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Andrew Caillard tastes the Penfolds Collection 2021

 

Andrew Caillard MW is a likely contender as the world’s most respected authority on all things Penfolds. He has authored the Penfolds reference The Rewards of Patience over many years, as well as the Langton’s Grange Guide (now in it’s 8th edition).

As an oenophile and wine savant, he has tasted his way through even the most obscure Penfolds vintages and cuvées. His rich understanding of the context, ethos and history of the Penfolds brand make him a singular voice when it comes to every new collection. Ahead of the release of the Penfolds Collection 2021, Andrew Caillard MW tastes this highly anticipated release.

Explore Penfolds 2021 now.

 

This compelling Penfolds Collection 2021 highlights the fidelity of multi-vineyard sourcing, precision winemaking and the authentic Penfolds house style tradition. The collection in many respects demonstrates that every vintage—regardless of growing conditions—can have a silver lining.

In many cases, the lining of this year’s release is made of gold. I loved the white wines for their lovely pure fruit definition, volume and tension. The 2019 reds are beautifully made wines with the rich fruit expression typical of Penfolds, and a vigour and energy that promises great cellaring careers. The 2018 St Henri is a benchmark vintage and is a must for lovers of this tried and tested maturation style. 2017 Grange does not disappoint and transcends the reputation of the vintage. Although it will fly under the radar for many years, it will develop into something beautiful to drink somewhere around 2028 onwards.

Chief winemaker Peter Gago AC and his exceptional winemaking team have triumphed once again. This is a release for punters and collectors. No disappointments, and highly recommended.

 

2021 Penfolds Bin 51 Riesling, Eden Valley
Pale green gold. Beautifully perfumed wine with bitter lemon, grapefruit camomile aromas with hints of marzipan and lemon grass notes. Razor sharp palate with plentiful pure lemon curd, lime, tonic water flavours, fine chalky textures and fresh persistent indelible acidity. Finishes crisp and minerally with al dente notes. Lovely fruit volume and drive despite its elegant structure. Should age for the medium to long term. Seal; screwcap Drink Now – 2028, 11% alc, 96 points

A lighter Eden Valley Riesling style with lovely pure fruits and mineral cut but very much in the Penfolds vernacular. A few years of bottle age will give it more richness and complexity. 

A few months in stainless steel


2020 Penfolds Bin 311 Chardonnay
Pale gold. Intense grapefruit, white peach, apricot aromas with flinty/ tonic water/ sea breezy notes. Lively and expressive with plentiful grapefruit, white peach apricot flavours, underlying roasted almond/ toasty notes, attractive creamy mid-palate richness and long fresh minerally acidity. Lovely clarity, volume and crunchy persistency. Not for the long term but delicious to drink now. Seal; screwcap Drink Now – 2027, 13% alc, 95 points

A great follow up vintage showing the hallmarks of multi-regional, multi-vineyard sourcing, precision winemaking and assemblage; the Tasmania factor playing first violin. 

Tasmania, Piccadilly & Henty

Eight months in 41% new and 59% seasoned French oak barriques

2020 Penfolds Bin 20A Reserve Bin Chardonnay, Adelaide Hills
Pale gold. Invitingly complex and ethereal wine with pure grapefruit, nectarine, pear skin aromas, grilled nut notes and plentiful slatey/flinty/ matchstick nuances. Generous, layered and mouth filling with grapefruit nectarine apricot grilled nut flavours, underlying vanilla oak notes, fine chalky/hint al dente textures, superb mid-palate volume and fresh long acidity. Wonderful balance, fruit definition and tension. Seal; screwcap Drink Now – 2028, 12.5% alc, 97 points

A transcendent early to medium term drinking chardonnay that overcomes the challenges of the difficult bushfire-ravaged 2020 Adelaide Hills growing season. Selection, meticulous and imaginative winemaking have made all the difference. 2020 Bin 20A ultimately triumphs as a reference vintage of the region. 

