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News

Penfolds Remembers Max Schubert  

Two new wines aim to celebrate Max Schubert, but do they hit the mark?

Max Schubert still working in his office at Penfolds in 1983.

© Treasury | Max Schubert still working in his office at Penfolds in 1983.

 

Max Schubert was Australia's most important winemaker ever. So Treasury Wine Estates has decided to honor him with a pair of environmentally unfriendly, generic red wines.

Schubert, who the Sydney Morning Herald declared one of the 100 most important Australians of the 20th Century, thus joins Charles "Carlo" Rossi and Charles Shaw on the lower reaches of giant wine stores' shelves. Maybe they'll have much to talk about.

The idea, a secretly wrapped wine label, has some basis. Schubert created Penfolds Grange, still Australia's most iconic wine. He did so after being sent to Europe in 1949 to learn how to make better fortified wines, which is what Australians drank then. He used grapes from some of Barossa Valley's best old Shiraz vineyards for the first release, a 1952. But people didn't buy the wines so, in 1957, Penfolds ordered him to stop making it. For three years Schubert carried on secretly without new oak barrels.

 

In 1960, Penfolds' board changed its mind, and Schubert could make the wine officially again. The Grange became the flagship not just of Penfolds, but the whole Australian fine wine industry.

In 1962, Schubert made a non-Grange Shiraz-Cabernet blend called Bin 60A, which may have been the single best wine ever made in Australia. In 2008, wine critic James Halliday wrote about it: "An utterly superb wine, a glorious freak of nature and man... The palate is virtually endless, with a peacock's tail stolen from the greatest of Burgundies... This is possibly the greatest red wine tasted in our times in Australia."

How would you honor such a man? The idea of making a wine in secret is appealing, and Treasury still has access to some amazing vineyards. I'll never forget tasting a delicious wine I hadn't heard of, the 2004 Penfolds Kalimna Block 42 Cabernet Sauvignon, at a Napa Valley luncheon. I saw the unassuming name and thought, I want to buy some of that, so I asked: "Where can I get a bottle?" It turned out to be a limited release wine Penfolds hasn't made since, and it costs at least $600 – if you can find it. Maybe Treasury could have made another Block 42 release and called that "Max's."

 

Instead, they made this stuff.

First, the packaging. There's a Christmas-red plastic wrap around the bottle to hide the customary Penfolds logo underneath. It seems like a waste of money: you peel it off and it's gone. It's not a peel-off label you can keep to remind you of the wine; it's just an awkwardly shaped bit of plastic wrapping too small to reuse. It doesn't even flatten. You tear it off and throw it away. And they shipped this all the way from Australia. The bottle's not particularly lightweight either. Well, our country just left the Paris climate treaty, so, fine, ship us the overpackaged refuse from your teeming shores.

Inside, here's how Schubert is being honored. The 2015 Penfolds Max's South Australia Shiraz Cabernet (14.5 percent alcohol) is red and tastes red. It's not bad if you like generic red blends. It has a little bit more added acid than some, but it tastes pretty much like anything else that comes out of an enormous freight tanker: competent. You can buy competence for less than $15 now, making this a slightly pricey tribute.

Though I nearly fell asleep tasting that wine, I was pleasantly surprised that the 2015 Penfolds Max's South Australia Cabernet Sauvignon (14.5 percent alcohol) actually smells like Cabernet, with some fresh herb notes. The added acidity stands out a bit but will serve the wine well with food. It's not bad for Cab in the just-under-$20 price range, which can be awful. The fruit's ripe and it smells like Cab.

I just wonder if this is how Max, who died in 1994, would want to be remembered. He was named Man of the Year by Decanter in 1988. He's a Member of the Order of Australia. There's an electoral district named after him in Barossa Valley.

And now he has this wine! Max didn't even work for Treasury, which didn't own Penfolds then. Maybe his descendants should sue. I hope they're getting paid.

 

 

 

PENFOLDS BIN 707 CABERNET SAUVIGNON IMPERIALS - INSPIRED BY BOEING

 

For the first time in Penfolds history and to celebrate Boeing's 100th anniversary, ten limited edition Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon Imperials have been created, each individually enclosed in a handmade presentation case.

