Penfolds RWT Barossa Shiraz is a distinctly modern wine that articulates the Barossa terroir with Penfolds’ signature method of winemaking. First vintaged in 1997 after several years of 'Red Winemaking Trials', RWT is typically inky deep in colour, with sumptuous fruit sweetness, mouth-filling flavours, underlying spice, savoury nuances and chocolaty tannins. The wine is matured in new and seasoned French oak for around 12 to 15 months.
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 (July 2021)
Very deep red/purple colour. Profound aromas of roasted nuts, smoked meats, graphite earthiness, iron-stoniness, tar, a hint of blackberry jam. The palate is very full-bodied and broad, a wide-bodied wine with masses of tannins that coat the entire palate. An exotic, decadent wine with hints of surmaturité, opulent to its very long finish. There's more grip, grunt and rusticity than the Magill, but it's just as good in its way. It's a great foil and contrast for the Magill. (18 months in French oak hogsheads, 57% new, 43% one year old)
98 points, The Real Review (June 2021)
Full bottle 1,525 g. Aged for 18 months in French oak hogsheads (57% new, 43% one year old).
Blackish purple. Intensely high-toned but tight – not opulent – as though it's desperately trying to be serious! On the nose, it would be fun to slide this in to a blind tasting of young Hermitages! Smooth as silk!!! Maybe that should be Guigal Côte Rôties rather than Hermitages… As with the Bin 707, I could drink this tonight, despite knowing it will blossom into something even more complex and has quite enough tannin under that glorious fruit to develop over many years. Obviously the dry finish mandates some assertive food with this. Scrummy. Or should I say delicious as I think 'scrummy' was rather derided last time I used it? Great balance and nothing over the top.
18 points, JancisRobinson.com (July 2021)
Arguably the most dramatic of the collection’s releases this year, this shiraz is all stops out, turbo charger on, power chords played, yet with precision and accuracy delivering an exciting aromatic introduction then sustained and reverberating interest. Think the most enticing bakery smells of berry tarts, fruit cake, then flint (with a tiny lift of VA), morphing into the French oak influences of cedar, capers and sandalwood – all of which the Penfolds team has noted as well in their own tasting assessments. The matrix within the wine is what compels – complex yet intricate, full-bodied yet pliable and enticing. Indulgent yet convincing.
97 points, Wine Pilot
Longtime readers will know of my personal fondness for this wine, going back nearly to its first vintage, the 1997. That said, the 2019 RWT Shiraz Bin 798 continues this wine's impressive run, artfully combining hedonistic waves of mixed fruit with the balancing and structural effects of 18 months in French oak hogsheads (57% new, with the balance second-fill). Dark chocolate and vanilla notes join blackberries and plums on the concentrated, full-bodied palate, picking up hints of coffee, black olives and licorice on the long, silky-textured finish. This should easily age up to two decades.
96 points, Wine Advocate (July 2021)
The depth of big bass notes shows the presence of Marananga fruit in the rich blend, rounding out a completely seductive portrait of Shiraz. It’s highly fragrant, with notes of sage over redcurrant and lush purple berries, while the rich mid-palate rolls effortlessly in the mouth, before elegant oak binds it all to ensure a dry, savoury finish. Its easy marriage of style and substance is most alluring.
96 points, David Sly, Decanter (June 2021)
A strident RWT with a regional signature of tar and coal smoke to the ripe plums and blackberries. Such intense, ripe dark-plum and blackberry drive on powerful, deep-set tannins that run long through the finish. Contained power. Drink over the next decade.
96 points, JamesSuckling.com (July 2021)
Super-premium shiraz, in intent and in the glass. Powerful to the point of portiness, indeed it’s almost tokay-like, with tea leaves and malt, plum and roasted nut characters woven into licorice, cedar and sweet blackberry. All the feels. All the things. This is steadfastly unsubtle. If it was a meal you wouldn’t slice it, you’d axe it. It’s so powerful, it hums. It’s going places but not in a hurry.
