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Penfolds Collection release

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The Penfolds Collection release last week was keenly anticipated for two reasons: the unveiling of the 2010 Grange and the 2012 top Bin reds – both stellar vintages.

Penfolds previously referred to these as its ‘luxury and icon wines’. This year, they included the 2012 vintages of Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon (the most elegant and least-oaky young 707 ever – tasting), RWT Barossa Shiraz (magisterial – tasting), Magill Estate Shiraz (an utterly gorgeous wine – tasting), Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz (in cracking form – tasting), Bin 150 Marananga Shiraz (the best yet of this line – tasting), Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon (tasting), Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz (a peak vintage for Bin 28 – tasting), and the flagship white wine, Yattarna Chardonnay (surely one of the best, if not the best, ever – tasting). The St Henri (tasting), being from 2011, was a bit below par but still very good. The best news is that none of these wines has risen in price. Any price-rises you might see in the shops will be the decision of individual retailers.

So, how was the 2010 Grange? In a word: outstanding (tasting). Echoing the comment on the 2012 Bin 707, the wine seems less oaky than usual. It’s also elegant, approachable, and the tannins silky-soft. These trends are part of a long-term, gradual style-shift I see with Grange – a very positive shift.

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Chief winemaker Peter Gago (pictured above) and his team poured the two prior vintages of Grange for the assembled media, by way of reference-points. The comparison did not show the much-touted 2008 (tasting) in a great light: it seemed rather roasted, almost cooked, and a touch clumsy, a massive wine, while the 2009 (tasting) was actually rated higher than ’08 by a few tasters. 

The 2010 was remarkably accessible and in fine balance, but showing undeniable Grange power and concentration. The big question on everyone’s lips was: if some high-profile tasters (eg The Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator) rated the 2008 at 100 points, where will they go with the 2010? A hundred-and-one would seem to be underdoing it…

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