 

Inspired by its original namesake, the Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon collaboration celebrates this distinctive and powerful fine wine and Penfolds long connection to the Boeing 707 aircraft.

To commemorate the commercial Imperial debut of this very rare wine, a dual vintage has been released: five 2012 vintage imperials and five 2013 vintage imperials – one to commemorate each decade in Boeing’s history. Showcased within the presentation box is a Boeing 707 ‘horn button’ a rare collectable item. 

Penfolds Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon Imperials offer a rare opportunity to own a piece of aviation history and an Imperial offering of benchmark Australian Cabernet Sauvignon.

 

 

THE PENFOLDS RELEASE 2015 COLLECTION 

The Penfolds Collection evolves this year with the new vintage release of the winery’s family of fine wines, officially available from Thursday 15th October. Noteworthy wine milestones and anniversaries together with vintage nuances are evident and while the winemakers led by Chief Winemaker Peter Gago continue to act as custodians of the past, they continue to deliver their own distinctive interpretation of the wines. 

The 2015 Collection spans five vintages across 20 individual wines of appeal and provenance, all proudly displaying the Penfolds ‘House Style’ established more than 171 years ago.

 

 

Key highlights include: 

• 2011 Grange is the 61st consecutive release, this is only the sixth Grange since the experimental 1951 vintage to be 100% Shiraz.

• 2013 Kalimna Bin 28 Shiraz celebrates its 55th consecutive release. 

• 2013 Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon for the first time made predominantly from Adelaide Hills fruit. 

• 2014 Bin 311 Tumbarumba Chardonnay celebrates its 10th consecutive release.

Penfolds Chief Winemaker Peter Gago reflects, “this year’s Collection again reminds our winemaking team of the magic and unknowns of wine. There’s still so much that we don’t know, a continuum of surprise is occasionally explained by science, history or experience. Our 2013 reds have significantly transformed in bottle – grown, complexed, fattened… call it what you will. These wines make us smile and remind us of why we do, what we do.”

 

In addition to the release, for the first time this year, Penfolds will also unveil a selection of wines in stylishly crafted gift boxes and for collector’s who acquire Grange they can now personalise their gift box with a bespoke plaque denoting a name and personal message.

Earlier this year Penfolds was named 2015 International White Winemaker by the International Wine Challenge (IWC) in recognition of Penfolds whites delivering drinkability and durability. Senior White Winemaker Kym Schroeter, who has over a quarter of a century of Penfolds winemaking experience, asserts, “overall I believe this year’s white release is ‘right up there’ in terms of quality and ageability. Certainly wines for the cellar!” 

These whites span three vintages, 2013 - 2015. The Penfolds Collection 2015 offers wines of great narrative, largesse, aging potential and cultural significance.

 

 

PENFOLDS NAMED AUSTRALIAN WINE PRODUCER OF THE YEAR AT INTERNATIONAL WINE AND SPIRIT COMPETITION 2014

 

 

 

Penfolds IWSC Award

Penfolds has been named Australian Wine Producer of the Year by the International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) at an awards dinner held in London on October 12th. In addition to this prestigious honour Penfolds also received the Trophy for best Worldwide Fortified Wine, awarded to Penfolds Grandfather Rare Tawny.

Penfolds Chief Winemaker Peter Gago said: “It’s a proud moment for the Penfolds winemaking team to be recognised by the IWSC, particularly given the number of high quality wines entered from across Australia and the world. We’re honoured to be recognised in this competition particularly in our 170th year.”

