Tag Archives: Penfolds

Penfolds: A Liaison with a Legend

Wine regions are often classified as either “Old World” or “New World”, a convenient, if blunt, dichotomy that in reality means Europe and everywhere else, respectively.

But many “New World” producers are quite uncomfortable with being called ‘new’, given a lot of them have been around for over a century. They’re also wary of the negative connotations the label has with most regular consumers, where it is often thought that the ‘new’ can’t ever be as good as the ‘old’.

But until a more satisfactory and snappy categorisation can be agreed on, then the old Eurocentric terminology will be with us for some time yet. That doesn’t stop New World producers understandably raising the issue in exasperation every now and then, however.

Once such occasion was in 2013, when Australian winery Penfolds was named Best New World Winery by the respected Wine Enthusiast magazine in the US. At the same time the publication also named the famous Spanish producer Marqués de Riscal as their European Winery of the Year, colloquially known to all involved as the ‘Old World Winery of the Year Award’.

penfolds-collage-1

Peter Gago, the Penfolds Chief Winemaker, accepted the award in New York on behalf of the winery, and though he was truthfully very honoured he couldn’t help but raise the old bête noire in his acceptance speech.

Gago pointed out that the ‘historic’ Marqués de Riscal was founded in 1858, a full fourteen years after Dr. Christopher Rawson Penfold established a small winery at Magill Estate, near Adelaide in South Australia, in 1844.

So, effectively, the best “New World” winery that year was older than the best “Old World” winery. And though Gago didn’t labour the point, the inference was crystal clear: the hackneyed terminology we so casually use is not only condescending and potentially damaging, it’s also simply factually incorrect in many cases.

Though it was generous of Gago to raise the flag once again for the “New World”, he personally didn’t need to fret as his winery has perhaps done more than most to take on the big boys of the “Old World”, often winning out in many cases. For Penfolds is one of those wineries that induce misty-eyed admiration from all creeds of wine lovers, given their history, prominence and aspirations – and now thanks to a new innovation by their Irish importers we’ll have a chance to ‘Experience’ Penfolds more easily this Autumn.

In The Mix

Sam Stephens, European Brand Manager for Penfolds, relayed the above anecdote to us this August while he was in Dublin to launch for the first time a set of four mixed cases of wine dubbed The Penfolds Experience Collection.

Tackling the range of Penfolds wines can be a bit daunting, it has to be said. Apart from their critically acclaimed Koonunga Hill range at the introductory level, the vast majority of their wines are known by their ‘bin numbers’, which historically indicated where in the warehouse they were stored.But there isn’t any hierarchy nor any obvious pattern to the numbering, so getting your head around the Bin Range can often be a case of rote learning rather than deduction.

penfolds-collage-2

This is where this new collection of mixed cases comes in. Bringing “learning by doing” to a new context, Irish consumers now have the opportunity to taste through themed cases of Penfolds wines rather than choosing one – often at random – from your off-licence shelf.

 

A Journey of a Thousand Sips…

The experience begins with The Explorer’s Collection, a set of five wines that serve as a wide-ranging introduction to the rarefied world of Penfolds’ Bins, allowing a glimpse of Penfolds’s blending prowess, a taster of a number of grapes they’re adept at producing, and a side-by-side comparison of two takes on that most Australian of grapes, Shiraz.

The case contains the Bin 8 Cabernet Shiraz, their approachable version of the famous “Aussie Blend”; the Bin 138 Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre, Penfolds’s take on the famous trilogy of grapes that call the Rhône their home; the Bin 2 Shiraz Mourvedre, originally released in 1960 and again recently reinstated after hiatus of a few decades; and finally two ‘straight’ Shirazes: Bin 128 which is sourced exclusively from Coonawarra, and Bin 28 Kalimna which is a multi-regional blend.

As the name suggests this is the perfect set from which to start your Penfolds exploration and, despite being from the same producer, offers a wide range of styles to enjoy. Ideal for Christmas, if I may be allowed to mention ‘The C Word” this early!

penfolds-collage-3

A Good Year

Things start to get serious pretty quickly from then on in. Next up is The 2013 Vintage Collection, a set of three pairs of wines retailing at €350 which – you guessed it – were all harvested three years ago.

