Putting out the Bins

Taste of Grange

Penfold’s Bin, Icon & Luxury Brands Wine Release 2013

The annual Penfold’s release of its wines is a significant date in the annual wine calendar. When it includes a vintage like 2010 then the market goes into hyper-drive. The world wine media has been absolutely gushing about the 2010 vintage in Australia and the Penfolds wines in particular. The winery itself has found it difficult to restrain its own excitement at the resultant wines.
Respected Australian Wine Critic and Author, James Halliday enthused, ‘The reasons why it is of such all-encompassing interest are precisely the same as those that make Penfolds the most important and valuable global wine brand outside of France. Moreover, if you took the gross annual income generated by it, and capitalised that value using the same valuation method for that of any First Growth Bordeaux or Grand Cru Burgundy (Chateau Latour, Petrus and Domaine de la Romanee-Conti included) it is the most valuable of all.

This value is strengthened by its massive vineyard holdings, its history of continuous production since 1844, and the accumulated proprietary knowledge of its senior winemakers. If you look at its more recent history since 1950, and the winemaking revolution wrought by Max Schubert, the record is even more impressive.’

To give the hype a bit of depth and perspective here is a brief history of the label:


The Beginning

Penfolds was founded by a young English doctor who migrated to one of his country’s most distant colonies over a century and a half ago. Dr Christopher Rawson Penfold was born in 1811, the youngest of 11 children. He studied medicine at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London, graduating in 1838. In 1844 Dr Penfold and his wife Mary purchased the Mackgill estate, “comprising 500 acres of the choicest land.” By all accounts it was Mary Penfold who was responsible for the management and early winemaking responsibilities of the fledgling wine estate. Initially the wines – made from grenache – were prescribed as tonic wines for anaemic patients and the famous Penfolds slogan ‘1844 to evermore’ harks back to its origins as a prescribed tonic.

Early success

By 1870 the Grange vineyard comprised over 60 acres with several different grape varieties including grenache, verdelho, mataro (mourvèdre), frontignac and pedro ximenez. The estate was producing both sweet and dry red wine and white table wines, with a growing market in the eastern Australian colonies of Victoria and New South Wales. A catalogue from 1889 lists wines from the Grange and Magill vineyards as Mataro, Grenache, Constantia, Grange Port, Frontignac, Grange Tawny, Pedro Ximenes, Tokay, Madeira, Grange Sherry and Muscadine. The catalogue adds: “We have also light red and white dinner wines of claret and riesling types, suitable for use in Clubs.”
Penfolds and Co. – the newly formed partnership of Mary Penfold and her son-in-law Thomas Hyland and her cellar manager Joseph Gillard – now claimed to be producing over one-third of South Australia’s wine. Mary Penfold passed away in 1896 after a remarkable contribution to Australia’s wine industry.


Fortified wine production dominated the industry throughout the first part of the 1900s and Penfolds gained a strong reputation for its fortified wines during the 1920s and ‘30s. Between the world wars the market for fine table wine in Australia was extremely limited. Penfolds did, however, produce an ‘Italian Red’ for Italian migrants working the cane fields of Queensland.
In 1943, Penfolds acquired the highly regarded and valuable Auldana Vineyard and winery – adjacent to the Magill vineyard. In 1945, Penfolds purchased the Kalimna Vineyard in the Barossa Valley – at this time the largest vineyard in South Australia. By the late 1940s Penfolds had acquired or planted vineyards in McLaren Vale, Griffith, the Hunter Valley and Minchinbury.

Grange 1951 – Today

The wine market was changing rapidly by the late 1940s, as soldiers returned from the war and new immigrants settled in Australia. Max Schubert, then a young winemaker at Penfolds, returned to Europe after the war to investigate winemaking. The mission was to learn about sherry production, however a side trip to Bordeaux led to Schubert experimenting with a long-lived red wine that he called Grange.
Schubert looks back on the 1950s Grange years as exciting years of discovery, faith, doubt, and ultimately triumph. In contrast, the 1960s were a period of vindication and Grange stole a march on the rest of the Australian wine industry by setting an incomparable benchmark for longevity, concentration and balance.
In August of 1995, Robert Parker, the world’s most influential wine critic, wrote in his self-published newsletter The Wine Advocate that Grange was “a leading candidate for the richest, most concentrated dry table wine on planet earth.” The acceptance of Grange as a great Australian wine had proved that Australia is capable of producing wines equal to the best in the world.