 

The collection of 2014 IWSC medals for Penfolds included:

  • NV Penfolds Grandfather Rare Tawny – Trophy and Gold
  • 2012 Penfolds RWT Barossa Valley Shiraz – Gold Outstanding
  • 2012 Penfolds Reserve Bin A Chardonnay – Gold
  • 2012 Penfolds Kalimna Bin 28 Shiraz – Gold
  • 2012 Penfolds Bin 150 Marananga Shiraz – Silver Outstanding
  • 2014 Penfolds Bin 51 Eden Valley Riesling – Silver Outstanding
  • 2013 Penfolds Cellar Reserve Chardonnay – Silver Outstanding
  •  

 

It’s the second major international wine competition award in 2014 for Penfolds. Earlier this year the winery collected the Len Evans Trophy for consistency over a five year period at the International Wine Challenge. These accolades also come after the winery received Wine Enthusiast (US) magazine’s New World Winery of the Year award in January and more recently Peter Gago was named 2014 Gourmet Traveller Wine (AUS) magazine’s Winemaker of the Year, and recipient of the Len Evans Award for Leadership by the title.

The International Wine and Spirit Competition was founded in 1969 and is the premier competition of its kind in the world. All entries are blind tasted in groups divided by variety, region and vintage as necessary. It remains the only international wine competition that puts all wines through chemical analysis as well as judging by a team of senior tasters.

 

 

 

 

                           

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History

Australia's winemaking history of less than two hundred years is brief by European measures, though, like Europe, punctuated by periods of extreme success and difficult times. From the earliest winemaking days Penfolds has figured prominently and few would argue the importance of Penfolds influence on Australia's winemaking psyche. Without the influence of Penfolds the modern Australian wine industry would look very different indeed. Sitting comfortably outside of fad and fashion, Penfolds has taken Australian wine to the world on a grand stage and forged a reputation for quality that is without peer.

 

Penfolds has a history and heritage that profoundly reflects Australia’s journey from colonial settlement to the modern Era. Established in 1844, just eight years after the foundation of South Australia, Penfolds has played a pivotal role in the evolution of winemaking in Australia - and across the world. Penfolds collection of benchmark wines were established in a spirit of innovation and the constant and endless pursuit of quality, evidenced from the secret bottlings of Grange in 1951 and the unbroken line of vintages of what is now Australia’s most iconic wine.

 

Historic blends, significant milestones and heritage vineyards have been honoured by a lineage of custodians whose courage and imagination, precision and humility have ensured Penfolds remains true to its original values while remaining relevant for current and future generations.

Penfolds reputation for making wines of provenance and cellaring potential might suggest a mantle of tradition and formality is the preferred attire of a company with so much history to defend. But to label Penfolds as simply an established and conventional winemaker, would be to confuse tradition with consideration and to overlook the innovative spirit that has driven Penfolds since its foundation, and continues to find expression in modern times. 

If there is anything traditional about Penfolds, it is the practice of constantly reviewing the wines it already does well and continuously evolving and refining styles as vineyards mature and access to ever older and more varied vineyard sites improves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Vineyards

The magic of Penfolds begins in the vineyard. 

“We have some of the most experienced and dedicated viticulturalists and grape growers in the world. We count on them for the very best and we always receive it,” says Steve Lienert, Penfolds Senior Red Winemaker.

Penfolds vineyards are located primarily in South Australia on prime land throughout the state’s most esteemed viticultural regions.  Throughout its history, Penfolds has owned and leased vineyards in addition to sourcing grapes from independent growers. This strategy reflects the tradition of multi-vineyard and multi-regional sourcing first introduced in the 1860s by Mary Penfold, and allows for a consistency of style and quality across vintages, of which Penfolds is renowned for. Sustainability, consistency in quality and fruit sourcing are the key elements of Penfolds viticulture today. 

Our key viticultural regions include Adelaide, the Barossa Valley, the Clare Valley, Coonawarra, Limestone Coast, and McLaren Vale.  Although South Australia provides almost the entire vintage crop, cool climate regions such as Tumbarumba in New South Wales, Henty in southern Victoria and Tasmania, are significant sources for Penfolds white wines. In totality, grapes are sourced from more than 220 vineyards and grape growers across Australia.

 

 

 

Penfolds Magill Estate Vineyard was originally established in 1844 by Dr Christopher and Mary Penfold. It is a remnant of the original Grange Vineyards, regarded as one of the choicest sites in early colonial South Australia. The area is 5.24 hectares (12 acres). It features gentle, west-facing slopes ranging between 130–180m (430–600 feet), situated at the base of the Adelaide Hills.

