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Penfolds II Cabernet Shiraz Merlot 2019 ($500) – As noted, an international blend of 59% Cabernet Sauvignon and 12% Merlot from Bordeaux (the Cabernet from Château Belgrave in the Haut Medoc, very close to St Julien, and the Merlot from Château La Garde in Pessac-Léognan) and 29% Barossa and McLaren Vale Shiraz (so, almost but not quite the great Aussie blend of Cabernet and Shiraz going international). 18 months in new oak, 70% French and 30% American, a combination of barriques and hogsheads. 

An opaque purple in colour, this is softer and more approachable, more plush generally, than the 585. There is a richness and generosity here with a supple palate. Great length. The flavours of cassis simply cannot be denied, along with plummy notes. Blackberries, tobacco leaves, a hint of lead pencil. Fine tannins and there is some of that Penfolds mocha/licorice oak character evident. A great debut. It is inevitable that one looks to see if the components coalesce or clash. At this early stage, despite its generosity, the wine is still coming together. I think anyone leaving this for three or four years will have an enhanced experience, and that the wine has everything it needs to offer pleasure for a decade or two. There is much to be excited about here, although perhaps less so from a value perspective. 95.

  • 95p

PENFOLDS II CABERNET SHIRAZ 2019 /VINTAGE CONDITIONS/ Bordeaux: After a chilly start to winter, milder temperatures set in until mid-March. This generated an early budburst around the
25th of March, two weeks earlier compared to the previous vintage. Any advance in budburst was lost with the return of cool weather in April - May. Vines struggled to develop in the fluctuating temperatures which would continue until the first two weeks of June. Flowering took place in changeable conditions and the vines took advantage of a week of hot, dry weather at the end of May. Across late-June summer set in with heatwave periods. Cultivation of soils and use of cover crops were used to protect the vines during these long weeks of drought. Welcome rainfall in mid-September aided the ripening of fruit amid great weather conditions. Perfectly ripe grapes were harvested.

South Australia: The warmer districts recorded well below long-term average winter rainfall. September (spring) temperatures were cool with little rainfall resulting in some isolated frost events. Summer was generally hot with high temperatures delaying veraison. Barossa Valley experienced 31 days of temperatures exceeding 35°C. The proximity of the Southern Ocean played an important role in moderating temperatures in the cooler Southeast districts allowing for a high-quality harvest, albeit with smaller yields than average. Although yields were down across all regions, the quality was outstanding with shiraz showing excellent colours, firm tannin profiles and intense flavours.

COLOUR/Dark and deep; brilliant/bright hue; purple core

NOSE/Quite captivating - unlike whatever varietal and sourcing stats listed above might predict – invoking uniqueness/‘otherness’/intrigue. An admirable liveliness and vivacity is instantly recognised – Overheard: “As fresh as a new dawn in summer, such generosity rarely detected in winter!”
An amalgam of scents: licorice root and slated black liquorice (réglisse), white pepper, black candy.The afore-mentioned candy appears to ever-so-gradually transition to spiciness, with air. Whilst sitting in glass more Middle Eastern/ African spices slowly arise.
Oak remains backstage, detected via a subtle smokiness, and possibly a perceived nuttiness (crushed Brazil nut, unsalted cashew). Different, yet engaging. Beckons ...

PALATE/An immediate recognition – all is complete and balanced; in proportion, dimensionally full and generous.
When approached sideways/laterally – “You get the whole, before the parts.” Shiraz coats the cabernet yet still supporting a classic cabernet graphite core.
Flavours, aromatically itemised above, merge to the palate – retronasally with this wine what you smell is certainly what you taste!
A lovely weave/texture (not a film) – whilst velvety, granularity of tannins is still apparent. These tannins (and acidity) act as a conveyance for fruit.
Yes, an engaging acid liveliness and vivacity – akin to the mouth-watering acidity inherent in many Japanese dishes.
Length and persistence – manifested ever-so-softly, with a mineral stamp on the finish.
Certainly a thought-provoking, dare we say, cerebral wine

2019 Penfolds II
Dourthe x Penfolds Cabernet Shiraz Merlot, 
(Bordeaux Barossa Valley Blend) 
France & Australia
Deep crimson. Intense blackcurrant, dark plum, dark chocolate aromas with roasted chestnut, malty oak notes. Full bodied claret style with abundant blackcurrant, dark plum, mulberry, cedar flavours, chocolaty textures, malty, roasted chestnut notes, and integrated mineral acidity. Very generous and classically Penfolds with meaty, barrel ferment notes and prominent malt/ mocha oak dominating the palate. Finishes chocolaty firm. A largely successful experimental blend although elemental and unformed. Should settle down in a few more years. Maturation in new French (70%) and new American (30%) oak barriques and hogsheads. Blended and bottled in South Australia. Drink 2026 – 2038 14% alc 94 points

  • 94p
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Magill, South Australia

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