Penfolds Australia Collection 2021: Grange celebrates 70th anniversary

The Penfolds Australia Collection 2021 has been revealed, comprising 16 wines stretching across five different vintages.

Spearheading the collection is the 2017 Grange ($950), which is only the seventh release in history to be comprised of 100 per cent shiraz.

Grange typically contains a small percentage of cabernet, ranging from two per cent to a high of 14 per cent cabernet in 1993.

The 2017 Grange is composed of Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale fruit in what was a cooler year for both regions.

Penfolds Australia Collection 2021

The 2018 St Henri ($135) meanwhile is the sole red from the warm and dry 2018 vintage, with fruit sourced from Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Port Lincoln, Robe, Padthaway, Clare Valley and Adelaide Hills.

The Bin 23 Pinot Noir 2020 aside, the balance of reds are from 2019, a hot and dry year in McLaren Vale and the Barossa that produced some high quality fruit, albeit very low yields.

These conditions manifested a savouriness throughout the 2019 Barossa Valley Bin wines, none moreso than the 2019 Bin 150 Marananga Shiraz.

Penfolds Collection 2021: Four to try

Penfolds’ multi-regional sourcing ensures a level of consistency in its top flight wines.

The 2017 Grange and 2019 Bin 707 Cabernet ($600) stay true to the lineage of these powerful, full-bodied Australian reds; both matured in 100 per cent new American oak and demanding medium term cellaring at a bare minimum.

Penfolds chief winemaker Peter Gago says the original aspiration for Grange was to create a red wine ‘capable of staying alive’ for a minimum of 20 years, but the ’52, ’53, ’55 & ’62 have far outstripped those ambitions, remaining “stunningly drinkable” in 2021.

“Modern Grange vintages such as ’08, ’10 & ’16 patiently await judgement in 2071,” he says.

If you lack the patience and budget required for these trophy wines, there’s no shortage of alternatives in the 16-strong 2021 Australia Collection.

Penfolds chief winemaker Peter Gago at the spiritual home of Penfolds and Grange; Magill, South Australia.

I can never get past the equation that you can buy five bottles of RWT Barossa Valley Shiraz ($200), or seven bottles of St Henri, versus one bottle of Grange.

Here are two reds and two whites at somewhat more affordable price points that I enjoyed from this year’s collection.

Penfolds Bin 51 Riesling 2021 ($40)
The white wines are always in the shadow of the Penfolds reds, but they are no less worthy of attention. The sole 2021 vintage wine in the collection, Bin 51 Riesling, bursts with aromas of lemon zest and freshly cut apples. Invigoratingly tart, the palate is full of lemon sherbert, framed by that singular Eden Valley acid that guarantees comfortable evolution in the cellar over the next decade.

Penfolds 2020 Reserve Bin A Adelaide Hills Chardonnay ($125)
Wild ferment struck match leads the aromatics with brioche, nuts, peaches. A delicate touch of oak from eight months in French oak barriques (86 per cent new, 14 per cent one-year-old). The palate is quite lean and tightly wound; will clearly benefit from a year or two in the cellar. The multi-regional Bin 311 Chardonnay ($50) is also a lovely wine.

Penfolds 2018 St Henri Shiraz ($135)
A counterpoint to the 100 per cent new American oak Grange, St Henri is noteworthy for its maturation entirely in 50-plus-year-old vats that impart minimal oak character into the wine. The 2018 fruit has been sourced from the Barossa, McLaren Vale, Port Lincoln, Robe, Padthaway, Clare Valley and Adelaide Hills, combining for an exotic and complex bouquet. Medium-bodied, the palate is supremely elegant with fine tannins that will reward long-term cellaring.

Penfolds 2019 Bin 150 Marananga Shiraz ($100)
Bin 150 has never made a particular impression on me previously, but this year’s release excites and intrigues. Fruit is sourced predominately from the Marananga sub-region in the north west Barossa, typified by warm, dry conditions and rich red soil that produce wines of great richness and intensity. The 2019 release is full-bodied, intensely dark fruited with mocha notes and firm tannins. A serious, brooding wine.

The Australia Collection 2021 wines are available from Thursday August 5, 2021 direct from Penfolds and select fine wine stores globally.

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Author: James Atkinson

Journalist specialising in the food, drink, travel and hospitality arenas. Australian International Beer Awards 2017 Media Award Winner and Certified Cicerone®.

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