A couple of months ago I had the privilege of meeting Justin Knock MW, brand ambassador of Penfolds (God, I’ve been meaning to write this for a couple of months – The Motley Cru is getting worse at maintaining this blog I fear!).
Not only this, but I had the good fortune of sitting in on the tasting he was conducting with wine press of the very top end of the Penfolds portfolio thanks to one of the aforementioned winos dropping out at the last minute; I tend to avoid Schadenfreude, but on this occasion I could not help but let it wash warmly over me.
Justin could not have been more affable and amiable; his official online profile picture shows him as a quite quite distinguished, clean-cut fellow – in other words how you’d expect a Master of Wine to look- but the man I met was tousle-haired, languid and easy company – in other words exactly the type of person you’d like your MW to actually be.
The masterclass took place in the fantastic first floor private room of the Cliff Townhouse in Dublin, which if you’ve never been I highly recommend for any event or private function that requires a classy room with a touch, but not too much, antique detail overlooking The Green.
So, the wines. We began with two excellent whites, the first being the Bin 51 Eden Valley Riesling 2012, which subtle yet varietally pure with gorgeous lime and flint notes on the nose; the palate was electric, deliciously dry and, as I read now from my notes, a “classy drop”. A really excellent Riesling in other words, from a cool-climate (for Australia anyway!) area from where I am yet to taste a bad drop.
Then on to the Bin 311 ‘Henty’ Chardonnay 2011. Each year Penfolds produce the barrel-fermented Bin 311 from a different region, and for the 2011 it was an area called Henty in Victoria which made the cut. I loved it for its delicate and balanced use of oak, which I’m sure that anyone who follows Aussie Chards can attest is a touchy topic given their abuse of said wood over the preceding decades. But this had style and only a lick of the oak to give an almost savoury, grilled white meat aspect to the nose; the palate was deliciously creamy and soft, a little bit of nice acidity with vanilla, lemon zest, and a touch of butter popping in too.
They were really, really impressive whites and highly recommended should you come across them, though they are on the pricey side. In the next post I’ll look at the red Bins, and, rest assured, more plaudits are on the way.
Penfolds Bin 51 Eden Valley Riesling 2012
€32 approx. from good specialist off-licences
Penfolds Bin 311 ‘Henty’ Chardonnay 2011
€47 approx. from good specialist off-licences