Yattarna, (Bin 144), which derives from an indigenous word meaning ‘little by little; gradually’ captures the Penfolds culture and winemaking philosophy. Over the years the wine has undergone a distinct evolution in style. Yattarna is now a refined, precise cool-climate wine with apple/white peach notes and ‘minerality, texture, layering and longevity’ key characteristics. Whole-bunch pressing, barrel-fermentation including use of wild yeasts, malolactic fermentation and lees-stirring (battonage) are important elements. Fine-boned and restrained Yattarna is a convincing example of Australia’s Chardonnay revolution.
Ned Goodwin MW and Langton’s Head of Domestic Buying Ramon Gunasekara discuss the newly released whites, including Yattarna Chardonnay, from the Penfolds Collection 2020.
Pale gold. Elegant style wine with high pitched nectarine, melon aromas with flinty complexity. Intense pure lime grapefruit nectarine flavours, fine looseknit al-dente/ chalky textures, lovely mid-palate richness, underlying savoury oak complexity and fresh persistent crunchy acidity. Expressive and pure fruited with superb vinosity and mineral length. Needs time to uncoil and further develop.
96 points (2020)
"Tumbarumba and Tasmanian fruit in this vintage, with greater stretch across the palate than the 19A’s edgy carapace. Real vinosity, here! Broader aromas, too: orange blossom, citrus oil, cinnamon oak and a whiff of vanilla, toasted nut and brûlée at its centre. The finish, saline and taut, auguring well for a majestic life ahead. A delicious wine that strikes a pose for others to follow."
97 points (July 2020)
In these days of championing single region, exclusive vineyard and artisan maker, blends are too often derided, yet it remains that in the most dextrous of hands, a far-flung composition is capable of producing the finest result. Long overshadowed by the fanfare of the lauded red wine suite, Kym Schroeter has been integral to the Penfolds team for 34 years and has spent the second half of his time establishing himself as one of Australia’s geniuses of chardonnay. Yattarna 2018 is an exemplar of his craft and nothing short of his finest ine yet. Never have I tasted an Australian chardonnay that so intimately unites three very diverse regions, that envelops oak so seamlessly into its folds (and 60% new, no less), and that holds every nuance of lifted fragrance, pristine white fruits and tense, crystalline yet somehow calm Tasmanian acidity in suspended animation on a finish of astonishing line and length. In precision and poise, this is utterly breathtaking chardonnay. Yattarna 2018 not only surpasses the profound 2012 as the greatest white wine I have ever tasted from Penfolds, it’s one of the very finest ever conceived in this country.
98 points (July 2020)
Bright, light-yellow hue, youthfully undeveloped for its age, and the bouquet and palate follow the same theme. It's reserved and refined, youthful and fresh, the flavour already complex in its subtle way, combining nutty, toasty, various citrus fruits - especially lemon - and a hint of spice. Cashew nuts, creamy lees, the whole wine very tightly-composed and delicate yet tremendously long and bursting with potential.
96 points, The Real Review (July 2020)
A blend of Tasmania, Tumbarumba and Adelaide Hills fruit, this has an intense, stony and mineral freshness with a flinty edge and a wealth of lemon sherbet, white peaches and crushed stones on the nose. Oak is deeply buried. The palate has such striking and intense depth. It’s layered and long and really asserts itself as the most complex and most powerful chardonnay in this release. The depth and pristine grade of fruit here are impressive. Deep, pithy finish.
96 points, JamesSuckling.com (July 2020)
Cool-climate fruit from Tasmania, Tumbarumba and the Adelaide Hills, barrel fermented and matured eight months in 60% new French barriques, the 2018 Yattarna Chardonnay starts off with aromas of roasted nuts and toasted bread set against a backdrop of tart, citrusy fruit. Medium-bodied, there's just enough flesh to let you know this is Chardonnay—maybe a hint of underripe peach or nectarine—but this is more about line and length, with a strong backbone of acidity that drives the flavors forward into a long, mouth-puckering finish. Impressive, yes. But is it really that enjoyable? Maybe down the road, which is the intention.
93+ points, Wine Advocate (July 2020)
This is sourced from the same regions as the Bin 311 - Tasmania, Adelaide Hills, and Tumbarumba. Strikes with the immediate difference of a more flinty minerally and quince-like aroma with just a hint of fresh lime. The palate though is mesmerising. So delicate and poised, yet with such linear dimensions of extraordinary length. Persistent and relentless as it cuts a fine line to a very long finish. Wonderful expression of modern Aussie chardonnay.
97 points, The West Australian (July 2020)
A model of beautifully integrated components and an exercise in good measure and balance. Bright citrus and sharp struck flint grab your attention as the fruit talks confidently, underpinned by dark, savoury notes. But it’s not a simple equation: tight Tasmanian fruit is augmented by luscious white peach notes from Tumbarumba and Adelaide Hills. The oak influence bites in places, then the fruit influence surges back. It’s quite a long, undulating journey, with more poise and assurance in its youth than most Yattarna predecessors.
