Thursday, 22 July 2021

The five best-value wines in the 2021 release of the Penfolds Collection


Most of my wine writing colleagues will today be dissecting in minute detail the new-release 2017 Penfolds Grange - Australia's flagship red wine - which will be released on August 5. 

Today sees the lifting of the embargo on global tastings held last month of the new Penfolds releases. 

With the new Grange very much a special occasion wine at $950 a bottle, I thought you might be more interested in the best value wines among the new releases: wines ordinary folk can enjoy, or cellar, without taking out as second mortgage. 

The Australia Collection 2021 includes 2017 Grange $950.00; 2019 Yattarna Chardonnay $175.00; 2019 Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon $650.00; 2019 RWT Bin 798 Barossa Valley Shiraz $200.00; 2019 Magill Estate Shiraz $150.00; 2018 St Henri Shiraz $135.00; 2020 Reserve Bin A Adelaide Hills Chardonnay $125.00;  2019 Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz $100.00; 2019 Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon $110.00; 2019 Bin 150 Marananga Shiraz $100.00; 2019 Bin 28 Shiraz $50.00; 2019 Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz $60.00; 2019 Bin 138 Barossa Valley Shiraz Grenache Mataro $60.00; 2020 Bin 23 Pinot Noir $50.00; 2020 Bin 311 Chardonnay $50.00 and 2021 Bin 51 Eden Valley Riesling $40.00. 

That is a collection spanning five white and red wine vintages.


First of all, some notes about the new releases and some thoughts from Penfolds chief winemaker Peter Gago (above) on the "house style" that has been a hallmark for 177 years as the flagship Grange celebrates its 70th anniversary (1951 experimental – 2021). 

"Adored for its aromatic complexity, intensely rich fruit and ripe tannins of shiraz, Grange’s style and winemaking techniques have not altered since the first experimental vintages in the early 50s," says Gago. 

"After 70 years of unbroken vintage releases, the South Australian heritage icon is renowned by collector’s the world over for its unique Australian identity, consistency, and proven aging potential. 

“The original aspiration for Grange was to create a red wine ‘capable of staying alive for a minimum of 20 years’. Tell that to sexagenarian vintages such as ’52, ’53, ’55 & ’62! Stunningly drinkable in 2021! In modern parlance - under-promise, over-deliver! Long may it continue … and modern Grange vintages such as ’08, ’10 & ’16 patiently await judgement in 2071!” 

My verdict on the 2017 Grange: Made from 100% shiraz, a wine that combines richness and stylishness; powerful but elegant with layers of soft and smooth flavours ranging from racy to umami to dusty. 97/100. 

Like most Penfolds wines, the new vintage red and white wines will continue to develop and improve for many years after release - how long they should be kept depends on whether you enjoy your wine with some youthfulness or fully matured. 

Adding to this year’s Collection, Penfolds will launch two limited-edition wines made from parcels destined for Penfolds flagships: Superblend 802.A and 802.B Cabernet Shiraz (both $900). 

Essentially siblings raised in different environments, the wines represent two very different interpretations of the classic Australian blend of cabernet sauvignon and shiraz. The price of both is high for me, but they will doubtless be snapped up by collectors.

My top five value wines from the new releases: 

Penfolds 2018 St Henri: Made from 100% shiraz, it's all about the fruit here; dark and delicious and immediately accessible. Soft and supple and seductive. 99 points. $135. 

Penfolds 2021 Bin 51 Eden Valley Riesling: Perhaps the best-ever Bin 51. High-altitude and cool-climate fruit with finesse and elegance that can be enjoyed now with its bright acidity, lemon sherbet notes and crispness, or be cellared. 97 points. $40. 

Penfolds Bin 407 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon: Beautifully balanced, impeccably composed with berries, cassis and chocolate notes and impressive tannin structure. Drinkable now but with decades to go. 97 points. $125. 

Penfolds Bin 128 2019 Coonawarra Shiraz: A really delicious cool-climate shiraz with dark fruits, pepper and spice notes duelling on your tongue. 12 months in French oak hogshead. 96 points. $60.

Penfolds RWT Bin 798 Barossa Valley Shiraz: The initials RWT stand for ‘Red Winemaking Trial’ but now a stalwart of the range. Made from Barossa Valley fruit selected for aromatic qualities and lush texture. This is bright and vibrant. 96 points. $200.  

For more information visit www.penfolds.com


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