Over the last few years, we have all branched out to find the latest trendy thing in wine. Some attempts have been exciting, some disappointing. But when it comes to drinking a 17 year old wine, you may want to stick to the old and trusted. I was pretty confident when I opened a bottle of 1998 Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet/Shiraz tonight. When it comes to mature wine, Penfolds is in a class of its own (Wendouree the only challenger) in Australia. This bottle still had a very high shoulder, and the cork came out beautifully.
The colour is still purple, and as it turns out, this bottle is showing off the two varieties at their best. The fruit of the Shiraz and the structure of the Cabernet Sauvignon are seamlessly blended together. This is a full-bodied wine with a beautiful mouthfeel from the front to the back of the palate. The black fruit and the American oak are well integrated. This is a ripe wine, as it should be: ripe, but you are keen to drink a second (or third) glass. The tannins have mellowed, but are still firm and, together with the intense fruit and cocoa flavours, produce a finish which lasts and lasts.
This wine has been a great drinking experience tonight, at a fraction of the cost of other wines reaching this quality level (I paid $28 for this bottle in 2001), and it will, if stored correctly, still have another ten years of drinking pleasure in it.