House style

By the early 1960s Max Schubert saw the creation of a dynasty of wines that may differ in character from year to year, but would all bear an unmistakable resemblance to each other. The backbone of Penfolds’ emerging red wine portfolio – Bin 389, Bin 707, Bin 28 and Bin 128 – were all introduced during this time.
In 1976 the baton of Penfolds Chief Winemaker passed from Schubert to Don Ditter, who continued to contribute to and refine the house style. The remarkable reintroduction of Penfolds Bin 707 in 1976 illustrated Penfolds’ commitment to a premium cabernet sauvignon and within just a few years would come to be recognised as one of Australia’s leading wines.
John Duval ensured a smooth transition of winemaking philosophy when he took over as Penfolds Chief Winemaker in 1986. Refinement of house style continued and Duval’s outstanding technical ability and instinctive nature are decisively illustrated in the profoundly opulent and beautifully balanced wines of the 1980s.

A new chapter

The 1990s was a period of intense winemaking trials. The ‘White Grange’ project saw the release of Penfolds Yattarna Chardonnay. The barrage of media attention was extraordinary, illustrating Australia’s national interest in the Penfolds brand. Red wine trials resulted in the release of Penfolds’ first Barossa shiraz, RWT (Red Winemaking Trial).
In 2002 veteran oenologist Peter Gago became Chief Winemaker and since that time Penfolds has reached into every major wine market in the world. Stand-out releases have included two Special Bin Wines from the 2004 vintage, Block 42 and Bin 60A. 2010 saw the introduction of Penfolds’ first Bin Pinot Noir. Taking its number from maturation cellar 23 at Magill Estate, Bin 23 Pinot Noir is a bold addition to the range. Penfolds wines are now widely celebrated for their diversity and quality across many price-points. The strength of Penfolds is that the wine comes first. Penfolds’ range of table wines is utterly Australian, evoking a generosity of spirit and the beauty of the Australian landscape.

The New Releases:




 The Australian Report in the Wine Advocate was released March 1st with the exciting inclusion of 2008 Penfolds Grange Shiraz, which scored a perfect 100 POINTS, by Lisa Perrotti-Brown,MW.

Penfolds Grange Shiraz has a long history of excellence since its inception by creator, Max Schubert in 1951 (experimental vintage).

Originally criticized by wine experts at the time, Penfolds Grange gained acceptance when the 1955 was awarded Gold Medals at International and local wine competitions. Unlike any wine of its time, it changed the face of the Australian wine industry and went on to become a National Trust, heritage – listed wine.


Only a handful of the most famous wines in the world form the very best vintages have acheived the remarkable feet of receiving the highest possible score from both The Wine Advocate and US Wine Spectator in the same year,


to cap off a remarkable year for Penfolds, Australia’s most renowned wine writer James Halliday also awarded Penfolds his ‘Winery of the Year’ 2013 in his annual Australian and New Zealand Wine Guide.

2008 vintage

Penfolds owned or managed the early ripening Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon from precious older, lower‐yielding, self‐regulating vines. Rigorous harvesting and meticulous classification resulted in a swag of pristine fruit from Penfolds prime vineyards in the Barossa, McLaren Vale and Coonawarra. The deep colors, superb aromatics and dense ripe tannins all point to a classic Penfolds vintage.

2008 Penfolds Grange Shiraz

Lisa Perrotti‐Brown, MW states, ‘Deep purple‐black in color, the 2008 Grange puts forward a very complex nose packed with aromas of mulberries, layers of baking spices, cloves and cinnamon with nuances of minced meat, anise, potpourri and whiffs of dried mint and chocolate. It is framed by firm, grainy tannins and a refreshing acid line before finishing very long with aniseed and lingering blackberry preserves notes. This is clearly a wonderfully opulent and a magic vintage for this label. Drink it from 2018 to 2035+.

Chief Winemaker at Penfold’s Peter Gago’s notes on the wine: The wine contains 2% cabernet sauvignon and 98% shiraz, 81% Barossa, the remaining shiraz from elsewhere in South Australia, and spent 19 months in new Am oak hogsheads in which it finished its fermentation. Forget any idea that it was influenced by the heatwave: the best Barossa Valley shiraz was picked before the end of February, almost a week before the heatwave arrived.

