Grange and St Henri once were equals. But as Grange's fame grew, St Henri was eclipsed. Now St Henri is again re–emerging from the shadow of Grange. Matured in large, old vats that impart little or no oak character, St Henri is Shiraz au naturel. '…a wine of effortless, refined persistence', says Tyson Stelzer, '…with a silky, supple mouth feel and yet somehow still firm and enduring'. Says James Halliday: 'A great St Henri that will come into its own in a bare minimum of 10 years, and live long thereafter'.
96% Shiraz, 4% Cabernet Sauvignon.
Medium deep colour. Lovely fragrant aromas with intense blackberry, inky espresso aromas. Inky textured wine with lovely fruit complexity and balance. Well-concentrated yet modulated blackberry pastille and espresso flavours, looseknit graphite/ fine-boned chalky textures and roasted almond notes. Finishes chalky firm with blackberry pastille, inky notes. Delicious and classic in style with superb vinosity and fruit complexity. Should develop very well over the next 10 years or so. 96 points, Andrew Caillard, MW
This 2013 Shiraz St Henri follows in the blockbuster footsteps of the 2010 and 2012. The blend is 96% Shiraz with 4% Cabernet Sauvignon and the fruit sources are far and wide, including a real mix of terroirs: McLaren Vale, Adelaide Hills, Barossa Valley, Clare Valley, Padthaway and Port Lincoln. It spent 12 months in 50+-year-old casks. Deep garnet-purple coloured, the youthfully reticent nose is complex, offering loam, aged meat, licorice, tar, scorched earth, fenugreek and cloves over a cherry cordial, blueberry pie and dried mulberries core. The medium to full-bodied palate reveals lovely, understated elegance and depth with a firm backbone of ripe, grainy tannins and many fruit and spice layers emerging on the finish. This is one for the long-long haul and, at a fraction of the price of Grange, should be where the smart money goes for stocking the cellar. 97 points, robertparker.com
Deep, dense, dark red/purple colour. The bouquet is subdued and discreet, with fresh earth and discreet spice notes. The palate is where the fireworks really happen. Its silky smooth, supremely elegant and fruit-sweet within its casing of fine powdery tannins. Soft and fleshy, elegant and not as full-bodied as other Penfolds reds this year. A lovely, lovely wine. 96 points, Huon Hooke, huonhooke.com
There’s a sweetness to the fruit, a feeling of loose even flow, a clear push of fruit ripeness and a fleshy, fruit-filled linger to the finish. St Henri is such an interesting wine to look at in its youth. It’s renowned for its ageworthiness and yet it often looks a little leathery and advanced, and lacking in tannin, in its youth. Its history makes you stop and think more than the juice in the glass. I like this release but I’m not falling over myself for it; a de rigueur reaction to a young St Henri. It reminds me more of 1999 than of 1998. The main impression? Lovely generosity of berried fruits.
93 points, The Wine Front (October 2016)
Always a blended wine, both in terms of region and the sometimes inclusion of less than 15% cabernet sauvignon (this vintage 4%), and made in the polar opposite style to Grange, matured in very old, large oak vats. I doubt it will ever be graced with a bin number. Perhaps it's simply the vintage, but the back-palate and finish are at odds with the rest of the wine, and most prior vintages, in particularly the superb '12.
90 points, Wine Companion (September 2016)
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.