not being the right environment for the Cabernet, the cooler conditions allowed the winemaking team to craft some decidedly beautiful 2017s, which might be more suitable to a mainstream palete over the intensely rich 2016s.
And while the reds will understandably grab the headlines, don’t let the whites slip past undiscovered. The 2017 Yattarna chardonnay is quite possibly the best Yattarna ever, and the 2018 Bin A is another stunner.
So irrespective of whether you have cash to splash, or that time is yet to come, any of the following wines – as well as many others I could have cited from the range – will do you proud and have you feeling good at parting with your hard-earned cash.
2018 Penfolds Reserve Bin A Chardonnay, Adelaide Hills, South Australia. RRP $125
Another ripping good Bin A. A superb bouquet of lemon butter/crème, with a touch of flintiness, glacé pear, and with a discreet backdrop of new oak. Tremendous vitality in the mouth, the intense, shapely flavours roar to life on entry with great zing and tension. The mid-palate has plenty happening with lemon curd notes mingling with nougat, which mingles with nuttiness and all combining with a hint of exotic spice tossed in for good measure. Long, long finish underpinned by beautifully integrated French oak – 40% new – this is yardstick new world chardonnay. Excellent.
2017 Penfolds Yattarna Chardonnay, Multi-regional blend. RRP $175
Made from fruit from Tasmania, Tumbarumba and Adelaide Hills, this is quite possibly the greatest Yattarna to date. If the Bin A is a classic new world chardie, this is a heck of a lot like old world, old school, great, grand cru white burgundy. With a voluminous bouquet of white flowers, cream, a note of lanolin richness, and subtle back note of oak. This has the same verve as the A, however with even greater power and with a more muscular posture. Those characters noted in the bouquet are reprised on the palate with mouth coating extract and intensity, and with sustained flavour and aftertaste. A great chardonnay and a bargain at the price.
2017 Penfolds Bin 138 Shiraz, Grenache, Mataro, Barossa Valley South Australia. RRP $60
Sometimes you taste a wine and you sigh in contentment. This is that wine. There’s a real ease and accessibility to this wine which makes it ridiculously user-friendly. A lively bouquet, the first impression is of lifted bright small red fruits, then some dark red fruits introduce themselves and finally there are some savoury back notes to complete the aroma spectrum. Those flavours return with the support of some more mineral, earthy characters as as they seamlessly slide across the medium-weight palate to a pleasing finish of good persistence. Those who like the wines of the Southern Rhône will revel in the style and flavours of this. Yum.
2017 Penfolds Kalimna Bin 28 Shiraz, Multi-regional South Australian blend. RRP$50
Blend of fruit from Barossa, McLaren Vale and Padthaway in South Australia. Along with the Yattarna, this might well be the bargain of this years’ Collection release. Quite dark, crimson red in appearance, the bouquet has excellent volume and displays highlights of dark red and black fruit aromas with savoury tangy notes of spice and herbs. The medium-weight palate is beautifully proportioned with the initial attack on entry featuring those dark fruits in abundance, which flow beautifully through to the mid palate where some more complex savoury flavours of meat, bouillon and spice present. The finish is long and with a deliciously dark chocolate note to close.
2015 Penfolds Grange. Multi-regional South Australian blend. RRP $900
The debate about price will no doubt rage. Is this wine, or indeed any wine, worth $900? Well, value is relative and like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. What is unarguable is that for a long time, Grange has been globally regarded as Australia’s greatest red wine and as such – right or wrong – is first port-of-call for global luxury wine aficionados wishing to acquaint themselves with the best of Australian wine. Such is the price of fame.
This year, the star is 98% shiraz and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon, from Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Clare Valley and Magill Estate and with 20 months maturation in new American oak hogsheads. And while I’ve written above of the challenges of the 2017 vintage in South Australia, there were no such difficulties with this wines vintage – 2015 was lower yielding and of exceptional quality.
It has an unmistakable Grange bouquet. Nose-twistingly voluminous, jam-packed full of dark, rich, macerated fruits, cream, savoury pings of black olive and the obligatory Grange note of formic acid. The palate is astonishingly impressive with complex, intense high-note fruit flavours dancing across a savoury bass line of profound depth and precision. A long, long, lingering aftertaste of persistence and refinement. Superb.
I say, the great wines drink well from day one. Why? Because of their inherent balance and poise. This Grange has that in spades. You could take a bottle home and drink it tonight with extreme pleasure. Would that be vino-cide? Not according to me. Do yourself a favour and indulge in a bottle now – or anytime over the next 40 years.
Frank Wilden is a retail food strategist and a “lapsed” restaurateur whose love of wine began nearly four decades ago. You can follow him on Twitter @TheFrankReport
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