But it’s not a random assortment, thankfully, and it’s clear some thought has gone into the wines that make up the mix: a 100% Cabernet in the guise of Bin 407, the 100% Shiraz Bin 150 Marananga, and then a Cabernet / Shiraz blend via the famous Bin 389.

This innovative assembly not only allows the chance to hold your own ‘horizontal tasting’ – that is, sampling wines across a common vintage – but it also allows the opportunity to experience two 100% varietal wines before seeing what they taste like blended together. It’s almost like being a winemaker for the day. Almost.

 

The Wine from Dr. Penfold’s Back Garden

If you were paying attention earlier then the name ‘Magill’ will ring a bell – yes, it’s where Dr. Christopher Rawson Penfold established his winery in 1844, so these wines are literally from where it all started.

I’d highly recommend searching for “Penfolds Magill Estate Winery” on Google Maps to witness the unusual sight of what is today a fully-fledged vineyard and winery in the suburbs of a major city, an oddity resulting from the city gradually extending out to – and eventually around – the original Magill Estate vineyard.

The Magill Experience Collection contains three pairs of vintages of the eponymous wine – 2008, 2010 and 2011 – allowing the superb opportunity to taste through the seasons of this tiny walled vineyard that is a mere 8kms from Adelaide city centre.

It’s truly the serious collector’s case and a chance to taste 170 years of history.

 

The Wine at the End of the Earth

The pinnacle. The zenith. The wine that was initially made in secret, such was its revelatory approach. The wine that is only one of a handful in the world to ever achieve 100 points in both the Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator for the same vintage. One of the most collectible wines in the world and the only wine to be listed as a Heritage Icon by the South Australian National Trust, such is its prominence.

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So Penfolds Grange is an important wine, to say the least; a legend in the truest sense. Many wine lovers would consider themselves lucky to even taste Grange, let alone get their hands on a flight of three different vintages.

But that opportunity is a distinct possibility today, thanks to The Grange Experience Collection. Though not cheap at a hearty €3,000, to buy a single bottle on its own can cost roughly €700-€800, depending on the retailer. If you can find a bottle, that is.

The 2009 is best enjoyed first with its generous lush fruit. Then you can argue over whether to sample the concentrated and intense plum and baking spice of the 2010, or the supple eucalypt tinge of the 2011.

Or, indeed, get the Coravin out and enjoy a tasting glass of each over the course of a decade or more. Either way, these wines are in for the long haul.


THREE TO TRY

The Explorer’s Collection
€180 from select specialist off-licences this Autumn.
This really is an excellent intro to the world of Penfolds.

Penfolds: The Australian Wine Legend you Can Count On

The 2013 Vintage Collection
€350 from select specialist off-licences this Autumn
I really enjoyed the thoughtful, straight-forward approach of this case, from the rich but elegantly balanced Bin 407 Cabernet to the heady and opulent Bin 150 Marananga Shiraz, finishing at the famous “Baby Grange” that is the decadently delicate Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz.

Penfolds: The Australian Wine Legend you Can Count On

The Magill Experience Collection
€600 from select specialist off-licences this Autumn
A real collector’s case, offering three different styles of wine from three distinctly different vintages. Start with the austere, maturing 2008 then move on to the fuller but still restrained 2011 vintage, before finishing on the opulent 2011 tinged with baking spice and blackberry.

Penfolds: The Australian Wine Legend you Can Count On

 

This post originally appeared on TheTaste.ie

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The Australian Wine Fair 2016

Our Antipodean adventures continue.

Tomorrow – conveniently the day after Australia Day – there will be an Australian wine fair in the Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin, which really can’t be missed.

The details?

2016 Wine Australia Consumer Tasting
When: Wednesday 27th January 2016
Time: 6.30pm to 8.30pm

Where: The Gallagher Gallery of the Royal Hibernian Academy
How Much: €15
Tickets: click here to buy! 

