The 2020 Penfolds Collection contains an impressive array of wines at jaw-dropping prices, culminating in the G4, a blend of four Grange vintages at $3,500 a bottle, although it’s not officially part of the Collection.
But there is now a suite of wines over $100, including Grange ($950), Bin 707 Cabernet ($650), Bin 169 Coonawarra Cabernet ($360), RWT Barossa Shiraz ($200), Yattarna ($175), Magill Estate ($150), St Henri ($135), Reserve Bin A Chardonnay ($125) and Bin 407 Cabernet ($110). They’re the wines that will get all the press, but what about the value buys in the collection?
Probably none is more overlooked than Bin 51 Eden Valley Riesling. The 2020 vintage is $40 and it’s a sublime wine. It made a strong impression on me, scoring gold-medal points. My comments noted that its Eden Valley identity came roaring out of the glass, with benchmark dried-flower aromas with touches of talcum powder and yeasty notes.
From a small but high-quality crop, it has terrific intensity and I suspect will live long. These days, $40 is no longer a high price for a top riesling.
Next for value in my book is 2018 Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz ($60, 94 pts). I loved this
wine, and it seems to me that Bin 128 is particularly good these days – we can speculate on whether warmer seasons and earlier harvests are favouring Coonawarra reds generally. Fragrant blueberry, cherry aromas with touches of chocolate; palate sumptuously rich and hedonistic.
I’ve long had a soft spot for Bin 138 Shiraz Grenache Mataro, and the 2018 ($60, 93 pts) is a ripper, with ripeness and fruit concentration at a high level. Its decadent, almost blackberry jam fruit has marvellous perfume as well as lushness.
The 2018 Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz ($50, 92 pts) has typical smoky, graphite, toasted-barrel overtones to its blackberry, star-anise, dark-plum flavours. Lots of stuffing, yet also a touch of elegance.
The Pinot Noir, 2019 Bin 25 ($50, 92 pts), is a blend of Tasmania, Adelaide Hills and Henty fruit. It’s still in typical Penfolds pinot style, which to my palate is a little more savoury and structured, and less fragrant than most leading Australian pinot noirs, with fresh herb and green mint to go with its dark-cherry nuances.
Of course there is plenty of more affordable Penfolds wine that’s not in the annual Collection. Bin 2 Shiraz Mataro is $40, the Max’s range is $35, Koonunga Hill is $16, and the Rawson’s Retreat range, while no longer Penfolds-branded, is nominally $10. All are subject to hefty discounting.
Prices for most of the Penfolds Collection wines have stabilised in the past three years; the big price-hikes do continue, but they are limited to the top-end wines. Grange has risen from $850 in 2017, to $900 in 2018, to $950 in 2020. Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon has risen from $500 in 2017 to $650 in 2020. And the new Grange G4 is $3,500, and while it’s only the second release of this style, the debut G3 in 2017 was 16.6% cheaper at $3,000
It seems the thinking is that the price elasticity of demand decreases the more expensive the product. In other words, a price increase has less impact on the demand for a product which is already very expensive.
When Aldi raised the price of Spanish red El Toro Macho from $4.99 to $5.99, it could expect sales to suffer, but when Grange goes from $900 to $950, it’s unlikely to matter much at all. Did anyone even notice?