Penfolds Bin 95 Grange Shiraz is Australia's most famous wine with a reputation for superb fruit complexity and flavour richness. An exquisitely perfumed, concentrated wine, Penfolds Bin 95 Grange Shiraz combines the intensely rich fruit and ripe tannins of Shiraz with the fragrance and complementary nuances of new, fine-grained American oak. A portion of Cabernet Sauvignon is used in some years to enhance the aromatics and palate structure.
This is going to be a legendary Grange. The wine shows an extraordinarily intense nose of creme de cassis intermixed with blueberries and almost floral notes. As the wine sits in the glass, some meat, plum, and cola notes emerge. In the mouth, it is absolute perfection, seamless, with extraordinarily sweet tannin, well-integrated acidity, sensational extract, and just layer upon layer of blackberry and cassis fruits that stain the palate and fill the mouth. Its harmony, freshness, and remarkable length (nearly a minute) suggest an all-time classic and another legend. 99 points, The Wine Advocate (2002).
Deep purple-red, it oozes blackberry, blackcurrant and licorice from every pore, the palate a sumptuously smooth velvet cushion of small black fruits. It will outlive anyone who can afford to buy it.
97 points, Wine Companion (October 2003)
The temptation must have been to create a monster and while there’s plenty of weighty, black, aniseedy fruit here, the salaciousness is entirely less aggressive than you’d expect. In short, it’s curvaceous but considered; it’s full of saturated, plummy fruit that somehow has proven almost totally porous to the best-of-the-best new American oak. At this early stage complexity is no great issue and yet there’s an array of fruit flavours already showing: bright, crushed cranberry, dense blackberry, licorice, raisins, woodspice and a hiss of blueberry, with a spit-and-polish of sweet smoky milk chocolate flavour. It’s like a bigger version of the 1998 St Henri, with oak a lot less prominent than you’d expect.
97 points, The Wine Front (January 2005)
Rich and plummy, with leather, spices and smoked meats. Full-bodied, with a velvety and lovely fruitiness. Goes to cigar box, cigar leather pouch and a long flavorful finish. Yet reserved.
94 points, JamesSuckling.com (February 2015)
Dark colour: big roasted nose, cooked fruits, toasty charred oak, savoury; a big ballsy wine that is very warm, very ripe and perhaps not as tight or elegant or fresh as a classic Grange. Fat, broad, rich and ample but lacks tightness and finesse. Second bottle: a bit more vivacity and detail in its flavours. Even better. Now to 20 years.
93 points, The Real Review (September 2007)
Very deep red-ruby. Smoky, deeply concentrated fruit bomb of a nose: blackberry, dark plum, cassis; creamy vanilla and lightly toasty coconutty oak; and ethereal background notes of white pepper, smoked meats, musky spices, tar and licorice. Profoundly concentrated but velvety-smooth and seamless; impressively muscular and thickly coated with oak, and bound by drying, astringent tannins. Without question the most concentrated Grange of all time, utterly steeped in blackberry flavors; a real show pony. It's also the most alcoholic Grange ever made, and at a declared 14.5% does taste warm and spirity - the first Grange to do so. It also ventures to some degree into the realm of currant and prune. No doubt a brilliant wine, but only time will tell if, with its elevated alcohol and its superripe flavors, this 1998 version ranks with the very best Grange vintages.
97 points, Vinous (July 2003)
A wine of surprising subtlety for the vintage, playing its ripe cherry, red plum and herb flavors against firm tannins that have a bit of grit to them. But those lively cherry and raspberry flavors burst through, and there's a nice hint of green herbs lingering around the finish, which doesn't subside easily.
97 points, Wine Spectator (2008)
Untold wealth is required to acquire this wine since Robert Parker gave it '99/99+' No one could fail to admire this wine, which in this particular vintage contains about three per cent of the Cabernet Sauvignon Penfolds found most remarkable from the 1998 vintage. It's extraordinarily concentrated in every way (although it failed to line the glass with purple as young vintage port does – a phenomenon I remember from my first acquaintance with young Grange in the mid-1980s). The colour is as brash as squashed elderberries. The nose is extraordinarily deep, dragging you in to its intensity, and with a strong lifted/volatile element (not to the point of a wine fault but certainly noticeable). Then on the palate there's a round sweetness that makes it almost unctuous. The level of acidity (7.2 in tartaric apparently; pH 3.5) is quite remarkable – verging on painful – but the considerable tannin charge of this wine is almost abscured by the sheer mass of all that concentrated ripe fruit. I found the finish a little bit hot though the wine is 'only' 14.5 per cent alcohol, I'm told. So, yes, like most vintages of Grange, I admire this wine – indeed I admire this particular vintage more than most. But I have to say I would never buy a bottle. Its price relative to the purity of pleasure it gives this particular palate just doesn't make sense. I relish every chance I get to taste Grange but find myself exhausted rather than delighted by drinking it.
18 points, JancisRobinson.com (September 2003)
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.