Spread and run. This is an excellent wine, flavoursome and balanced but distinguished by its tannin, wow, this really does launch a takeover of your mouth. Berries, leathers, herbs, woods and smokes, everything in harmony, marching, forwards, flags of tannin set deep into the ground from early on in the palate to the end of the assault. There’s richness here but it’s not unwieldy; it’s right, it’s proper. That leathery aspect almost feels a bit secondary though it’s washed over with fresh, concentrated berries. I like the effect, the gentle difference. This needs time time to really bed down but it’s a wine of character and concentration; and of course quality.
95+ points, The Wine Front (July 2022)
Deep crimson. Intense blackcurrant, dark plum, dark chocolate aromas with roasted chestnut, malty oak notes. Full-bodied claret style with abundant blackcurrant, dark plum, mulberry, cedar flavours, chocolaty textures, malty, roasted chestnut notes, and integrated mineral acidity. Very generous and classically Penfolds, with meaty, barrel ferment notes and prominent malt/mocha oak dominating the palate. Finishes chocolaty firm. A largely successful experimental blend, although elemental and unformed. Should settle down in a few more years. Maturation in new French (70%) and new American (30%) oak barriques and hogsheads. Blended and bottled in South Australia. Drink 2026-2038. 14% alc
94 points, The Vintage Journal Penfolds Collection 2022 (July 2022)
Dourthe II stands for two hemispheres, two wineries, two cultures, two worlds (new and old). The 2019 Dourthe II is a blend of 59% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Shiraz (from South Australia) and 12% Merlot and was bottled in Australia due to the Australian fruit component. Penfolds has a disruptive streak that is clear—bottling wine in other countries, taking the iconic and idiosyncratic Australian blend (Cabernet/Shiraz) to foreign shores and back again... Here, the American oak emerges through the finish and provides a familiarity in the context of Penfolds—it grounds it. The tannic structure is fine and tightly knit; the fruit speaks of cassis, blueberries, graphite, black olive, licorice and star anise, and there's an injection of tobacco leaf and cigar box too... a melding of two worlds. It seems to me that this wine still has a way to go; combining Australian Shiraz and Bordeaux Cabernet Sauvignon (and Merlot) creates something of a stylistic clash in the wine, but the construction—the winemaking—knits it all back together. We know nothing about how this wine will age, but all the components—regional and winemaking—suggest a comfortable couple of decades.
94 points, Wine Advocate (July 2022)
Bordeaux meets the Barossa Valley. The concept here is principally to showcase the great Australian red blend – cabernet shiraz – to the world. The addition of merlot (percentage unknown) into the mix is something of an aside to the star duo, contributing some aromatics and plushness to the palate. The French component was made at two Dourthe-owned wineries in Bordeaux, then blended with Penfolds shiraz and bottled at its Nuriootpa winery in the Barossa. The Bordeaux harvest was punctuated by the odd heatwave and drought conditions. Similarly, the Barossa experienced a hot summer. This has produced a generous flavour base for the wine filled with a rich selection of chocolate notes, black berries, stewed plums, violet, anise, clove, cinnamon. And earth, that touch of Bordeaux cabernet, which plays with the pencil shavings-smoky oak, and teams with plush fruit and some focused tannins to deliver a wine that is good drinking now but with the ability to age.
94 points, Wine Pilot (July 2022)
Exotic blackberry, tobacco, sour-cherry and ferrous/dried-blood overtones. A trace of pepper/spice, an almost Barolo-like touch of 'rusty bucket'; the palate firm and deep with gentle bitterness from quite gritty tannins, the end-palate and finish having French-like humus and sousbois notes. Good length and potential. (Bordeaux & Barossa Valley; a partnership with Dourthe)
93 points, The Real Review (June 2022)
A wine from northern and southern hemispheres, old and new world. Breaking the rules or writing new rules? The interest here is as much about the success of the blending relationship of the two regions as it is about all the specific tasting elements. The breakdown is thus: 59% cabernet sauvignon and 12 % merlot from Bordeaux, with the 29% shiraz component from the Barossa Valley. The French wines were made at two cellars owned by the House of Dourthe, the shiraz at Penfolds’ Nuriootpa winery. The three parcels were blended and bottled in South Australia. In the glass, the first messages are all about dark fruits, mint and herbals, licorice as well as Middle Eastern spices. Oak makes its presence felt after 18 months in French and American barrels, a good percentage new. The wine is still very tight with tannins in charge of the palate – put a bottle way back in the waiting room as there are years ahead for the fruit balance to rise and shine.
93 points, Wine Pilot (July 2022)
Penfolds' newest Wine of the World, following very much in the footsteps of the Quantum Bin 98 and Bin 149 Californian/South Australian Cabernet-Shiraz wines released in 2021. Built as a monument and very much a loud statement, this seems to be manufactured by design rather than allowing fruit personality or terroir to enter the conversation. Fusing Bordeaux Cabernet Sauvignon with South Australian Shiraz offers a delicious prospect, but there’s none of the warmth or affection in this wine that is seen in other great Australian versions of this blend. The magic of combining these two varieties should be evident in the delicious mid-palate satisfaction it brings, but here’s it’s all harsh edges and bossy dark fruit that needs a long time in the cellar to settle.
92 points, David Sly, Decanter (June 2022)
A partnership between Penfolds and Dourthe that has produced a trans-hemispherical red blend, labelled ‘Wine of the World’, of 59% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Australian (Barossa Valley) Shiraz, 12% Bordeaux Merlot. (The 2020 blend is apparently quite different because of the trials of the 2020 vintage in Australia.) This was a hot and dry vintage in the Barossa Valley, with 31 days of temperatures exceeding 35 °C. 18 months in French (70% new) and American oak (30% new) barriques and hogsheads. The Bordeaux grapes come from Dourthe’s Chx La Garde and Belgrave and the blend was made by Gago and Frédéric Bonnaffous at Ch Belgrave and bottled in Australia, with unbottled wine sent in 1-m cubes of stainless steel in a wooden frame by air freight. TA 5.8 g/l, pH 3.66.
There’s an attractively fresh bordeaux start to this wine that then goes on to contrast with the much riper, warmer, slightly heavier, dustier Oz Shiraz. And then at the moment there’s a rather dry, sudden finish. 14%
16.5+ points, JancisRobinson.com (July 2022)
The great Australian blend goes global! And it works. Very well. The tension, focus and rigid framework of Bordeaux are fleshed out with the body of Barossa shiraz, without in any way diminishing the linear drive and confident tannin web that promise a future of Penfolds proportions. Super high class new French and American oak. Patience.
95 points (July 2022)
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.