Category Archives: Australian Cabernet Shiraz

Aug 08 2015

Long Live Penfolds Bin 389: Notes from a Vertical Tasting

Posted on August 08, 2015 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Penfolds Bin 389 is sometimes referred to as ‘Baby Grange’ or ‘Poor Man’s Grange’. Like the iconic Penfolds Grange, Bin 389 shares the same legendary creator, Max Schubert, who first produced the wine in 1960, nine years after unveiling his experimental 1951 Grange.

In fact, a significant portion of the wine that goes into the Bin 389 is aged in the same American oak hogsheads used for the previous vintage of Grange. Twenty to 30 percent of the wine sees new oak treatment.

The fruit for both wines is sourced from different vineyards and regions – the goal always to secure the best fruit available. Fruit that doesn’t quite make the cut for Grange will often find its way into the Bin 389.

Some critics have argued that the ‘Baby Grange’ moniker is not an accurate descriptor of Bin 389 because the blend is quite different to the shiraz-dominant Grange. Bin 389 has a much higher percentage of cabernet sauvignon, a feature that according to wine critic Julia Harding MW gives the wine “those cedary-fresh Cabernet characteristics” that are absent from the fuller bodied Grange. (Penfolds’ Bin 389 vs Grange by Julia Harding MW, JancisRobinson.com 26 June 2009).

One hallmark quality that Bin 389 definitely shares with Grange is its ability to age. My husband’s wine group recently enjoyed a vertical tasting of Bin 389, covering a good selection of vintages dating back to 1986. Below are their tasting notes. A very impressive lineup indeed:

Penfolds Bin 389 2012

Concentrated, dark, young and full bodied. Already pleasant to drink. Great prospects.

Penfolds Bin 389 2010

Still dumb but plush fruit and good acid balance bode very well for the future. Exceptional.

Penfolds Bin 389 2008

Starting to drink well, slightly varnishy nose but good depth of flavour and long finish.

Penfolds Bin 389 2002

Perfection at the moment – well developed fruit, superb balance and great after taste. Faultless… [Read More]

Sep 09 2013

The Great Australian Red Tasting – An Opportunity to Try the Remarkable Penfolds Bin 60A 2004

Posted on September 09, 2013 | By merrill@cellarit.com

 

The opportunity to try the Penfolds’ legendary Bin 60A doesn’t come around very often. Only two vintages of this exceptional cabernet shiraz blend have ever been made. The inaugural 1962 vintage, made by Grange creator Max Schubert, is widely regarded as Australia’s greatest ever wine and the follow-up 2004 vintage scored an impressive 99+ points when it was reviewed by the Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perrotti-Brown in 2010.

The beautifully balanced, luscious yet exquisitely elegant Bin 60A 2004 certainly set the benchmark high at this week’s The Great Australian Red tasting,.. [Read More]

Dec 12 2011

Reviews for Penfolds Bin 620 Coonawarra Cabernet Shiraz 2008: Australia’s most expensive wine!

Posted on December 12, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

If you’ve been following Cellarit on Facebook or keeping up with recent wine news, you couldn’t have missed reading about the fanfare around Penfolds official release of the Bin 620 Coonawarra Cabernet Shiraz 2008 in Shaghai, China. The lavish launch was held at the opulent Waldorf Astoria Hotel, where guests were treated to a six course banquet and a spectacular light show with contemporary Chinese dancers.

The reason behind all the fuss was Penfolds’ release of a wine that was last made in 1966… [Read More]

Sep 09 2011

Wolf Blass: The man behind the famous label

Posted on September 09, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

I recently had the good fortune to attend a cocktail party at a beautiful harbourside Sydney mansion for the launch of the current release of the Wolf Blass luxury collection: the Gold, Grey, Black and Platinum labels.

The line-up of wines was excellent with the sublime Platinum Label Shiraz 2008 Grange-like in the complexity and depth of its bouquet. But the real highlight of the evening was the chance to listen to the entertaining musings of the very dapper 77 old Wolf Blass, who is still a roving international ambassador for the brand… [Read More]

Feb 02 2011

Jacob’s Creek Johann Shiraz Cabernet: The 2010 Great Australian Red!

Posted on February 02, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Jacob’s Creek Johann Shiraz Cabernet 2005 was the winner of The Great Australian Red competition in 2010 and also took out the trophy for the Best Shiraz-Dominant blend.

The competition, which was launched in 2006 by UK wine writer Matthew Jukes and Australian wine writer Tyson Stelzer, is a unique wine show because it focuses exclusively on Australian blends of cabernet and shiraz. It has a very rigorous format – the scores of all 13 judges are counted against every wine in the show,.. [Read More]

Feb 02 2011

Yalumba The Signature: Celebrating Tradition, Culture & The Best of Vintage

Posted on February 02, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

In a sense, Yalumba’s The Signature, a cabernet sauvignon/shiraz blend first released in 1962,  reads like a history of the winery. Each vintage is named in honour of an employee or person who has made a significant contribution to culture and traditions of the company.

The Signature itself holds a very special place not only in the history of Yalumba but in the winemaking history of Australia.  As the winery notes, “In a market largely obsessed with single-varietal wines, Yalumba has remained steadfast in its commitment to that most Australian of wine styles,.. [Read More]

Feb 02 2011

Wolf Blass Black Label: Still Setting the Benchmark for Red Blended Wine

Posted on February 02, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Wolf Blass Black Label, a cabernet shiraz blend, has won the coveted Jimmy Watson Trophy four times. The first win was back in 1974 and given to the Wolf Blass Wines Dry Claret 1973, the very first vintage of the wine. Wolf Blass Wines Dry Claret went on to pick up consecutive trophies for the 1974 and 1975 vintages. Twenty-three years later, when the wine had been relabled as Wolf Blass Black Label, the 1998 vintage scored the Jimmy Watson Trophy for an unprecedented fourth time.

Today,.. [Read More]

Feb 02 2011

Penfolds Bin 389: Perfecting the Art of Blending

Posted on February 02, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

At Wine Australia’s Landmark Tutorial last September, the Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perrotti-Brown scored the 1975 Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz a very impressive 92 points. Here’s her review:

The 1975 Penfolds Bin 389 has a perfumed nose of dried cherries and pot pourri with some cigar boxes, stewed Ceylon tea and dried mint. Structured with medium-high acid and a low to medium level of grainy tannins, it still gives a lot of dried fruit and savory flavors with a long finish of dried figs and baking spices... [Read More]

Feb 02 2011

Cabernet Shiraz Blends: ‘The Great Australian Red’

Posted on February 02, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

The blend of cabernet sauvignon and shiraz has been called the most Australian of wine styles. Indeed, according to wine critics Matthew Jukes and Tyson Stelzer, shiraz cabernet is ‘The Great Australian Red.’ They were so convinced of its importance to the Australian wine industry that in 2006 they launched the The Great Australian Red – a new wine competition exclusively limited to Australian examples of the blend.

So why is the style unique to Australia? Well, the French would probably regard it as taboo (and in any event French regulation forbids it) to blend the noble grape of Bordeaux,.. [Read More]