Thursday, 16 February 2012.
A tasting of Penfolds wines presented for Cambridge University Wine Society, led by Justin Knock MW. UK (and I think, global) distributors are Treasury Wine Estates. I think its fairly obvious that one quickly runs out of superlatives to describe the wines on the evening, many apologies if I sound like a broken record with the repeated notes of blackcurrants and cassis ...
All Chardonnay, 85% of the fruit was sourced from Tasmania; official bin number is Bin 144. The wine was decanted approx. 4hrs before tasting.
A lot of butter and cream to this, savoury notes, roasted nuttiness there; very Burgundian, but so ripe. On the palate, first sweet ripe fruit, fat acidity; plenty of fruit. So complete, acidity and fruit is in such balance; concentration of flavours, restrained power. At this stage, very focused; still young, quite taut and highly strung. Immensely impressive; needs time to unfurl itself; drink now - 2020+.
All Chardonnay, sourced entirely from Adelaide Hills.
Properly Burgundian, sweet oak, buttery and creamy; sweet almonds, also sweet tropical fruits of ripe mangoes, loaded with white peach, really rather voluptuous, open nose. Relatively soft acidity, gentle but very wide; flavours are intense, theres a nutty, savoury element to this; on the mid palate, a lot of fruit but such restrained power and sustained intensity on the palate. Very long, serious class.
2004 Bin 407
Blackberry and black currants, cordial, licorice, mint and herbal tones coming through, coolness almost shows. On the palate, sweet ripe fruit, nice development to this; rounded black fruits on mid palate, not much tannins, very yielding. Good fruit concentration, isnt as generous but focused. This is probably close to full maturity, drink up.
2005 Bin 407
Similar fruit profile to the 2004; more cassis, less licorice; sweet black fruits, smells warmer, the alcohol shows, probably from a hotter year. Fruit very rounded, blackcurrants and berries, feels like less concentration of fruit than the 2004 because it feels bigger and therefore a touch flabbier; bit more acidity, theres glycerol, an almost port like feel to it. I dont think this will improve with time, drink now 2014+.
2006 Bin 407
Black currants and cordial, mint and eucalyptus, some herbal, but theres almost a floral touch to this. Fresh, lots of fruit, black currants again; woody licorice notes; more obvious tannins, quite chewy but its ripe sweet tannins. Good concentration, if perhaps a touch hot / cooked (maybe because of the extreme drought stricken year), high alcohol perhaps? Tasted next to the Bin 707, this almost feels light. Could do with some time to fleshen out the tannins, drink now - 2017+.
RWT stands for Red Winemaking Trial, first made in 1997 where it had 100% new French oak.
A lot of high notes in this one, sweet black and blue berries, ribena; lots of aromatics / volatiles showing, almost floral quality to it, violets perhaps? So big and voluptuous, obvious sweet up front fruit; black currants and cassis; rounded though, does feel developed and settled. Doesnt punch your lights out; softened, no harsh edges; fully mature, drink now.
Attractive blue berry there, again showing lots of high notes, I'm thinking bluebells and violets again; also wine gum, and a whiff of reduction, cured meat and game. Obvious sweet fruit, black currants and cassis; theres a nice herbiness on the palate; complete, rounded dark fruit, has notes of maturity so its doesnt blow your head off, I can imagine this to be a pretty powerful beast in its youth. Wonderful presence; has developed and will continue to mature; drink now - 2017+.
Blueberry and blackberry jam; theres a stewed / compote nose to this, like its cooked (in a good way); sweet floral notes, fragrant in an air freshener kind of way, fresh lavender and violets; really gorgeous aromatics (and how often do you say that of a red wine?), such lifted nose. Really good extraction again, plenty of fruit and concentration; dark berries to the max, almost meaty and savoury notes on palate; very interesting secondary notes beginning to show. Sweet but rounded tannins again, still grips, mind you, but its lush tannins; texture wise, this was the most creamy and interesting of the RWTs. Showing resplendently; this will continue to develop for many years, drink 2015-2022+.
2007 Bin 707
[This wine was tasted before the RWTs, the notes appear here primarily for editorial / pictorial reasons, but perhaps is a fair reflection in terms of its overall quality in the Penfolds range]
Black currants and cassis, more mint and eucalyptus, again theres a hotness to this on the nose; full nose. Big wine; lots of extraction on this with chewy but ripe tannins, grips all over the place, then dries your mouth on the finish. Good concentration of fruit (though somewhat overwhelmed by the tannic frame), black fruit, dark berries, cassis and the like; its a big wine; laced with fine acidity too. Properly structured, muscular, and powerful; one for the long haul, drink 2017 - 2030+.
Perfumed, black currants and blue berries; so lifted fragrance, floral notes leaps out (violets and the like), touch of sweet vanilla too; then you get the notes of dark chocolate / mocha and cassis; complex, lots of things going on. Good extraction; the entry is soft, then it builds in the palate, waves of flavour successively coming through; at this stage the fruit is very primary and intense, dark blackberries. The length is remarkable, just stays and lingers. So well put together, its muscular and big; the tannins are fleshy yet firm, lots of fruit for backbone. Its not often that a wine carrying such high expectations meets the hype. Integrated, great structure, so young, all its life ahead; approach from 2015 onwards, should drink well 2025 - 2050+.