Ong Chin Huat attends the Penfolds 2020 Collection Wine Tasting Dinner and samples seven outstanding vintages with great cellaring potential.
Located on prime land in Southern Australia, just outside the coastal capital of Adelaide, Penfolds vineyards of which Magill Estate – regarded as the prestigious Australian winemaker’s spiritual home and where it all began – started life back in 1844 when founders Dr Christopher and Mary Penfold arrived in Australia from England and planted a little vine cutting which they brought along with them.
Little did they know that on land which had never grown any grapes or as novices who didn’t know anything about winemaking, they would spawn some of the world’s most celebrated wines, coveted by oenophiles and wine connoisseurs alike some 170 years later.
The Penfolds 2020 Collection is a cornucopia of delicious and exquisite wines, encompassing five impressive white and red vintages which encapsulate multi-region and multi-vineyard blends as well as single-region and single-vineyard wines. While the reds in the 2020 Collection offer distinctive refinement and cellaring potential, the whites deliver on complexity and flavour, making this assortment a wine lovers’ dream come true.
Confirming this accolade is Sam Stephens, Penfold’s Winemaking Ambassador who believes that the Penfolds 2020 collection is one of the strongest he has seen. “From the 2016 Grange to the 2020 Bin 51 Riesling, every wine is a stellar example of itself,” He says.
“The majority of the wines come from the 2018 vintage, which was incredibly strong and so wines like the Bin 389, Bin 407 & Bin 707 will become instant classic and highly collectable. The Grange 2016 continues this wine’s recent run of exceptional vintages, and it has been widely lauded by critics across the globe.”
Indeed, it has. Sophisticated and sculptured, the 2016 Grange achieved the perfect score of 100 points from The World of Fine Wine, one of the world’s most influential wine magazines, while the inimitable Robert Parker awarded it 99 points.
Full-bodied and friendly, the 2016 Grange hits the nose with a melange of blackberries and preserved figs which later evolve into scents of anchovy and sesame while nascent tinges of roasted meats come forth. Harmonious on the palate, this Australian icon has excellent cellaring potential and has been recommended to be stored up to 40 years.
According to Stephens, the ideal time to savour the 2016 Grange depends on how you like your red wine. “While Grange is lovely on release, it is probably the one wine that I would always say to give a bit more time to,” he says.
“Our recommended window for the 2016 Grange is between 2022 to 2065. This a very big window and depends on your personal taste. If you want a dense, fruit-driven, intense style then drink it earlier, if you want the more mature, savoury and complex notes, then you will want to wait for the second half of that time.”
At the recent wine tasting dinner held at Flock in the W Hotel Kuala Lumpur where the Penfolds 2020 collection was unveiled, the 2016 Grange was served with the main course – Sous Vide Australian Beef Loin together with Onion Brulee, Heirloom Carrots and Re Wine Jus – and it certainly went down a treat, bringing out the succulence of the beef with its oak-infused flavours.
The others wines from Penfolds 2020 collection which was served at evening included the Bin 28 Kalima Shiraz 2018 with its expansive palate profile and raspberry chocolate flavours, and the medium-bodied and well-proportioned Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz 2018 with its nice fruity/floral bouquet which went perfectly with the appetizer of BBQ Octopus, Chicken Chorizo& Tomato Risotto with Wood Sorrel and Cured Duck’s Eggs.
For the second course of Duck Breast with Pumpkin Purée, Blood Plum and Port Jus, the Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 2004 and the crimson red Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 2018 or more commonly known as the ‘Baby Grange’ with its enticing sweet/savoury balance certainly enhanced the gamey flavour of the duck. As the most collected wine in Australia, the Baby Grange, according to Stephens, offers amazing cellaring potential and value for money.
Finally, for the main course of Australian Beef loin, apart from the pièce de résistance of the 2016 Grange, the brazen yet approachable Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 and the complex and layered Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 provided a diversity of tastes and textures for any seasoned and exacting oenophile.
With the Penfolds 2020 collection all possessing the structure, complexity and quality to age and with the life span on average of anywhere between 10 and 50 years, Stephens says the way a Penfolds wine mature over time is a journey which sees a young wine move from primary and fresh fruit-driven to more of a dried fruit and savoury stage.
“To use the 2018 Bin 389 as an example, this wine starts out full of ripe blackcurrant, plum and blackberry with fresh, sweet oaks notes of vanilla and coconut. As the wine evolves in the first ten years of life, the fresh fruits start to develop more dried fruit notes like prune and raisin with the oak becomes more toasty and smoky… over the second 10 years these dried fruits will begin to become more pronounced, and the wine will develop more savoury, earthy and spicy notes with the oak becoming more like a cigar box and tobacco.”
So what new trends does Stephens see in wines with regards to consumer preferences?
“I genuinely feel that the main current trend is for people to drink less but better,” he states. “In the wine world, you can certainly taste the difference if you step-up in price and quality… for instance people would rather drink one high-quality bottle of Bin 389 rather than two bottles of Bin 28 at home.
When dining out, people would now order a premium glass of Bin 407 served via Coravin rather than ordering a house wine. I think this will lead people to experiment by looking for more premium options with better grapes, winemaking and provenance.”
For further information on Penfolds 2020 Collection, please visit www.penfolds.com.
Read more wines and spirits articles and guides in our dedicated section here.