By gosh, there will be so many delicious wine on offer – if you can get there at 6.30pm on the button as 2 hours simply won’t be enough to get through all the amazing producers, amongst whom will be:

Kirrihill; McGuigan; Yellow Tail; Yalumba; Vasse Felix; Peter Lehmann Wines; Lisa McGuigan; d’Arenberg; De Bortoli; Deakin Estate; Katnook Estate; Kelly’s Patch; Thompson Estate; Howard Park; Kangarilla Road; Route du Van Wines; Woodlands Wines; WD Wines; Wirra Wirra; Penfolds; Wynns; Wolf Blass; Coldstream Hills; Beelgara; Moss Brothers; Pepperton Estate; Riddoch Run; Cumulus…

I personally can’t wait to be there, and encourage anyone with an interest in wine in general to make it their business to be there. Sure what else would you be doing on a wet Wednesday night?!

TheTaste.ie: Wines for Autumn

Some of you may know that I contribute to TheTaste.ie, easily the foremost food & drink website in Ireland. I’ve often thought I should re-post those articles here on TheMotleyCru.com, but for some reason I’ve never got around to it before now. So anyway, without further ado, here was my September article which you can also read on TheTaste.ie by clicking here.


As of Tuesday 1st September, we’ll officially be in Autumn. This may not come as a surprise to many, given that July was so wet and August left a lot to be desired – it’s almost as if we skipped summer altogether!

But there have been whispers of an Indian Summer potentially appearing this month, which may offer the chance of wheeling out those barbecues one last time before the evenings begin to darken.

So below are some autumnal wines to match the change in season. These straddle the divide between lighter summer styles and bigger, richer wines suited to winter. Perfect for when the sun finally shines… or not, as the case may be.

 

Penfolds Koonunga Hill Autumn Riesling
€20.99 from O’Briens and other good independent off-licences nationwide

The Penfolds Koonunga Hill Autumn Riesling is a perennial favourite that I like to trot out at this time of year, for how many wines are there with a season in the title?!

Thankfully, the quality of the wine is more than capable of walking the walk. Easily-spotted thanks to its retro 70’s label – the decade the wine was first created by the famous Max Shubert – this is an Aussie take on this famous grape variety that has its spiritual home in Germany.

Expect a very definitive lime character to this wine, but also rose petal floral aromatics, pear, and exotic flowers. A small addition of another grape called Traminer adds a Turkish delight and spice twist too.

 

Deakin Estate Chardonnay
€10.99 from Donnybrook Fair, Dublin; Redmond’s of Ranelagh, Dublin; Ardkeen Stores, Waterford; Bradley’s of Cork; and other good independent off-licences

For me, Deakin is a bit of an anomaly. Without wanting to get into too much detail, most Australian wines around this price are usually sourced from a large generic area of of the country, oftentimes the dreaded 2,000km expanse called “South Eastern Australia”, meaning these wines are often blends of regions hundreds if not thousands of kilometres from each other.

For Deakin, though, not only do their grapes come entirely from their own vineyards, ensuring above average quality control from start to finish, but all of Deakin Estate’s wines are sourced and produced entirely within a small 350ha area of the Murray Darling region in North Victoria.

Sounds relatively straight-forward, and it is – but usually not at this price. The result is that Deakin Estate’s wines are lighter, balanced and more subtle, with this Chardonnay is a case in point – simple, medium-bodied, balanced and very refreshing. Most appealing of all, perhaps, is the price: this is one of the best-value Aussies around.
San Michele a Torri, Chianti Colli Fiorentini
€15.99 from The Organic Supermarket online and in-store in Blackrock, Rathgar and Malahide

[I featured this more extensively on a recent post which you can read here]

This was a nice little surprise I discovered for myself recently. It’s a fully certified organic wine from that most famous of wine regions – Chianti – or more accurately a specific zone of the region called Colli Fiorentini, close to the famous renaissance city of Florence.

Made mostly with the traditional Tuscan grape Sangiovese, it also has a dollop of the equally local Canaiolo and Colorino thrown in for good measure. The result is – for my money – an excellent and approachable wine that’s a great value representation of what the region can offer.

Give it a few swirls in the glass to open up and you’ll be rewarded with a delightfully fresh and lively wine, full of the cherries and vivacious acidity that you’d expect from a nice Chianti. It mellows out and evolves over the course on an evening – or days – and runs the gamut of red berry flavours (redcurrant especially) with some nice lip-smacking savouriness.

