A Guide to the Penfolds Bin Series – Descendants of Grange

Penfolds Bin Series

What is a “Bin”?

Bin is used on many wines in Australia, but the term originally refers to the compartments where wineries kept the wine. They numbered the compartments, Bin 1, Bin 2 etc depending on where they sat in the winery. The Bin numbers have nothing to do with the quality of the wine.

What is the connection between the Bin Series and Grange (Bin 95)?

The now legendary Penfolds winemaker Max Schubert began experimenting with different parcels of fruit in the 1950s. The first Bin wine was created in 1951 and was simply known as Bin 1. While Max Schubert was working on what was to be his masterpiece, he experimented with different parcels of fruit in different Bins. In 1964, the Grange was designated as Bin 95. The Bin Series wines are a result of these experiments with different blends and vineyards.

What are the characteristics of the Penfolds house style?

Penfolds’ house style is defined by their multi-regional blending, fruit ripeness (although not overripe), the use of fine-grained American (and increasingly French) oak, and barrel fermentation and maturation.

Where does the tradition of blending come from?

Penfolds’ house style emerged from its long history of producing fortified wine.

With a history spanning over 150 years, up until the 1950s most of Penfolds’ production was focused on (what was called at the time) “port”. The focus on blending, which is common to fortified wines, extended to the table wines. Without the constraints of using fruit from a single-vineyard, winemakers could choose the best possible fruit with the ‘outstanding characteristics of each vineyard.’

In fact, port’s dominance in the Australian market at the time led to Max Schubert being ordered to stop production of Grange in 1957 by the head office, because, according to Max, he was “accumulating large stocks of (dry table) wine which to all intents and purposes were unsalable.”

Max continued making dry table wines undercover regardless. In 1962, when the 1955 Grange was shown to great acclaim in the Australian wine shows, Penfolds had already set an irrevocable course towards table-wine production.

Author:
Juel Mahoney
Date:
8th March 2013


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