The release covers 17 different wines and spans 5 separate vintages, the youngest being the 2018 BIN 51 Riesling and the oldest being the iconic 2014 Grange. This year Penfolds celebrated their launch across the globe with 5 amazing events in Sydney, New York, London, Tokyo and Bangkok, all hosted by Penfolds wine makers and attended by wine lovers from all corners of the globe.
I was fortunate enough to attend the Bangkok launch where not only were the new wines debuted, but the Penfolds story was brought to life with an interactive time tunnel that highlighted key moments in their 175 year history. Guests, with a cold glass of 2017 BIN 311 Chardonnay in hand, were able to learn about milestones from the birth of Penfolds in 1844, where Dr Penfold prescribed fortified wine to patients as a tonic, the first ever award won by Mary Penfolds in the late 1800s, Max Schubert creating Grange in 1951, to more recent luxury collaborations with Hermes owned crystal maker St Louis.
After the time tunnel experience guests entered a stunning area on the banks of the Chao Praya River where they were able to enjoy highlights from the new releases in The Time Cellar and the Philosophy Garden. The Time Cellar highlighted wines from the Penfolds portfolio that reward cellaring and develop over a long period of time. My highlights from here were the ever graceful St Henri Shiraz and the legendary BIN 389 Cabernet Shiraz (known by many as baby Grange). The 2015 St Henri Shiraz is a beautiful wine, loaded with plum, pepper and star anise in its youth, it will develop more prune, leather and savoury notes over the next 30 years. The 2016 BIN 389 is an immediate classic with ripe cassis, black berry and vanilla notes on the nose and a powerful palate with immense length, this vintage will continue to build over the next 20 years gaining more jammy fruit, tobacco and cigar box notes.
The Philosophy Garden was an area dedicated to the single region wines from the Penfolds’ stable that highlight a sense of place and style in their character. Two wines that really shone were the 2016 BIN 128 Coonawarra Shiraz and the 2016 BIN 138 Shiraz Grenache Mataro from the Barossa. The BIN 128 reflects the cooler climate of the Coonawarra, expressed by fresh blueberry fruit and mint notes complimented by subtle French oak, almost a Rhone Syrah-like style. The BIN 138 shows the ripeness and warmth of the Barossa with abundant black and red fruit, sweet spice and floral notes, complimented by a rich, smooth body and long finish.
The true highlight of the night however was the unveiling of the 2014 Grange. Glasses were served to guests while fireworks over the river framed Chief Winemaker, Peter Gago, as he saluted the crowd from the stage. Grange is regarded as one of the world’s most iconic wines and the 2014 vintage (the 65th consecutive vintage) more than lived up to the fanfare. Loaded with damson, liquorice, cola, vanilla, sandalwood, black pepper... the list goes on, this is a Grange for the ages. The structure means it will age gracefully for 40 or more years but the balance and intensity of fruit now mean it is dangerously drinkable in its youth.
As the last drops of Grange were drunk and the guests worked out what to fill their cellars with I already started to count down the hours to the next chance I would have to try these wines again, luckily not too far away. Cheers!