 

Bagante Mencía Joven Bierzo
€13.95 from Cases.ie

If you’d like to be seen as being on top of the game as far as up-and-coming wines are concerned, then you’d do worse than picking this wine: little-known Spanish region (Bierzo)? Check. Little-known Spanish grape (Mencía)? Check. Clean minimalist labelling? Check check check.

In all seriousness, I was really taken by this medium-bodied, fresh and easy, lively wine. Juicy and fruity, I could drone on about various berry flavours, but this is a wine to be drank and enjoyed, not laboured over too much. Enjoy it Spanish-style: in the sun, with nibbles and good friends.

 

Graham’s Fine White Port
€21.95 from Mitchell & Son

What’s this? Port? Isn’t that a winter drink?

Well yes and no. The Port we’re used to – that heavy red stuff – is indeed a deliciously wintery drink. But make Port in the same way though with white grapes instead of red and you get, well, White Port, with flavours of honeyed almonds offset by some sweet citrus elements in the case of the Graham’s Fine White.

Throw away all preconceptions of Port when tackling the white version: for one, you should serve it chilled, then serve it as an aperitif rather than a dessert wine (though it will equally well serve that role too). If you’re feeling very adventurous, try mixing it with tonic to make a refreshing Port Tonic, just like the locals do, or even use it in place of Vermouth in other cocktails. Saúde!

The Penfolds Ultra-Premium Experience: Part 3 of 3

This is the third post of three – click here for the first post, and here for the second.

As if the preceding flight of Bins wasn’t mind-blowing enough for one day, we still had the heavyweights ahead of us, what Penfolds call their ‘Icon and Luxury Collection.’St Henri Shiraz

First up was the St Henri 2010. Made without any new oak, instead opting for 14 months in old 1,460 litre vats (as opposed to the popular 225 litre barriques, for example), this is a 97% shiraz with barely a spit of 3% Cabernet. It was gorgeous on the nose,  deep and soft with some kirsch, white pepper and raisins, but the palate was a little hot I felt, which outed its gob-smacking 14.5% alcohol. Beyond this it was deep but restrained, with a solid core of tannin. I felt overall that it was still unresolved and needed time to allow the heat and tannin to die down and integrate more fully.

RWTThen on to another 14.5% alcohl behemoth: the RWT 2010. Penfolds are noted for blending wines across regions, but the RWT is their single-region wine, being sourced exclusively from the shiraz heartland of the Barossa Valley. RWT stands for “Red Winemaking Trial”, which was its moniker when it was still an initial concept back in 1995. Being 100% shiraz, I was taken by its surprisingly Cabernet-like characteristics of blackberry initially on the nose, before leading into some more typical blueberry and black pepper territory. It had a gorgeous, silky palate, especially following from the St Henri, though heightened tannin and acidity here suggested that this also needs some time to lie down. With excellent length finishing with some damson and mocha, this was a big, intense wine which will be superb in years to come.10. Magill Estate Shiraz

The fabled Magill Estate 2010 was up next. Proper old-school – or at least as old-school as a relative newbie such as Australia can get – this is a single-vineyard, basket-pressed wine sourced from the famed Magill estate from which the iconic Grange was once made. The dizzying 14.5% alcohol was the only thing it shared with the two wines above as we were treated to another take on Aussie shiraz. A beautiful and much more fragrant nose had some alternating spice and savoury notes, before leading to a delicate palate with a fantastic mineral streak which was a surprise and a delight. Deep and concentrated with the tannin not as aggressive as the other two, this proved to be an ‘iron fist in a velvet glove’ of a wine, both excellent now and deeply promising.

Bin 707The room was then introduced to Penfold’s flagship Cabernet, the Bin 707 2010. Up to now it was all about the shirazes, except for a brief fling with the Bins 407 and 389, so judging by the silence, punctuated only by gasps of delight and murmurs of approval, it was clear that before a sip was taken that this was something to sit up and take notice of. For me, it was somewhat reserved for now, with a pure core of blackcurrant and cedar typical of Cab which I found was overpowering and blocked the way to detecting anything more subtle in there, though some other scents such as sandalwood did do a burlesque show-and-tell whenever I returned to the glass before quickly subsuming under the Cab.