 

The Kalimna Vineyard was established in the mid-1880s by George Swan Fowler and acquired by Penfolds in 1945. It bears undulating slopes and flats with elevations to 340 metres (1100 feet). The site comprises the historic 1880s Block 42, thought to be the oldest continually producing Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard in the world and home to the 2004 Block 42 Kalimna Cabernet Sauvignonwine used in the Limited Edition Ampoule. The Kalimna Vineyard also includes Block 3 Shiraz (1948), Block 4 Shiraz (1949), Block 14 Shiraz (1948), Block 41 Cabernet Sauvignon (1955), and Block 25 Mataro (1964).

 

 

The Barossa is 70 km north of Adelaide and is comprised of two distinct subregions: the cool-to-warm Eden Valley, with schistic soils at 450 metres, and the warm Barossa Valley with its complex array of rich brown-red soils and alluvial sands at 270 metres. The overall region is dry, with rainfall predominating in winter. Cool afternoon breezes from the Gulf of St Vincent moderate temperatures during summer.

The Barossa Valley soils are ancient, up to 200 million years old. The soils vary throughout the sub-regions ranging from red-brown earth over heavy clay at Koonunga Hill to duplex sandy loams over clay at Kalimna and red-brown soils over limestone in Gomersal.

The Barossa was settled by Silesians (from east Germany) and English immigrants during the late 1830s. Colonel William Light, the South Australian colony’s Surveyor General, named the region after a battle site, Barossa, near Jerez in Spain, where British and French forces clashed in 1811, during the Peninsular War. Penfolds largest winery is close to the township of Nuriootpa. The Barossa Valley is home to many of Penfolds most celebrated company and grower vineyards.

 

Coonawarra. Penfolds first acquired Sharam’s Block from Redman’s in 1960. It now comprises 100 hectares (247 acres) of prime vineyards. Our 1962 Bin 60A Cabernet Sauvignon, 1964 Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon, 1966 Bin 620 Coonawarra Cabernet Shiraz and 1967 Bin 7 Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon Kalimna Shiraz began an important Penfolds tradition in Coonawarra. Old Penfolds blocks include the revered Block 20 Cabernet Sauvignon and Block 14 Shiraz.

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Winemaking

Grange

It took 10 years from the time the first experimental Grange was made before the wine gained general acceptance and the prejudices were overcome.

 

In 1949 a young Australian wine maker from Penfolds, Max Schubert, was sent to Jerez, Spain to learn the art of making sherry. At the time the voyage between continents was made without haste by ocean liners. On his way back home, as the ship stopped in the harbor of Bordeaux, Max decided to take advantage of the opportunity and take a short holiday in the most famous wine area of France. With the help of his recommendations and eagerness the young man got a chance to acquaint with the local wine production through the mighty Cruse wine family. Christian Cruse took Max under his wings and presented him with the secrets of wine production by means of the splendid vintage 1949.

 

Max Schubert returned to Australia and Penfolds favorably impressed and determined to produce an Australian red wine that would last for decades and would in quality be comparable to the famous Bordeaux wines.The task was not easy since the classic Bordeaux was in France produced by mixing Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. In Australia those refined grapes did not exist, so Max had to settle for the local Shiraz which was usually used only in the production of the regional, fortified port wine. There were also no French oak casks at hand, but having managed to purchase some American ones Max Schubert decided to use them. In them he matured the first, experimental 1951 vintage of Grange for 18 months before bottling.

 

In 1959 came the time to introduce that first vintage of Grange into the market. To honor the occasion Penfolds arranged a tasting where authoritative local wine connoisseurs had the opportunity to taste all five first vintages (1951-1956). The event ended in disaster; no one liked the wine nor was willing to pay for it. The criticism was mordant and one of the best known and appreciated wine experts present came to congratulate Max sarcastically: “Schubert, I congratulate you. This is very good, dry port that nobody in his right mind will not buy, let alone drink."

