Penfolds Bin wine annual release

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Regular readers will recall I attended the Penfolds Rewards of Patience tasting late last year, at which most of the 2010 vintage wines were seen for the first time.

I enthused long and hard about all the 2010 reds I tasted, and now several of them have been released as part of Penfolds’ annual “Bin, icon and luxury wines release”, which was on March 7.

The 2010 Bin 28 Kalimna shiraz is the stand-out value buy: a peak vintage for the line which dates back to the early 1960s. (Tasting notes for previous vintages)

At the ROP tasting, chief winemaker Peter Gago commented: “2010 is one of the strongest years across the board for all the Penfolds wines. 2008 is big and will age well, but 2010 has the class, across all regions and varieties. And great ageability.”

I have yet to taste the 2010 vintages of Bin 707, Bin 407 and Bin 389, but I can say the 2010 Marananga Shiraz (previous vintages) is very good in its typical smoky, toasty oaky style: a massive wine and great if you like that sort of thing.

And Bin 28 ($34-$38 at Vintage Cellars) is superb: arguably the value buy of the range. It has the amazing depth and generosity of fruit that typifies this vintage. 

The only contentious point with this wine, as with many of the modern Penfolds reds, is the degree of ripeness and consequently, alcohol. It’s 14.5%, which is normal these days for Penfolds and most South Australian reds, whereas 13 to 13.5% (sometimes less than 13) was the norm back in the 1960s and ‘70s.

When great vintages come up, people inevitably compare them with great vintages of the past, and it’s popular today to lament that the higher alcohol wines won’t age as well. This is poppycock.

Innumerable examples destroy that theory. Penfolds (tasting notes) like many wineries these days also use better methods in the vineyards and winery than they did on the ‘70s, and certainly better fruit selection, which makes comparisons even more fraught.

I am sure these wines will live long and be great wines when mature – but they won’t be precisely identical to the wines of earlier times. That is no disadvantage.

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