There are many highlights among the 16 wines that form the Penfolds Collection 2021 and they are joined by two special edition wines in what has become a regular adjunct to the core collection. More on those in a minute.
Grange is the star of this show and the latest 2017 vintage release (96 points) is a wine that reflects the more elegant nature seen across most of the South Australian red wines from this cooler, later vintage. It has much of Penfolds' formic, oak-derived signature of the 100% new American oak hogsheads it was aged in and there’s big berry fruit energy on the palate. It gives an impression of striving for boldness even if the vintage didn’t bend the needle in that direction. It is sourced from only two regions, Barossa and McLaren Vale and is only the seventh Grange that doesn’t contain a small percentage of cabernet sauvignon.
But the 2018 St Henri Shiraz (99 points) steals the limelight and hails from a year that is just so well suited to making full-bodied shiraz in South Australia. The large format oak has gently tempered the exuberance of this outstanding vintage and the palate has a very deep pool of red and black fruit flavours set in smoothly rendered tannins. Deep yet measured, it personifies the dichotomy that makes St. Henri such a naturally intriguing wine.
The 2021 Bin 51 Eden Valley Riesling (95 points) is a show-stopper and heralds what will emerge as a vintage for the ages in South Australia. This is packed with lemon and bath powder and exudes purity, elegance and finesse whilst delivering rapier-like power and cut. The trio of chardonnay wines all perform well here too with the 2020 Reserve Bin A and 2019 Yattarna both rated 95 points and the 2020 Bin 311 rated 93.
Other reds of note are the 2019 Bin 150 Marananga Shiraz and the 2019 Bin 389 Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz, both rated 94 points. A trio of top 2019’s being the Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon, Magill Estate Shiraz and Bin 798 RWT Shiraz are all bold in style and nail their respective stylistic briefs, all rated 96 points.
The two new wines are two variations on the theme of the Australian “Superblend” of cabernet sauvignon and shiraz. The 2018 Bin 802.A is a very oak dominant style with rich berry, vanilla and chocolate and a bold palate with intense oak influence across dark berry-plum fruits. A blend of 68% cabernet sauvignon and 32% shiraz that was blended after 22 months maturation in 100% new American oak hogsheads (95 points).
The 2018 Bin 802.B is my clear pick of the two with abundant spice and dark berry fruits and a seamless palate that marries the two varieties neatly. It is a blend of 55% cabernet sauvignon and 45% shiraz that was blended after fermentation and matured for 19 months in French oak hogsheads (54% new and 46% 1-year-old). That early blending certainly seems like the way forward (97 points).
2021 Penfolds Bin 51 Eden Valley Riesling
Very typical Eden Valley lemon and bath powder, so sweetly fragrant on the nose with a fine line of acidity driving a very precise and elegant palate. An exercise in finesse and purity. Eden Valley typicity is impressive here, as is the concentration. Drink or hold. Screw cap. 95 points
2020 Penfolds Chardonnay South-Eastern Australia Bin 311
A blend of Tasmania, Piccadilly Valley and Henty, this has a very well-made feel with the DNA of carefully curated barrel fermentation laid across the full range of citrus and stone fruit aromas. The palate has a pure and streamlined tone with a spine of bright acidity running through fruit that ranges from melon to peach. Succulent and elegant. Drink now. Screw cap. 93 points
2020 Penfolds Chardonnay Adelaide Hills Reserve Bin A
A very impressive nose with intense lemon and peach aromas as well as nectarine and struck match. The oak is assertive in the mix for now. The palate has a succulent peach and nectarine fruit core with bright acidity and a lithe, athletic feel. This has plenty of depth and drive and a very fresh finish. Drink or hold. Screw cap. 95 points
2019 Penfolds Chardonnay South-Eastern Australia Yattarna