 

Although public opinion did not differ much from that singular one, Max did not lose his courage and arranged several tastings with Grange around the country. Though the results were somewhat better, they were still quite depressing. The Penfolds management decided to shut down the rather costly production of Grange the next year. Luckily one of the owners still saw some possibilities with Grange and gave Max permission to continue the production in small scale, and in secret from the others.

 

After many years of silence in 1962 Penfolds took part in the grand wine show in Sydney with the 1955 Grange and won the gold medal. From that moment started the rewriting of Australian wine history.

Grange has won over 120 gold medals in wine shows, a fact that has made it the most awarded in the whole wine world, and in 1995 for example Wine Spectator chose it as the best wine of the world. A few years later in the same publication Grange 1955 was picked as one of the best wines of all time. Parker has stated that “Penfolds Grange takes opulence and decadence to the limits, and for that reason it has replaced Bordeaux´s Pétrus as the world´s most exotic and concentrated wine", so the triumphal march has but continued.

 

Rare Grange 

 

The early experimental Granges were largely given away meaning in principle the beneficiaries have made some outstanding returns! Even the early commercialised vintages – sold into the market for a few dollars represent good investments today. It is unlikely – however – that any buyer or recipient really looked at the investment value of Grange during the 1950s and 1960s. These early supporters enjoyed Grange because it was a really interesting wine. It was not until the 1980s that Grange really made its name as a investment type wine.

 

The rarest Granges are 1956, 1957 and 1958 – because they were made without authorisation and produced in miniscule quantities. The most valuable Granges are 1951 (the first experimental vintage) and 1952. Interestingly the 1951 was kept back as museum stock for years. It wasn’t until the mid to late 1980s that collectors were able to secure bottles. This is one of the reasons that the labels and general appearance of the bottles are often in better condition than other vintages during the 1950s. The value of the 1951 is intrinsically linked to its historic significance – it is the most important wine ever to be made in Australia as it set the direction of contemporary Australian wine making.

 

The market for rare Grange is not as liquid as vintage Grange and therefore exposed to both volatility and malaise. It’s a highly specialized area of the secondary market. A complete collection of Grange – in pristine condition and signed by Max Schubert – the creator of Grange – once sold for just under $250,000. However most sets have sold between $140,000 and 180,000 in the last seven years. At Langton’s Penfolds Auction held in August 2007 – two sets sold for a combined total of $308,000. 

 

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Inside information

THE AMPOULE 

The Penfolds Ampoule Project is a collaboration of designer-maker Hendrik Forster, furniture craftsman Andrew Bartlett, glass artist Nick Mount and scientific glassblower Ray Leake. At its core is the Kalimna Vineyard’s celebrated 2004 Block 42 Cabernet Sauvignon. Peter Gago explained the concept: ‘The Ampoule Project is a provocative statement about the art and science of wine. 

 

When it was first brought to the world’s attention in 2012 it became a media sensation. The limited-release Ampoule – only twelve were crafted – is the ultimate wine curiosity, an experience combining Penfolds heritage and South Australian ingenuity and identity.  

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50 different wines with 306 vintages

Winemaking since 1844

  • Peter Gago

    Winemaker
    My five top desert-island bottles:1988 Salon, 1943 Krug , 1961 Jaboulet La Chapelle , 1945 Chateau Latour ,1959 DRC Richebourg.
  • Max Schubert

    Former Winemaker
    “We must not be afraid to put into effect the strength of our own convictions, continue to use our imagination in winemaking generally, and be prepared to experiment in order to gain something extra, different and unique in the world of wine.”

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Wine Moments

Here you can see wine moments from tastingbook users.    or    to see wine moments from your world.

 Penfolds   has news

Penfolds Remembers Max Schubert   Two new wines aim to celebrate Max Schubert, but do they h  more ...

2m 3d ago

 Guo Ying / Sommelier, Pro (China)  tasted  1 wines  from  Penfolds  . In a tasting of  14 wines 

Château Lynch-Bages 2005 / Dark, purple colour. Very open and complex nose revealing, cassis, capsicum, coffee and mintiness. The very same aromas as Mouton has on the nose. Opulent medium-bodied wine with extraordinary concentration and a chewy texture. Ripe round tannins with a mouthwatering acidity and intense dark fruitiness. Flavour shows dark chocolate and hints of anise. Very intense and long finish. Absolutely gracious wine with a long life ahead. Further bottle ageing of 10-15 years will enhance the charm of the wine.

