Penfolds Luxury and Bin Releases

The new top-line Penfolds release is a big occasion each year, and this year the wines are as good as we’ve come to expect, but several of them have jumped in price. The biggest hike is Bin 138 – up 26.6% to $38 where it’s now line-priced with Bin 28 and Bin 128.

Well, it’s quite a leap, but I would say it deserves to be on par with those two shirazes and has always been especially good value in the past. Bin 28 and 128 have both gone up by 11.7% to sit at $38 recommended retail, but we all know there are lots of deals on these wines.

Bin 150 Marananga Shiraz has leapt 15.3% … it debuted last year at $65 and now it’s $75. I don’t think it’s good value myself. Bin 707 Cabernet is the real shock: it’s leapt 31.5% (to $250 from $190).

Yattarna and RWT have stayed the same for the last three years. Magill Estate has jumped 13% (to $130). Grange has had a modest – in percentage terms – increase of 4.3% from $599 to $625 (but last year it pole-vaulted 9.1% from $549 to $599 – a cool fifty bucks in one vintage. But then, it was the great 2006 vintage).

That said, how anyone could think the relatively ordinary ’07 is worth more than the spectacular ’06 is beyond me.

Reserve Bin Chardonnay and St Henri have taken rises of 5.5%.

The headline wines this year are the ’09 Yattarna, an absolutely exquisite chardonnay; 2010 Bin 138 Grenache Shiraz Mataro – which, not for the first time, I enjoyed more than its running-mates, Bins 28 and 128 (good though these are) – and ’09 Bin 707 (although I did prefer last year’s crackerjack ’08).

And the biggest excitement this year … the debut of a new luxury red: Bin 169 Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon – coming in at a cool $350.

But, in the pantheon of Penfolds wines, I’d have to say it is not overpriced. It is a great wine. The original intention with this wine was to have a cabernet running-mate for RWT shiraz, and it would have been a nice opportunity to give them both a sensible name (no numbers or initials!), but that opportunity has been forgone. Frankly, I think the decision to pitch Bin 169 higher than RWT was correct: it is a finer wine. Unhappily, most of us will have to wait for an invitation from our friendly contacts at Macquarie Bank or Goldman Sachs in order to sample it. 

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