Impenetrable dark core. Somewhat intimidating? Yes. Brazen? Never. An immediate and powerful lift of cola/soy/hoisin/red licorice, propelled by tea-smoke and ferric influences. Less obvious nut-husk/tan-bark notes align with lush aromas of ripe (jamon-wrapped) figs and a panaforte plushness. With air, blueberry fruits and mocha arise, the oak (100% new!) remaining concealed – too much aromatic background chatter to register! A muscular push/wave/affront across the entire palate – from start to finish. Never oppressive nor ungainly, yet captivatingly forceful. i.e. a vinous lava flow of dark licorice and malt – ‘molten’, with a self-saucing chocolate pudding richness and blackberry, elderberry fruits. Pronounced tannins are unleashed, and the Clare component makes its (9%) presence felt, adding to both flavour pool and extract. Power and density naturally respectful of balance and structure.

A word on the 2010 Vintage Grange:

“Watch out 1990, 1986, 1976 and maybe even 1971!” Penfolds’ dynamic Chief Winemaker Peter Gago declared “When 2010 Penfolds Grange arrives, I think it will blow all before it for a decade or two out of the water!” Strong endorsement, and this is no trite marketing pitch – there are two other vintages to land before 2010 Grange sees the light of day in 2015.

The Best of the Rest of the New Releases:

2010 Bin 169 Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon

Not only a single vineyard wine, but from a single block (10) on the Coonawarra cabernet vineyards that have always been Penfolds (rather than inherited from Wynns, etc). The wine was matured for 14 months in new, fine-grained, French oak in which it finished the final stages of its fermentation.

Chief Winemaker Peter Gago writes: Vibrant purple. Dense core. Initially tell-tale cassis, black olive aromas with a suggestion of sun-dried tomato, beetroot juice and a modicum of mint. Yet beneath, a layer of ‘varietal complication’ – dandelion, bayleaf, North-African spices… mustard powder, cumin. The next layer nonchalantly and unhurriedly unfurls to reveal a root-vegetable (earthy, stock/broth) combination of parsnip and celeriac. And finally to complicate (sorry, complex) further – dried rose-petal/tarragon/thyme. Oak? 100% new, yet concealed in the shadow of the more imposing descriptors above! Classically apportioned – an acid–tannin tension reinforcing an unmistakable ‘Coonawarra Line’ across the palate. Precision, defined. This tannin-acid duet renders a nervier, added dimension… more than that contributed via the palate’s cranberry, persimmon and pomegranate fruit grip/bite. Also, Moroccan preserved lemon, star anise and smokey paprika (barrel-ferment induced?) elements serve to further complex a varietal cassis and black olive flavour base. An overtly long, enduring finish. Voluminous. Persistent.

2010 Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon
The wine is 100% cabernet sauvignon, with components coming from the Barossa Valley, Padthaway, Wrattonbully and Adelaide Hills. It finished its fermentation in, and was then matured for 16 months in, new American oak hogsheads.

Peter Gago: Supporting a purple rim and dense black core. A pool of fruits (blue and black) unravel to reveal blueberry, mulberry, boysenberry and blackberry. Similarly, a colourful courtier’s adornment of florals and spice disrobe to release violet, wild flowers and anise, whilst shyly lowering a veil of cassis. Aeration liberates a coulis/compote of candied fruits (incl. dried figs) and roasted beetroot, coated by an assortment of dusting powders. Focus and definition – a palate continuum with no rough edges. Harmonious and luxuriant. A glycerolic density – texturally marrow-like with squid-ink concentration – thankfully without the commensurate flavour/source. Creme de cassis effortlessly cascades from nose to palate, collecting raspberry and dark cherry fruits in passage. An oak cacoon plied with overt ripe tannins attempts to frame the package, yet a seriously lingering flavour and tactile aftertaste refuses to be curtailed.

2010 RWT Barossa Valley Shiraz
The near-perfect vintage conditions favoured the vineyards on the Barossa Valley floor and northwestern areas, and it was from these areas that the grapes came. This, like Bin 169, is a French oak alternative to the American oak of the original great Penfolds red wines. It was also introduced to correct a glaring anomaly: up to that point of time, Penfolds did not have a Barossa Valley shiraz in its portfolio. Thus it was matured for 15 months in new (80%) and one-year-old (20%) French oak. It has magnificent, dense, purple-crimson colour.

