Penfolds 2014 release: Does it match the hype?

"Iconic" is thrown around a lot when it comes to wine. However relatively few producers and wines have achieved this status let alone maintained it. Penfolds is one that consistently justifies its history.

Penfolds TastingWines from Penfolds can be one of the simplest ways to add value and prestige to your list. Their insistence on a “house” style of each of their wines means that you’re guaranteed quality each year. Even for those who don't agree with Parker points will have a tough time not enjoying Grange 2008.

Their latest releases are testament to this, as the challenging 2011 vintage for many of their Icon range is now available. The prestigious Bin 707 Cabernet is the most notable absentee, but in its place the Bin 407 has received fruit of extraordinary quality.

At a time when the Bordelais are struggling to live up to the hype of successive “vintages of the century”, small harvests and increased popularity of Burgundy have all but evaporated reserves, is Penfolds one of the few producers that can be relied upon year after year to make excellent wine?

Quality over quantity

These are wines produced in sufficiently small quantities so as to remain desirable, and of course drinkable, years after their release. The strengths of Peter Gago and his capable team lie in how approachable each vintage is. Most importantly their wines have the kind of brand recognition across the board that many classed growth producers can only dream of.

It's best described by Omar Raafat, Fine Wine Manager at Bibendum,

"Penfolds skill is in spreading a little of the magic that is Grange through the entire portfolio. Whilst Grange graces the upper echelons of the wine world in terms of quality and price, the rest of the range manages to reflect some of the impressiveness that Grange represents. Instantly recognisable as Penfolds (despite the great variety of styles across the range) you know a great wine is on the way the moment you pull the cork, whether the wine is one of the old standards like Bin 28 Kalima Shiraz, an experimental Cellar Reserve Sangiovese or the exalted St Henri."

New World for the Old World

Indeed, the Cellar Reserve Sangiovese is amongst the sleeper hits of the Penfolds range. William Towse, Asisstant Restaurant Manager at Le Talbooth lists it to complement their Old World section. For their customers the Sangiovese 'is wonderful to offer our Bordeaux drinkers who fancy something different.' Le Talbooth have a list hovering around 350 lines, so the crossover appeal of Penfolds means that it'll never be gathering dust in the stock room. This appeal has been built and maintained by the winemakers and growers each successive year. To taste the wines is testament to Peter Gago's passion and knowledge of the terroir.

In a year of uncertainties across the winemaking world, Penfolds have remained constant and all the better for it.

Ryan Fuller
6th March 2014

Company No. 2550982 | 109a Regents Park Road London NW1 8UR | Call: 0845 263 6924 | AWRS Number: XVAW00000101595

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