The Australian wine producer Penfolds has since 3 years launched the “wines of the year”, the year’s new launches, at one and the same time, coordinated all over the world. This year, 2017, this happened on Thursday, October 19th. When Penfolds’ representatives presented a number of this year’s wines in Stockholm, BKWine’s reporter Wilhelm Arnör was of course present.
Our host was none other than Australia’s ambassador Jonathan Kenna who, together with his wife, generously opened his home for this event. In his welcoming speech, Ambassador Kenna admitted that he was not a connoisseur but always appreciated a glass of good wine. He told us that Australia’s wine industry is still on the rise and exports are growing for the more expensive wines, not least in the top segment. As an example of Penfold’s reputation as Australia’s leading producer of quality wines, Ambassador Kenna told us about his former posting as ambassador to Bangkok. When visiting the embassy, and when the guests were of a calibre so that they received gifts when they left, they were most pleased when the gift contained a bottle of Penfolds! Supporting the Australian export industry in various ways is an important task for ambassador Kenna and he warmly welcomed us.
The tasting was organized around 6 tables with one wine per table. The guests were therefore divided into 6 groups and our little group started with Bin 23 Pinot Noir 2016 (~37 euro; all prices are estimates based on Swedish retail prices). We each took a glass and tasted this pretty full-bodied pinot noir. It has a beautiful mid-to-light red colour with beginning maturity. Nice perfumed powerful classic pinot character with notes of red berries, not least strawberries, ginger and a hint of barrels. The taste is full-bodied and with fine acidity, clear tannins, bitter almonds and a slightly jammy finish. Several Penfold enthusiasts around the table were moderately fond of it. I thought it was OK but a touch too expensive.
At the next table, we were served Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 (~61 euro). The colour is dark red, really dense and deep. It has an intense eucalyptus scent with classic cabernet tones of currant, rich and youthful. The flavour is warm with chocolate and currants, medium body and medium length in the aftertaste with notes of currant and plums, some tannins. At each table, appetizers were served and at this table, there was a small low-temperature steak on bread that went very well with the wine. The wine has been given 97 p by Andrew Callard, but I think that’s probably an overvaluation.
Bin 138 GSM 2015 (30 euro) is made from grenache (16%), shiraz (64%) and mataro (20%) (mourvedre). Each grape is vinified and barrel-aged separately and not blended until just before bottling. It is similar to a wine from the southern Rhone with beautiful mid-dark colour. Full-bodied and inviting fruit with cherries. Elegant and well-balanced taste with blackberries, liquorice and some meaty tones, long aftertaste with slightly bitter but rounded tannins. A good buy in my opinion.
The next table offered a lovely generous, yes, almost overwhelming wine. Bin 150 Marananga Shiraz 2015 from Barossa Valley (~56 euro). The sensuous scent of menthol, coffee and barrels are really inviting. The taste follows up with the full-bodied elegant taste of juniper, cherry and blackberries. Fine acidity and good tannins give a warm long aftertaste. 93 p, as awarded by several reviewers, is maybe on the low side. A different, inviting shiraz ready to drink but with a bright future.
“Finally at home” exclaimed the lady in the group when we got our glass of RWT Shiraz 2015 (105 euro). Yes, for sure. Classic dense, dark red in colour. Aged in French oak barrels, unlike Grange that is aged in American barrels. Complex aromas with classic shiraz notes of dark berries, some tar, vanilla come back on the palate and make for a well-balanced wine with beautiful tannins that will develop and become more nuanced in the future. It’s been given 96 p but it still does not end up on my shopping list.
On the other hand St. Henri Shiraz 2014 (~72 euro) does make my list. A barrel-aged wine but one that does not have much barrel character since it was aged in large older barrels. Almost black in colour. Full-bodied, meaty, fat, chocolate and eucalyptus on the nose. Full-bodied, dense, spicy and beautiful texture, good balance with acidity, fruit and lovely tannins. Can be drunk now and aged for a long time. This too has received 96 p and I can only agree. It earned a slot in my cellar.
By now the groups had walked around to all our six tables, tasted well and eaten a lot of appetizers and the atmosphere began to be both light-hearted and full of expectation. Everyone knew that the crescendo would soon appear. So as though magic, everyone had almost instantly a glass of Grange 2013 (~450 euro) in the hand. Beautiful dark red but not quite black colour. Incredibly elegant balanced powerful nose of blackberries and dark berries. Complemented by liquorice, tar and coffee. The same characteristics come back on the palate, which is overwhelmingly intense and very long, full of tannins and just what is needed of refreshing acidity. 98 p according to those who are supposed to know. Obviously, Grange 2013 will have a slot in my cellar too!
The prices in this article are based on Swedish retail prices at Winefinder.se.
Wilhelm Arnör writes on wine on BKWine Magazine. Wilhelm has been a dedicated wine enthusiast ever since he founded Vincollegiet, a still active wine tasting association at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, in 1976. His day job is running a company in the IT business in Sweden.
This post is also available in: Swedish