Peter Gago: Deep dark red with purple on rim. Ascending waves of fruits, blueberry, crushed boysenberry and soaked damson plum, sensitively propelled by (oak-derived) cedar and ginger. Beneath, roasted meats, juniper, sage and Chinese BBQ artefact. Expressive, elemental, ethereal, earthy. Full-bodied, unevolved and youthful. Whilst Barossa textural generosity and richness is pre-supposed, this palate at this stage verges towards ‘essence’ – although thankfully not via an alcohol or a buffed-up concentration pathway… An emulsion of sarsparilla, chinotto, and mascarpone replete with ripe, grande tannins and acidity conspiring to maintain balance and dimension. Masses of fruits, berries, chocolate, and mocha. Richness and power, with stature and charm.

2010 Yattarna Chardonnay
Sourced primarily from Tasmania (98%), with 4% from the Adelaide Hills. It is barrel-fermented and matured in French oak, 57% new, 43% used.

Peter Gago: Very pale, white gold. Fragrant lemon blossom and white stonefruits, noticeably white peach. Cashew nut, nougat and subtle exotic oak spice lend remarkable complexity whilst retaining elegance and purity with just a faint scent of gun flint. Trademark Yattarna – Purity/Linearity/Elegance! Lemon scent and white peach with nuances of nougat surrounded by a slatey, minerally acid giving wonderful structure and length of flavour.

2010 Magill Estate Shiraz
The only single vineyard red wine made by Penfolds every year, the estate now completely surrounded by houses and barely 15 minutes’ drive from Adelaide’s CBD. It was matured for 14 months in two-thirds new French oak and one-third new American oak. It is picked, fermented and basket-pressed on the property, of itself a continuous link back to 1844 when Christopher Rawson Penfold built his house there, and which stands to this day.

Peter Gago: Dense. An aromatic explosion—at once fruity (plum and blackberry) and savoury (spicy sausage meat, terrine avec aspic). Char/spice volatiles of meat on-a-spit couple with barrel ferment nuttiness and scents of dark-roasted coffee beans/chocolate. Yes, the fermented fruits off this 78 Penfold Road address, open fermenters, basket pressing,… and bespoke elevage have again woven the aromatic web that is Magill. Stylishly medium-bodied, with an open-weaved, layered structure, finishing clean and precise. A sumptuous mid-palate laden with blackberry and plum fruits and defined tannins. Savoury notes detected on nose permeate the palate, exuding a pan-juice/jus richness.

2010 Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz

A blend of 51% cabernet sauvignon and 49% shiraz sourced from the Barossa Valley, Coonawarra, Wrattonbully, Robe, McLaren Vale, Padthaway and Adelaide Hills. It was matured for 14 months in new (40%) one-year-old (20%) and two-year-old (20%) American oak hogsheads.

Peter Gago: “This is the Bin 389 we’ve been waiting for! How good? Well, that’s for others to say. What we will say, however, is that it is benchmark 389 – certainly the finest of this new millennia, and one that will jostle with the reputations of the Bin 389 big names (sorry, vintages) of the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s! Now in its sixth decade, ‘Baby Grange’ asserts its own identity and commands its own following. It continues to evolve, enchant, embrace and excite! Serve blind and surprise. If only we could make more …”


A vinous web of cola, newly-tanned leather and dark-berried fruits. Minimal structural weave – little flavour space to fill, no gaps. Cabernet and Shiraz dovetail effortlessly. Vibrant, with a tangy freshness augmented by sculptured tannins, lively acidity, and respectful oak. Length, weight and texture sit well. Embellishment not required. Tasting is.

2010 Bin 150 Marananga Shiraz
Marananga lies very close to the centre of the Barossa Valley floor, with rich, red soils. Matured for 15 months in equal proportions of new and one-year-old French and American oak.

Peter Gago: Bright red fruits conspire to create an amalgam, a continuum of flavours basking exturally avec sheen, gloss. These fruits do not travel solo – chinotto, licorice, bread and butter pudding flavours peddle in parallel, quietly courted by stylish oak(s). In youth, an almond/amaretto/pistachio) pan forte flavour/texture gives way to a berried pannacotta-flavoured aftertaste. Tempting as it may be to partake early, it is not too difficult to sense how this wine’s tannin register and structure will ably convey its passage across time.

