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PENFOLDS COLLECTION 2022

by Andrew Caillard MW

“A milestone two-hemisphere release comprising the spectacular 2018 Penfolds Grange vintage and the inaugural 2019 Penfolds French Winemaking Trial from Bordeaux.”

The Penfolds Collection 2022 marks the 60th anniversary of the landmark Penfolds Bin 60A, Peter Gago’s 20thAnniversary as Chief Winemaker and new directions for the Penfolds brand with the unveiling of its Bordeaux collaboration. This year’s collection – which is the largest ever - also highlights a grand vision, not seen since the 1960s at Penfolds. It follows some major changes in trading conditions over the last few years, particularly punitive Chinese tariffs and a new agile business structure. The latter has enabled Penfolds to accelerate plans for its future. 

Although the China market has been troublesome in recent years, the outlook for global wine brands extends into the decades. For instance, Penfolds has been working towards its California venture since the late 1980s. Ideas for a China project were first mooted ten years ago and already a Penfolds Lot 518 “Spirited Wine” with Baijiu was released some years ago. A Franco-Australian venture has been on the cards for a long while with the Thienot/ Penfolds Champagne collaboration now a few years old as well.

The launch of Penfolds Bin 169 Cabernet Sauvignon on La Place de Bordeaux, the increasing interest in the Beyond Bordeaux category and closer relationships between CVBG/ Dourthe, one of the key players in the sales and marketing of Grand Cru Classé wines, have also created momentum. This year’s collection also marks the release of Penfolds first Bordeaux red which takes place 72 years after Max Schubert’s visit to Bordeaux where he first imagined a great “Australian Claret”.

In the future this annual release is likely to expand as the wines of the world project gathers speed. This Penfolds Collection 2022 is a gear shift because it now incorporates Californian and French partnerships and ventures. Asides from Australian, Californian and Bordeaux releases, the cross-Pacific blends and Franco-Australian wines all add further grist to the mill. Experimentation and transformation are themes that underpin this year’s collection. It makes for one of the most interesting and controversial releases in the history of Penfolds. On the other hand, the golden thread of the signature Penfolds house style weaves through the portfolio creating familiarity, consistency and connectivity. Even though the world faces uncertain times The Penfolds Collection 2022 represents forward thinking and optimism as well as offering a very solid and engaging range of wines. 

 

Scores / Penfolds Australian Collection - 2022

2018 Penfolds Bin 95 Grange Shiraz - 100 points

2020 Penfolds Bin 144 Yattarna Chardonnay - 99 points

2020 Penfolds Bin 150 Marananga Shiraz - 98 points

2020 Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz - 97 points

2020 Penfolds RWT Bin 798 Shiraz - 96 points

2021 Penfolds Reserve Bin A Chardonnay - 96 points

2019 Penfolds St Henri Shiraz - 95 points

2019 Penfolds Bin 169 Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon - 95 points

2020 Penfolds Bin 28 Shiraz - 95 points

2021 Penfolds Bin 311 Chardonnay - 95 points

2022 Penfolds Bin 51 Riesling - 95 points

2021 Penfolds Bin 23 Pinot Noir - 94 points

2020 Penfolds Bin 138 Shiraz, Grenache Mataro - 93 points

2020 Penfolds Magill Estate Shiraz - 92 points

2020 Penfolds Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon - 92 points

2020 Penfolds Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz, Coonawarra - 91 points

 

Preview – multi-vintage Yattarna Chardonnay

Penfolds V – 96+ points

 

Penfolds Bordeaux Collection - 2022 

2019 Penfolds FWT 585 Cabernet Sauvignon – 95 points

2019 Penfolds II – 94 points

 

Penfolds Californian Collection – 2022 

2019 Penfolds Bin 149 Cabernet Sauvignon - 97 points

2019 Penfolds Bin 600 Cabernet Shiraz - 96 points

2019 Penfolds Bin 704 Cabernet Sauvignon – 93 points

 

Penfolds Australian Collection - 2022 Release

The core Penfolds Australian collection remains the reference and like every release in memory there are peaks and troughs. But the peaks this year are the exceptional 2018 Penfolds Bin 95 Grange Shiraz and the 2020 Penfolds Bin 144 Yattarna Chardonnay. The collection also highlights the consistency of Penfolds House Style, cross-regional sourcing and staggered vintage releases (2018-2022). 

2018 Penfolds Bin 95 Grange is a particularly beautiful wine and highlights the evolution of fruit sourcing and winemaking. Although Chief Winemaker Peter Gago and his team still reference the original blueprint, the small “one-percenters” over the last thirty years have taken the style to another level. Much of this work has been done in the vineyard through meticulous management and fruit selection. But advances in winemaking techniques, technology and oak selection have also played their part. There was a waypoint in 1986 and I wonder whether 2018 is possibly another important marker on the Grange journey. Regardless, it will be framed against the more recent great vintages (especially 1990 and 2010) for years to come. 

2020 Penfolds Bin 144 Yattarna is also a splendid release reflecting outstanding fruit sourcing, technical winemaking, selection and oak maturation. The wine has marvellous freshness, fruit definition, volume and tension and should have a wonderful cellaring career ahead of it. The Tasmanian component is a significant feature of the wine. 

For those with a more modest budget, the 2020 Penfolds Bin 150 Marananga Shiraz is a superb example of regional definition, fruit complexity and oak integration. Also worth mentioning are the 2020 Penfolds Bin 389 which lives up to its reputation as an Australian classic and the impressive 2020 Penfolds RWT Bin 798 Shiraz which furthers the reputation of the 2020 Barossa vintage. This particular style is really coming into its own now with a very good track record for cellaring. 

2019 Penfolds St Henri and 2019 Penfolds Bin 169 Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon, both from a recognised Penfolds vintage, are also successful wines and promise a great cellaring career. 2020 Penfolds Bin 28 Shiraz is a brilliantly well-made wine as well as the very expressive 2021 Penfolds Bin 311 Chardonnay. Of special interest is the Tasmania-fruit sourced 2021 Penfolds Bin 23 Pinot Noir. If its provenance continues in this direction, expect this series to take off now. 2020 Penfolds Bin 138 is also delicious. I prefer the primary fruit in this style and recommend it for early drinking although it should last for some distance. 

In addition to the strikingly beautiful 2020 Penfolds Yattarna, the 2021 Penfolds Reserve Bin A Chardonnay and the more modestly priced 2021 Penfolds Bin 311 Chardonnay are impressive reference styles: the latter being extremely good value. All these chardonnay-based wines have been on form for years. This is largely the work of the modest yet highly skilled Kym Schroeter who epitomises the art and science of winemaking in this very specialised space of precision white wine winemaking. 2022 Penfolds Bin 51 Riesling is a very good example of the modern Eden Valley Riesling style where the balance between fruit, acidity and alcohol is neatly balanced. 

No Penfolds Bin 707 was made in 2020 reflecting a challenging growing season in the South Estate of South Australia and the difficulty of finding cabernet sauvignon material that could make the grade. In theory the beneficiaries of these type of years are the lower ranking bin numbers especially Bin 407. But judging from the results this is not really a particularly great cabernet Sauvignon year. Even so 2020 Bin 389, with a large proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the picks of the releases, highlighting the benefits of multi-regional sourcing. But no such luxury for the limited release single vineyard 2020 Penfolds Magill Estate Shiraz which expresses the vintage in its highly individual way.  

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