The Penfold’s range is one of the most awaited wine releases of the year and the leading fine wines from Australia. We will be offering Penfolds Grange later in the week, however the star of this release is the 2010 St Henri, which has truly stolen the show and is greatly revered by the world’s leading critics; scoring 97+ from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate and 98 points form James Suckling. These scores place it above this year’s release of Grange, their 2009 vintage, which scored 97 points and which will be release at £1,900 for a six pack. At £245 for six bottles the St Henri will be one of the success stories of the year; eagerly snapped up by buyers and a sell-out globally. In addition, we are offering Penfold’s superb 93 points scoring Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz, 2011, otherwise known as ‘Baby Grange’; offering the chance to taste Grange’s pedigree at 10% of the price.
Penfolds – St Henri, The Ying to Grange’s Yang
In the 1950s the Australian wine industry was largely trying to make dry red wine out of very raw materials, using grapes cultivated for port style wine production. At this time Penfolds embarked on a project to create world class wines, engaging their winemakers to do something different; two winemakers broke the mould, Max Schubert and John Davoren. In 1951 Schubert created an experimental wine by bottling Shiraz after fermenting in American oak, he called it Grange Hermitage and today it is considered as one of the greatest wines in the world trading above £300 a bottle across all vintages. However, at the same time Davoren was tasked with fashioning St Henri, created deliberately to challenge Penfold’s Grange (Then Hermitage Grange) by juxtaposing it: where Grange was viewed as polemical, St.Henri was designed to use conventional winemaking techniques. Davoren’s work painstakingly throughout the 50s and in 1957 ordained the first vintage. Nevertheless, when charged with coming up with the name, Davoren came across old labels while digging around in the loft of the Auldana winery. The label pertained to the estates St Henri Claret, first made in the 1890s by a Frenchman, Edmond Mazure.
Stylistically, since the 1990s Penfolds St Henri has once again cemented itself as the highly efficacious counterpoint to Grange, a completely alternative expression of Shiraz. Unusually for Aussie Shiraz, St Henri does not depend on new oak, being matured in old 1,460 litre vats, which encourage the wine to display the fantastic fruit concentration that is derived from the vineyard’s old vines. St Henri predominates with Shiraz, although some Cabernet Sauvignon is added to improve the structure. The wine has the potential to improve for 30 years in bottle and displays incredibly rich fruit with wonderful purity, expressing elegant blueberries, its tell-tale of flavours mocha, menthol and meat, with a touch of cedar, liquorice and wonderful sweet spice and leather. The 2010 is stunning, superior to Grange 2009 yet a case of six costs less than one bottle of the former; this is one of the best Shiraz’s money can buy for only £40 a bottle, stunning, hugely undervalued and unmissable!
Penfold’s B389 Cab Shiraz is better known or described as ‘Baby Grange’. It was created by Max Schubert and is matured in the same barrels that the held the previous vintage of Grange. It was first created in 1960 and helped to shape the reputation of Penfold’s prestige wines amongst drinkers. It is a magnificent blend that integrates the richness of Shiraz, deriving suppleness and intensity, with the structure of Cabernet Sauvignon. It represents a classic Penfold’s Grange style and identity, beautifully balancing fruit and oak. The 2011 ‘Baby Grange’, displays the lovely high notes of dark berries, dark chocolate, bayleaf, white pepper, black olives and fig. For collectors that want to own Penfolds Grange but not pay £300 a bottle Penfolds, ‘Baby Grange’ offers a wonderful tonic at £30 a bottle: it has been awarded 93 points from James Suckling and offers wonderful drinking potential. Peter Gago, Penfolds eminent winemaker, is quoted saying, “Through thick and thin, across all vintages, Bin 389 always delivers – benefitting from over half a century of practice!”
Penfolds St Henri Shiraz 2010 – £245 per 6×75 or £308.76 incl duty and VAT
James Suckling, 98 points
A rare vintage of only shiraz in this wine, the sourcing is Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Coonawarra, Adelaide Hills, Wrattonbully and Clare Valley. A very handy vintage of this classically styled Penfolds red, bright hearty fruit dominates amid earth, tar and dark nutty elements, boot polish too, really deep. The palate has seamless flow and build, immense concentration is at play, dark liquorice, blackberry and plum, this is swathed in deeply ripe, smooth but strong tannin. Dark plum flavours build, the finish holds and holds – terrific length and depth here, this will go down as one of the greatest ever St. Henri releases.
Penfolds B389 Cab/Shiraz 2011 – £190, 6×75 or £242.76 incl duty and VAT
James Suckling, 93 points
51%/49% blend this time around sourced from McLaren Vale and Barossa Valley vineyards, this wears the signature American oak (30% new) overlay with a quite assertive Cabernet signature of leaves and herbs, some cassis and smoky notes, a wealth of red and dark berries packed in here too. The palate is laid out on fine tannin and smoothly resolved, nicely sculpted and balanced with some finesse here, succulent build, nice grain through the finish.
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