95 points, The Wine Front (July 2021)
Matured 18 months in 57% new French oak hogsheads. A strong and robust Bin 798 of grand black-fruit impact, framed boldly in French oak tannins of enduring structure. Spicy black fruits of all kinds meet licorice and dark chocolate. Mouth-embracing tannin impact declares both the mood of the drought season and confidently deployed barrels, making for a vintage that commands a long spell in the cellar. Great line and length seal its future.
95 points, Wine Companion (July 2021)
Opaque violet. Deeply pitched cherry, blackcurrant, licorice and incense aromas are complemented by vanilla and woodsmoke flourishes. Shows outstanding clarity and power, offering densely packed black/blue fruit, candied violet, cola and spicecake qualities, along with a peppery nuance that builds with aeration. Chewy and energetic on the strikingly long, sappy finish, which features well-knit tannins, lingering vanilla and spice notes.
95 points, Vinous (July 2021)
Penfolds winemakers work to a particular style with RWT. It has to be “opulent and fleshy,” a counter to Grange’s “muscular and assertive” ways. French oak with a high-ish degree of new barrels apparent has also been a feature of the wine since its launch with the ’97 vintage. And, so it continues in the 2019 release, although Penfolds watchers might note that at 57%, the level of new oak is slowly receding. Our taste for new oak is not what it was, and that’s a good thing.
A smooth operator, RWT impresses with its depth of Barossan intensity and shiraz fruit concentration. It’s packed tight from aroma to flavour with layers of dusty black berries, warm earth, sage and thyme, a touch savoury, too. But, above all, the wine is all about an abiding Barossa DNA: a boldness, density, with a lasting impact. Once, such a wine from Penfolds would have been dressed in American oak but under French oak the accent is more polished. It’s glossy and smooth, supple tannins running the line and length. The winemaker suggests a peak drinking window from 2025 to 2050. I think I would be calling it a little earlier, just to be sure.
95 points, Wine Pilot
This version of Barossa Shiraz sees only French oak, while Grange is all American. To be exact, 18 months in French hogsheads, 57% new and 43% one-year-old. Black blue in colour with a purple edge. This has noticeable oak at the moment, to the extent that it embalms the fruit a little more than one would wish, but it is early days and this will surely resolve itself. Black fruits, coffee grinds, a hint of salami, mulberries, soy. Good intensity, but at the moment, too tightly wound, too closed. This needs a lot of time. More time than I can recall an RWT needing at this early stage. Still, if one can provide that time then the wait will be rewarded. Coiled power on the palate. Firm, quite solid tannins. Good length. For me at this stage, while it is obviously a very fine wine, it is a fractional one-dimensional. Even a touch chunky. But this is nothing that time will not resolve. Today, 95 for me, but no other wine in the Collection has more room for improvement.
95 points, Wine Pilot
Colonel William Light, the South Australian colony’s Surveyor-General, named the Barossa in 1837 after the site of an English victory over the French in the Spanish Peninsular War. In the mid-1800’s Silesian and English immigrants settled in the area. The Barossa itself comprises two distinct sub-regions: Eden Valley and the warmer Barossa Valley floor at 270m.The Barossa Valley enjoys a warm Mediterranean climate characterised by hot dry summers and relatively low rainfall. Cool sea breezes from the Gulf of St Vincent modify the temperature, however hot northerly winds can occasionally dominate creating considerable vine stress. Many older established vineyards are dry-grown, but supplementary irrigation is also extensively used. The valley is comprised of rich brown soils and alluvial sands. A long history of uninterrupted viticulture in the area means the Barossa valley is home to Australia’s largest concentration of old-vine Shiraz, Grenache and Mourvedre with many over 100 years old. Although most famous for Shiraz, the Barossa can also produce fragrant and deliciously fruity Grenache blends and beautifully rich, chocolatey Cabernet Sauvignons.
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.