97 points, David Sly, Decanter (July 2020)
I love it when a wine shocks me, and while ‘18 Yattarna hasn’t the absolute tension or grandeur of the near- perfect 2017, this is a devastatingly alluring wine and it is already performing at a heightened pheromonal level. There is dreamy musk scattered liberally among the lusty fruit notes and at this stage of its life, it is already loving life at the same time as making Bin A look a little occluded. No doubt it will firm up and the gravitas gene will emerge, but for now, this is a hippy chick Yattarna, so grab it for a one-off whirl and then put it back in the cellar to gather its thoughts. There is a lovely cool edge to this wine which will keep it on the straight and not-so-narrow and I imagine that its best years will be at least six years down the track so please be patient.
19+ points (July 2020)
What it lacks in flamboyance it makes up for in finesse. This offers all the complexities you could ever want but if the Reserve Bin A is a water-balloon-above-the-doorway style then this is more of a treasure hunt in a chardonnay garden. Look and you’ll find flint, pear, nectarine, lime and cedar but what you notice more is the strength of the acidity and the startling carry of the finish. The word searing popped into mind. The finish here makes an impression, almost physically, and inspires pleasure, almost painfully. This wine’s waters are calm but we need to float out into them for at least a couple of years before dipping to cup and drink from them.
96+ points, The Wine Front (July 2020)
Fine, complex, really rather burgundian nose and great crystalline fruit and grip without austerity. The acidity level is really quite high compared with many other Chardonnays. Pretty smart. You would be very happy with this if labelled Puligny-Montrachet actually. Good stuff and it should have a long life but could be broached already.
18 points, JancisRobinson.com (June 2020)
South Australia is the driest state on the world’s driest continent. Covering almost 1 million (984 377km) square kilomteres, it represents 12.8% of the Australian land mass. Sweeping plains are intersected by a spine of relatively low lying ranges, the Mount Lofty/Flinders Ranges which extend through the heart of the State. Over 50% of the state is elevated at under 150 metres. The Great Artesian basin covers almost one-third of the State. The major river is the River Murray which lethargically makes its way into the Southern Ocean. This water mass has a moderating effect on climate, particularly in the southern regions of South Australia where most vines are planted.
Summers are generally hot and dry with relatively mild nights. Winters are cool. Rainfall occurs mostly during late autumn/winter (May, June, July, August). Drought and salinity are major concerns.
The principle wine regions in South Australia are; the Adelaide Hills, Barossa (comprising the Barossa and Eden Valleys), Clare Valley, Langhorne Creek, McLaren Vale, Padthaway, Coonawarra and the Riverland. Vineyard expansion has also extended to Wrattonbully, Mount Benson, Bordertown, Robe, Southern Fleurieu and the Flinders Ranges.
It is a tradition for many wine companies to make multi-district blends from South Australian fruit – the idea of house style taking precedence over regional definition. Penfolds pioneered this concept. The vagaries of vintage variation can be evened out by fruit selection, ensuring quality at a high level. However there is debate that this concept comes at the expense of the ‘soul’ of the wine. Penfolds Grange is probably the most famous multi-district blend and is an excellent counter-argument.Andrew Caillard MW, Langton's
Penfolds is probably the most extraordinary of the world’s wine brands with an enviable reputation for quality at every price level. The original Penfold was an English doctor who, in 1844, planted grapes at Magill, now a suburb of Adelaide. However, it was not until the late 1940s that Penfolds began to forge a reputation for red wine.
The Penfolds house style emerged from a fortified wine producing culture and evolved as a winemaking philosophy which has had a profound effect on the entire Australian wine industry. Many of the techniques initially adopted to make Penfolds Grange would become part of the wider Penfolds winemaking culture. The number of techniques employed in the research and development of Penfolds wines is astonishing. Max Schubert and his team pioneered: major advances in yeast technology and paper chromatography; the understanding and use of pH in controlling bacterial spoilage; the use of headed down/submerged cap fermentation and the technique of rack and return; cold fermentation practices; the use of American oak as a maturation vessel and perhaps most critically, partial barrel fermentation. Nowadays, the use of American oak and barrel fermentation for instance is considered traditional Barossa winemaking practice!
Today, Penfolds house style embraces the concept of multi-regional blending, optimum fruit quality, the use of fine-grained American or French oak, barrel fermentation and maturation. Overall, the Penfolds style is about highly-defined fruit aromas, fruit sweetness, ripe tannins, richness, power and concentration. The number of iconic wines that have emerged from the Penfolds stable over the years is remarkable. Bin 389 a Cabernet Shiraz blend released in 1960 is now considered the quintessential Australian wine blend. Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz and Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz released in 1962 pre-empted the contemporary enthusiasm for regional definition by about 25 years. Improved vineyard management, site selection and winemaking brought about subsequent releases of Bin 707 and Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon. The Penfolds Wine Making Philosophy is the accumulation of more than half-a-century of knowledge and winemaking practice initiated by Max Schubert and subsequently refined by Don Ditter, John Duval and Peter Gago. Their collective commitment to multi-regional and vineyard blending contributed to a consistency of style and quality that has cemented Penfolds reputation as the foremost producer of premium age-worthy red wines in Australia.