A couple of weeks ago I was invited to a delightful tasting and luncheon at Toronto’s Nota Bene restaurant. My old pal Peter Gago, Chief Winemaker at Penfolds was holding court, presenting a collection of his new release wines. Always the most accommodating of gentlemen, Peter was gracious enough to sit down after lunch for a little podcast recording. This is actually the second podcast I have recorded with Peter. If you would like to listen to the one we recorded almost 2 years ago you can find it here in the podcast archives.


Click HERE to listen to our podcast interview.


2007 Penfolds “Thomas Hyland” Chardonnay Adelaide
Delightfully crisp on the front of the palate. Lots of refreshing citrus, honeydew melon and a hint of nougat. Carefully considered oak nuances complement this fruit profile. A surprisingly complex wine for the money. Exhibits superb value.

2006 Penfolds “Yattarna” Chardonnay
I feel strongly that this wine does really need some time to come into its own, however one can see the potential that this wine has even with 30 – 45 minutes sitting in the glass. Interesting factoid: this wine is 38% Tasmanian fruit. The nose is extremely complex, especially as the wine warms a little. Patisserie notes and noticable minerality couple with superb oak integration. Exhibits an impressive weight and texture on the palate.

2007 Penfolds Bin 138 (Grenache/Mourvèdre/Shiraz) Barossa Valley
Upon first nosing one was hit by astonishingly vibrant fruit on the nose alongside spicy plum pudding aromatics. On the palate one finds warm black raspberries and other dark, wild fruits. Texturally there is an surprising tannic component that Gago feels comes from the high Mourvèdre content in the blend. A good introduction to Penfolds’ red wines.

2006 Penfolds Bin 28 “Kalima” Shiraz South Australia
The Bin 28 has always been a classic example of warm-climate Shiraz. Aromatically there is a dominant profile of spicy dark plum fruit (indicative of Barossa for me) with just a hint of fresh tobacco leaf. Oak character is not something to seek out here as the wine is matured in old American hogsheads. A surprisingly structured wine with good acidity and assertive tannins.

2006 Penfolds Bin 128 Shiraz Coonawarra
Very different from the Bin 28 above. Capturing the peppers and spices that one often finds in cool-climate Shiraz, this wine also has a very attractive new French oak character that complements the cool climate fruit. One will find considerable but integrated oak on the palate, working well with the tight, grippy and defined tannic structure.

2006 Penfolds Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon South Australia
Textbook varietal correctness here. Concentrated cassis, fresh blackcurrants and black olives dominate on the nose with perhaps a hint of dried herbs. For me the wine really shows best on the palate: Lots of beautiful dark fruits integrate with a solid oak character (American and French.) No green or minty characteristics to be found here. Very approachable.

2006 Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz South Australia
A Penfolds classic, often referred to as “Baby Grange” or “Poor Man’s Grange.”  The colour is incredibly concentrated. Ultra ripe blue and black fruit explodes from the glass. Also alluring nuances of anise. The firmness of Cabernet works so well with the ripe fruitiness of the Shiraz. Very well crafted but certainly needs around six to ten years in bottle.

2005 Penfolds “St Henri” Shiraz
A challenging vintage for many viticulturalists. A striking and very attractive floral/cooking spice character on the nose. Matured in large, old oak vats. Texturally this wine certainly lives up to its enviable reputation. Wonderfully soft tannins that all come from the skin and seeds. A sheer delight to drink.

2006 Penfolds Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon
Viewed by many as being the Cab version of Grange, this wine certainly doesn’t pull any punches. A density of black fruit on both the nose and palate is immediately apparent. Both barrel fermentation and maturation are quite evident here and yet these characteristics sit at ease with the impressive fruit. The firm tannins make themselves known on the palate but lead to an incredible persistant finish. This wine will take some time to fully integrate and show at its best.

2006 Penfolds “R.W.T.” Shiraz Barossa Valley
I have always found the RWT to be a great deal more “giving” than the brooding Grange and this vintage is no exception. Opulent aromas of black fruit, anise and crushed peppercorns fill the glass. The French oak is evident but never dominates and adds another vital layer to this wine’s myriad complexities. The generous and full fruit gives way to lovely supple tannins that give the wine a most attractive mouthfeel. The 2006 RWT exhibits impressive balance and will age very gracefully indeed. My personal favourite of the Penfolds line-up.

2004 Penfolds “Grange”
The iconic multi-regional blend that has made Penfolds a household name the world over.  96% Shiraz with the rest being made up of Cabernet fruit. The complexity on the nose is astonishing with so much going on. Dried fruits, Provencal herbs, intensely concentrated black fruits, asian spices and cedar. As the wine opens up so many more nuanced elements are revealed. On the palate the wine is so obviously a baby and needs decades of development in bottle to reach full maturity. Nevertheless the 2004 Grange does have its appeal even today, with a muscular tannic structure holding the impressively dense fruit together and leading to a seemingly never-ending finish. An exceptional  Grange by any standards.