The Penfolds Collection 2018 releases

All the reds released in this year’s Collection are 2016, except St Henri, always a year behind at 2015, and Grange, always two years behind at 2014. (Photo: Penfolds Wines)

Price-rises in the wine business tend to be modest – when they happen at all. I could list many wines which have not increased in price for a decade. Penfolds is not among them. Indeed, three of the top-end Penfolds wines have increased by 33% this year, and one of its most expensive wines, Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon, leapt by 20%. On a wine that was previously AUD $500, this represents a jump of AUD $100, to AUD $600. No doubt this is because of insatiable demand from the Asian markets, a demand that has focused especially on Bin 707.

The stars for me were RWT Barossa Shiraz, Bin 150 Marananga Shiraz and the 2015 St Henri.

Grange itself rose by 6% from AUD $850 to AUD $900.

The wines that went up 33% are Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz, Bin 138 Barossa Shiraz Grenache Mataro (both up from AUD $45 to AUD $60) and Bin 51 Eden Valley Riesling (AUD $30 to AUD $40).

These three have in the past been subject to discounting in the big retail chains, so we can never be certain of the real price people are paying. Bin 707 is seldom discounted, however.

All but three of the 17 wines in The Penfolds Collection took price increases. Those that didn’t were the Reserve Bin 17A Chardonnay 2017 (AUD $125), which covered itself in glory at the 2018 Sydney Royal Wine Show, where it won wine of show as well as best white wine and best chardonnay; Bin 150 Marananga Shiraz (AUD $100) and RWT Barossa Shiraz (AUD $200), which, incidentally, was one of my highlights of the tasting. Good value?

All the reds released in this year’s Collection are 2016, except St Henri, always a year behind at 2015, and Grange, always two years behind at 2014. And the Pinot Noir Bin 23 is younger: 2017 – and it’s yet another gorgeously fragrant 2017 pinot (up from AUD $45 to AUD $50).

Grange is Grange as usual: I thought the 2014 was less formidable than it can sometimes be at this age. Powerful and concentrated, yes, but also balanced, approachable, even elegant. A Grange that can be enjoyed relatively young. It’s right on form; everything you could hope for in a Grange from a highly successful year.

Making a re-appearance this year was Bin 169 Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon (2016; AUD $360). We last saw this in 2015 when the 2013 was released at AUD $350. This is a superb wine which tends to get somewhat lost in the portfolio. I thought it was showing even more powerfully than Bin 707 on the day, and of course, it’s considerably cheaper.

The stars for me were RWT Barossa Shiraz (a riot of flavour, complex and dense but supple, saturating the palate and sating the senses), Bin 150 Marananga Shiraz (a majestic wine, concentrated and dense, loaded with mocha and espresso aromas) and the 2015 St Henri (AUD $135; beautifully textured, fruit-sweet and delicious; already drinking superbly).

The 2017 Reserve Bin 17A Chardonnay was up among the stars too, and a lot has already been said about it. A great chardonnay, and it’s notable that Penfolds still exhibits this wine in shows, whereas most of the other Collection wines are not shown. Not only is this wine put up in open competition, it wins – and wins convincingly.

My notes on all of the Penfolds Collection wines are on The Real Review now.

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