Penfolds Bin Series – Tasting Notes

Penfolds Bin Series

Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz

Often referred to as ‘Poor Man’s Grange’ or ‘Baby Grange’, in part because components of the wine are mature in the same barrels that held the previous vintage of Grange. First made in 1960, by the legendary Max Schubert, this was the wine that helped to build Penfolds solid reputation with red wine drinkers. The original reason for this uniquely Australian blend of Cabernet is the Cabernet available in the 1960s lacked mid-palate structure which was compensated by the rich Shiraz.

My notes on 2010 vintage: “Inky black in colour, the fruit floods the palate. It has a very dense weight in the mouth yet also smooth and velvety with seamless tannins. This is a very serious wine, almost a throwback to the great wines of the mid-nineties. If this is closely related to the Grange, then I also look forward to the Big One when it is released in May.”

Penfolds Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon

Launched with the 1990 vintage in 1993, 407 was developed in response to the increasing availability of high quality Cabernet Sauvignon fruit. Inspired by Penfolds Bin 707, Bin 407 highlights Penfolds multi-region, multi-vineyard blending, with a core of ripe fruit supported by French and American oak.

My notes on 2010 vintage: “The fruit from the Coonawarra/Padthaway region dominates with the herbaceous, green capsicum characters and a fresh lift of mint on the finish.”

Penfolds Bin 150 Marananga Shiraz

There are four distinct styles of Penfolds red wines. Single-vineyard (Magill Estate Shiraz, Kalimna Block 42 Cabernet Sauvignon), single-region (Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz, RWT Barossa Shiraz) and multi-regional blends (Grange, Bin 707). The Bin 150 Marananga Shiraz delivers a fourth approach, with Penfolds showing it’s hand at sub-regional expressions. Marananga lies very close to the centre of the Barossa Valley floor – slightly to the north and west, where warm dry conditions and rich and red soils provide the backbone to some of the region’s best known wines.

My notes on 2010 vintage: “Expecting a bosh of fruit after the beautiful, complex aromas, the 150 is a pleasant surprise on the palate: elegant and lighter bodied. The berry fruit melts into a creamy almond (amaretto) character. This is still early days for this wine.”

Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz

First made in 1959, Bin 28 is named after the famous Barossa Valley Kalimna Vineyard purchased by Penfolds in 1945 and from which the wine was originally sourced. Today, Bin 28 is a multi-region, multi-vineyard blend, with the Barossa Valley always well represented.

My notes on 2010 vintage: “A hedonistic wine with ample and voluptuous fruit on the palate. It has crowd-pleasing berry and chocolate character that will reassure lovers of bold Australian reds.”

Penfolds Bin 138 Shiraz Grenache Mourvedre

The Barossa Valley was planted extensively with Shiraz, Mourvedre and Grenache by the early settlers. In the 1950s Penfolds started experimenting with table wine blends of Shiraz and the robust grape variety Mourvedre. In response to a growing international market for the highly perfumed wines of the Southern Rhone, Penfolds introduced the 1992 vintage of the old vine Barossa Valley Shiraz Grenache Mourvedre.

My notes on 2011 vintage: “Many Australian winemakers have little to say about 2011, yet the lack of full-throttle fruit did not disappoint; in fact, it is all the better for it. The wet vintage is reflected in the colour of the wine, which is lighter and less dark than its fellow Bins. Sweet Asian 5-spice on the nose, and even a touch of charcuterie savouriness leads to a palate of dark chocolate, dried figs and black fruits. One of my favourite wines from the tasting.”

Penfolds Bin 23 Pinot Noir

The name Bin 23 is derived from the Pinot Noir maturation Cellar 23 at Magill Estate. The relationship between Penfolds and the cool-climate, high altitude Adelaide Hills follows in the footsteps of the success and development of the Penfolds Cellar Reserve Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir.

My notes on 2012 vintage: “Strawberry jam and blueberry pastille on the nose, this is a full-bodied Pinot Noir with a plush, mouth-filling softness. This is a very fun style of Pinot Noir – and fun is a worthy attribute to find in a wine.”

Penfolds Bin 2 Shiraz Mourvedre

First released in 1960, yet discontinued in Australia in the 1970s at the height of the white wine boom. The original Bin 2 was an ‘Australian Burgundy’ style (despite its Rhone varieties) – typically a soft, medium-bodied wine based on Shiraz. The Bin 2 blend of Shiraz and Mourvedre is still relatively uncommon in Australian table wines. Also known as Mataro or Monastrell, Mourvedre was introduced to Australia in the 1830s.

My notes on 2011 vintage: “In Australia, this vintage is not considered as great as the 2010 vintage. Yet this lighter style of wine is very attractive even if it is not as intense as the 2010. This is the little brother of the Bin 138, and for a wine that is the fraction of the price, it is not too bad at all. Soft, juicy, confident fruit – it would be a great wine for casual drinks.”

Penfolds Bin 51 Riesling

Created in the 1990s as part of the evolving Penfolds white wine development program, captures the attributes of Eden Valley. The region’s high altitude and cool climate induces Riesling with great finesse, elegance and capacity for long-term cellaring. South Australia has gained worldwide recognition for producing definitive world-class Riesling, with the Eden Valley at the very head of the field. In their youth, the wines possess focused apple/lime aromas, with a mineral edge and marked natural acidity, contributing significantly to the palate texture and flavour.

My notes on 2012 vintage: “What struck me was how self-assured this wine is. A fantastic ginger and lemon/lime perfume with the same again on the palate but in a generous liquid form. There’s no jarring acidity, or steeliness one would expect from this region – everything is wonderfully integrated. Ready to drink now but has the capacity to age.  This is a beautiful vintage for Clare and Eden Valley.”

*Thanks to Penfolds for the background information (in italics).

Juel Mahoney
18th March 2013

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