Bin 389 is the quintessential expression of the Penfolds red wine style. Typically it is fresh, generous and buoyant with ripe dark chocolate, dark berry fruit, beautifully extracted flavours, fine-grained tannins and underlying new oak characters. First produced in 1960, Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz is nicknamed “Poor Man’s Grange” or “Baby Grange” and is one of Australia’s great cellaring red wines. Bin 389 is matured in a combination of new and one and two year old American "ex Grange and Bin 707" hogsheads for 18 months. The best vintages can develop and improve for decades.
Ned Goodwin MW and Langton’s Head of Domestic Buying Ramon Gunasekara discuss the newly released Icons, including Grange and St. Henri, from the Penfolds Collection 2020.
Deep crimson. Intense pure blackcurrant, blackberry aromas with dark chocolate notes. Generously proportioned wine with dense inky cassis, blackberry mulberry fruits, plentiful chocolaty tannins, mocha espresso oak complexity, attractive mid-palate viscosity and superb mineral length. Finishes grainy firm. A classic powerful Bin 389 year with superb fruit complexity, density and attack. Should last the distance.
98 points (2020)
"Often called the ‘baby Grange’, this full-weighted wine boasts all the extract, oomph and Penfolds’ attention to detail: glossy colour, impeccably ripe fruit across premium SA zones, generous American oak cladding and clear capacity to age. Meanwhile, the rich accents of South Australia and the quintessential Cabernet / Shiraz blend of mettle and generosity are on full show: black currant, pastille, anise and hedgerow. This will make exceptional old bones."
96 points (July 2020)
This is a vintage even more introverted, reticent and coiled on release than usual for Bin 389, quite a contrast to the aromatic lift and varietal freshness of Bin 407 this year. In classic 389 form, cabernet and shiraz slot neatly into one another, driven by the deep black fruit density of a warm and dry vintage. As impressively structured as ever, dark chocolate American oak forms an intricate and rigid chassis of firm, fine, enduring tannins. Without the fruit lift, line and persistence of the greatest years, it will nonetheless build in the cellar, holding impressive promise and, as always, only screams out for time – and plenty of it.
94 points (July 2020)
Very deep, dark red colour with a good tint of purple. The bouquet is sweetly super-ripe with loads of blackberry jam and fruit sweetness, the palate likewise sumptuously deep in fruit with oak keeping very much in the background. The flavour fills the mouth superbly and continues long into the aftertaste, harmonised by lashings of soft, ripe tannins. There are definite notes of cassis and herb from the cabernet component and the oak contributes a subtle trace of charred timber that complements the fruit. Sumptuous fruit sweetness. A ripping wine that seems to be less oak-marked than this wine traditionally is.
96 points, The Real Review (July 2020)
A blend of 57% cabernet sauvignon and 43% shiraz, this has a very impressively complete feel, a hallmark of the 2018 vintage wines, and there’s a myriad of characters with cabernet’s cedary and gently herbal notes sitting atop a core of rich red-plum and dark-berry shiraz fruit aromas. So integrated. The palate has a very silky texture, so plush and polished with a wealth of rich and intense dark-plum, dark-berry and blackcurrant flavors. The oak is completely soaked with ripe, fresh fruit. This is a great Bin 389. Drink over the next two decades.
97 points, JamesSuckling.com (July 2020)
Hints of toasted coconut accent big cassis aromas on the nose of the 2018 Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz, which is a 57-43 blend this vintage. Full-bodied, with cherry flesh complementing the sterner cassis and tobacco notes, it's supple enough to be approachable now, yet with the concentration and requisite dusty tannins on the long finish to support more than a decade of aging.
93 points, Wine Advocate (July 2020)
Another multi-regional blend that has resulted in quite an elegant and most stylish expression of this famous Bin. Remains true to its roots with 100% American oak of which 38% was new. Lots of meaty fruit concentration in here with hints of bonox and liqueur cherry. Ripe dark black fruits fill every space with the fine thread of tannin and savoury oak complementing.
96 points, The West Australian (July 2020)
Confident Cabernet (57%) leads this high-spirited, swirling dance, as a breezy wisp of blue and black berries waft over the earthy bulk of sturdy Shiraz. It’s a clever trick for such bright fruit to be contained by tannins in an interlocked embrace, without smothering the obvious exuberance of this marriage. Supple and nimble, it keeps shifting and changing in the glass. A truly beautiful blend.
96 points, David Sly, Decanter (July 2020)
Sooty, rich, brooding and powerful, this is an epic Bin 389 and the partnership between the two varieties is sensational. Both grapes are on top form in this vintage and yet this blend somehow seems to make them soar. Peter Gago explained that it has the most marvellous combination of warmer and cooler sites in this wine and it is this variety, coupled with the sheer quality of the fruit, which makes this vintage such a success. Also, in this vintage Bin 389, acts as an ambassador from wines like Bin 28 and Bin 128 to the big boys, never missing a beat and ensuring a silky-smooth introduction from glossy and rewarding wines to impactful and profound creations. This is a massive score for Bin 389, but it is worth every point thanks to its seamless palate and heroically long finish.
19+ points (July 2020)
It’s a showy Bin 389 or perhaps by that I mean that the oak shows quite a bit. It’s also warm through the finish. It’s substantially flavoured, a bit ferrous, a bit meaty, with coffee, toast and dark chocolate notes adding beef to blackberry, blackcurrant and gum leaf. It has the substance and the structure to age well, if not superbly. I tossed up between 93 and 94 here and, after revisiting many times, finally settled on the former, though it was a close-run thing. It’s not quite as compelling as I expect Bin 389 to be, but its quality is still high.
93+ points, The Wine Front (July 2020)
Slightly cloudy dark crimson. Broad, ripe, well-integrated nose dominated by neither ingredient, but then very aggressive acid and tannin. Not nearly ready. But there's quite a bit packed in there. But distinctly unfriendly at present. Almost painful to taste at this stage.
16++ 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.