Baby Grange

Today’s Story: Penfolds

Penfolds was founded in 1844 by Dr. Christopher Penfold, an English physician by trade, and his wife Mary. Penfolds is one of the oldest and most famous wineries in Australia, with the first vines planted by Dr. and Mrs. Penfold with cuttings they brought when they emigrated there. Over time Penfolds grew successfully and their early production of Claret and Riesling proved popular, though many of the day-to-day operations of the winery fell to Mary since Christopher’s medical practicing occupied much of his time. When Christopher unfortunately passed in 1870, full responsibility fell to Mary. Mary later retired in 1884 and her daughter Georgina took over the estate when Penfolds was producing 1/3 of South Australia’s wine. When Mary died in 1896, the Penfolds legacy was continuing to grow with the exploration of new winemaking techniques and they became the largest winery in Australia by 1907.

In 1948, Penfolds hired who would become one of the most famous winemakers in Australia and throughout the world of wine: Max Schubert. An innovator in his field, Max catapulted Penfolds onto the global stage by crafting wines built for incredible aging through experimentation and ultimately the release of Penfolds Grange in the early 1950s. Labeled as “Grange Hermitage” and crafted with Shiraz, Grange is one of the world’s most famous wines and you often find it at the store for $700+ per bottle. In 1959, the unique “Bin” labeling started at Penfolds with the first being a Shiraz named simply for its storage area in the cellars. This Kalimna Bin 28 became the first Penfolds Bin numbered wine.

Though a lot has changed over the years at Penfolds, the experimental spirit of winemaking continues to live on to this day. All of their wines fit into categories of single vineyard or single block, single region or sub-region, and multi-region or multi-varietal blending in an effort to showcase each category’s character. The wine I’m reviewing today, for instance, fits into the multi-region or multi-varietal category while something like the Magill Estate Shiraz fits into the single vineyard or single block category. At the head of a team of roughly 10 winemakers crafting these wines, Peter Gago is chief winemaker today and the fourth in the history of Penfolds. For more about Penfolds, check out their website here.

Today’s Wine: 2017 Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz

54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 46% Shiraz; 14.5% ABV

The 2017 Bin 389 is incredibly opaque and deep purple in color with black at its core. Once this opens up (I drank this over four hours), the nose showcases aromas of blackberry compote, plum, blueberry, smoke, tobacco, forest floor after a rainstorm, wet slate, thyme, eucalyptus, nutmeg, and cedar. On the palate, I get notes of black raspberry, black cherry, blueberry, blackberry, cigar box, damp earth, dark chocolate, mint, vanilla, and oak. This wine is full-bodied with high acidity, medium (+) tannins, and a long finish.

Price: $50. This is a great bottle of wine and while not the cheapest from Grange a great introduction to their portfolio. Though young, this is drinking surprisingly well with some air but I’d lay this down a few more years. Pair this with beef carpaccio, roast beef, or roasted leg of lamb.

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