Eight months in 80% new and 20% seasoned (one year-old) French oak barriques

2019 Penfolds Bin 144 Yattarna Chardonnay
Pale gold. Sensational nectarine, white peach, orange glace, lemon peel aromas with lifted gun flint, sea spray notes. Beautifully concentrated and minerally with complex nectarine, white peach, apricot, grilled almond flavours, fine supple/silky textures, lovely mid-palate viscosity and underlying pure mineral acidity. A lovely rainwater freshness with superb integration of elements. Seal; screwcap Drink Now – 2030, 12.5% alc, 98 points

Generously proportioned, refined and beautifully integrated with all the hallmarks of a Grand Cru-type Chardonnay. A fantastic experience for Burgundy freaks and those who aspire to surf the perfect reductive wave. 

Tasmania, Tumbarumba, Adelaide Hills

Eight months in 55% new and 45% seasoned (one year old) French oak barriques

2020 Penfolds Bin 23 Pinot Noir
Medium crimson. Fresh strawberry, red cherry, cola aromas with herb garden notes. Well concentrated minerally style with pure strawberry, red cherry chinotto, hint roasted walnut flavours, fine slinky textures, attractive mid-palate viscosity and integrated fresh acidity. Finishes chalky and minerally. A simple flavourful pinot noir with typical Penfolds volume and richness. Seal; cork Drink Now – 2026 13.5% alc 90 points

A lightly structured pure-fruited Pinot Noir with plenty of varietal definition and freshness. Modest in score but authentically Penfolds. Best for early drinking. 

Tasmania, Henty & Adelaide Hills

Seven months in 24% new and 76% seasoned French oak barriques 

2019 Penfolds Bin 138 Shiraz Grenache Mataro, Barossa Valley
Deep crimson. Lovely boysenberry, musky plum, black cherry, dark chocolate aromas with graphite herb garden notes. Generous and buoyant with rich boysenberry, dark plum, dark cherry praline flavours, with underlying ginger notes, plentiful fine chalky/chocolatey tannins, superb mid-palate volume and integrated fresh pure linear acidity. Lovely mineral length. Seal; cork Drink Now – 2030 14.5% alc 95 points

A brilliant early drinking style with plenty of fruit generosity, volume and mineral freshness. It will age, but the best times are now. A very successful follow up vintage.

70% Shiraz, 17% Grenache, 13% Mataro Around a year in seasoned French (80%) & American (20%) oak hogsheads

2019 Penfolds Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz
Medium deep crimson. A classic claret style wine with lovely intense lifted blackcurrant, blackberry, mocha cedarwood aromas with light sage/herb garden notes. Inky deep, generous, and compact with fresh blackcurrant, blackberry, mulberry, red cherry fruits, plentiful fine-grained tannins, and underlying savoury oak. Finishes juicy firm with an attractive fine tannin plume. Has the substance, tannin quality and the balance to age for the long term. Seal; cork Drink Now – 2035, 14.5% alc, 95 points

A beautiful expressive Bin 128 vintage showing the class of terra-rossa vineyards and the thumbprint of the Penfolds house style. 

12 months in 24% new French and 33% one year old & 43% two year old seasoned French oak hogsheads

2019 Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz
Deep crimson. Intense elderberry blackberry, cranberry aromas with red liquorice/aniseed notes. Elemental, vigorous and juicy with fresh persistent elderberry, blackberry fruits, plentiful brambly/al-dente textures, attractive mid-volume, and fresh long acidity. Finishes chewy firm with dark chocolate chinotto/ dark berry fruits. Needs some time for the elements to fold into each other. Seal; cork Drink 2022 – 2032, 14.5% alc, 93+ points

A Penfolds staple that seemingly never disappoints. Still in parts with the fruit predominant and the tannins yet to fold into the wine. Should improve with a touch more bottle age. 

McLaren Vale, Barossa Valley, Padthaway, Wrattonbully.

12 months in seasoned American oak hogsheads.

2019 Penfolds Bin 150 Marananga Shiraz, Barossa Valley
Deep crimson. Lifted blackberry, chinotto, dark chocolate roasted chestnut, marzipan aromas. Beautifully balanced vigorous wine with inky blackberry, elderberry, chinotto, praline flavours, fine looseknit chalky grainy tannins and roasted chestnut, crème brulée, espresso notes. Finishes claret-firm with persistent inky dark fruits. Superb fruit definition, oak complexity and vigour. Seal; cork 2024 – 2038, 14.5% alc, 97 points

A highly individual and beautiful wine with exceptional singularity and stamp of place. A style beginning to make its mark and one to follow.

