Tag: Penfolds Bin 389 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 Read the rest

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.

Tyson and MatthewThe beautifully balanced, luscious yet exquisitely elegant Bin 60A 2004 certainly set the benchmark high at this week’s The Great Australian Red tasting, hosted by the competition’s founders, Matthew Jukes and Tyson Stelzer, at the Art Gallery of NSW in Sydney.

But fortunately it was just one of many stand-out wines in a very impressive line-up of the uniquely Australian blend of cabernet and shiraz.

Another highlight of the tasting was a comparison of five different vintages of Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz: 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2010. Personally, my favourite was the 2004 vintage, possibly because it was the oldest vintage and, I suspect, just starting to hit its stride. It’s a wonderful example of the wisdom of blending cabernet with shiraz. Here the cabernet (53%) complements the full bodied richness of  shiraz by providing structural backbone, freshness and acidity. Interestingly, Penfolds’ tasting notes for the 2004 vintage refer to the wine as “a true ‘Baby Grange’ release, as per the original style blue-print.”

The Wolf Blass Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz Malbec 2004 was another impressive example from the 2004 vintage. This cabernet dominant blend is a big wine designed for long-term cellaring. The enveloping aromas of warm, dark rich fruits with hints of charcuterie, chocolate and truffles anticipate the richly fruited savoury accented flavours of this beautifully structured, opulent yet elegant wine.

The Great Australian Red competition … Read the rest