A blend of Tasmania, Tumbarumba and Adelaide Hills, this has a very intense nose with grapefruit, lemon and peach as well as a flinty edge and oak that is deeply integrated beneath solids ferment tones. Pastry-like sheen on the palate with sleek, piercing acidity and a potently fleshy core with good concentration and depth. The pithy hold on the finish is impressive. Drink or hold. Screw cap. 95 points
2020 Penfolds Pinot Noir South-Eastern Australia Bin 23
A blend of Tasmania, Henty and Adelaide Hills, this is a very bright cherry fruited expression that sits happily in the scheme of modern Australian pinot noir style. The rich cherry fruit is compelling, the fleshy palate is invitingly soft and silky and the whole package adds up very well. Darker cherry fruit tones to close. 20% whole bunches. Drink now. Screw cap. 93 points
2019 Penfolds Shiraz Grenache Mataro Barossa Valley Bin 138
A blend of 70% shiraz, 17% grenache and 13% mataro, this has a distinctive shiraz-driven nose with raspberry and blackberry fruits dominating a quite fresh and pure expression. The palate delivers some sweet pastry and vanilla-dominant spice tones and plenty of raspberry fruit appeal. Lithe and juicy. Drink now. Screw cap. 92 points
2019 Penfolds Shiraz Coonawarra Bin 128
This has a red toned fruit nose with raspberry and red currant aromas as well as a blackcurrant pastille edge. There’s some regional mint and herb here too, as well as cedary oak influence. The palate has a distinctive raspberry confected fruit core of flavour with a fine tannin texture. Medium bodied. Creamy finish built on every ripe tannin. Drink over the next seven years. Screw cap. 92 points
2019 Penfolds Shiraz South Australia Bin 28
A blend of warm and cooler climate South Australian shiraz (McLaren Vale, Barossa Valley, Padthaway and Wrattonbully) this has a distinctive McLaren Vale-esque nose with ripe red and dark plum fruit dominating ahead of an assertively cedary oak overlay, dark berry fruits and brown spices. The palate has a creamy feel with evenly paced tannins carrying a very plush and succulent texture. All-round appeal, well-curated. This vintage sees the obsolete “Kalimna” badge disappear which is a historic reference to the sub-region of the Northern Barossa Valley where Penfolds has important vineyard holdings. Drink young. Screw cap. 91 points
2019 Penfolds Shiraz Barossa Valley Marananga Bin 150
A very distinctive dark berry, dark chocolate, ferruginous and rust-like nose with black tea-like tones and tarry accent. This really speaks to the depth and power of this pocket of the Barossa Valley. There’s a lot of depth and width to the palate and although the oak really chimes in assertively here, the fruit carries it easily. Ripe blackberry, plenty of extract and a deep seat of rich, ripe tannin that carries a wealth of rich exact and dark plum and blackberry fruit. Unashamedly bold. Best from 2025. 94 points
2019 Penfolds Cabernet Sauvignon South Australia Bin 407
A blend of Padthaway, Coonawarra, Wrattonbully, McLaren Vale and Barossa Valley, this has a distinctive red currant and blackcurrant nose with graphite and cedar as well as archetypal leafy tones and some blackberry too. There’s a peppery edge and a wealth of cedary oak influence adding the “Penfolds” signature to the wine. The palate has a rich and fleshy feel with plenty of deep-set blackcurrant and dark berry flavour and bold tannin on offer. Ripe plum and chocolate as well as a deeply fleshy red plum fruit finish. Drink now. Screw cap. 93 points
2019 Penfolds Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz South Australia Bin 389
A blend of Padthaway, McLaren Vale, Coonawarra, Wrattonbully and Barossa Valley, this has a very strident oak-driven nose with so much cedar and spice across a wealth of ripe red plum, blackcurrant, cocoa powder, cherry, some pepper, leaves and graphite. The palate has a sinewy feel with a quite assertive dark cherry, blackberry and blackcurrant fruit core. Delivered in a brazen style with bold tannins leading the way. A blend of 53% cabernet sauvignon and 47% shiraz, this spends a year in American oak hogsheads (25% new). Drink over the next decade. Screw cap. 94 points
2018 Penfolds Shiraz South Australia St. Henri