12 months in American oak (32% new & 29% one-year-old) hogsheads and puncheons. 

2019 Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz
Deep crimson. Fresh blackcurrant, mulberry, black cherry, dark chocolate aromas with roasted chestnut, cedar, liquorice notes. Full bodied and evenly balanced wine with inky cassis, mulberry black cherry fruits, fine grainy slightly grippy tannins, attractive mid-palate volume and roasted chestnut cedar wood notes. Finishes vigorously firm with plentiful sweet fruit notes. Quite muscular in attack but has the density and the richness to carry the tannins. A dark horse vintage with the shape of Bin 389 and the torque of Bin 707. Seal; cork 2026 – 2045, 14.5% alc, 96 points

A fascinating but quite different Bin 389 revealing the light and shade of multi-regional sourcing and the hallmarks of the Penfolds House Style. Should last the distance. 

Padthaway, McLaren Vale, Coonawarra, Wrattonbully, Barossa Valley

12 months in 25% new and 75% seasoned American oak hogsheads.

2019 Penfolds Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon
Deep crimson. Lifted dark berry, dark chocolate, graphite aromas with violet, herb garden, sage, subtle mint notes. Well concentrated sinewy wine with plentiful elderberry, blackcurrant, dark cherry, bitter dark chocolate flavours. Fine chewy firm tannins, underlying cedar roasted walnut and fresh long acidity. Finishes grippy firm with plentiful juicy sweet fruit notes. Seal; cork Drink 2024 – 2035, 14.5% alc, 93 points.

A vigorous and expressive cabernet with attractive fruit definition, volume and persistence. Best to keep for a while to allow the elements to unfold. 

Padthaway, Coonawarra, Wrattonbully, McLaren Vale, Barossa Valley

12 months in 27% new French, 8% new American oak hogsheads

2018 Penfolds St Henri Shiraz
Deep crimson. A beautiful St Henri vintage. Gorgeously seductive blackberry, mulberry, dark cherry, sweet plum aromas with dark chocolate, graphite, roasted walnut notes. Inky and sinuous palate with plentiful ripe blackberry, mulberry fruits, fine loose-knit chalky tannins, superb mid-palate viscosity and underlying chinotto, roasted walnut notes. A standout vintage with superb middle-weight stature, fruit complexity and mineral length. Lovely to drink now but wait a few years to allow further development. Seal; cork 2025 – 2040, 14.5%, 99 points

One of the great St Henri vintages in recent times, based on the length and breadth of South Australian vineyards. 

Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Port Lincoln, Robe, Padthaway, Clare Valley, Adelaide Hills. 

Aged for 12 months in very old (50 years+) oak vats

2019 Penfolds Magill Estate Shiraz
Deep crimson. Intense blackberry, dark cherry, praline mocha aromas with herb garden aniseed notes. Generous, supple, and inky textured with smooth deep-set blackberry, dark cherry, plum, dark chocolate flavours, fine grainy tannins and underlying roasted chestnut vanilla oak notes. Finishes gravelly firm with plentiful dark berried fruits, savoury complexity and beautiful mineral length. An impressive vintage with lovely density, generosity, and vigour. Seal; Cork, Drink 2024 – 2040, 14.5%, 95 points

A single vineyard ‘monopole’ wine. From one of the last patches of 19th Century vineyard land in Adelaide. 

18 months in 26% new French, 6% new American and 68% seasoned oak hogsheads 

2019 Penfolds Bin 798 RWT Shiraz – Barossa Valley
Deep crimson. Lovely intense dark cherry, blackberry, mulberry praline aromas with ginger notes. Classical in structure yet Penfoldsian in character with dense dark cherry, blackberry dark chocolate flavours, plentiful fine chalky/graphite tannins, superbly integrated roasted chestnut vanilla oak and underlying cedar complexity. Finishes al-dente firm with beautiful mineral length and bitter-sweet notes. Superb fruit density and torque. Seal; Cork Drink 2025 – 2045, 14.5% alc, 98 points

Another standout vintage showing all the hallmarks of regional provenance and the Penfolds House Style. One for the long haul.

