Pwnfolds
By George Stewart

One of the most prolific players in the global fine wine scene has once more thrown down the gauntlet with their latest bevy of releases. Penfolds, Australia’s original négoce brand, with their unrivalled stable of wines from across the country have once more proven that their scope and vision remains as ambitious and inimitable as ever.

Last year tasting through the class of 2018 was a remarkable revelation for us as we noticed for the first time, or perhaps the first time so clearly, that the Cabernet-dominated wines were in the ascendancy with a number of us naming the 407 our wine of the tasting. This year we are seeing the pendulum swing back with the Shiraz-led cadre firmly back in the driving seat.

While Grange is always a thoroughly impressive wine, we were particularly pleased to see a return to form for the wine that has long held a special place in our heart, the St Henri. Last year’s rendition, while a beautiful rendition of the variety and a great win in its own right, didn’t quite live up to previous expectations that it serves as an elegant alternative to Grange that competes on the same level. Thankfully the loyal opposition is back and as good as it’s ever been in our book!

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“While Grange is always a thoroughly impressive wine, we were particularly pleased to see a return to form for the wine that has long held a special place in our heart - St Henri.”

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The rest of the Shiraz-led top-tier; the Magill Estate and the RWT in particular were beauties with power, balance and aromatic purity as well as a structural intensity that we expect shall carry them through many many years of excellent maturation in the cellar. The Bin 128 is an interesting proposition this year. A Shiraz from Coonawarra, the Cabernet heartland of South Australia, a slightly warmer than usual year in 2016 indicates part of the reason that the variety excelled so well.

None of this is to say that the Cabernets aren’t phenomenal and truly they are exactly that. A Resurgence among the Shirazes in no way comes at the expense of the likes of the Bins 169 and 707. Both of these 2016s performed very well indeed despite the warmth favouring Shiraz, while the earlier releasing 407 shows that 2017 is indeed a vintage to look forward to for the variety.

Also very much worth noting, the Chardonnay’s are excellent this year. The Yattarna 2017 and Bin A 2018 show two distinct but equally compelling profiles of the variety’s potential. The bright, linear structure of the Bin A brings incredible acidity to the table with tart but ripe green apple fruit. The Yattarna is more like the Meursault to Bin A’s Chablis; with ripe golden apple and a touch more richness.

In short, the latest releases from Penfolds are on fine form and we expect demand to be very high indeed for the class of 2019.