This is the pick of the 2021 collection for quality and value. It has aromas of leather, tobacco and blackberry as well as red plum and a distinctively earthy tone too. Reads very much like a wine of the Barossa Valley. There’s chocolate and cedar as well as a coal smoky edge with graphite and tar. Complex in its youth. The palate has a very deep pool of red and black fruit flavors, smoothly rendered tannins and the same earthy, cocoa dust element here and a very even feel. Deep yet measured, the dichotomy that makes St. Henri such a naturally intriguing wine. A blend of Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Port Lincoln, Robe, Padthaway, Clare Valley and Adelaide Hills. Exclusively shiraz. Drink over the next decade or more. Screw cap. 99 points
2019 Penfolds Shiraz Adelaide Magill Estate
Aromas of iodine, blueberry, blackberry and some tarry accents, some cedary oak spice and currant here too. There’s a wealth of rich dark berry fruits on the palate, ripe plum and dark berry fruits, plum pudding and such sumptuous deep fruit flavours building on the finish. Long, majestic and quite intense. Strikingly grand Magill! Drink over the next decade. 96 points
2019 Penfolds Shiraz Barossa Valley RWT Bin 798
A very bold iteration of RWT with a stamp of coal smoke and tar across rich blackberry fruits and cocoa powder aromas. There’s a vivid and rich assembly of ripe dark fruit in the mouth, blackberry and plum drives the palate along with a wealth of deep seated tannin and a long, muscular push through the finish. Cocoa powder here again to close. Impressively contained muscle and power. Well harnessed. Drink over the next decade. 96 points
2019 Penfolds Cabernet Sauvignon South Australia Bin 707
This remains a bastion of Penfolds’ style with the stamp of American oak and formic acid across intense black and red fruited cabernet sauvignon - blackcurrant, blackberry and mulberry. The oak turns cedary as it opens. The palate has a very intense core of rich, ripe black fruit flavour that is bathed in oak for now. Intense blueberry, black cherry, plum and chocolate all unfold here. A blend of McLaren Vale, Coonawarra, Barossa Valley and Padthaway grapes, this was matured in 100% new American oak hogsheads. Drink over the next decade. 96 points
2017 Penfolds Shiraz South Australia Grange
A blend of Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale only and a relatively rare edition of 100% shiraz (the seventh in this wine’s 70-year history), this has a deeply spicy and brooding formic note in the signature style of Penfolds with a gently smoky edge and a rich array of vanilla and bourbon-like oak spice notes as well as graphite layered into blackberry and plum fruits. The palate is fresh and youthful with some bite to the young tannins for now and deep plum and dark berry fruit flavours. Big wood tannin carries plenty of fruit extract. Big berry fruit energy here, this drives boldly. Drink over the next two decades. 96 points
2018 Penfolds Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz South Australia Bin 802.A
This is a very oak dominant style for now, with rich vanilla-dusted berry fruit aromas as well as chocolate. The palate is assertively structured and packed to the brim with fruit and oak that needs time to meld. Intense oak influence really drives this along for now. Dark plum and berry flavours hold long and full. A blend of 68% cabernet sauvignon and 32% shiraz blended after 22 months maturation in 100% new American oak hogsheads. Give this a handful of years to resolve. 95 points
2018 Penfolds Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz South Australia Bin 802.B
The better of the two new limited release ‘Superblend’ wines. The nose has abundant spice and dark berry fruits with plum and blackberry as well as complex spices, graphite and cedar aromas. The palate is so seamless and neither variety really dominates. Dark berries and plum flavours in abundance, real poise and length here. A blend of 55% cabernet sauvignon and 45% shiraz that was blended after fermentation and matured for 19 months in French oak hogsheads (54% new and 46% 1-year-old). Drink or hold. 98 points.
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