18 months in 57% new and 43% one-year-old French oak hogsheads

2019 Penfolds Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon 
Deep crimson. Classic blackcurrant mulberry aromas with roasted chestnut, graphite notes. Ample, yet elemental and multi-layered with plentiful pure blackcurrant mulberry fruits, fine persistent grainy/muscular tannins, superb mid-palate richness and underlying mocha roasted chestnut notes. Finishes brambly firm with plenty of cedarwood cassis notes. A sturdy Bin 707 with beautiful fruit definition and tannin vigour. Claret lovers rejoice! Seal; Cork, Drink 2028 – 2050, 14.5% alc, 97 points

A compelling vintage showing superb varietal definition, richness and complexity. 

McLaren Vale, Coonawarra, Barossa Valley, Padthaway

18 months in 100% new American oak hogsheads

2017 Penfolds Bin 95 Grange Shiraz
Deep crimson. Unmistakably Grange with lifted dark cherry, blackberry, quince, praline, mocha aromas and aniseed notes. Generous and inky deep with abundant dense dark cherry, blackberry fruits, plentiful fine chocolatey/velveteen textures, lovely mid-palate volume and integrated mocha vanilla malty oak. Finishes chocolatey firm, with plentiful fruit sweetness and mineral length. Surprisingly approachable with a richness and viscosity that envelopes the tannins and acidity. But don’t drink it now. Wait for a good six or seven years at the very least. Seal; Cork, Drink 2028 – 2055+, 14.5% alc, 96+ points

A solid Grange vintage reflecting superb vineyard sourcing, classification, and selection.  A collector’s vintage with the promise of greater things to come. 

100% Shiraz, Barossa Valley (including Kalimna Vineyard), McLaren Vale 

18 months in 100% new American oak hogsheads

2018 Penfolds Super Blends
2018 Penfolds Bin 802 A Cabernet Shiraz, South Australia
Deep Crimson. Beautiful wine with lifted blackcurrant, blackberry, mulberry, dark chocolate mocha aromas and herb garden/chinotto notes. Inky textured and richly concentrated wine with deep-set cassis, black berry fruits, hints of chinotto, plentiful fine-grained/vigorous tannins, attractive mid-palate viscosity and superb integrated mocha malt oak notes. Finishes firm and minerally with a lovely fine chocolatey plume. Harks back to the experimental age. Aged for 22 months in 100% Australian-coopered American oak hogsheads. Lovely classic Penfolds wine. 68% cabernet sauvignon 32% shiraz. Drink 2023 – 2035+, 14.5% alc, 97 points

Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Coonawarra, Wrattonbully, Robe, Clare Valley

2018 Penfolds Bin 802 B Cabernet Shiraz, South Australia
Deep crimson. Intense cassis, blackberry, mulberry aromas with roasted chestnut, vanilla. Generous and inky textured with lovely dark cherry, blackberry, blackcurrant fruits, cocoa/chinotto notes, plentiful fine-grained slinky tannins and underlying roasted chestnut, vanilla, caramel notes. Finishes claret-firm with lovely pure dark fruits, some bitter sweet notes and a fine lacy plume. The French oak brings out a more defined structure. Aged for 19 months in new (54%) and seasoned (46% one year old) French oak hogsheads. 55% cabernet sauvignon 45% shiraz. Drink 2026 – 2045, 14.5% alc, 97 points

Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Coonawarra, Wrattonbully, Robe, Clare Valley

A fascinating wine showing remarkable similarities yet astonishing differences. The impact of cabernet shiraz ratios, blending options, oak types and maturation bring out different expressions. Yet ultimately time may well see these two wines increasingly look like twins. 

 

Further Reading

The Penfolds Collection 2021 - Langton's Top 5

The Penfolds Collection 2021 - Langton's Top 5

Penfolds California: Are they dreaming?

Penfolds California: Are they dreaming?

Laurent Ponsot - Burgundy’s Most Exciting Producer

Laurent Ponsot - Burgundy’s Most Exciting Producer

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