Penfolds Masterclass – the real review

You may recall I previously reviewed the recent releases of the Penfold’s collection in 2019 in this blog. The 2021, ‘101 Masterclass’ was a slick affair held in May. It was evident at the masterclass that the domestic marketing of Treasury Estates has gone up a notch or two. Probably due to the China impact.
Generous pours, non stop hors d’oeuvres, an informative colourful 20 page brochure, (no ‘Rewards of Patience’ though) and hosted by Jamie Sach, Penfold’s Global Ambassador. The 65 attendees were treated to nine of the recent releases starting with 2021 Koonunga Hill Autumn Riesling and 2018 Max’s Chardonnay.

2020 Koonunga Hill Autumn Riesling
From Eden Valley it is highly aromatic, spicy and quite zingy and with just 3-4 grams of sugar it finished beautifully on the palate. Off dry. $25.00. 16/20.

2018 Max’s Chardonnay
A complex Chardonnay from the Adelaide Hills. The range is a tribute to Max Schubert but this wine was over oaked for my palate.Underneath was rich lemon sneaking onto the palate.

2019 Bin 311 Chardonnay
This wine sits behind the flagship Yattarna and is known as the ‘baby Yattarna’. The first Bin 311 vintage was in 2006. This vintage comes from 3 of the Penfold’s best cool climate Chardonnay regions of Tasmania, Adelaide Hills and Tumbarumba. Balanced mouth watering acidity with nice finish of citrus stone fruits. Will continue to mature over 5 years added by a screw cap. BUY. $50.00. 17.5/20.

2018 Bin 23 Pinot Noir
From parcels sourced from Tasmania, Adelaide hills and Henty. This was light/medium in colour, light bodied, rose petals, hints of strawberries and soft finish throughout the palate. A very delicate style for those who like a softer rather than full bodied pinot. $50.00. 17.5/20.

2017 Cellar Reserve Tempranillo
Tempranillo is a variety of black grapes and mainly used to make full bodied reds. This ‘noble grape of Spain’ is from McLaren Vale. I found the nose quite closed with dark lifted cherries and strawberries coming through and nicely balanced on the finish. I was reminded by the Chair to vigorously decanter young wines to release the aromatics something which I preach. Also for older wines the shorter the breathing the better, as oxygen is the enemy of old wines and will escalate oxidation. $85.00. 17/20.

“Numerous questions were asked and the answers were very informative in response. I asked about the pricing structure of Penfold’s wines and the continued increase in price each year. That the prices were now getting beyond long and loyal buyers who were now seeking quality value under $30. I pointed out that not so many years ago Bin 389 could be bought for under $50 and Grange at $250. The answer lies in the hands of accountants we were told.”

2018 Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz
This work horse was first made in 1959 and is the oldest wine in the Bin range. It was the highlight of the night for me delivering on price and quality. Now stand by as the grapes were blended from parcels from Barossa, McLaren Vale, Padthaway, Wrattonbully, Fleurieu, Robe, Mt Lofty, Adelaide Hills and Langhorne Creek! Wow what a massive undertaking. Dark deep colour, it was big, bold and robust showing cedar, peppermint, chocolate, raspberries and hints of spice. Wonderful full mouth hit. Cellar for up to 15 years if you dare!  BUY.$50.00. 19.5/20. Cheaper if you hunt around the liquor chains.

2017 Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz
Another ripper blended from 6 regions. Touted as the ‘Baby Grange’ it was first made by Max Schubert in 1960. Bin 389 matures in the previous vintages of Grange barrels. It is also listed as Australia’s no 1 most collected wine by Wine Ark. Big and bold it does not hold back. Loaded with cherries, chocolate, blackberries, spice and mint. Has a delightful balance of sweetness (Cabernet Sauvignon) and savoury (shiraz). It leaps out of the glass and we were told it will be at it’s peak in a band of 15-20 years. BUY. $100.00. 19.5/20. Hunt around for price. Pity about the continuing price rises!

2017 St Henri Shiraz
You might classify this as a stylish, old fashioned aristocratic wine made in the same mould as previous vintages. Deep black brooding colour before you are hit with purity of fruit laced with chocolate, blackberries, cherries and black olives. Long on the palate with a hint of mint on the front of the tongue.
At the moment it is certainly stylish and seductive but ideally needs a band of 10- 30 years. I will hop into it much, much sooner than that. BUY. $135.00 19.5/20. Once again check the internet for a better price.

Grandfather Rare Tawny Port
Comes in a gift box. 14 year old barrels worked in the solera maturation method. There was raisin, fruitcake and liquorice on the palate but I think spoilt by the high level of alcohol over powering on the nose. Nevertheless rich, powerful and nutty but that alcohol over rides this wine. $100.00. 16/20

There is no doubt that this Penfold’s release is a class act particularly with the BUY recommendations indicated.  Top of the list and best value is the 2018 Bin 28 Shiraz followed by the 2019 Bin 311 Chardonnay for white wine lovers. If you can afford the others go for it but I suggest not, if you are approaching your 80th year as the wine will outlive you. Refer to the 2019 review in Posts.

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