Again though the acidity and tannin a little heightened which will hopefully resolve itself after some time in the bottle. In all this was a tasting of a still too young wine which was volatile and aggressive though showing huge promise. Still, I’ve tasted a few good Cabs recently and wouldn’t rate this above them I’m afraid to say.

GrangeFinally, it was on to the most iconic of them all: the Grange 2008. The word ‘iconic is often thrown about with abandon, but in this case it’s very much relevant: this vintage of Australia’s most commended wine has recently achieved a “double century” of two perfect 100 scores in both Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator, the eleventh wine ever to do so and the only New World wine to gain the accolade.

Massive, intense, complex yet balanced and surely only to get better with time, the Grange was an incredible and electric wine that had the audience enthralled. It was really intense. Did I mention that it was massive too? Oh, and also very intense. A punch in the gob by Tyson would only just about match it. It was beyond words.

I bet you expected a better tasting note for a €700 wine, and so did I. But ask anyone who has bungee-jumped for example to describe their experience and they likely can’t, resorting instead to a smile, a sigh, and the declaration that to know one must experience it. Unfortunately not everyone will get to experience a wine like Grange due to its stratospheric pricing: assuming the liquid in my glass amounted to, say, 100ml, then my sip of this icon cost a mere €93. So not many would have the money for a glass, let alone the €700 for a bottle, and I count myself extremely lucky that my line of work leads me to these situations.

So my overall impressions? Penfolds have just recently been awarded Best Winery in Australia and I don’t think anyone can refute that. Their wines are immense but, more crucially, really quite varied given they’re mostly made from the same two or three grape varieties. If only you didn’t have to re-mortgage the house to experience them – even their “mid range” – then many more would be able to experience their beauty.

St Henri Shiraz 2010
ww.penfolds.com
€100 approx. from good specialist off-licences
97% Shiraz, 3% Cabernet

RWT Barossa Valley Shiraz 2010
ww.penfolds.com
€155 approx. from good specialist off-licences
100% Shiraz

Magill Estate Shiraz
ww.penfolds.com
€140 approx. from good specialist off-licences
100% Shiraz

Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon
ww.penfolds.com
€325 approx. from good specialist off-licences
100% Cabernet Sauvignon

Grange
ww.penfolds.com
€700 approx. from good specialist off-licences
98% Shiraz, 2% Cabernet

The Penfolds Ultra-Premium Experience: Part 2 of 3

For part one of this three-part Penfolds Ultra-Premium Experience, click here.

Next up was Penfolds’s own take on the Rhône signature blend commonly referred to amongst wine folk as “GSM”, or Grenache/Syrah/Mourvèdre.

Nothing in wine is ever simple however, with one pertinent example being wine grape names which can vary quite differently depending on the country in which it is being produced; bear in mind that wine growing far, far precedes transnational uniform agreements on naming and standards, so differences in grape naming can cary widely. Not good news for newcomers trying to get their heads around the wine game, unfortunately.

So when it comes to GSM, the French name Grenache may be translated into the Spanish Garnacha, but not usually in this case; Syrah may cast off its French yoke and take on the blasphemous Aussie ‘Shiraz’ moniker, which is quite common nowadays; and Mourvèdre may, rarely, become turncoat and turn its back on its (again) French heartland to rechristen itself as Spanish Mataró, though this is less widespread.

S KPenfolds have placed a foot in each camp with a French-Spanish-Australian triumvirate it calls its Shiraz/Grenache/Mataró blend:  Bin 138 2011. But that’s SGM and not GSM you’ll note, and to make matters more confusing they refer to Mourvèdre and not Mataró in their supporting material in direct contrast to what it says on the wine’s label on the facing page, but there you have it. Best not force the issue.

