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Bin 138 draws its inspiration from the wines of Southern Rhône, where Shiraz, Grenache and Mataro (Mourvèdre) are blended in varying proportions to create full-bodied wines possessing rich and heady perfume. Each year fruit for Bin 138 is sourced from old Barossa Valley vines (some more than 100 years old) and then matured for 12 to 15 months in seasoned oak hogsheads to allow the different varietals to shine through. Bin 138 is defined by its distinctive plum, raspberry pastille and underlying spicy notes. The first vintage release of this varietal blend was the 1992, labelled ‘Old Vine Barossa Valley’ – it was then elevated to Bin status for the 1998 vintage.
A complex blend, Bin 138 sits quite apart from any other wine in the Penfolds portfolio.
Vintage conditions and ultimately the nature of the fruit are the elements that determine the final blend. Hence each year the varietal make-up can vary. In some vintages shiraz will lead the blend, in others grenache will be the principal element.
Unusually for Penfolds, all three varieties are matured independently, owing to their tendency to mature at different times on the vine and the need to mature under different conditions in the barrel.
Mourvèdre will often contribute a unique combination of violet-like floral notes and a range of earthy, savoury complexities. Structurally it can be lean and sinewy, providing a worthy frame upon which shiraz and grenache can sit. Grenache is typically lighter in colour and body, presenting the perfume of the wine and is often the first component noticed when the wine is poured. Shiraz provides the body and shape of the wine.
Bin 138 is more of a fruit-driven style than the other Bin wines and displays a chalkier tannin texture. Its rich, earthy nature becomes more nuanced with age.