Pen­folds are peak­ing

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Wine - with John Jens

PEN­FOLDS. Pen­folds. Pen­folds, how do they do it?

Af­ter the media hype that sur­rounded the 2010 and 2012 red wine vin­tages, I had no great ex­pec­ta­tions for the 2013 re­leases.

Pen­folds re­cently hosted na­tional wine press to a preview of mid-Oc­to­ber re­lease wines and my tast­ing notes didn’t make sense.

In puz­zle­ment I left the Mag­ill Es­tate res­tau­rant half­way through the tast­ing, qui­etly drag­ging Pen­folds’ se­nior red wine maker Steve Lienert with me.

I qui­etly asked him how it could be that these shi­raz were stun­ning and many the best ever.

Lienert just smiled con­fi­dently and said “we be­lieve that, as a group, this is Pen­folds’ great­est re­lease ever”.

The mys­tery had been ex­plained and we both walked back into the tast­ing.

There is no mis­take, 2013 is a great shi­raz vintage for Pen­folds.

By the third 2013 wine I found my­self ex­pect­ing fruit-driven, long and re­strained wines of fresh­ness, pu­rity, in­ten­sity and real ap­peal.

Pen­folds Bin 150 Marananga Shi­raz 2013 is a mag­nif­i­cent ripe, soft, gen­tle, plush and vel­vety tri­umph with a de­gree of per­fectly judged re­strained and friendly plump­ness.

It is youth­ful and fruit-driven with in­spir­ing use of tex­tur­ing oak and an ar­che­typal Barossa shi­raz, bring­ing a mouth full of joy.

The best Bin 150 ever, 18.8 points and $79.

De­spite the per­haps slightly over-the-top adu­la­tion heaped on the won­der­ful 2010 vintage which was very good, the Pen­folds St Henri Shi­raz 2012 is bet­ter.

Soft, dense, gen­tle, ripe and re­strained, it is bal­anced with great length and an al­most im­per­cep­ti­ble lin­ger­ing af­ter­taste.

The best ever? Prob­a­bly and is 18.8 points, $99.

Mag­ill Es­tate Shi­raz 2013 is ex­tra­or­di­nary and the su­perla­tives are in con­text.

This too is soft, long and gen­tle where the oak adds a vel­vety plush­ness to the all-en­com­pass­ing and en­velop­ing shi­raz fruit.

It has fine and re­strained Amer­i­can oak and enor­mous length where the fin­ish and af­ter­taste are those of a great wine.

Cat­e­gor­i­cally the best Mag­ill Es­tate ever at 19 points and $150.

Pen­folds wine­mak­ing team mem­bers are jus­ti­fi­ably happy with them­selves.

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