2m 25d ago

 Peter Gago / Penfolds, Wine Maker (Australia)  tasted  11 wines  from  Penfolds  . In a tasting of  11 wines 

After a dry South Australian 2013 winter reminiscent of 2006, vines were in water de cit at the beginning of spring and became accustomed to dry conditions quite early. Early budburst was a consistent theme across all regions within South Australia. Spring started with cool temperatures in the south east. The Barossa Valley enjoyed some warmer days, dispersed throughout October and November. Whilst canopies were small to moderate, they were healthy and balanced and contributed to even veraison and consequent ripening. Warmer temperatures were observed after the New Year and persisted throughout most of January, contributing to an early start to the 2013 harvest and a short, condensed vintage. Dry and warm conditions, coupled with lower than average yields in most regions resulted in Shiraz showing strong, structural tannins, wines of great intensity and intense avour.


Magenta. Purple core.


Instantly, a distillation of all that is St Henri.
A heightened ethereal/subliminal fruit lift... hovering above, cleverly propelled by just the right amount of formics and V.A.
Black jelly-bean and star anise notes arise, augmented by g paste, dried herbs and spice – cinnamon and thyme.
With air, scents of freshly-cured corned beef with a carpaccio-like freshness, replete with capers/ vinegar/brine.


Youthful. Structurally expansive – large-framed/amply-dimensioned!
St Henri aims to please - pickled beetroot for the vegetarians; gamey venison and the blackened crust of roast beef for the carnivores.
Wild blackberry and a dark-fruited compote benevolently offer a generosity of fruit sweetness. An almost silky tarriness coupled with mouth-watering acidity create a texturally appealing and integrated mouthfeel.

3m 6d ago

 Pekka Nuikki / Founder of the Fine Wine Magazines, Pro (Finland)  tasted  1 wines  from  Penfolds  . In a tasting of  23 wines 

Last evening was a real " Voyage autour du monde" along with the top 24 wines that wine countries can offer, and there was only four of us enjoying them...Unfortunately, quite a lot of bottles remained half empty, but not the Petrus 2003, Cheval Blanc 1947, Screaming Eagle 1999, Pingus 1995, Haut-Brion Blanc 1995, Lafleur 1996 etc.

3m 20d ago

 Andrea Rinaldi / Sommelier, Pro (Italy)  tasted  1 wines  from  Penfolds  . In a tasting of  39 wines 

Last weekends best wines including Cheval 1959, Romanee Conti 1970 etc.

4m 11d ago

 Erin Larkin, Wine Writer (Australia)  tasted  2 wines  from  Penfolds  . In a tasting of  10 wines 

Pierre Peters ‘Les Chetillons’ Blanc de Blancs 2008, 99 points /Nervously close to perfect.  I can’t think of a thing I would add or take away to this complete wine.  It is walking on a tightrope of acidity, tension, expansive minerality and restrained fruit.  There is finesse and power here at once. Devastatingly, my one and only bottle.  But worth it.  INCREDIBLE.

4m 15d ago

 Achim Becker / Wineterminator.com, Wine Writer (Germany)  tasted  1 wines  from  Penfolds  . In a tasting of  27 wines 

A Taste of Greatness -tasting with perfect wines like Martha's Vineyards 1974, Harlan 1994, Sassicaia 1985, Pingus 1995, Yquem 1899 etc.

4m 26d ago

 Penfolds   has news

Penfolds Remembers Max Schubert   Two new wines aim to celebrate Max Schubert, but do they h  more ...