2010 Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon
The primary source of the grapes was Coonawarra, with Wrattonbully, Robe, McLaren Vale and Padthaway providing the rest. It was matured for 12 months in new French oak (23%), new American oak (10%), and the remainder in one- and two-year-old American oak hogsheads.

Peter Gago: Fresh, bright and lively. Defined. Focussed. Quince/miso paste, black olive varietal giveaways, intriguingly coupled with dark chocolate/praline/cocoa-powder – not standard South Australian, South-East Cabernet fare. Solid, granular tannins, balanced acidity and friendly yet reserved oak, beckon an impressive structural conveyance. Palate length and persistence?  Only one way to confirm … please pour

2010 Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz
In the dim, distant past, Kalimna meant the Kalimna Vineyard in the Barossa Valley, but has simply been a trademark for some time now. It is in fact sourced from the Barossa Valley (51%), the remainder from McLaren Vale, Langhorne Creek, Wrattonbully and Robe, and matured for 12 months in used American oak hogsheads.

Peter Gago: “A Bin 28 worth the wait! A great Bin Shiraz ambassadorial offer to proclaim the spoils of the 2010 vintage. All elements resonate in 2010. The complete Bin 28 package … this wine would do any Bin 28 vintage back to 1959 proud. Shouts: “Bin 28’s back!” Not that it ever went away, just in case anyone wondering. Certainly a Bin 28 to buy, to cellar, to drink.”

Full-bodied and multi-dimensional. An assortment of flavours, including blackcurrant, dates, beef and stout pie, dried fig …Expansive – length, depth and weight … reverberating with amplitude and attitude! Mid-palate fruit sweetness, aligned with solid/firm tannins, culminating in a long, lingering finish.

2011 Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz

Created in 1962, Penfolds Bin 128 is a regional wine that reflects the unique climate and growing conditions of South Australia’s Coonawarra district and the relatively elegant style of cool-climate Shiraz. From the 1980 vintage, French oak replaced American, highlighting the pepper, spice and floral characteristics that define this style. Since this time, enhanced attention to fruit flavour ripeness has structurally resulted in a more complete wine style.

At just 13.5%, 2011 Bin 128 is an elegant Coonawarra shiraz that accurately captures this cool region in a cool season in its lifted violet perfume and lively acid profile.

2011 Bin 138 Barossa Shiraz Grenache Mataro

The cool and wet 2011 season was tougher for grenache in the Barossa than it was, for instance, in McLaren Vale, so the focus of this blend has moved decidedly to shiraz (65%), supported by just 20% grenache and 15% mataro, all from vines older than forty years, and some older than a century.

Winemaker Peter Gago: Medium-bodied. Sweet and generous flavours of raspberry/cranberry, complexed with elements of cold meats, white chocolate and vanilla. Excellent overall balance, finishing with ripe integrated juicy tannins. Very much fruit-driven with no obvious oak overtones.

No varietal flavour chromatogram revealed – an effortless amalgam on offer.

Whether a collector, investor, consumer of imbiber, the current release of Penfolds wines will transform you into a convert for life however, it is one of the very few larger, internationally renowned wineries that enjoys greater demand than it is able to supply, grab a case if you can find still find one.


Penfolds Wines are officially distributed in Cambodia by Doun Cheav, by Celliers d’Asie by agreement and are available at Red Apron Wine Boutique. To ensure the integrity and quality of your Penfolds purchase these are the only authorized importers and suppliers to the Cambodian food & beverage industry.

Officially The Bin Series was born in 1959. But in truth our first Bin wine was created in 1951 by the now legendary chief winemaker, Max Schubert. Back then the experimental wine was simply known as Bin 1, referring to its storage location in Penfolds cellars while ageing. 1952 was Bin 4.

Later vintages carried various designations as Max continued to refine what was to eventually become the most lauded wine in Australian history. By 1964 the designation was standardized as ‘Bin 95’. Grange, as it’s more famously known, now holds a place so exalted in the pantheon of wine that in 2001, it became a national heritage icon.

Grange was of such rare importance and so influential that it became the first in a long and illustrious ‘bloodline’, defining a Penfolds style and philosophy that inspired a dynasty of wines, with an unmistakable resemblance and relationship to each other. It is this pedigree and lineage that that lives on in the Bin range and makes it such a celebrated family of wines.

Penfolds New Release tasting - Simon Cant, Darren Gall
Penfolds New Release tasting – Simon Cant, Darren Gall



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