Anyway, this was the joker in the pack as far as this event’s lineup was concerned: all the other reds consisted of either Shiraz, Cabernet or both, yet here was a mongrel of a wine seldom referred to in the usual Penfolds schtick. With a cherried, pomegranite and rhubarb nose and a candied cranberry palate, I found it to be a bit two-dimensional and not terribly exciting, though it did retain just enough tannin to keep the structure sound. Best move on then in other words.

4. Bin 28 Kalimna ShirazThe intense and concentrated Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz 2010 came next,  a multi-region blend with the Barossa featuring strongly, a single plot in which the Bin 28 was originally sourced and from which it takes its name. I have to admit that this was already a favourite of mine coming into the tasting so I have to say I’m prejudiced. It didn’t disappoint though: deep, concentrated and intense, it’s perhaps a little too tightly wound and maybe needs to loosen up a little, though for al the better. Some coffee and black pepper on the nose with a touch of liquorice leads a tautly mineral palate. There was a flash of unwanted heat from the alcohol, which confirmed the need to leave it be for a few years, but then there was coffee, mocha, blackberry… it was powerful and full-bodied but elegant, tight tannin and fantastic length. Incredible in other words, one of my favourites of the day, and given the royalty on show this is very good value at €30.

S KInterestingly it was then straight on to another Shiraz, the Bin 150 Marananaga Shiraz 2010, which provided an excellent opportunity to compare and contrast styles. The Bin 150 is Penfolds’ experimentation in sub-regional expression, sourcing its fruit entirely from the Marananga vineyard in the Barossa valley. I thought it was strange to place the Bin 150 straight after the Bin 28 however, since the former was more lifted and forthcoming than the dark and brooding Bin 28. That’s not a bad thing though, of course, it’s just different. Again some black pepper on the nose, though this time with some dried cranberries and juniper I thought, and a livelier, lighter palate that unfortunately didn’t have the length of the Bin 28 but was nevertheless noteworthy. Still, I may have appreciated it more had it been served before the Kalimna, and given it’s exactly twice the price I know which one I’d choose.

6. Bin 407 Cabernet SauvignonThen it was on to the first Cabernet of the day, the Bin 407, which ticked all the boxes of good Cab with blackcurrant and cedar dominating,  but as I’ve never had it before: fresher, more floral, softer, but still maintaining the touches of cassis, green pepper and pencil shavings typical of the style. This wine has class. A fantastic palate, smooth and silky, a tingle of tannin, excellent length, a real quality drop. A beautiful wine.

7. Bin 389 Cabernet ShirazFinally (for now) it was on to the distinctly Australian blend of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon in the form of Bin 389. I find Shiraz/Cab blends to be somewhat hedonistic, offering up lots of ripe, lush, varied fruit in an easily-approachable style. In this case it was no different: an absolutely beautiful nose in which, surprisingly, the Cab was dominant with its cassis and pencil shavings with some Shiraz pepper underneath. The palate was tight and tingling and surprisingly unforthcoming with the fruit – in fact it was a little closed and may need a couple of years, and some time in the glass suggested this as it opened up to a silky, classy, yet still restrained drop. Another winner for Penfolds.

Phew! And if you though that was a rush of exhilarating fine wine, we’re not even on to the top flight yet…

Penfolds Bin 138 Shiraz Grenache Marató 2011
ww.penfolds.com
€32 approx. from good specialist off-licences
65% Shiraz, 20% Grenache, 15% Marató

Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz 2010
www.penfolds.com
€30 approx. from good specialist off-licences
100% Shiraz

Penfolds Bin 150 Maranaga Shiraz 2010
ww.penfolds.com
€60 approx. from good specialist off-licences
100% Shiraz

Penfolds Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
www.penfolds.com
€58 approx. from good specialist off-licences
100% Cabernet Sauvignon

Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 2010
ww.penfolds.com
€61 approx. from good specialist off-licences
51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 49% Shiraz

Justin Knock MW

The Penfolds Ultra-Premium Experience: Part 1 of 3

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.

Bin 51 RieslingThe 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.

Bin 311 Henty ChardonnayThen 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
www.penfolds.com
€32 approx. from good specialist off-licences
100% Riesling

Penfolds Bin 311 ‘Henty’ Chardonnay 2011
ww.penfolds.com
€47 approx. from good specialist off-licences
100% Chardonnay