4m 27d ago

 Andrew Caillard MW, Wine Writer (Australia)  tasted  16 wines  from  Penfolds  . In a tasting of  16 wines 

Penfolds Bin CS 389 2010 / Deep crimson purple. Impressively powerful with intense blueberry, blackberry, liquorice aromas and dark chocolate, ginger, marzipan, oak nuances. A substantial palate with remarkable richness and concentration. Saturated blackberry essence, juicy fruit, liquorice, aniseed flavours are balanced by abundant ripe generous tannins and plenty of vanilla, malt, ginger oak notes. It finishes chocolatey firm with tremendous drive and depth of flavour. All the elements are in harmony. It’s delicious but ultimately this wine needs time to reveal its true potential. Keep.

4m 27d ago

 Andrew Caillard MW, Wine Writer (Australia)  tasted  13 wines  from  Penfolds  . In a tasting of  13 wines 

Bin 389 is often referred to as ‘Poor Man’s Grange’ or ‘Baby Grange’, in part because components of the wine are matured in the same barrels that held the previous vintage of Grange. First made in 1960, by the legendary Max Schubert, this was the wine that helped to build Penfolds solid reputation with red wine drinkers.


Combining the structure of Cabernet with the richness of Shiraz, Bin 389 also exemplifies Penfolds skill in judiciously balancing fruit and oak.

5m 10d ago

 Andrew Graham, Wine Blogger (Australia)  tasted  23 wines  from  Penfolds  . In a tasting of  23 wines 

Penfolds Grange 2004 / Now here is a challenging wine to review. The reviewers are swooning, the faithful are lining up at the Magill cellar door, even the mainstream press is giving it coverage (great to see, more please). In short, it is a ‘loaded’ wine: A bottle of fermented grape juice that comes so full of preconceptions, myth & mystique that actual tasting notes are redundant with reviewers serve to only agree or disagree with the greatness.


So, at first, I thought I would just not score this, to be a self righteous knob and just rattle off some descriptors and the odd opinion, before leaving a hole where the score would be at the end. But, instead, I sat there trying to work out what, if anything, was wrong with it. Approach a tasting with the idea that all wine is perfect until proven not. Its actually great fun, but also seems counter intuitive with the whole critical tasting idea. In the end, I decided that if you were to hold up a wine as the model for The Ultimate Young South Australian Shiraz, you couldn’t really go wrong with this.


Purple, dark red in colour. Sweet, malted coconut oak, interwoven with really bright red fruit, like a raspberry bounty & just a smidgen of (classic for Grange) VA. Cocoa. Black fruit. Impossibly youthful. Actually, it reminds me a lot of the 2005 Moss Wood on the nose, with it’s surreal, sweet youthful fruit and oak amalgam. Its a purity of fruit and well judged oak at its zenith, and its hard not too love. I think, however, that as a young wine, many European palates would find this too sweet. Leave it for a decade before serving it to the Poms then.


On the palate, well, it is drier, deeper and blacker than the sweet nose, much like 70% dark chocolate. Palate wise its red/black fruit dominant and utterly Penfoldian in its firm, quit sweet tannins. It’s sweet, but so structured and balanced that it feels velvety. Velvety like Burgundy. Effortless softness that is so seductive that you don’t notice the tannins, even though they hang in the background, ready to kick. I think that’s called balance. And it makes this wine the hero that it’s purported to be.


So in the end, in my quest to examine this wines perfection credentials, I really couldn’t find much wrong with it. Perhaps its a bit too sweet, otherwise it really is a brilliant South Australian Shiraz. The only question, perhaps, is whether it is ‘that much’ better than the 04 St Henri. And that question is largely answered by your wallet…97 p

5m 21d ago

 Juha Lihtonen, Sommelier (Finland)  tasted  1 wines  from  Penfolds  . In a tasting of  10 wines 

Putting in mouth anything that is 290 years old, sounds suspicious. Enjoying it so much that you wish to have plenty more of it souns insane. I truly enjoyed that "sanity" with great friends, when we sahred the world's oldest known wine available – 1727 Apostelwein. What an insane night it was with so many great wines – Romanee-Conti 1923, Vega-Sicilia Unico Reserva Especial 1973/1975/1976, Petrus 1982, Ch. Margaux 1982, Harlan 1993, Grange 1998, and Ch Climens 1943 bottled for Nazis. Wow!!

5m 26d ago

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