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Thursday 4 October 2018

The new-release 2014 Penfolds Bin 95 Grange is....

Until a few hours a ago I was sworn to silence about the new-release Penfolds 2014 Grange, and the other fine wines in the 2018 Penfolds Collection (above). 

While I attended a tasting in Melbourne a couple of months ago, my notes were hit with an embargo, just like those of wine writers around the globe who attended tastings from New York to London and and other distant points of the globe. 

In the world of wine, the release of a new Grange is a biggie - and everyone gets a chance to reflect before posting their notes. 

Unfortunately, I was unwell at the Melbourne tasting (now happily recovered) but I managed to work my way through all the new releases (although without scoring) and can report that quality remains exactly where you would expect it be. 

The new Grange now costs a whopping $900 a bottle, and is, on release, immediately impressive. My notes feature words like texture, length, balance, structure and cohesion. It is, even it its youth, a complete package with traditional ripe fruit and intensity. 

For the first time, fruit from Wrattonbully is included in the regional blend; alongside the Barossa, McLaren Vale, Coonawarra, Clare Valley and Magill Estate (in the suburbs of Adelaide). The figures are 98% shiraz, 2% cabernet. 

The wine spent 20 months in new American oak hogsheads, but the fruit has soaked up the oak, reflecting crisp acid more than smoky wood. 

Aromas of charcuterie, Asian spice and herbs lead the way to run to some beautifully layered fruits, described by chief winemaker Peter Gago as "a tapestry" - and every mouthful is long and expressive.  No disappointments. 

For wine buyers looking for Penfolds quality without the Grange price tag, I would point to the quite wonderful 2015 Penfolds St Henri Shiraz. 

This is the serious-but fun wine in the new line-up, a lovely fruit-driven style utilising fruit  from Mclaren Vale, Robe, Barossa, Wrattonbully, Yorke and Eyre Peninsulas, Adelaide Hills and Mount Benson. It is a blend of 93% shiraz, 7% cabernet sauvignon that spends 12 months in older oak vats, many over 50 years of age. 

The end result is super smooth and complex with sous bois characters in harmony with that rich berry fruit salad. At $135 a bottle you can have six of these to one Grange. Very tempting. 

My other favourites among the tasting were the slick "Baby Grange" 2016 Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz ($100), the lusciously layered Bin 150 Marananga Shiraz 2016 ($100) and the taut, tight and beautiful Bin 311 2017 Chardonnay, a very classy cool-climate fusion of fruit from the Adelaide Hills, Tasmania and Tumbarumba ($50). 

The 2014 Grange and the rest of the Penfolds Collection will be officially released on October 17.


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